Working at home has become more the norm thanks to Covid-19. And few jobs are more suitable for this than customer service reps.
Not too long ago these jobs were heavily outsourced to foreign countries where labor is cheaper. But after years of customer complaints about problematic communication issues, companies are focusing their efforts on homeshoring rather than offshoring to other countries to handle calls. Just about every type of business – from banks and insurance firms to retailers and tech companies – hires customer service reps.
Customer service rep job description
Customer service reps work on the phone and through email and live chat on computers. They have a variety of duties, depending on the type of business and company. These reps answer questions about products and services, handle complaints, confirm orders and deal with billing issues, among other things. They need to resolve problems quickly and, if they can’t, know who to turn to. In addition, reps need to be able to keep track of their interactions with customers.
Required skills and qualifications
Although most customer service rep jobs only require a high school diploma or GED, you’ll need to have a variety of soft skills, along with basic computer and writing skills. If you’ll be handling live chat, you need to be a proficient typist. It also helps to have experience in a job that directly deals with customers, such as those in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries.
If you’re interested in becoming a customer service rep you’ll need certain soft skills:
- Active listening – You’ll have to listen carefully to the customers and their concerns and problems, paying very careful attention to ensure you understand what they need.
- A positive attitude – Being outgoing and positive will be greatly appreciated by the customers you deal with.
- Problem solving skills – You need to be a quick thinker and be able to solve problems effectively, resulting in a high level of customer satisfaction.
- Motivation – Working remotely from home requires an ability to work on your own. Be sure you have a quiet place to work with no distractions.
- Organization – You may have to follow up on customer requests, so it’s important to be able to keep records of the calls and organize them efficiently. This is usually done with the help of automated customer support software provided by the employer.
- Patience and emotional intelligence – At times you will be dealing with disgruntled customers, so communicating with them politely and with empathy is critical, as is not taking things personally.
Creating your workspace
A quiet, private “office” or workspace in your home is essential. That way, you will be able to handle the calls without being distracted. There’s also a basic level of equipment and services you will need to be a customer service rep. These are sometimes provided by the employer and include:
- A laptop or desktop computer
- High speed internet connection
- Webcam (This may be necessary for video meetings with your team or your boss.)
Type of training to get you going
Most employers will offer a two- to four-week training program that covers what you’ll need to know to do the job. Topics may include procedures for dealing with customers, the company’s products and services, and how to use the computer system, as well as other things necessary to handle customer calls.
How to prepare for an interview
Before you interview for a customer service rep position, make sure you do your homework and learn as much about the company as possible. Study its website. And remember to check customer reviews, if there are any. This is a great way to find out what people think about the company and its products and services.
Prepare an elevator pitch, so you’ll have something to say if they ask you, “Tell me about yourself.”
Practice answering potential interview questions. And here are a few examples:
- What skills and experience do you have that would be beneficial as a customer service representative?
- Why would you like to work as a customer service representative?
- What attracted you to our company?
- Are you good at talking to people?
- How will you handle an angry caller?
- Tell me about a situation where you had to work under pressure and how you handled it.
- Are you able to talk on the phone and type at the same time?
In preparing for interviews, it can be helpful to do an internet search on specific interview questions and their best answers, starting with one of our recent blog articles .This will help remind you of experiences you have had and let you practice your own responses to these questions. Role-playing interview questions as part of your interview preparation can also be very helpful. We have written extensively about interview tips in other articles and also on our website.
A certificate can set you apart
You probably won’t need formal education beyond a high school diploma or GED. But you may want to take advantage of a certificate program to help you prepare for a customer service representative job. And a certificate will set you apart from other applicants.
Administered by the Management and Strategy Institute, The Call Center Associate Certified certificate course, priced at $99, will teach you how to establish rapport, develop emotional intelligence and listening skills, ask proper questions and provide information effectively, among other things you’ll need for this type of job.
How to find a job
There are scores of customer service jobs listed on the various job boards. Search by using such terms as “virtual customer service” or “remote customer service.” The last two companies on this list specialize in remote work, but all of the boards have work-at-home customer service positions. You should also check out the websites of specific companies that you might be interested in working for.
The best job boards to check out include: