Become a Customer Care Professional
A customer care professional, also called a customer service professional, provides the link between an organization and its customers. Customer care professionals answer customer questions and resolve issues over the telephone, in person, or through e-mails and faxes. Tact and patience are called for when dealing with difficult or demanding customers.
A high school diploma is sufficient for entry-level positions, and experience is beneficial. Certifications are optional, and certain industries, such as insurance and finance, require a license.
|Degree Level||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Experience||1-3 years of experience; on-the-job training common|
|Licensure/Certification||Licensure may be required for certain industries; certification is voluntary|
|Key Skills||Phone, listening, problem-solving, communication, order processing, and interpersonal skills; patience; basic computer knowledge and Internet navigation while on phone calls; use of auto-dialer systems and scanners; use of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Windows, customer relationship management software, electronic mail, and conference software|
|Salary||$31,720 (2015 Median salary for all customer service representatives)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings by employers (October 2012), ONet Online
Key skills that customer care professionals should possess include phone skills, listening skills, problem-solving ability, communication skills, interpersonal skills, patience, and basic computer knowledge with Microsoft Word, Excel, and Windows. They should be able to process orders, navigate the Internet while on phone calls, use auto-dialer systems, use scanners and customer relationship management software, send email, and use conference software.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2015 data, customer service representatives earned a median pay of $31,720.
Let's go over each of the steps to become a customer care professional.
Job Steps to Follow
Step 1: Gain Entry-Level Experience
Most employers prefer customer care professionals to have 1-3 years of experience. An entry-level customer service, call center, or office-related job prepares aspiring professionals for a customer care job.
It's recommended that you find an entry-level job in the industry you want to work in.
Some employers prefer to hire applicants familiar with a company's goods and services. For example, a health insurance agency may prefer to hire a customer care professional with knowledge or experience in healthcare or insurance.
Step 2: Consider Training and Education Options
Many customer care professionals receive on-the-job training. These trainings help an employee learn skills required for advancement in a company. Other training opportunities are found from industry organizations, such as the Insurance Educational Association and the Customer Service Institute of America.
Some colleges offer customer service training courses. There are also both certificate and degree options available in related disciplines. Customer service certificate programs include courses covering communication, teamwork, and leadership. The length of the program varies but usually lasts one semester. Associate's degree programs in business offer electives in customer service and may offer classes in specific industries, like utilities or travel.
Step 3: Research Licensure Requirements
Customer care professionals in the financial and insurance industries are required to obtain state licensure. It is important for those looking to work in these industries to contact their state's relevant board of regulation to find out if a license is required, and if so, how to obtain licensure.
Step 4: Consider Certification for Advancement
Some organizations offer certification to customer care professionals. Although voluntary, certification demonstrates competency in customer service. Eligibility requirements vary but usually are open to anyone interested in this career path. Candidates must pass a written examination. Some organizations offering certification include the National Retail Federation and the International Customer Service Association.
To review, customer care professionals usually receive on-the-job training and may need a few years of work experience.