Customer Service Representatives

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and answer questions.

Work Environment: Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Most work full time.

How to Become One: Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma and are trained on the job. They should be good at communicating with people and adept at using computers.

Salary: The median hourly wage for customer service representatives is $16.23.

Job Outlook: Employment of customer service representatives is projected to decline 2 percent over the next ten years. There will be less demand for customer service representatives as more of their tasks become automated.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of customer service representatives with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a customer service representative with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Customer Service Representative Jobs

  • Entry Level Customer Service Representative - Adecco - Brunswick, GA

    As an Entry Level Customer Service Representative at Radial you will respond efficiently and accurately to callers, explaining possible solutions and ensuring that clients feel supported and valued

  • Customer Service Representative - Adecco - Pueblo, CO

    If, you're looking for a Customer Service Representative job, then look no further! Adecco is looking for candidates who thrive in a fast-moving, Call Center environment for Customer Service ...

  • Call Center/Customer Service Representative - Teleperformance - Clearfield, UT

    Provide excellent customer service at all times * Follow up to customer inquiries by taking specific action in a timely manner * Troubleshoot equipment and system problems * Problem solve to help ...

See all Customer Service Representative jobs

What Customer Service Representatives Do[About this section] [To Top]

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization's products and services.

Dutiesof Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives typically do the following:

  • Listen to customers' questions and concerns, and provide answers or responses
  • Provide information about products and services
  • Take orders, calculate charges, and process billing or payments
  • Review or make changes to customer accounts
  • Handle returns or complaints
  • Record details of customer contacts and actions taken
  • Refer customers to supervisors or more experienced employees

Customer service representatives answer questions or requests from customers or the public. They typically provide services by phone, but some also interact with customers face to face, or by email or live chat.

The specific duties of customer service representatives vary by industry. For example, representatives who work in banks may answer customers' questions about their accounts. Representatives who work for utility and telecommunication companies may help customers with service problems, such as outages. Those who work in retail stores often handle returns, process refunds, and help customers locate items. Some representatives make changes to customers' accounts, such as updating addresses or canceling orders. Although selling is not their main job, some representatives may help generate sales while providing information about a product or service.

Customer service representatives typically use a telephone, computer, and other office equipment. For example, representatives who work in call centers answer phone calls and use computers to explore available solutions for customers. Those employed in retail stores may use registers to process returns or orders.

Work Environment for Customer Service Representatives[About this section] [To Top]

Customer service representatives hold about 3.0 million jobs. The largest employers of customer service representatives are as follows:

Retail trade 14%
Insurance carriers and related activities 12%
Business support services 11%
Wholesale trade 7%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 6%

Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Representatives usually work in an office setting, but working from home is also possible in some companies. In offices, representatives may work in a large room alongside other employees, so the work area can be noisy. Some workers may be under pressure to answer a designated number of calls while supervisors monitor them for quality assurance. In addition, the work can sometimes be stressful when they interact with dissatisfied customers.

In retail stores, representatives may spend hours on their feet assisting customers in person.

Customer Service Representative Work Schedules

Although most customer service representatives work full time, some work part time. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Jobs in call centers may require representatives to work shifts early in the morning or late at night because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.

How to Become a Customer Service Representative[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Customer Service Representatives near you!

Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training to learn the specific skills needed for the job. They should be good at communicating and interacting with people and have some experience using computers.

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Education for Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Customer Service Representative Training

Customer service representatives usually receive short-term on-the-job training, typically lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Those who work in finance and insurance may need several months of training to learn complicated financial regulations.

General customer-service training may focus on procedures for answering questions, information about a company's products and services, and computer and telephone use. Trainees often work under the guidance of an experienced worker for the first few weeks of employment.

In certain industries, such as finance and insurance, customer service representatives must remain current with changing regulations.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Customer Service Representatives

Customer service representatives who provide information about finance and insurance may need a state license. Although licensing requirements vary by state, they usually include passing an exam. Some employers and organizations may provide training for these exams.

Advancement for Customer Service Representatives

With experience, customer service representatives may advance to supervisory roles.

Important Qualities for Customer Service Representatives

Communication skills. Customer service representatives must be able to provide clear information in writing, by phone, or in person so that customers can understand them.

Customer-service skills. Representatives help companies retain customers by answering their questions and responding to complaints in a helpful and professional manner.

Interpersonal skills. Representatives should be able to create positive interactions with customers.

Listening skills. Representatives must listen carefully and understand a customer's situation in order to assist them.

Patience. Representatives should be patient and polite, especially when interacting with dissatisfied customers.

Problem-solving skills. Representatives must determine solutions to a customer's problem. By resolving issues effectively, representatives contribute to customer loyalty and retention.

Customer Service Representative Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median hourly wage for customer service representatives is $16.23. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.65, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.59.

The median hourly wages for customer service representatives in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Wholesale trade $18.47
Insurance carriers and related activities $17.88
Professional, scientific, and technical services $17.74
Business support services $13.78
Retail trade $12.93

Although most customer service representatives work full time, some work part time. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Jobs in call centers may require representatives to work shifts early in the morning or late at night because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.

Job Outlook for Customer Service Representatives[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of customer service representatives is projected to decline 2 percent over the next ten years.

There will be less demand for customer service representatives as more of their tasks become automated. Internet self-service or interactive voice-response systems, social media, and mobile applications are increasingly popular because they enable customers to perform simple tasks without speaking to a representative. Improvements in technology will gradually allow these automated systems to perform even more advanced tasks. Some companies will continue to use in-house service centers to differentiate themselves from competitors, particularly for complex inquiries such as refunding accounts or confirming insurance coverage.

However, jobs for customer service representatives are projected to be added in business support services, which includes telephone call centers. Some businesses will contract out their customer service operations to telephone call centers because the call centers provide consolidated sales and customer service functions.

Job Prospects for Customer Service Representatives

Despite the projected decline in employment, job prospects for customer service representatives are expected to be good because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

Employment projections data for Customer Service Representatives, 2018-28
Occupational Title Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28
Percent Numeric
Customer service representatives 2,972,600 2,921,000 -2 -51,600


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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