Firstly, everyone is a Customer! And everyone needs Customer Service.
A job as a customer service rep is an excellent option for individuals who enjoy working with the public and being of service. It is also a good choice for people who are interested in a broad range of subjects, as positions are available in almost every sector of the public and private industry.
Customer service reps are the liaison between a company or organization and its customer base. They provide support to customers and clients of organizations across many public and private industries. In most cases, support is delivered in person or via phone, email, live chat, social media, or some combination of these.
Depending on the position, customer service reps may need highly-specialized knowledge related to the industry or company. However, these jobs are often well-suited to candidates with a more general background. Here’s what you need to know to decide if a career as a customer service rep is right for you.
What you can expect From a Customer Service Rep Job?
As a customer service rep, it is your job to help customers and clients with any question or concern they may have about the products and/or services provided by your employer. The specific responsibilities associated with the job can vary widely depending on the position, but may include:
- Listening and responding to complaints
- Verifying, correcting, and/or updating account information
- Providing information about the company and its products
- Assisting customers with order placement, refunds, exchanges, or delivery issues
- Addressing questions and concerns
- Assisting customers when a product or service does not work as expected
- Offering products, services, or upgrades in a sales capacity
- Generating reports for management
- Identifying and escalating complex or high priority cases for resolution
If you provide in-person customer support, you may work in a retail environment or in an office setting. Reps who provide phone or online customer care typically work in a call center. This may be an office or a more industrial setting in which many customer service agents work in close proximity to one another. Each agent has a computer workstation, and if providing phone support, a headset. Reps may have a dedicated workspace, but often the number of reps on staff means that each rep works at a different station for every shift.
Call centers are high-pressure environments, as reps must process a large number of customer contacts to meet service levels set by the management. They can also be noisy, as many reps may be typing or talking at once.
Some companies allow customer service reps work from home, making this kind of position an excellent option for candidates in remote areas, people with mobility or transportation issues, or part of the company’s policy to work remotely.
There is no typical schedule for a customer service rep, as every organization operates differently. Customer service reps may work full or part-time and may be hired seasonally, on a temporary or contract basis, or as regular employees.
Some companies maintain traditional business hours, so reps can expect to work weekdays between morning and evening. Others need support available during every hour of every day, so customer service reps work in round-the-clock shifts seven days a week, including holidays. Reps working for companies with extended customer service hours should expect to work at least some weekends, holidays, and non-traditional hours.
Customer service reps need to have a varied skill set in order to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the job. Here are some of the skills employers look for in prospective reps:
- Software skills
- CRM software – Reps may use customer relationship management (CRM) softwareto access and log information.
- Call center software – Phone support is often provided via a voice-over-IP (VoIP) system, which connects to a call center software solution used by reps to keep a record of each call.
- Ticketing platform – Email and chat support is routed through a system that assigns a ticket to each request and then prioritizes and assigns tickets to reps.
- Social media – Customer service teams are increasingly responsible for monitoring and engaging with customers on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others.
- Web browsers – Reps should be comfortable using popular browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple’s Safari, and Mozilla Firefox.
- Office programs – A basic understanding of Microsoft Office, including Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint, is a plus.
- Data entry– Reps must quickly and accurately update customer records and other information.
- Conflict resolution– When customers are angry or upset, reps need to de-escalate the situation.
- Patience– Reps must be able to answer the same questions over and over again and deal with occasionally rude or unpleasant customers without a loss in quality of service.
- Positive attitude– Customer service agents represent the company and must maintain a positive demeanor at all times, even when faced with unpleasant situations.
- Ability to work under pressure– Circumstances change quickly, and high-volume periods can be unpredictable, so reps need to be able to adapt quickly and perform under pressure.
- Flexibility– Reps must be ready for changes in products, policies, schedules, and other factors that affect the job.
- Attention to detail– Errors made while providing customer service can result in a negative customer experience and unnecessary additional customer contacts, so reps must handle detailed information accurately.
- Knowledge retention– Reps must be able to remember an ever-changing range of policies, procedures, and information to provide excellent service to customers.
The nature of customer service work is such that employers often place a higher value on a candidate’s experience than on formal education.
About 25% of customer service reps have been in the field for more than 10 years, while about 45% have less than 5 years’ experience according to unverified statistics in West Africa. These numbers confirm that experience is valued in customer service rep positions, and once you have established yourself in the field, there are ample opportunities to continue in a related job for years to come if you so choose.
Customer service reps that excel in their jobs may be promoted to a team leader or supervisor position. These senior team members are often responsible for conducting quality assurance to ensure reps are meeting service and quality standards, handling escalated customer issues, preparing shift reports, training new reps, and serving as a liaison between customer service teams and departmental managers.
Looking to becoming a certified customer service professional in West Africa, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org