What exactly does a customer service agent do?
Whether you're working from home, an Airbnb over the sea, or an office cubicle — what can you expect from a job in customer service?
25 January
10 min read
chatting as customer support agent

If you’re a quick thinker who enjoys problem-solving and helping others, you’re probably a perfect fit for customer support work.

But you may have some questions before you explore jobs in the industry. Like — what kind of work is customer service? What does a customer service representative do? And how can a support job help your career?

So first, let’s look at what consumer care is all about.

Think of customer service as the relationship between businesses and buyers. As a service representative, you’re the link between the two, connecting a company with its customer base.

On the consumer side, your primary responsibility is providing good customer service by quickly resolving customer issues and complaints. On the company side, you help strengthen its relationships with consumers by delivering customer satisfaction and building loyalty.

And you’d be surprised how far back in time this relationship goes.

Customer service is an old profession

Caring for dissatisfied customers is as old as trade and commerce itself. With every purchase humans have made in history, some grievances were bound to follow — and ‘The Letter to Ea-nasir by Nanni’ is a perfect example.

Carefully preserved at the British Museum, it’s the oldest customer complaint letter in the world, carved on a clay tablet dating back to the Bronze Age. In it, a customer is complaining about dissatisfaction with a copper ore delivery in a chiselled script.

Dealing with customer issues is as old and noble a profession as any, and not much has changed since ancient Babylonia. Customer service reps still support customers who contact businesses for any reason, primarily to help with a company’s products, deliveries, or services.

As a customer service agent, your job is to resolve these issues. So let’s see how you’ll do that.

Customer service representative job description

The customer service department does indispensable work across every industry, from healthcare to consumer goods to information technology. Imagine how chaotic the world would be without dedicated support staff handling our complaints and issues.

Customer service reps resolve problems, answer questions, process orders, and provide information to busy customers day after day.

Here are some key customer service job responsibilities:

  • Answering incoming customer inquiries
  • Solving customer problems
  • Processing payments and refunds
  • Resolving delivery issues
  • Taking new orders or customisation requests
  • Handling product returns or replacements
  • Updating customer information
  • Monitoring customer accounts
  • Addressing billing concerns
  • Maintaining records of customer interactions
  • Participating in customer outreach initiatives
  • Replying to customer feedback
  • Providing internal recommendations based on customer inputs
  • Reporting bugs, errors, and glitches
  • Engaging in customer loyalty-building initiatives
  • Onboarding and training new agents
  • Creating documentation from product knowledge
  • Being in a direct feedback loop for market research
  • Increasing customer retention through various means

Depending on your customer service job, you might have to handle incoming customer communication via phone, email, live chat, social messaging, or in person. Your work could be remote, where you answer customer questions online, in customer care at a call centre, or from your company’s brick-and-mortar office.

Customer service agent job skills

Customer service is a people-facing business requiring specific soft skills and areas of expertise.

If you’re looking for work in customer service, here are some of the skills and requirements you might be asked about in your interview to see if you’re a good fit for the role:

  • Whether you’re an empathetic personality type
  • Your active listening skills
  • The ability to reason and analyse quickly
  • Excellent communication skills, written and verbal
  • Your problem-solving capability
  • Your computer skills and technical knowledge
  • Ability to adapt to dynamic situations
  • Degree of multi-tasking and time-management skills
  • Any previous customer service experience
  • A high-school diploma
  • Customer support certification (optional but advantageous)

A typical day at work in customer service

Based on what kind of customer support role you’re in, here’s how your average day will pan out:

Review open inquiries

At the start of each day, you’ll see a list of inbound customer emails, calls, live chats, or messages to answer. These are often already listed in order of priority, so you don’t need to decide which ones to reply to first.

The support you’ll provide will extend to all customer issues, like fixing technical glitches, solving product or delivery-related problems, handling billing inquiries, etc.

Answer customers quickly

The bulk of your work is to respond to customers, usually meant to be done within a set amount of time per query, known as average handle time.

To resolve issues quickly, you could also be assigned to manage special customer queues based on your skills. For example, you could serve a specific language group, offer advanced technical support skills, or be in charge of answering customer feedback.

Report issues

Because you have direct contact with customers, you will be the first to notice a spike in product or service-related issues.

To track such errors, you may need to fill in digital forms, open bug-specific tickets, and update existing records for your company. All of which help your company track the development and resolution of reported problems.

Attend meetings

Expect regular meetings with your colleagues across multiple teams and the entire customer service department to be a common occurrence.

