A call center representative interacts 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.
Most call center jobs fall into one of three categories. The most popular is customer service: for example, the people you speak with when you have a problem with your cable. You might also work in inbound sales, where you take calls from people who want to make a purchase. Another popular call center job is in outbound sales; think of the people who call you trying to sell you a used car warranty.
Most call center jobs require workers to use a telephone with a headset and a computer. Many of these jobs are located in office buildings, although some companies let employees work from home. Many call centers are open around the clock so your hours will be varied, possibly including some early mornings and some late evenings. With any luck you’ll be able to find a job that fits your schedule. A fair warning about call center jobs: you’ve got to have a pretty long fuse in order to excel. You’ll have people scream at you, hang up on you and call you names, so if you get angry easily, find a different career.
What does a Customer Service Representative do?
Customer service representatives answer questions and resolve problems. When a customer calls and has an issue that needs to be handled, a representative will usually open the customer’s file in the company’s computer system. Representatives use this information to solve problems and may also make changes to customer accounts, such as to update an address on file or cancel an order.
Customer service representatives 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 in order 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.