Finding Success as a Customer Service Representative

Phone operator wearing headset
Finding success as a customer service representative

When Ken Haynes got his first a taste of customer service work at a temporary job in 2009, he knew the work suited him. Heather Wyles was a stay-at-home mom of two when she entered the workforce for the first time last spring as a temporary customer service representative. Today, both Heather and Ken enjoy careers as customer service representatives (CSR), a field where they both thrive. Both went from temporary employment to permanent positions through a combination of hard work, perseverance and a knack for helping people.

Approaching a new career

When Heather Wyles realized it was time she enter the workforce, she was understandably nervous. “I was a happy stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my two little girls, when the reality of joining the workforce for the first time set in. I had no idea what to expect and was extremely stressed. When Amanda from Aerotek offered to help, I was so glad. She got me an interview for a temporary job working as a customer service representative with a big consumer products company. The position was temporary and was only supposed to last six months. I really had no idea what to expect since I had never worked before outside of the home. Everything was different, and everything was scary — at first. The company has a really intense five-week training process. I was so nervous in the beginning, but in the hectic early weeks I just focused on learning whatever I could.”

Heather Wyles and her two daughters

Talking to strangers

We’ve learned from working with thousands of customer service reps over the years that it draws a range of personalities. Heather told us that she always thought of herself as an introverted person. “I found out fast that to excel at this job you have to have really good people skills. I guess raising my two little girls gave me more practice than I thought at patience. But I never would’ve thought I’d be talking to strangers all day — and I’m getting pretty good at it! One thing I learned was the power of being outside your comfort zone. During the early weeks — and remember this was my first job — I was definitely not in a comfortable place. But I just put myself out there and found the courage to do it. Now, helping people solve their problems all day is becoming almost second nature.”

Second generation CSR

Ken Haynes was raised by a mom who worked for forty years as a phone company directory assistance representative at AT&T. “She never took her work home with her, but I always knew the pride she took in her job. By quiet example I learned a lot from my mom. And I guess I realized I would be pretty good at customer service. When I think about it, I’ve been in customer service for twenty years. One thing I know I learned from my mom is you’ve got to stick with something once you decide to do it. Don’t try to switch it up; stay with your plan. I look back and realize I took my lumps, but it eventually paid off.”

Going perm

Ken’s path to getting where he is today wasn’t an easy one. After that short stint as a customer service rep in 2009 he had a hard time getting back into the field. Aerotek Recruiter Jim Kristof says, “Ken’s search for his ideal full-time CSR job wasn’t easy. But he persisted, honing his people and service skills as a night manager at McDonald's before he connected with us at Aerotek. We helped place him in what was supposed to be a short, two-month seasonal opportunity. At the end of the contract, Ken was asked to stay on in a permanent position. Clearly his determination and focus paid off.”

Here’s how Ken describes it. “Last September Aerotek placed me in a short-term temp CSR job at a catalog company. I worked hard, real hard. After three months, my team got the usual kudos from management, but my temp period was winding down and I figured I’d be looking for work again after Christmas. Then my supervisor called me into the office and told me how happy they were with my work and I’d be receiving an offer soon. That soon couldn’t come soon enough! But when it did, I received my offer for a full-time position and signed it then and there. This was six days before Christmas last December. I took my wife out on the 23rd to tell her the good news. It was the best early Christmas gift we could imagine.”

First-time winner

Heather Wyles’ path to her permanent CSR position was an accelerated one. A little more than a year ago, she was dedicated to raising and homeschooling her two young daughters. Having never worked outside the home before, entering the workforce for the first time last Spring was a serious lifestyle shock to the system.

Though her temp-to-perm story couldn’t seem more different than Ken’s, they did share one crucial trait: intense perseverance. As Heather describes the experience, “As stressful as my first few weeks were I just kept at it. Under pressure, you can surprise yourself with what you’re capable of handling. Every time I started a call with a customer I had no idea if I was going to be able to have the answers to their questions, solutions for their problems.”

Heather’s focused approach paid off. “It was only supposed to be a six-month temporary job. But I was determined to win a permanent job and, about a month before my contract was set to end, I was called into the office and offered a permanent position. I was overjoyed, and couldn’t wait to share the news with my two little girls.”

From following to leading

After twenty years serving customers across a range of jobs, Ken Haynes was well prepared and ready to take full advantage of the opportunity to lead. “I’ve been taking classes and getting my CSR skills to the point where I’m trained at the top level. I’m certified on the powerful SAP call-center software. I’m looking at becoming a member of the elite CSR team. It feels good to know all my efforts have paid off.”

It’s another thing Heather and Ken share — a sense of accomplishment. Heather says, “Here I am celebrating my first-year anniversary both in the workforce and at my first job. I never imagined a year ago that I would be in a position to be helping out and even mentoring new people on a job, any job. They have questions, and I have the answers. It’s incredible, really. I tell my little girls to learn from momma that they can do things in life they never would have thought they can do. All you have to do is try.”

If you’re as passionate as Heather and Ken about a career in customer service, we invite you to view our current CSR opportunities, or setup or manage your free Aerotek career account today.

Ken Haynes appears courtesy of Recruiter James Kristof and Account Manager Matt Massheimer. Heather Wyles appears courtesy On-Premise Account Recruiting Manager Amanda Ferrell and Account Manager Chelsea Gabardine.