Inside Customer Service Representative Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"French Language Skills For Business Careers...
What surprised me most about my career is that French is a needed business language in the United States. I have clients and customers in Canada, and my French degree enables me to communicate with them and further my career." (Customer Support Analyst; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied French And International Relations at Western Michigan University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2008

"Sometimes Education Is Not Enough...
In my field, it is not well known that even with a good education it can still take years of working in a retail to setting to become a buyer. College simply provides the foundation for a career like this." (Customer Service; 2014)

Career: 15 years of experience, currently based in Oklahoma, female
School: Studied Fashion Merchandising at Dallas Fashion Merchandising College in Texas; completed Associate degree in 1972

"Large Task Range In Customer Service...
I was surprised at the range of tasks I am responsible for as a Customer service Rep. I was surprised at the low pay in customer service." (Customer Service; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Iowa, female
School: Studied Sociology at Mid America Nazarene University in Kansas; completed Bachelor degree in 2011

"Helping People Make Payment Decisions...
As a mortgage collector, working with customers who were having problems making their payments I was surprised at how many men didn't have any idea how much their mortgage payment was, or when it was due! The women handle most of the finances for homes. Women were more apt to ask for special programs that would help them get the payments caught up. Men had no idea what to do." (Mortgage Collector; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, female
School: Studied Business at Bosse High School in Indiana in 1972

"Volume Of Stressful Calls...
I was surprised by the amount of calmness and ability to handle these stressful calls that come into the call center. Not only do you have to possess the ability to do a million things at once but you must have the strength of character to calm down whomever it is you are speaking to get the relevant information to send them help. You see law enforcement, fire dept and ems getting accolades for the work they do, but what you don't see is that person on the phone who is actually the first person on scene. All in all becoming a communications officer has taught me I do have the strength and character to handle what comes my way." (Communications Officer; 2012)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, female
School: Studied Communications Officer at Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Georgia; completed Certificate degree in 2007

"I was surprised how well-paid you can be in this profession. You need to deal with stress efficiently, however." (Customer Service; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Political Science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

"I was surprised that being a customer service clerk involved as much math as it did. It was sometimes difficult to figure out the correct totals and percentages off." (Customer Service Clerk; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied General Studies at Central High School in New Hampshire; completed Diploma degree in 2012

"Working at a hotel, you have to be trustworthy being there at night alone. But It's a great job to have when you have online classes to take. Also, once you receive your degree, you may get to go to dayshift and make some big decisions." (Guest Service Rep; 2012)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Kentucky, female
School: Studied Business at Mid Continent University in Kentucky; completed Associate degree in 2012

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Customer Service: "The best part of the job is when you know you have helped someone or made someone's day a bit brighter. Helping out in an emergency is always very fulfilling as well. The worst part is when upset and frustrated callers decide to take those frustrations out on you, even when they know you don't actually work for the company. Being yelled at for something you have no control over and then having to apologize anyway can be very disheartening." (2011)

Customer Service Representative: "The best part of my career involves the hours in which I work. I prefer getting to the office early in the morning, working set hours during the day, and getting home a reasonable hour. There is a sense of stability in knowing that your schedule does not fluctuate all that often. I also enjoy being able to help the customers with their issues. The process of changing a possibly confused and annoyed customer to one that is fully satisfied is a truly gratifying experience." (2011)

Customer Service Representative: "The best part of my career is the satisfaction of helping people and making their lives just a little easier. Most people dread calling customer service, and I love being the one guy you can rely on to fix your problem the right way. Some parts you may not enjoy about my job include talking to people who are upset, don't listen and not very bright. They are a challenge to deal with, and can drain your battery on any given day." (2011)

Customer Service Representative: "The best part of working in a call center is being able to speak and help out all different kinds of people around the united states, and you never know who you'll be speaking with on the next call. I've spoken to some very interesting people. On the other hand that can be one of the worst parts too because some of those people are very angry with their service or bill or whatever issue they're having. However, it's a great feeling to help those customers resolve there issues and have them getting off the phone in a much better mind and a better opinion on the company. I find it very satisfying." (2011)

Customer Service Representative: "The best part of my career is that my coworkers are amazing. I have a group of people around me who are extremely intelligent and very funny. A lot of the time we will sit and chit chat when things are slow. The people in my group genuinely care about each other and we honestly want to see each other do well. The worst part of my job is that compared to other spaces in our company, I really think that we are not as customer-centric as the other spaces. I really wish that we would be able to answer more technical questions on the spot instead of having to direct to the forums, and I really wish that sometimes we would be allowed to refund on the spot for small amounts. I think that overall it would be a better customer experience if we were able to do these things." (2011)

