Customer fulfillment personnel serve as the interface between the company and customers. They are responsible for ensuring that customers’ orders are fulfilled in a timely and satisfactory manner, so customers return and refer the business to other potential customers. These positions are usually a cross between customer service and sales support. Since customers are a company’s bread and butter, finding the right combination of skills is well worth the time spent in the selection process.
Customer fulfillment representatives’ duties vary. They can support the sales effort and respond to customer inquiries and problems via phone or email. Communication with customers should be prompt, knowledgeable, courteous and professional. If the representative is unable to resolve the issue, he refers it to a more senior representative, specialist or supervisor. They process orders, track them, coordinate with other departments and may expedite delivery. Most tracking systems are automated, so entering data about questions and problems is another essential function.
Since they are on the front lines with the customers, customer fulfillment personnel often are called upon to help other departments improve their operations to better serve the customers. They may conduct follow-up calls to customers to ensure that the service met their needs and respond to any lingering questions.
Sometimes they will assist with marketing strategy and training. They may even help compose frequently asked questions or other resources for the company website as a self-service option for customers.
Customer fulfillment representatives must possess good interpersonal and written communication skills. They also must be able to multi-task and solve problems in a fast-paced environment. Prospective candidates for these positions should be familiar with or have the potential to learn about the company’s products and customer base. If the product is technical, the candidate should be able to demonstrate an affinity for technology. Proficiency with business software and contact management systems is also necessary.
The level of education needed for the position will vary depending on the complexity of the product. Some positions may only require a high school degree, while companies with complex products may require an associate degree or bachelor's degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for customer service personnel are expected to increase in the next decade by 18 percent, which is higher than the average increase. Although some companies have chosen to outsource this job to foreign countries, this practice is becoming less common. Although they involve contending with irate customers from time to time, these positions can be rewarding for people who enjoy helping others and solving problems.