What exactly does a customer service agent do?
Whether you’re working from home, a jungle treehouse, or a dull grey cubicle, just what can you expect from a job in customer service?
25 January
6 min read
chatting as customer support agent

Where would we be today without good-natured service reps handling impatient demands and complaints calmly? 

Resolving customer problems, answering questions, processing orders, and providing information is indispensable work. And it’s all carried out by the customer service department. 

As an agent, you’re the link between a business and its clients. 

Your job is talking to customers via phone, email, live chat, social media, or in person. And you can do so remotely or physically at a call centre or office. 

Working remotely gives you the freedom to travel. You can even work part-time at other jobs or study and get more degrees, all while still being gainfully employed.

However you choose to work, you’ll be the main port of call. So, it’s on you to make their customer experience as positive as possible. Your sacred entrusted task is to maintain the company’s public image while handling customer issues.

The advent of customer service is a cornerstone of all trade and business. It’s as vital to human civilisation as the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel. 

(Or even sliced bread. 😊)

But just how far back in history does customer service go?

And on the 7th day, God rested

Because by day six, a customer service department had already been created to handle complaints. 😁

The world’s oldest complaint letter is from ancient Babylonia, dated 3772 years ago. The tablet to Ea-nasir by Nanni expresses Nanni’s dissatisfaction with a copper ore delivery by Ea-nasir. We can only hope that Nanni eventually got his grievance resolved, but sadly, we’ll never know.

Speeding up to more recent history, customer service came into its own in the 1700s, during the Industrial Revolution. Increased production lines meant a whole lot more customers all of a sudden. The demand for greater support led to a scale-up of dedicated support teams in response. 

Then came Bell’s invention of the telephone in 1876 and customer service took another huge leap forward. Switchboards entered the scene and people no longer needed to travel for help. 

Fast forward to now, past the intervening years of 1800 helplines, IVR systems, and the birth of call centres. With the rise of the internet came emails, instant messaging, live chats, help desks, and social media. 

And this is where we are today. 

With multiple channels open to customers and companies alike, consumer care is now a functioning industry in its own right. 

According to Gartner, 40% of customer service organisations are set to transition from being ‘cost centres’ to ‘profit centres’ by 2025. That’s because the modern industry shoulders greater responsibility for the customer journey than its previously simple trouble-shooting avatar.

How can we serve you today?

While customer service refers to the business of handling customer-company relationships, there are various industries that offer customer service jobs. 

You don’t need a Master’s degree to work in the field but each sector requires a certain specialisation of knowledge and proficiency. Such as: 

Travel & Hospitality

Monitoring customer feedback matters here more than in any other service sector. The information you collect as a frontline agent is shared 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

Your main role is helping patients make sound medical choices and communicating updates to existing plans and services. Keep in mind that your margin for error here is extremely low. Delays in assisting or providing incorrect information could have grave consequences. 

Finance

You’ll need sound financial knowledge and be able to combine your acumen with sales skills. This helps you point customers in the right direction, towards products or plans they’ll benefit from investing in.

Insurance

Besides managing customer claim inquiries, you’ll also create legally sound documentation, finalise policy adjustments, and answer complaints. Thus, a great deal of industry knowledge is required.

Retail

Your key job is tracking and processing orders and fulfilling customer needs to help them find sought-after products. You’ll also be required to prepare all the relevant correspondence.

Software

Expect to use a digital support ticket system to record complaints and inquiries. Make sure you’re also up to speed on troubleshooting and tech solutions. You’ll need it to quickly resolve product issues.

A typical day at work

Depending on your company’s support channels, you can expect to begin the day reviewing an open customer-ticket list. This could be phone messages, live chats, or emails, or manning an in-person front desk for face-to-face support.

The bulk of your daily work is responding to customer complaints, queries, and feedback. While you may manage inquiries across a variety of channels, your key responsibility is to handle requests quickly. 

You’ll be expected to resolve customer issues, whether technical or service-based. In this regard, you’ll be required to stay alert and report any flaws in products or services, using incoming feedback. 

Based on this, you may be asked to fill in digital forms, open new customer service tickets, and/or update existing records. This will help your company track the development and resolution of any reported issue.

You might also be expected to attend meetings with colleagues, your team, or the entire customer service department. 

Finally, since you’re in direct contact with customers, you may be routinely asked complex questions by the company itself. 

Reviewing customer feedback is important for all companies. It helps them continually improve the overall quality of goods and services they offer, by tailoring them to customers’ needs. 

Come on board!

At Cocoroco, we believe in the value and power of great customer service. As early adopters of the remote work model, we’re all about matching high-quality talent with companies seeking a perfect fit for their brand. 

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

In manufacturing, for example, any new machine you buy will someday be obsolete. But when you invest in creating an amazing customer experience, the value never drops.

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