Box Office Ticket Agent: "The best part of my career is that I get to work in the arts. The work I do, in the box office, helps the actors and singers and musicians focus on their art and add to the world's store of beauty. The worst part of my job, like any customer service job, is dealing with cranky patrons. There are only so many polite ways to say, "No, I'm afraid that your discount to the opera does not apply to the Symphony..."" (2011)

Customer Service Representative: "The best part of my job is the interaction with my customers when we put our heads together and figure out the best solution to their specific job situation. Businesses in this field seem to mostly be family outfits, which makes for an awesome work environment. The worst part of the job is the slow winter months when contractors just don't have the work and therefore don't need our services as much. This leads to a lot of busy work that is not very productive or fun." (2011)

Customer Service Representative: "The best parts of the career are the constant change and fast-paced environment. No two days are alike and you get the opportunity to talk to many different types of people each day. You are constantly answer phones or helping customers, so the pace is very fast. It makes the day go by extremely fast and keeps you on your toes. In addition, you tend to learn something new everyday, which is really great. The worst part of the career is the possibility of coming into contact with unhappy customers. You must maintain professionalism even when a customer is using vulgar or demeaning words toward you." (2011)

Customer Service Representative: "The best part of my career is the pay and the benefits that come with it. The worst part is the stress involved. The pay and vacation time definitely help combat this stress, but it's still very nerve-racking and fast paced. There are quota stat numbers to keep up with and that can be anxiety-inducing. Often, there will be free lunch, raffles, or a snack cart that comes around to help lift morale. I sometimes dislike when we have a high call volume and I have to be on the phones my entire shift (I prefer to switch it up)." (2011)

Parts Department In A Motorcycle Dealership: "I enjoy my career because of the variety of tasks to do each day and the variety of people I serve. Our customers vary from grungy garage mechanics to business executives, college students to grandparents. Every day holds something different and I feel as if I am an important part of the dealership team, who is therefore an important part to the motorcycle lifestyle and overall success of the our brand. Unfortunately, some days may seem tedious and boring and when there are few customers, I am generally cleaning or organizing the thousands of parts we keep. If someone carelessly places a part or if we cannot find a part that a mechanic needs urgently, we may spend hours coming to a resolution, either by finding the part after an exhaustive search or driving to a nearby dealership to buy a part from them. Although I thoroughly enjoy helping customers, I occasionally face discrimination because of my gender and have to help even the most difficult and rude customers." (2011)

Tier 1 Customer Service Representative: "The best part of my career is the flexibility and how unusual it is. I have a job that most people have never thought about. Helping players through chat, in a fantasy card game online is not a traditional career. However, it fits me and my personality perfectly. The worst thing is probably the unruly, rude players that we have to interact with occasionally. Thankfully the rude ones are the exception, so it's not an every day thing to be yelled at through chat." (2011)

Coach Relations Representative: "The worst part about my career is that it is very fast-paced and stressful and people are not always pleasant to speak to. I get very tired and frustrated speaking on the phone to people all day. They also call when the company is having problems with the website not working correctly. There are also a lot of calls from people that don't know how to use the internet or a computer and they expect me us to help them out. The best part about my career is that I have very nice coworkers and we always help each other out and support each other." (2011)

Customer Resolution Specialist: "The most difficult thing about my work is dealing with particularly angry customers. Often, they have very good reason to be angry and vent at the only representative of the company they have. It is occasionally difficult to keep from becoming angry. This, however, is a very important part of the job. The best thing about this work is that the company provides outstanding support in terms of the tools it takes to do the job. Not only do I have the tools needed when taking supervisor calls, but each individual customer service representative is empowered to correct issues and compensate customers as appropriate." (2011)

Customer Service Associate: "The best part of my career is helping people to understand their services and fix their equipment. The worst part of my career is being somewhat limited in how much I am permitted to help folks due to time limitations and support boundaries. While I understand the need for these limitations from my employer's point of view, it can be frustrating to know that I might be able to better help someone if these limitations did not exist." (2011)

Member Service Associate: "The best part of my job is the customer satisfaction. Many times customers will call back to ask for a supervisor so they can praise the job I did. Not only does this make me feel good but I also get a certificate and reward in the form of either a Dunkin' Donuts gift cards or movie tickets. I usually get at least two of these praise calls a month. One time, in fact, I got six in one day. It makes you feel good to know you did something to help someone else. I love the job I have and hope to be here for a long time. The worst part of the job is when a member calls and is angry from the time you answer and no matter what you do or offer to do he is not going to be happy. I can honestly say in the six years I have been with this company I have had only one of those callers. They are the ones who want a supervisor immediately and nothing I can offer will change their mind. Most times I might get an irate member I have the ability to defuse the problem and satisfy him without a supervisors help." (2010)