If you work online, these meetings usually occur on video-friendly software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Such meetings are meant to introduce new colleagues, brainstorm ideas, and stay updated on new developments within your company or department.

Provide feedback

Filling in surveys, forms, and other documents is a routine part of your job.

Your company will usually ask all agents for reported issues and feedback since you’re in direct touch with the customer base. Feedback like this is valuable as it helps a business improve its goods and services by tailoring them to customers’ needs.

Customer service by industry

For the most part, a high-school diploma is enough to begin working in customer service; however, some industries might require further specialisation or specific qualifications.

While every type of industry requires a customer service team, the demand for computer support specialists, in particular, will grow 9% between 2020 and 2030, as per Coursera‘s findings. As a result, IT support agents can expect more job opportunities and higher pay in the coming decade.

Each industrial sector listed below may require additional skills, knowledge, and proficiency to fill vacancies in their open customer service positions.

Travel & Hospitality

Working in this sector as a customer service agent will require you to monitor customer feedback and share it with different departments, like sales and development, to optimise product offerings. This way, your company can stay competitive in service and be ready to announce last-minute deals or promotions.

Healthcare

As a healthcare agent, your primary role is to help patients make sound medical choices. So you’ll be in charge of sending regular updates to existing plans and services.

Keep in mind that your margin for error here is low. Delays in assisting or providing incorrect information regarding healthcare can have serious consequences.

Finance

You’ll need sound financial knowledge to work as a customer service representative in this industry. You’ll also have to be good at combining your financial knowledge with sales skills, helping you point customers towards products or plans they’ll benefit from investing in.

Insurance

A customer service agent job in the insurance sector mainly manages customer claim inquiries. As an insurance customer service representative, you’ll create legally-sound documentation, finalise policy adjustments, and answer complaints. You’ll also need a great deal of industry knowledge.

Retail

As a retail customer service agent, you’ll spend the bulk of your time assisting customers with purchases, tracking and processing orders, and preparing all relevant billing and correspondence. If the job involves working in retail stores, you’ll also be helping customers physically.

Software

Service in the software sector requires you to be familiar with all kinds of digital know-how, technical troubleshooting, and IT solutions. Expect to use a digital support ticket system to record complaints and inquiries. You’ll also need to be well-versed in data security and cyber safety.

The remote customer service industry

Today, consumer care is an immense and profitable global industry, with multiple communication channels open to customers and companies alike. But the most considerable development in modern times is the evolution of remote customer service.

The work-from-home revolution swept our world into a new order of business, and the global demand for remote customer support talent is rising.

Instead of DIAL-1800 helplines, automated phone menus, and traditional call centres, remote customer service reps work from a cloud office. They can connect with customers anywhere in the world via email, live chat, and social media messaging.

The new world of work means you can serve global customers by working remotely from your home office for top international brands worldwide. Not only that, but it also means the entry-level bar for recruiting high-quality remote service representatives is rising as companies place greater value on hiring talented customer service agents amidst stiff global competition.

And with Gartner recognising 40% of customer service operations transitioning to ‘profit centres’ by 2025, delivering solid support is now a valuable driver for garnering customer loyalty and generating more business.

As a customer service agent, this makes you an essential part of any business’s growth and expansion plans.

The benefits of a remote customer service job

There are many advantages to working in a remote customer service position beyond showing up for work in your favourite PJs and a beanie, like:

You can work from anywhere 

A home office is a perfectly suitable setup for this job, as you only need a laptop, stable broadband, and secure access to your company’s cloud server. You’ll log into it daily and use a special customer relationship management (CRM) system to reply to customers on various channels.

You’ll have a better work-life balance

Since you don’t have to commute to work, you get more time to spend with your family and on your interests or hobbies. And even though work-from-home fatigue is real, it’s easy to beat and less stressful than the daily commute for most people. You can even study while being gainfully employed.

You’ll amass more savings

You’re free to live in less congested, non-metropolitan, or beautiful countryside locales as you don’t need to be close to an office to do your job. Furthermore, the money you save from not having to commute or buy office lunches adds to a lot of savings every year.

Work with international brands

Geographical limitations are no longer obstacles to your work chances for top global brands. With remote customer service, you gain experience working for foreign companies no matter your country and exposure to international office culture.

Come on board!

At Cocoroco, we believe in the value and power of customer service. As early adopters of the remote work model, we match high-quality talent with companies seeking a perfect fit for their service requirements.

Understanding that human desires are the same now as in ancient Babylonia proves the eternal value of investing in customer service excellence for the long term.

So if you want to be a part of such an honourable lineage, register with us today and get that remote customer service job to change your world.

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