What Does a Customer Service Representative Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Customer service representatives are key to company success by directly helping customers. Discover if a customer service job is right for you.

[Featured Image] A customer service representative in a blue and white striped shirt speaks with a customer on her laptop.

Customer service representatives work directly with customers to assist, resolve complaints, answer questions, and process orders. If you enjoy helping people, a job as a customer service representative could be a good fit. In this role, you'll find career opportunities in almost every industry, ranging from brick-and-mortar retail stores to call centres to your living room.

Learn more about what customer service representatives do daily and how you can become one.

What does a customer service representative do?

As a customer service representative, your main job is to serve customers. Customer service representatives work for almost any business that engages with customers, including retail stores, banks, and insurance companies. Their primary tasks may include greeting and communicating with customers in person, by phone, or by computer via chat or email. Specific duties will vary depending on the company and industry where you work, but they may include:

  • Answering customer questions about the company, products, or services

  • Resolving customer complaints

  • Directing customers to the correct department or supervisor 

  • Taking orders or processing payments 

  • Making changes to customers' accounts

  • Handling returns and exchanges

  • Addressing billing concerns

  • Keeping records of customer interactions

  • Selling products and services

Where do customer service representatives work? 

Customer service representatives work in a variety of environments and across many industries. These include retail, insurance, tech, education, and more. Customer service representatives may communicate with customers in person or via phone, chat programs, or email. 

An IT support specialist is one customer service role that is expected to grow. Working in IT support can lead to more job opportunities and higher pay. Customer support specialists in India across all industries make an average annual base salary of ₹2,55,589 [1] as of March 2024, according to Indeed, while IT support specialists make ₹2,90,060—an increase of ₹34,471 on average [2].

9 tips for getting a job as a customer service representative

If you're ready to start exploring your career as a customer service rep, these tips can help you build the experience and education you need for the job.

1. Develop your workplace skills.

Workplace skills are crucial to being an effective customer service representative. You’ll often be tasked with interacting with customers with a positive attitude and empathy to resolve their problems. Stay calm and diplomatic under pressure, and you’ll be better able to deal with complex or stressed customers. Other important traits for customer service representatives include flexibility, an eye for detail, and the ability to learn and remember quickly.

2. Build your computer skills.

Customer service representatives can spend long hours at a computer. You'll likely need typing, data entry skills, and familiarity with Microsoft Word and Excel programmes. 

Take courses in a local programme or learn at your own pace with an online course. Here are some options to get you started:

3. Consider certification.  

Certification is optional for many customer service jobs but may be required for some advanced positions. Earning an industry certification can validate your skills to recruiters and hiring managers. Some standard certifications in customer service include: 

  • Customer Care Certification (Newcent Training Academy)

  • Certificate in Sales and Customer Service (Royal Institution) 

4. Train for a particular industry.  

Many positions offer on-the-job training for new hires, which can entail working alongside a senior employee. Specific industries may require more intensive training. You may even encounter particular rules depending on your state, territory, or industry. 

5. Take a communication course.

Communication is often a crucial aspect of the work. You can improve your written and verbal skills with courses like Improving Communication Skills offered by the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera. 

6. Gain some customer service experience. 

Employers may like to see that you have experience working with people. Consider gaining some experience with other positions that entail working with the public. This could include working as a cashier, server, or sales associate in a store. Volunteering with your community can also bring you valuable customer service experience.

7. Learn a second language.

Being bilingual can help you speak with specific customers, and learning a second language can help your application stand out. In addition to English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), and French rank among the most in-demand second languages for professional benefit.

8. Finish your education.

A post-secondary degree is optional for most customer service jobs. However, some employers may want you to have a senior secondary education. You may also want to consider joining volunteer clubs or other activities that will allow you to gain customer service experience.

9. Practice for your interview. 

When you're ready to apply for a job, make sure you're prepared for the interview by reviewing questions you might encounter in an interview. These might include:

  • Describe a time when you successfully solved a problem for someone. 

  • How would you handle an upset customer? 

  • What would you do if you didn't know the answer to a customer's question?

  • Describe a situation where you had to remain calm during a chaotic situation. 

  • What would you do if you had to work with someone you didn't like?  

Next steps

Start building the skills you need for a role in IT customer service with the Google IT Support Specialist Professional Certificate on Coursera. Learn at your own pace from industry experts at Google.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Article sources


Indeed. "Customer Support Representative Salary in India, https://in.indeed.com/career/customer-support-representative/salaries." Accessed March 28, 2024.

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