Customer Service Agent Guide for Beginners

Mirjana author

Mirjana Rajčić

Chief Business Officer

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Customer service agents are the company heroes. They are the voice of the company, and the first to serve customers if they have questions, complaints or praises.  Nowadays, the role of the customer care agent goes beyond simple Q&A. Omnichannel customer service agents create customer experience, build brand loyalty and increase customer engagement. 

So, if you are thinking about this exciting job, which goes way beyond solving complaints and providing the shipping tracking numbers, we have prepared for you detailed guide with everything you need to know on how to become a great customer service agent. 

🚀Read Customer Service: A Guide for Successful Business Growth 🚀

Besides the skills that need to develop for full-time careers as a customer service agent, we will also go through online customer service jobs and skills/equipment needed to land one. 

What is Customer Service Agent Role?

The basic role of a customer service agent is to provide a friendly service to current and potential customers. The position could also involve processing customer’s orders, reclamations, bookings, liaising with other departments and administration. These responsibilities can be different according to the industry the agent works in.

Although the role of a customer service agent is usually entry-level, employees working as customer service agents are one of the most important members of a business organization. Interacting directly with customers at all stages of the business-customer relationship, the customer service agent is often the only company representative with whom the customer will communicate. 

As such, the variety of tasks the agent performs can effectively make or break the business’ relationship with the customer. The ideal customer service agent is a problem – solving oriented, highly motivated and have a positive and friendly attitude in communication.

How to Become a Customer Service Agent?

To work in the role of a customer service agent, most of the candidates have the bare minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Though, some employers prefer an associate or bachelor’s degree in communications, business, or customer service. 

People who want to start their careers within the customer service department, often possess exceptional communication skills, both verbal and written. Moreover, people with problem-solving attitude stand a higher chance to thrive in the role of the customer service agent. 

People with inbound and outbound phone experience, office experience and sales skills have a strategic advantage when applying for these positions. 

Step 1: Finish High school

Most companies are looking for agents who have at least a high school degree because that is an optimal time for individuals to adopt new skills. One of the necessary skills that someone who would love to work as an agent is to develop excellent communication and writing skills, sales skills, and essential computer skills.

Step 2: Complete Postsecondary Training

Although a high school diploma is the minimum requirement for employment in the customer service department, it is also great to finish postsecondary training. This training can help individuals to advance to higher-level positions.

To become a successful customer service agent, an individual needs to have a cocktail of skills. Amazing interpersonal communication skills, excellent computing skills, solid in active listening paired with knowledge of foreign languages.

If you want to work in bilingual customer service, it is a valuable asset, and you need to complete some certificate programs at community colleges.

Step 3: Find Employment

A customer service agent is essential to companies in online communication. Some customer service jobs, such as retail, require face-to-face interaction with customers. Other industries such as e-commerce, automotive and financial, handle customer service over the call center, email, phone, or with website live chat.

According to the BLS, employment prospects for customer service representatives were predicted to increase by 10% from 2014-2024.

Every company and industry has its policies and communication rules. This is something that every customer service agent learns during the on-the-job training.

Training typically ranges in length depending on the company. For example, a company with an official product, such as a retailer, may only have training for new hires, while a company with continuously improving outcomes, such as a SaaS, may require ongoing training for customer service agents.

Step 4: Heighten your Career

Starting your career as a customer service agent implies a lot of learning about the company itself. Since customer service agents are the face of the company communicating with customers directly, each and every one of them must be familiar with company products, companies pain points, benefits and most importantly – the customers.

Enhancing your career may come more natural if you don’t stop learning and improving your technological skills. Servicing customers via live chat, email, social media, and online tools is another way to become more competitive as a customer service agent. Take advantage of any training offered by an employer in these areas or explore classes offered by night schools or online training programs.

According to the website payscale.com, the average hourly earnings for customer service agents in the US is $13.26. The lowest earnings are $9.68 and the highest are $18.54. The job board indeed.com estimate the average salary of a customer service representative is $12.08 per hour (2017).

Free Customer Service Agent Training Courses

Customer service training for agents is crucial to maintaining excellent customer relations. But not every team has the resources or time to create their training management or provide personalized agent training.

Happily, there are many customer service training programs, both on-site and online, that can help you train your team and provide them with the necessary customer service skills. There are some of the best courses in the text below. And they are free!

Customer service agent training

Picture 1. Customer service agent training EdX

Alison

Alison is a global online learning community with over seven million students worldwide. This online course provides free learning content and paid certificate for interested participants.

We suggest you take “Customer Service Training by Alison ” as one of the best courses for the beginners. In this course, you will learn the best practices and techniques in customer service. Unfortunately, this course doesn’t have video tutorials or audio components.

