With a high school diploma or GED it is possible to begin a career as an online customer service representative. Online customer service representatives provide customer service to consumers shopping online. They may answer questions about the products or services offered or try to resolve issues.
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Online customer service representatives serve as a vital connection between businesses and their patrons, answering customer inquiries and quickly resolving issues with a product or service. Although there are no formal education requirements to work in the online customer service field, job-seekers with college-level computer, language and business skills have an advantage. Companies provide the essential software tools and training, but having a good disposition and superb people skills is a must for handling a diverse range of requests, complaints, cancellations, purchases and various other business transactions.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED; some college training preferred|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||10% for all customer service representatives*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$31,720 annually for all customer service representatives*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Online customer service representatives typically respond to customers via e-mail and online chat boxes. Their duties include obtaining and recording the details of customer information, inquiries, comments and complaints, as well as the actions taken to resolve any issues. They also provide information about company products or services; take or cancel orders; collect deposits, payments or make billing arrangements; refer unresolved grievances to the proper company departmental specialist; and provide refunds, bill adjustments or exchanges.
People Skills Needed
Although employees in foreign countries held many of these online jobs in the past, there has been a trend in recent years to bring many of these jobs back to the U.S. because of cultural differences, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Being an effective online customer service representative requires outstanding reading comprehension, sound writing skills and decision-making abilities. The capacity to think critically and be self-monitoring (making self-corrective improvements in performance, organization and time management) is also essential to this job.
Technical Skills Needed
The technical skills needed to work in online customer service primarily involve computer usage. The customer service employee uses a variety of company workstation software packages to manage the communication center. Once contact is made, the representative then accesses the customer's computer records to make appropriate changes, corrections or adjustments according to strict company policies. If the customer is making a general inquiry, the representative has access to a number of responses to commonly asked questions as well as guidelines for how to direct unknown answers or unresolved complaints to the proper supervisor.
A high school education is all that is necessary to work in most online customer support jobs. However, due to the technical requirements demanded of these employees, many businesses are now looking for workers with at least an associate's or bachelor's degree. Students with college-level course experience in English, computer applications and basic business practices have an advantage when seeking customer service employment.
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
According to a May 2015 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for customer service representatives was $15.25 an hour. Job opportunities in customer service were expected to grow by 10% between 2014 and 2024, notes the BLS, which is faster than average.
The job growth expected for customer service representatives from 2014-2024 is considered faster than average when compared to all occupations. Although only a high school diploma or GED is required, applicants who have experience with computers and strong communication skills will stand out to potential employers. Online customer service representatives may not serve customers face to face but they still need to have good people skills to successfully address consumer issues.