Life Benefits Specialist: "The best part of my job is being able to help the family of an Employee who's died. The satisfaction of being able to contact a family member and let him know that there is a Life Insurance pay out under the policy is very satisfying. The worst part of my job is dealing every day with sad situations and trying to comfort family members while having to decline the coverage as the employee was not considered eligible under the policy." (2010)

Finance Assistant: "The best part of the job is getting to interact with other people all day, every day. I talk to project managers, engineers and sometimes the Chief Information Officer or Chief Financial Officer on the customer's end and within my own company. It is a cross-functional job which gives me a little insight into other lines of work and a better understanding of how my company operates. Even though this is a collections job, I am representing my company and I need to be professional and courteous at all times. We want our money but we also want repeat business. The hardest part of the job is predicting accurately when we will receive payment so that I can meet my quarterly goals and the rest of the company can meet its goals as well. Once you get to know the customers, it gets easier." (2010)

Career Background

Customer Service Representative

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Know Exactly What To Expect Before Committing Yourself...
If you're really interested in Fashion Merchandising, try to get as much experience in a retail setting as possible. And speak to other professionals in this field before you commit to an educational path." (Customer Service; 2014)

"Keep An Open Mind...
Go in with in open mind because the things you expect might not be a reality" (Customer Service; 2014)

"Studying Different Dialects Of French...
If you are a French major considering joining the business world, consider taking some classes that focus on Quebecoise as well as standard French. The Quebec accent is different from the traditional French accent, and can be difficult to understand at first." (Customer Support Analyst; 2013)

"Calm Demeanor Helps Upset Customers...
To do this career well you will want to have a good handle on math and figuring payments with interest, etc. Being a very calm and caring person helps you help the customer make financial decisions." (Mortgage Collector; 2013)

"4 Quick Tips...
Tip 1: Be able to type quickly and accurately without looking at the keyboard at all. Tip 2: Be able to type while speaking to another person. Tip 3: Have a pleasant and courteous demeanor and be able to speak clearly. Tip 4: Have an extraordinary amount of patience." (Customer Service; 2011)

"Be Open To Constructive Suggestions...
1. Work on your written and vocal communication skills. This extra work can only help your chances to succeed. 2. Be open to suggestions from your peers regarding types of customers. Those that have been around for a while tend to get a feel for the types of people calling in and the troubles they seem to have. 3. Take the constructive criticism given to you by your superiors as helpful advice instead of "deconstructive" opinions." (Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Communication Skills...
One tip I would give for pursuing a career in my field is to gain excellent communication skills. Being able to phrase things in a positive way all the time helps. Another tip I would give is that college is not necessary to enter this field. Most companies will hire almost anyone that can put two words together for these jobs. The last tip I would give is to gain the ability to explain things in many ways. Not everyone understands things the same way, and being able to reword your phrasing helps immensely." (Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Customer Service Do's And Don'ts...
Have patience, Don't give up at the beginning. It takes time to adjust. Be patient with customers and don't let them affect your mood persona. Remember that if they're angry, they're not mad at you; they're angry with the company. Don't ever give up. Do whatever it takes to resolve the issue. Help is always available along with many other resources. Don't ever think you cant do anything. Don't be shy; be confident. The customer can hear your confidence and knows they are being taken care of." (Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Don't Take Angry Customers Personally...
First, you have to remember that when a customer is mad, although they may be rude and upset, it is not because of you. Sometimes it is hard sit and really listen to a customer yell and swear about a problem that they are having, but sometimes all they really want is for someone to acknowledge their problem and take ownership of it. The best customer service reps are the ones that remember that they too are customers at times, and they too get mad at times. The second most important thing to remember is to treat your customers like your friends. You wouldn't be rude and snippy to your friends (hopefully), so you shouldn't be that way to your customers. They are your job security and you should know first hand how they feel." (Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Keep Smiling...
Learn to smile, even when you want to strangle someone! Being able to smile, even when dealing with difficult people, will help not just in customer service, but in many areas of your life. When you are in a call center, the mute button is your friend. Use it, but make sure it IS engaged, before you vent. Put in some extra time to learn all the little tips and tricks you can about any specialized software you use. Little known keyboard shortcuts could save you ten minutes over the course of a busy day." (Box Office Ticket Agent; 2011)

