Consumer and Customer Service

If you enjoy working with people and like the prospect of helping them with a business or product issue, a career in consumer and customer service might be for you. Read on to learn more about career options, earnings and educational options for consumer and customer service specialists.

Is Consumer and Customer Service for Me?

Career Overview

Consumer and customer service professionals act as intermediaries between businesses or organizations and their customers or clients. In general, they're responsible for responding to inquiries and complaints and handling them in a professional and effective manner.

Career Options

As a qualified candidate, you may find a position as a customer service or product representative, consumer advisor or customer credit counselor. Potential employers include call centers, non-profit organizations or senior services. Additional training might open the door to a job as a complaint administrator, consumer columnist, consumer protection specialist or credit reporter. You might also find employment as a home and life management advisor, customer service manager, financial counselor or workforce analyst.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for customer service representatives was expected to increase by 13% nationwide from 2012-2022, which is about average compared to all other career fields. As of May 2013, customer service representatives earned an average annual salary of $33,370 (www.bls.gov).

How Do I Work in Consumer and Customer Service?

Education

If you're still in high school, you can begin preparing for a career in customer service by taking classes in English and acquiring some computer skills. While some employers provide on-the-job training, postsecondary programs with relevant coursework can be found at junior colleges or career schools. Programs begin at the undergraduate certificate level and might include topics in administration, social interaction, management and the use of computer software applications. You'll also learn how to address customer concerns and disputes. Along with campus-based programs, some schools offer online customer service courses.

Skills

Consumer and customer service professionals must possess exceptional interpersonal communications skills, both oral and written. They must also be adept at conflict resolution in order to deal with any issues and concerns that customers may have. As a qualified customer service professional, you'll be able to recognize your customers' wishes and determine what needs to happen in order to fulfill their expectations. You'll also be able to provide resolutions to customer complaints or issues.

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