Customer service is important to a successful business. Learn more about customer service and the available opportunities as a customer service representative.
Customer service is the backbone of every business. Satisfied customers become loyal customers that spend money and keep businesses afloat. Customers' experiences with a business help them form opinions about the brand that they may share with others.
The increase of social media and review websites have made it easier to learn about businesses. Customers can now take to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to talk about their experiences and how satisfied they are—or not.
Customer service is a team that helps customers solve problems they encounter with a business's products or services. As a customer service representative, you may help a customer before or after they complete a purchase. Some duties may include:
Asking and answering a customer’s questions
Suggesting products or services to customers
Finding solutions for customers
Interacting with customers face to face
Providing remote support through multiple channels, such as live chat or email
Responding to questions and complaints
Following up with customers to ensure they’re pleased with the purchase
Technology has made it possible to serve customers in many ways. Businesses often implement multiple methods of customer service so consumers can choose the one that works for them. Traditional walk-in customer service at brick and mortar stores are still thriving, with sales representatives creating a more personalized experience with customers.
However, companies have expanded customer service options to include other means of communication. This allows them to assist customers when it's convenient for them. These options include:
Phone: A number of customers prefer speaking to someone over the phone when they have a problem to solve. This is especially true for individuals who have complex problems or don't feel comfortable using technology.
Email: When you receive a complaint or concern in writing, you have more time to resolve the issue and respond. Another advantage of email is having a discussion if necessary.
Live chat: Businesses that offer live chat can provide immediate customer feedback, which can be less time-consuming than phone calls. It also gives the customer the ability to work on other projects while waiting for a representative to chat with them.
Social media: If you have the staff to monitor various social media channels, you can publicly and privately respond to inquiries and complaints. Publically-shared solutions allow others to see the exchange and how your business interacts with consumers.
Interactive voice support: Automated telephone systems take the place of customer service representatives for common questions. This lets customers find answers to frequently asked questions that don't require a response from a person.
Good customer service is important because most customers return to businesses that treat them well. Keeping customers costs less than attracting new ones. Researchers at HubSpot found that returning customers spend as much as 300% with your business compared to new customers . They, in turn, tell others about the service they received and those people may try new places when they hear good things. In this way, customer service directly affects your bottom line.
A company with good customer service may also notice additional benefits throughout the organization. These benefits include the following:
Better alignment of brand and messaging
Greater customer loyalty
Increased leads and conversions
When working with the public, it’s important to communicate effectively and knowledgeably. Speaking with confidence about the products or services offered and having answers to anticipated questions adds to a positive customer experience. Successful customer service personnel usually have a common set of skills that helps them positively interact with customers which may include:
Good customer service is prompt, solves a problem, is easy to access, and is sensitive to the customer's needs. For example, self-service options like online FAQ sections let customers get answers to questions about business hours, return options, and shipping without waiting in a phone queue during regular business hours.
Online shoe retailer Zappos has a reputation for offering exceptional customer service. Not only do customers have access to a live representative at any time, but they also prioritize the relationship between the customer and the company. For example, customer service representatives have been known to send cards or flowers to customers who mention an upcoming wedding, graduation, or other events during their call.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel group famously allows employees at all levels of the company to spend up to $2,000 to support guests. One customer shared that an employee sent him the laptop charger he left behind in the room along with a personalized note. Another employee mailed a child's stuffed animal along with a photo album of the toy enjoying the hotel's amenities.
You can find customer service jobs in almost every industry. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the top employers as retailers, insurance carriers, and business support services. Demand for customer service representatives is unlikely to change over the next decade. Although the BLS anticipates a decline in customer service jobs in the retail industry, it expects an increase in the need for business service representatives.
You can usually begin working as a customer service representative with a high school diploma and some on-the-job training. If you enjoy working with customers in this capacity, you may move on to supervisory roles. Here is a list of manager roles and its US annual salary:
Customer service representatives: $37,323 
Customer service manager: $64,833
Customer success manager: $92,649 
Customer care manager: $74,059
Learning what customers want and how to interact with them is essential to successful customer service. Whether you're new to the field or want to brush up on the basics, consider taking Customer Service Fundamentals from Knowledge Accelerators. If you already work in a call center, you may find Telephone Language from Georgia Tech helpful for learning and practicing effective English communication techniques. You can find these courses, as well as Specializations and Professional Certificates on Coursera.
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HubSpot. "Why Customer Service is So Important: 16 Data-Backed Facts to Know, https://blog.hubspot.com/service/importance-customer-service#:~:text=Customer%20service%20is%20important%20to,and%20provides%20testimonials%20and%20reviews.." Accessed July 29, 2022.
Glassdoor. "How Much Does a Customer Service Representative Make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/customer-service-representative-salary-SRCH_KO0,31.htm." Accessed October 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. "Customer Service Manager Overview, https://www.glassdoor.com/Career/customer-service-manager-career_KO0,24.htm." Accessed October 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. "How Much Does a Customer Success Manager Make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/customer-success-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,24.htm." Accessed October 6, 2022.
Glassdoor. "Customer Care Manager Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/customer-care-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,21.htm." Accessed October 6, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.