How to Become a Customer Service Representative

Are you interested in a career that allows you to work with the general public? Do you enjoy having clear and consistent methods for your work? If so, working as a customer service rep may be a good option for you! Here are some quick highlights of working in this field:


• Formal education is typically not needed to work in this field

• Plenty of room for advancement

• A variety of possible work settings


If you want to know more about the ins and outs of this career, then read on; we’ll fill you in on the details, including an overview of what these office clerks do, how much they can earn, and what you’ll need to get started!



Education and Training Requirements

You will typically only need a high school diploma (or equivalent) to get a job as a customer service representative.


Employers in specialized fields however, such as financial or insurance services, may require that you have post-secondary education or professional training in a related field.


This is not always the case however, as many will provide comprehensive on-the-job training, which will teach you the necessary skills to succeed in your role.





General Job Description

As a customer service representative, you would be responsible for responding to customer questions, complaints, concerns and general feedback relating to your company’s products or services.


You would also be responsible for communicating with supervisors and management regarding the experience of customers, as well as keeping records of customer interactions. 



Typical Duties of the Job

Although the specific duties you would perform would vary from job to job, you could expect to be responsible for performing the following duties in virtually any customer service role:


• Listening to the questions, concerns and comments of customers

• Answering customer enquiries, or passing them on to another department

• Giving information and helping to solve problems

• Selling products or taking orders

• Arranging services for customers, such as booking tickets or setting up insurance policies

• Entering customer information into a computer database

• Taking payment for goods or services

• Issuing refunds

• Recording details of customer contacts, as well as actions taken

• Referring customers to supervisors or more experienced employees



Experience Needed

You typically don't need any relevant experience to be hired as a customer service representative. Some employers however, may require that you have experience in a similar role, a role in a similar industry, or a role that involved a high degree of customer contact.



Skills You’ll Need

In order to be hired as a customer service rep, and be successful in the role, you’ll need a certain set of skills, including:


Communication: Able to clearly communicate in writing, by phone, or in person

Professionalism: Able to maintain a professional and helpful demeanor when communicating with customers

Interpersonal Skills: Able to create positive interactions with customers

Listening: Must be able to listen carefully and understand a customer’s situation

Patience: Able to be patient and polite, especially when interacting with dissatisfied customers

Problem Solving: Must be able to think clearly in order to determine the proper solutions for a customer’s problem




Is This Career Right For You?

If you are interested in a career (or short-term job) that offers the following, then you may find a great deal in satisfaction working as a customer service representative:


• Having clear rules and organized methods to guide your activities

• Working with the public, and operating computers and other business machines

• Listening to people’s complaints, comments and suggestions

• Sitting or standing for long periods of time

• Low salary level



Who Employs Customer Service Reps?

If you’re looking to find a job as a customer service rep, the world is your oyster. Employers in nearly every industry employ customer service representatives.


You would be likely to find work in a telephone call centre, credit or insurance agency, bank/credit union, or a retail store, as these are some of the major employers of customer service representatives.


You could also find work with a temp agency, or a business services firm, that provides customer service representatives to companies on a contractual basis (essentially, renting them out).



Salary Level Typical to This Field

The salary or wage you might earn as a customer service rep can vary, due to the following factors:


• Your level of education

• Your level of experience

• Your specific level of responsibility

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work


Customer Service Rep Salary Canada (Alberta): According to the 2017 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Customer Service Representatives - Financial Services occupational group earn an average salary of $37,688 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 9, 2019).


Customer Service Rep Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Customer Service Representatives occupational group is $31,200 per year.



Work Environment

Hours: Most jobs for customer service reps are full-time, although there are many part-time jobs available. Your working hours would largely be dependent on the type of organization you work for, and their operating hours. For example, if working in retail, you could work at any time during their operating hours, which includes evenings and weekends.  


Setting: Your work setting would also be dependent on the type of organization you work for. For example, if employed in a call centre, you would likely work in a large office room, surrounded by many other employees. If you work in retail however, you would work in a customer-facing retail environment.


Conditions: The working conditions could vary, but generally include having to either sit or stand for long periods of time (standing reserved for customer-facing roles). Your work could become stressful, particularly when dealing with angry, rude or impatient customers. 



Customer Service Representative Job Openings

Our job board below has customer service rep postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Career Advancement Possibilities

As a customer service representative, you would have plenty of in-field career advancement options. For example, with experience, you could progress to supervisor, team leader, customer services manager, or (depending on the type of employer you work for) into sales or account handling. 



Similar Career Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are career profiles in our database for professions that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry:


• Administrative Assistant

• Bank Teller

• Office Clerk

• Public Relations Specialist

• Retail Sales Associate

• Sales Representative

• Tour Guide




Please consult the following resources to learn more about the various aspects of a career as a customer service representative.


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Other customer and information services representatives.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 9, 2019.

Office and Administrative Support:Customer Service Representatives.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 9, 2019.

Explore Careers:Customer service assistant.” (October 3, 2012). National Careers Service website. Retrieved November 9, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Customer Service Rep

The Applicable University Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to this profession. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable University Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming a customer service representative. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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