What is a Customer Service Representative?

Customer service representatives interact with customers on behalf of an organization. They provide information about products and services, take orders, respond to customer complaints, and process returns. Many customer service representatives work in customer contact centers. Others work in insurance agencies, banks, stores, or other places that have contact with customers.

Also known as: Customer Service Agent, Customer Service Specialist, Customer Services Representative

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What does a Customer Service Representative do?

Customer service representatives answer questions and resolve problems. When the customer has an account with the company, a representative will usually open the customer’s file in the company’s computer system. Representatives use this information to solve problems and may make changes to customer accounts, such as to update an address on file or cancel an order.

They also have access to responses for the most commonly asked questions and to specific guidelines for dealing with requests or complaints. In the event that the representative does not know the answer to a question or is unable to solve a specific problem, a supervisor or other experienced worker may help.

Many customer service representatives answer incoming calls in telephone call centers, which are increasingly called customer contact centers. Others interact with customers face to face or by email, live chat, or other methods. Some workers specialize in a particular mode of communication, such as voice, email, or chat, but others communicate with customers through more than one contact channel. For example, voice agents, who primarily deal with customers over the phone, may respond to email questions when there is downtime between calls.

Customer service representatives work in almost every industry, and their job tasks can vary depending on where they work. For instance, representatives who work in banks may answer customers’ questions about their accounts, whereas representatives who work for utility and communication companies may help customers with service problems, such as outages. Representatives who work in retail stores often handle returns and help customers find items in their stores. Some representatives may help to generate sales leads, sometimes making outbound calls in addition to answering inbound ones, although selling is not their main job.

Customer service representatives typically do the following:

  • Listen and respond to customers’ needs and concerns
  • Provide information about products and services
  • Take orders, determine charges, and oversee billing or payments
  • Review or make changes to customer accounts
  • Handle returns or complaints
  • Record details of customer contacts and actions taken
  • Research answers or solutions as needed
  • Refer customers to supervisors, managers, or others who can help

Customer service representatives need strong listening and speaking skills to clearly and accurately respond to customer inquiries and concerns. They must listen carefully to customers to understand their needs and concerns to be able to resolve the call as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Workers who interact with customers by email, live chat, or other non-voice contact channels must write well, using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. They must respond to questions and complaints in a friendly and professional manner.

Customer service representatives interact with many different people. Creating and maintaining positive relationships is an essential part of a customer service representative’s job. Workers must be patient and polite, especially when dealing with difficult or angry customers. When addressing customer issues, customer service representatives need to analyze situations, investigate problems, and determine solutions.

What is the workplace of a Customer Service Representative like?

Many customer service representatives work in call centers, or customer contact centers. Others work in insurance agencies, banks, stores, or other organizations that interact with customers. Some work from home. Although the number of at-home agents is still relatively small, their numbers are growing.

Customer contact center workers usually sit at a workstation with a telephone, headset, and computer. These centers may be crowded and noisy, and the work can be repetitive or stressful, with little time in-between calls.

Customer service representatives who work in retail stores may interact in person with customers. Whether they interact by phone, chat, or in-person, they occasionally may have to deal with difficult or angry customers, which can be challenging.

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Further Reading

  • Top 15 Things Every Successful Customer Service Representative Must Do

    Becoming a successful customer service representative is not as easy as you’d think. True, the majority of the population could probably pass as an average customer service representative, but it takes a specialized skill set to be successful.

  • Important Qualities Of Customer Service

    Customer service can be an up-and-down kind of job. One customer situation may make a representative feel like she has accomplished a lot for the company and the customer, and then the next call can make her feel helpless and question her own skills.

  • How To Provide Proper Customer Service

    What is the Difference Between Good and Bad Customer Service?

  • 10 Tips On How To Handle Customers Complaints

    It is important to handle customer complaints properly. You want to keep customers happy otherwise they will most likely stop shopping there at your company. Here are ten tips on how to handle customers complaints properly.

  • What Is A Customer Service Representative?

    A customer service representative is a professional who works directly with or directly for the customers and prospective customers of a given company.

  • How To Work As A Customer Service Representative

    Customer service representatives are the direct link between the company that they work for and the clients looking for service. They are the initial point of contact and it is their job to help customers, answer their questions and to provide assistance.

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