Customer Service Representatives
On the Job
Customer service representatives try to solve customer complaints.
Have you heard the phrase, "The customer is always right?" This is often the motto of customer service departments, even if, well, the customer isn't. After all, good customer service can make or break a company. Word gets around about which company has the most helpful staff, the most knowledgeable, and the most friendly.Customer service representatives check into and clear up customer claims. These claims may be about merchandise, service, billing, or credit. Customer service representatives work for companies that sell products and services. They are also called adjustment clerks.
Customer service representatives investigate whether customers' complaints are valid. In department stores, they may check merchandise, sales slips, or warranties. In banks, they may look at records and videotapes of ATM transactions. In utility companies, they may check meter books, records on microfilm, and accounting records. Customer service representatives may talk to customers and other staff to get a better picture of the situation. They do this in person, by telephone, or through letters.
After customer service representatives look at all the facts, they must decide how to fix the problem. They may decide to refund money, exchange merchandise, or credit customers' accounts. They may decide that nothing at all should be done. Customer service representatives must explain to customers what they found. They must also explain what, if any, changes they are making. An important part of customer relations is making sure that changes happen. They may contact customers at a later date to make sure they are satisfied with the results. To make sure the same problem does not happen again, customer service representatives may suggest changes to managers.
Customer service representatives keep records of their contacts with customers. They prepare these reports for managers. Some customer service representatives may answer questions about the company's products or services. Others may help customers with purchases. Most customer service representatives keep records on computers.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Examine customer claims.
- Gather information about products, complaints, policies, and accounts, by phone or in person.
- Check product warranties, merchandise, or sales data.
- Make any corrections or changes to customers' accounts.
- Determine charges for services requested. Collect deposits, payments, or arrange for billing.
- Refer unresolved complaints to other departments or supervisors.
- Follow up with customers to ensure satisfaction.
- Recommend changes to manufacturing or sales staff.
- Keep records of all transactions.
- Provide information on products.
- Take orders on other products.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Use computers.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Process information.
- Resolve conflicts and negotiate with others.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize standards.
- Perform administrative tasks.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Document and record information.
- Convince others to buy goods or change their minds.
- Work with the public.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Judge the value objects, services, or people.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Teach others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social contact with staff and customers. They are constantly answering questions and resolving conflicts.
- Communicate with others by telephone throughout the day. They also communicate via face-to-face discussions or by writing e-mail.
- Are often placed in conflict situations when customers are unhappy with products. Customers may be rude or unpleasant at times.
- Are somewhat responsible for the work done by other representatives.
- Always work indoors.
- Sometimes are exposed to loud sounds and distracting noise levels, especially when working in a call center.
- Often share a work space with other representatives.
- Must fully complete and be exact in their work. This helps to build repeat business and happy customers.
- Repeat the same physical activities, such as entering data on a computer.
- Make some decisions and set some daily tasks and goals independently, but often talk to a supervisor first.
- Can make some decisions on their own, but often talk to a supervisor first.
- May work part time or full time.
- Some work the standard 40-hour, five-day week. Those who work for call centers may work days, evenings, or weekends. Call centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Sit while answering phones and stand when talking to customers in person.
- Repeat the same movements when entering data.
- Use hands to control or feel objects.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.