Products and services as diverse as Samsung TVs, Mohonk Mountain House gifts and Jetblue flights all rely on good customer service representatives to handle orders, answer buyer questions, and deal with complaints. If you enjoy working with people and helping them solve problems, then you may like working in customer service as a CSR, or customer service representative.
CSRs act as the face of a company for its customers. They provide answers and more information for questions, take orders and process payments, record details of transactions, adjust customer accounts and respond to complaints or issues brought about by customers or the general public. Specific duties can vary by the type of company. For example, CSRs who work for a water utility may have to dispatch service trucks to deal with broken water means while those in retail stores must be able to accept returns and give refunds.
Becoming a CSR
The minimum educational requirement for many customer service representative jobs is a high school diploma. Candidates then receive on-the-job training that may last as little as two or three weeks in a retail setting or several months for those who deal with complicated financial transactions. Certifications or licenses are generally not needed, except for CSRs who work in finance and insurance. Licensing requirements vary by location but may demand passing a written exam.
CSRs typically work inside climate-controlled businesses but may share a large room with other employees. Work environments can be quiet as in the case of CSRs who deal with issues through email and chat, or noisy such as for those who work on phone banks. Workers are usually supervised by a lead or manager who can take over more complicated issues. Most CSR jobs are full-time although part-time positions are often available, especially for filling in during busy periods, such as before Christmas.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), customer service representatives average $33,890 a year, or $16.29 an hour. Entry-level CSRs can make less than an annual $19,860, or $9.55 hourly, while highly-experienced workers can receive over $51,630 yearly, or $24.82 hourly.
Most jobs are located in business support services, brokerages and other insurance related activities and insurance carriers. The highest paying positions are with motor vehicle manufacturing at an average $56,090 a year, or 26 $97 an hour; pipeline transportation of natural gas at an average $52,440 yearly, or $25.21 hourly; and natural gas distribution at a mean $51,910 a year, or $24.96 an hour.
The BLS sees jobs for customer service representatives increasing by 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is slightly more than the 11 percent predicted by all other jobs in all other occupations. Most of the growth will come from industries that specialize in customer service, such as telephone call centers or customer contact centers. Employment in such facilities is expected to grow by 38 percent.
To find the best jobs as a CSR, focus on developing excellent computer skills as well as excellent customer service interactions.