"Know-It-Alls And Know-Nothings...
Learn to communicate with a variety of different people. There will be people that don't have a clue about what they are doing and need you to walk them through an entire project. Alternatively, you will deal with folks who think they know everything and for no other reason that stubbornness refuse to take any advice. Communication really is the strongest asset anyone working in customer service could posses to ensure a happy boss. If you like talking to people all day, this job is probably for you." (Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Learn How To Communicate To Different People...
Consider taking courses to increase your typing skills - you are usually required to type notes during your conversations with customers. If you do not enjoy working with people and helping people, this career is not for you. Increase your knowledge of communication techniques - you will come in contact with many different types of people and it is important to learn how to communicate with different people in different ways. Not everyone communicates the same way. Learn a foreign language, specifically Spanish. Customers come from all walks of life and from many different countries, and Spanish will be very helpful." (Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Leverage Corporate Training...
I would take advantage of any training options or programs that the employer offers. This helps you keep abreast of on any new product developments, ideas, or directions the company is going in. It also keeps you well informed and competent at your job. Find a way to organize customer information as efficiently as possible. This requires you to individualize how you organize in general to match what works best for you. There are many follow ups with customers and things to check up on while not working with the customer directly. You will need to keep track of all of this." (Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Love The Lifestyle Of Your Industry...
If you choose to pursue career pertaining to the motorcycle lifestyle, be sure that you are passionate about the lifestyle, the riders, and what they represent. It would be helpful if you owned a motorcycle and rode yourself, although I do not. Take special care of details and show that you are capable of multitasking. Hone your customer service skills, as that is what landed me my position. Previous experience as a mechanic, or reading mechanical-type diagrams, would be extremely beneficial." (Parts Department In A Motorcycle Dealership; 2011)

"Work From Home Jobs On The Rise...
Search for work-at-home jobs online; more and more of these types of jobs are becoming available, and the demand for employees with experience like this is increasing. Start out with whatever work you can get online, and build up your experience in that area from there. Never pay someone online to give you a list of jobs or tips. Everything you need is free online, you just have to find it and sort through it." (Tier 1 Customer Service Representative; 2011)

"Patience Needed...
I would recommend that you exercise the virtue of patience because if you are not a patient person, you will not enjoy this career. Learn how to handle and control your frustration by taking some personal development and management courses to guide you down the correct path. You should also take accounting courses so that you can familiarize yourself with payroll questions or problems that you may have to fix and help people out with." (Coach Relations Representative; 2011)

"Separate Business Life From Personal Life...
The key to success in this field is knowledge. There is always something new to learn as things change constantly. It is critical that you remain flexible in terms of process and procedures. In addition to technical knowledge, management courses will help you to get ahead. Leadership is critical in a rapidly changing environment. Courses in leadership, supervision and counseling would be particularly valuable. This type of work deals with the public, and therefore I recommend any form of training that would allow a prospective employee in the field to remain an objective outlook. To do this work and remain happy requires the ability to separate business from the personal." (Customer Resolution Specialist; 2011)

"Take The High Road With Agitated Customers...
This job often requires a great deal of patience, and sometimes you will be subjected to verbal abuse. Callers may be angry by the time they reach you, or they may be extremely technologically inept. You must be able to maintain a professional, calm demeanor regardless of the caller's attitude or ability to work with you. Learn as much as you can about the basics of telephone, Internet, and television equipment and services before applying; training is provided, but can't possibly cover all of the aspects of technology that you will address in this position. If you haven't already, take a keyboarding class. Although the typing speed required is fairly low, you will be much more efficient and less stressed if you don't have to "hunt and peck" when you're completing the trouble tickets that are required." (Customer Service Associate; 2011)

"Avoid Regrets - Take College Seriously...
Value your schooling while you can. You'll hear (and may even say one day), "I wished I'd taken school more seriously," "I wish I'd paid more attention," "I wish I'd gone to college" or "I wish I could do it over." You can't and I can't, but I consider myself extremely lucky to be employed. My career in the financial industry lasted 12 years and I could have pursued other jobs in that area but at the time jobs were few and far between, and I love customer service, so when I was offered this opportunity I took it and am so thankful I did." (Member Service Associate; 2010)

"Expand Your Role...
Take on as many extra jobs as you can besides what you handle on a day to day basis. Always volunteer to take on extra work such as helping other members of the team. If the company you work for offers courses, take as many as you can. This will help when pursuing a job opening through another division in the company." (Life Benefits Specialist; 2010)

"Need To Be Even Tempered...
This job requires someone who can be patient and does not get upset easily. A pleasant voice and an even tone help you build a sturdy relationship with the customer. And good working relationships are essential. As you build a working relationship if/when there is problem with an invoice, the Accounts Payable person will be willing to work with you and help you resolve any issues that may come up. Never use harsh or threatening words or tones in your voice and always be professional. If you don't, upper management will hear about it from the customer. Also, you need to ask questions as to why something is not being paid and be willing to ask for the approver's contact information so you can work directly with them to resolve their complaints. It is essential to research the concerns that the customer's voiced and get back to him quickly. Sometimes it is necessary to talk to the customer's Chief Finance Officer (CFO) or you need to request help from your own Chief Finance Officer." (Finance Assistant; 2010)