Customer Service



The first line of defense for any business is a well-trained customer service department. The quickest way to lose an existing customer or a potential customer is by not having a friendly and knowledgeable person available to answer their questions and address their concerns when they arise.
 
Customer service representatives should possess excellent communication, listening and interpersonal skills, be familiar with the best practices for dealing with customers, possess problem-solving skills and be patient and polite, even when a customer is difficult to please.

Education Requirements

Many jobs within the customer service industry require nothing more than a high school diploma and on-the-job training. However, there are more formal training programs available for those who wish to advance in their career.

Some technical/trade schools and community colleges offer certificate programs in customer service. These programs take less than two years to complete and include training in conflict resolution, time management, behavioral styles, computer literacy and document processing.

Associate degree programs also are available both online and in traditional classroom settings and take 18 to 24 months to complete. Associate degree programs include coursework in the principles of customer care, communication, marketing, employee management and consumer objectives. Those who earn associate degrees in customer service can work as sales clerks, administrative assistants, receptionists and bank tellers.

A bachelor’s degree in customer service also is available through many online and traditional programs. This level of training focuses on the management aspect of customer service. Candidates who possess an undergraduate degree are able to work as managers in hotels, restaurants, retail and non-profit enterprises.

In addition to a formal degree, customer service representatives who plan to work in the finance or insurance industry may require additional state licensing. Licensing requirements vary by state.

Future Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for the customer service industry is expected to grow by 15 percent between now and 2020, which is slightly higher than the average growth rate for other business and industry during the same time period.

The average annual salary for customer service representatives is $14.70 per hour.


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