Customer Relations Associate Career Path
How To Become a Customer Service RepresentativeA customer service representative works directly with customers. Customer service representatives may process orders, handle complaints, answer questions, and provide support for a business. With positions available in nearly every industry, you can find a role serving customers in a field you enjoy. The best customer service representatives are great communicators who are excited to help customers with patience and empathy. If this describes you, a customer service representative job may be a good fit.
Earn a High School Diploma or GED
Customer service representatives need to complete their high school education with either a diploma or GED to receive foundational language, reasoning, and math skills.
Some customer service representatives may need some college education. Some positions may ask for an associate degree in business administration or business management as a minimum requirement.
Develop Your Skills for Continued Career Growth
Communication, listening, and problem-solving skills are among the most important skills when becoming a customer service representative. Customer service representatives need to be able to adapt and respond to different people while multi-tasking, prioritizing, and effectively managing their time. Take part in training programs your employer offers to continue sharpening and developing your basic customer service skills. Employers often offer training programs that teach support staff how to use CRM applications and computer software while learning about your company's workflow and methods to document your interactions with customers. Developing these skills will better prepare you for any future job search.
Obtain Professional Certification or Licenses
Professional certifications allow you to demonstrate mastery of the skills essential for customer service representatives. Though professional certification is not always required depending on the specific position you're applying for, you can distinguish yourself as a top candidate during a company's hiring process with a professional certification under your belt.
Common field credentials include the National Customer Service Association's Certified Customer Service Professional credential, the Customer Service Institute of America's Certified Customer Experience Professional designation, and HDI‘s Customer Service Representative training. If you work in a field like financial services or insurance, you may also need to obtain a license. Although licensure requirements will vary, most will include a written exam. Your employer may offer training for these exams in some cases.
Gain Experience Through On-The-Job Training
Most customer service representatives are trained on the job. You may also gain experience through professional certification programs or by shadowing other representatives. Training typically lasts around two to three weeks, though it can last as long as a few months for some jobs.
Training often covers the company you work for and its products, questions customers commonly ask, and the systems you will need to use for your job, like telephones and computers. When you first start out, you may be asked to handle easier complaints or questions while you receive extra support and supervision before moving on to more difficult inquiries.
Stay Up-To-Date With Regular Training
Though most customer service representatives receive short-term training, companies in certain industries may require several months of training so you can learn more complicated regulations. Expect longer initial training and/or regular training if you are working in an industry with complex or frequently changing regulations, such as finance and insurance.
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Customer Relations Associate Career Path
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