Customer service is one of the most important factors — if not the most important factor — in a businesses’ success. According to Walker_,_ a customer experience consulting firm, customers will care more about their customer service experience by 2020 than they care about competitive pricing or the product they’re actually buying.
A whopping $1.6 trillion is lost by companies in the United States each year because of poor customer service, and businesses with great customer service rake in between 4% and 8% more of the typical market share.
Needless to say, customer service administrators are the key to good business, and a career as a customer service representative can be a rewarding opportunity to help foster a connection between business and customer.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
A customer service administrator's main goal is to service the needs of a customer and facilitate sales.
Customer service administrators are the middlemen between a business and its customers. They spend their days processing orders, handling complaints and providing information about a company and the services or products they offer. They’re often the ones to put out fires if something goes absolutely wrong with a product or sale, so in that regard, being a customer service representative can be quite exciting.
There is nothing more scalding than the over-the-phone criticism of an angry customer who feels ripped off (even if, in truth, they didn’t read the fine print or they purchased the wrong product for their needs). Customer service admins are tasked with smoothing things over, searching for a solution and walking away with a resolution that appeases both the customer and the company’s goals. It’s a job that requires great people skills and a savvy, roll-with-the-punches attitude.
On the best days, customer service representatives answer phones, emails and (occasional) faxes to help facilitate sales and point consumers in the right direction. On the worst days, they’re fixing a monumental problem and troubleshooting issues. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that no two days are the same.
There are no real education requirements for a customer service administrator. All they need are good communication and problem-solving skills and to know how to use a computer. Most commonly, customer service representatives will have to be well-versed in programs like Microsoft Office. Excel is particularly important in managing inventory, a task that often falls in the hands of a customer service team. Other important skills include listening, teamwork and the ability to establish a rapport.
Though most customer service jobs don’t require a degree, you may be required to have a bachelor’s or associate's degree if you’re going into a more technical customer service field. For example, if you’re working customer service at a software company, you may be required to have a degree in computer science because your employers might expect you to troubleshoot customer software issues. Nonetheless, bachelor’s degrees remain a rarity in the field.
Customer service administrators work in varying industries — from insurance, tech and science to business support, wholesale goods and retail. They might work full-time, with a salary and benefits, but also might work part-time with an hourly wage. Quite often, customer service reps for retailers work extra hours during holidays (when sales are most prevalent) or during select busy periods following product launches. Seasonal businesses, like companies that may sell boats, hot tubs or holiday decorations, for example, might hire extra customer service representatives to fill in during their most active months.
Years of Experience
Of course, the salary made by a customer service representative grows with experience, but the biggest factor is industry. Customer service admins work in a wide variety of industries — from call centers to insurance and tech. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest 10 percent earn $26.59 per hour and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $10.65 per hour.
Over all, customer service admins make a median hourly wage of $16.23. This means half of all customer service representatives make more and half make less. Those working in the wholesale trade clocked in slightly more with a median hourly wage of $18.47. Those who worked in retail made the least with a median hourly wage of $12.93.
Job Growth Trend
Over the next 10 years, employment of customer service representatives is expected to grow 5%. Overall, the amount of customer service admins needed depends on the growth within the specific industry they’re being hired. For example, there probably won’t be many customer service jobs available for physical retail outlets amidst a shrinking brick-and-mortar retail industry, but there will probably be greater opportunity in the realm of e-commerce.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.