Duration: 1-2 hours
Audience: Beginner
Delivery: Online eligible for certification

Customer service agent training Alison

Picture 2. Customer service agent training Alison

EdX and Kyoto University

Another free online learning platform with an academic edge is edX. In the recommended course presented by the University of Kyoto, participants will delve into several academic disciplines. They include sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. It helps customer service agents to understand customer service as a cultural phenomenon that teams can consciously manipulate to their advantage.

Duration: 2-3 hours a week for 8 weeks
Audience: All levels
Delivery: Online

Customer service agent training Global Mindset

Picture 3. Customer service agent training Global Mindset

GlobalMindset – Latitude Learning

The course by eLearning company, GlobalMindset, is offered through Latitude Learning.

It is the first completely open on-line e-Learning community where any person or organization can share, sell, or acquire learning and knowledge.” Clients rely on their software and consulting to help them optimize channel performance. It improves the effectiveness of their training and certification programs.

Duration: 1 hour
Audience: Beginners
Delivery: Online

If you are interested in exploring more online courses for customer service agents, you can find all of them listed in our blog post:”Top 10 Customer Service Agent Training Courses”.

Customer Service Skills for Excellent Support Agent

We have already written some of the most important customer service skills. Above all, there are many soft skills that a great agent should be developed during the carrier. Here is a list of customer service skills that can help you to be the best customer service agent.

Be confident in communication

Being confident shows customers that they’re in good hands and their problem is professionally being taken care of. If you are not a naturally confident person, don’t worry, with experience and time, you will develop this skill.

Listen, Really Listen to your customers

The voice of the customer is very important in customer service but also for the business. By listening to your customer, you can generate feedback, improve your product and service, and ensure a positive brand image.

Learn the Components of Conflict Resolution

As we mentioned before, one of the most important skills for exceptional customer service is to have a problem- solving mindset. When you are dealing with a rude or angry customer it is very important to handle the delicate situation with care.  Also, try to stay professional and diplomatic in your communication.

If you want to learn more customer service skills for support agents, read our blog post: “15 Customer Service Skills of Great Customer Service Agents

The Tone of Voice in Customer Service

It is not easy to find a perfect tone of voice in every customer service situation, especially when you are dealing with a customer who had a bad customer experience with your brand.

The very best customer service agents can lose their leads using the wrong tone of voice. On the other hand, the worst complaint, if solved correctly, can generate more leads and positive feedback.

It’s not always about providing the right information at the right moment, sometimes it’s the tone of voice that makes a difference. Just like customers can “hear the smile” in verbal communication, they can also sense the tone in your email or social media message. 

Element of Personal Communication

Picture 4. Element of Personal Communication

What to use: The casual or formal tone of voice?

Nobody wants to talk with the rude or too casual person but also, customers don’t like customer service representatives to act like robots. So, how to provide a perfect ratio in everyday communication?

A survey by the consulting company, Software Advice, says that 65% of customers prefer a casual tone for customer support. And the survey was consistent across all ages and genders.

Related: 7 Key Customer service Mistakes You Need to Avoid

However, other research shows that 78% of respondents said that an overly casual 

If you want to learn techniques to provide rightly tone of voice, read our blog post: The Importance of Tone of Voice in Customer Service”.

Emotional Intelligence in Customer Service

Emotions run through everything in our life and they are the basic cause of our moods and behaviors. Having a bad day at work can reflect in the communication with customers, both from the customer side and customer service agent side. 

Definition of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence is defined as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Great support agent must develop a set of emotional intelligence skills required to better understand, empathize and negotiate with customers.

There are five key emotional intelligence skills that every customer service agent should have. Here is the list of them:

Self – Awareness

Self- awareness is the ability to recognize emotions when they happen. Listen to yourself and tone of voice and emotions you provide while you have a conversation with customers.

Self – Regulation

Try to control your emotions, no matter how hard it can sometimes be. Regulation of your feelings will help you to be more patient, and it will develop some excellent skills.

Emotional Intelligence Skills

Picture 5. Elements of Emotional Intelligence

Motivation

Motivation is essential in every job you do, no matter is it fitness, studying, your career, or self-improvement goals.

Empathy

Ability to recognize people’s feelings is important for your life and career success.. This is one of the key skills agents must develop in an of finding the emotion.

Social Skills

Having social skills developed can land your career and relationship into the next level. If you are not familiar with the basics of emotional intelligence he will find his daily task hard to achieve. The worst thing is to keep your feelings bottled up and suppressed. Your family, colleagues, and friends will easily pick up and try to convert them into positive. Try to embrace it and improve your social skills by accepting others as improving yourself.

Over to You

If you are a customer service agent, tell us your experiences, positive and negative, and help the agent’s community to deal better with everyday tasks.

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Customer Service Agent Guide for Beginners was last modified: September 12th, 2019 by Branimir Hrženjak
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