The customer service representative may work in a variety of fields, in diverse ways with the principle object of helping customers. The term customer has various meanings depending upon the type of services a business provides. A customer service representative might be dealing with individuals, representing themselves only, or with representatives of other businesses.
Job requirements to be a customer service representative vary tremendously. People who tend to be most successful at their work have excellent manners, can handle problem customers, and usually possess excellent telephone skills. Many of these workers also have basic to advanced computer skills, and a number of them possess high-level office skills. The representative may have multiple means of communicating with customers. Communication can occur via telephone, fax, standard mail, email, in person or through various conferencing or messaging methods on the Internet.
Sometimes the customer service representative is essentially a sales person. Companies that offer large scale mail order (Internet or telephone order) businesses frequently call people representatives, or customer service specialists to differentiate them from being specifically salespeople. In truth, their function, though it doesn’t usually involve face-to-face contact with others, is similar to that of sales people in retail stores. They essentially take orders for purchases, answer questions about products, prices or shipping, and listen to any complaints or concerns the buyer might have.
While such a customer service representative is talking to you on the phone, he or she is usually typing in information about an order, question or complaint, so he or she can quickly try to fulfill your request or help resolve your problems. In some cases, a complex problem is first fielded by a customer service representative and then directed to an appropriate department or to a manager who is authorized to do more for the customer. In fact when you call most service-oriented businesses like utilities companies, insurance companies or banks, you work first with a customer service representative. If he or she is unable to resolve your problem or not empowered to do so, always ask to speak with a manager, but don’t get mad at the representative. Representatives don’t make the rules and are usually limited by their company in terms of what they may be able to do to help you.
The field that includes all customer service representatives is so diverse, and job description can vary to such an extent, that it may be helpful to think of the customer service representative by other job titles they might alternately be called. Such titles include the following: