A customer service agent is the first point of contact for customers who wish to speak to a representative from a company or organization. Customer service agents often work in call center environments and in retail stores. The role involves helping to assist customers who have questions, are experiencing problems with the service or need advice about a product.
Customer service agents must be professional, helpful and courteous at all times. Often they must deal with irate customers and should therefore be able to keep calm under pressure. Customer service agents assist customers face-to-face and via phone and email. Basic computer skills are beneficial, as well as good communication skills.
Customer service agents are employed in a range of capacities but most commonly work in a call center environment. This involves taking a high volume of calls, which are sometimes monitored by team leaders in order to check the quality of calls. Often customer agents working in call centers do not get much time between phone calls and the work can become repetitive, with customers asking similar questions. Agents usually have a computer cubicle and work at a computer, using a telephone headset to answer calls.
Day-to-day customer service agents will assist customers with commonly asked questions. It is important an agent is knowledgeable about the company products and services to assist customers effectively and efficiently. Customer service agents may deal with angry customers who have complaints, or they may have to change customer data, such as a phone number on the company system. Customer service agents working in a store will answer customer queries and be a point of contact for customers face-to-face.
There is no set route to start a career as a customer service agent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employers look for those with a high school diploma. Courses in English, business and computers all form a good basis for a career in customer service. Most employers also offer some form of on-the-job training. This often involves learning to use company computer systems and how to effectively deal with customer queries.
According to Indeed.com, the average annual salary for a customer service agent in June 2010 was $60,000. However, salary varies widely based on location and type of industry. The BLS noted in 2008 that the highest-paid customer service agents were those working in the insurance industry, who earned on average $15.74 per hour in May 2008.
2016 Salary Information for Customer Service Representatives
Customer service representatives earned a median annual salary of $32,300 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, customer service representatives earned a 25th percentile salary of $25,520, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $41,430, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,784,500 people were employed in the U.S. as customer service representatives.