Customer Service Job Skills, Courses, Salaries, and Career Paths

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Discover what skills and education you'll need to become a customer service professional, and learn about customer service jobs, salaries, and possible career paths.

[Featured image] A customer service agent is sitting at his office.

Customer service professionals assist customers and help meet their needs in various ways. By providing customers with meaningful experiences, these professionals work to establish customer loyalty within a company.  To determine whether this field is for you, discover the requirements to be a customer service professional,  the possible salaries, and career paths.

What exactly is customer service?

Customer service is a domain of business that involves providing solutions, support, and personal interaction to patrons of a company. As a customer service worker, you'll be the liaison between the company and the public, and it will be your job to reflect the values and culture of the business. 

Often, the customer’s experience and first impression of a company will heavily influence their buying decisions in the present and future. Businesses that offer a personalized approach to customer service can often successfully attract business and establish loyalty from their customer base. 

*All salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of June 2024.

When it's time to start looking for jobs, you'll find customer service positions across many industries. Explore the following examples of customer service jobs:

Client relations associate 

As a client relations associate, you'll strive to create and maintain long-term relationships with high-profile customers. You may ensure that customers are happy with the products or services they purchase. To provide the best possible user experience your job might involve:

  • Working with a client relations team 

  • Coordinating with other departments in the company 

  • Consulting with third-party groups

Average annual salary (US): $68,223

Client services coordinator

As a client services coordinator, you'll make sure that customer assistance tasks are completed. Your job description may involve:

  • Addressing customer issues

  • Making sure deliveries are timely

  • Ensuring services are completed with quality and timeliness

  • Ensuring customer needs are communicated to the company

Average annual salary (US): $46,225

Customer service representative

Customer service representative is a role that can look very different in each position. As a customer service rep, you may:

  • Interact directly with customers to give information about products and services

  • Answer questions

  • Address problems that customers have

  • Process orders, forms, and applications

Average annual salary (US): $39,505

Member services specialist 

As a member services specialist, you'll be expected to provide a high level of support to customers.  Your tasks might include:

  • Addressing customer concerns

  • Answering questions

  • Providing information about products or services

  • Responding to customers in person or in writing

Average annual salary (US):$46,840

Patient care coordinator

Patient care coordinators are customer service professionals who work for medical, mental health, or insurance companies. As a patient care coordinator, you might:

  • Assist with patient scheduling, 

  • Help verify insurance

  • Make arrangements for procedures and other patient services. 

This position typically requires knowledge of basic health care concepts and health care experience related to the specific job. 

Average annual salary (US): $45,649

What are the qualifications required for customer service jobs?

Customer service qualifications may differ depending on the specific position. Most customer service jobs require at least a high school diploma or the equivalent, but some employers ask for an associate or bachelor's degree or prior work experience in customer support. Good fields of study to consider might include business or communications. 

What skills are required for customer service jobs?

Customer service requires knowledge of the company you're working for and various skills. Examples of skills that can help you in a customer service role include:

1. Listening skills

Customer service professionals should be effective listeners. This helps establish rapport with customers and clients and build lasting relationships, resulting in long-term loyalty to the business. It's also important to summarize problems promptly and respond to customers in an affirmative and understanding manner. 

2. Time management

Time management is an important skill for any professional to learn. To stay on schedule, you can use a time-tracking app to track time spent on various tasks throughout the day. You might also consider utilizing technology to automate and optimize tasks to use your time more effectively. 

Read more: 6 Time Management Tips to Boost Your Productivity

3. Communication skills

Customer service workers require advanced communication skills to properly interact with customers and clients. As a customer service worker, it's important to keep conversations positive, give direct answers, and offer realistic solutions.  

4. Problem-solving

Customer service professionals often have to solve problems for customers quickly. To be successful at your job, it helps to have good problem-solving abilities and a knack for working well under pressure.  

5. Strong interpersonal skills

Strong interpersonal skills can go a long way in a profession where you deal with customers and co-workers. Building good relationships with team members and customers brings value to any company. 

6. Organizational skills

Good organizational skills help all workers stay on task. When you're good at prioritizing tasks, delegating duties, and planning your work, you'll help the company run more efficiently. 

7. Product and service knowledge

Customer service requires extensive knowledge of the company’s products or services. A large knowledge base allows you to suggest different products or services for customers or compare products or services as needed. This knowledge may also help establish trust and rapport with your company's customer base. 

8. Technical knowledge

As a customer service employee, you'll likely be expected to operate a computer and be familiar with the company’s software. Some technical knowledge and ability is a solid skills to have when considering a career in customer service. 

9. Positive thinking

A positive attitude might be one of the most important skills a customer service professional can have. When communicating with customers daily, it's important to keep the conversation light and to remain helpful. A warm smile and an understanding approach can go a long way when a customer seems distracted or distressed. 

10. Conflict resolution

While working in customer service,  you may have to deal with angry complaints or negative comments.. Being able to handle high-pressure situations calmly is a critical part of being successful in a customer service position. 

11. Creativity

In the field of customer service, it's helpful to be creative and solutions-oriented. With very little notice, you may have to find solutions to problems quickly and think outside of the box. 

Job outlook 

You can find customer service jobs across many industries. Though these jobs are not showing tremendous growth, it's estimated that there will be about 389,400 customer service jobs available every year from 2021 to 2031, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) [1].

Career advancement opportunities in customer service

If you start in an entry-level job as a customer service representative, you can advance your career in several ways. You could pursue positions in quality assurance (QA) or product support or become a customer service training specialist. You might also use your customer service experience and apply it to an executive position. The customer interactions you have and the workplace skills you may learn can help in many careers. 

Customer service salary ranges

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for customer service representatives in the US is $39,680 ($19.08 per hour) as of June 2024 [1]. Salaries range from $12.67 to $28.19 per hour. Those who work in the wholesale trade industry earn a median hourly wage of $19.76, whereas customer service representatives in the retail trade and business support services earn about $14.40 per hour.

Next steps

Build essential skills to excel in a customer service role with a Professional Certificate from CVS on Coursera. Whether you're looking for a career in retail or remote customer service, learn at your own pace from industry experts while earning a credential for your resume.

Article sources

  1. U S Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Customer Service Representatives," Accessed  June 13, 2024.

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