what does a customer service representative do?

  • job profiles
  • September 02, 2020

Customer service representatives (CSRs) — sometimes referred to as “customer service agents” or “virtual call center agents” on job boards — are problem-solving experts who provide vital support to customers related to products and services. And with customer service requests still hovering at a rate that’s 16 percent above pre-pandemic levels, it’s a role that’s all the more important of late, and one that can be effectively carried out remotely, too.

What are the key day-to-day responsibilities of customer service representatives?

  • interacting with customers, answering customers’ questions and resolving complaints
  • consistently delivering first-call resolution
  • working to resolve customer or client issues
  • serving as a key first point of contact (POC)
  • utilizing the latest tech and other digital resources to answer questions from customers or clients
  • researching and responding accurately to all customer inquiries
  • appropriately classifying customer and client engagements, typically using a database
  • identifying and escalating complex issues
  • following up with customers and clients to provide a sense of closure
  • documenting complaints from customers and clients
  • capturing and recording pertinent information
  • remaining compliant with all applicable regulatory requirements

Does that sound like you? If so, read on to get additional insights into all the essentials of the role.

what are the key skills of a customer service representative?

Customer service representatives are versatile troubleshooting experts who excel at interacting with people — especially when those people are under duress. Not surprisingly, then, it’s a role where soft skills come into play in a big way on a day-to-day basis.

If you’re applying for customer service rep roles, therefore, it’s a good idea to highlight the following soft skills:

  • active listening
  • empathy
  • emotional intelligence (EQ)
  • written and verbal communication
  • time management and organization
  • multitasking
  • adaptability
  • resilience
  • flexibility
  • ability to cope with stress
  • customer orientation
  • social media expertise

how much do customer service representatives make?

Looking at the latest compensation data, average hourly wages for customer service representatives can be bucketed into three tiers, largely depending on your location, market, responsibilities, background and relative level of expertise:

  • low $16.40
  • mid $19.56
  • high $22.65

Annualized, those rates look something like:

  • low $26,146
  • mid $29,147
  • high $33,150

As you can see, hourly wages for customer service representatives vary considerably — and that could be frustrating if you’re a job seeker. To get much more granular insights, simply head on over to our salary comparison tool. It’ll give you at-a-glance knowledge of pay in your market and location.

how do you become a customer service representative?

It’s not unheard of for companies to hire customer service representatives who don’t have previous experience in the field. In fact, some organizations even seem to prefer hiring rookies in this department, because that means they won’t bring any learned “bad habits” into the role. They also may be less susceptible to burnout (and studies show something like 74 percent of contact center agents are at risk of burnout).

That said, typical requirements for the role include:

  • high school diploma or equivalent (not always required)
  • demonstrated track record of success delivering superlative customer experiences
  • baseline typing/computer experience with excellent navigational skills
  • professional presentation and communication skills
  • ability to multitask while handling a high volume of calls
  • reliable transportation (not always required, especially for remote roles)
  • ability to pass a drug test and background check (not always required)
  • bilingual (not always required)

Eager to broaden or deepen your customer service knowledge in order to land your next role? Not to worry. There are plenty of great educational resources available online. Check out the top customer service training on Udemy — our partner and the world's largest online learning platform — if you aren’t sure where to get started.

key takeaways

At this point, you should be pretty well versed in what a customer service representative does on a day-to-day basis, as well as what it takes to become one. To recap, in this article we've covered:

  • what a customer service representative does
  • background, training, experience and other requirements associated with the role
  • important skills to highlight on your resume
  • compensation expectations
  • and more

Ready to take action? In that case, why not start searching for jobs in this exciting field? Find out who’s hiring customer service representatives in your area today.