What to Know Before Starting a Job in Customer Service

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In a turbulent job market, customer service positions are a bright spot — especially for laid-off hospitality, restaurant and retail workers. Whether you’re considering taking a customer service job or are about to start, you may wonder what you’re in for. 

Every new job comes with a certain amount of anxiety, and that can be especially true for any role you’re trying out for the first time.

While there’s no way to predict the future on a case by case basis, getting a clearer picture before you start can do wonders for your confidence. Every industry has their own approach to customer service, but there are a few common threads.

We asked Recruiting Manager Cindy Parker about what newly hired customer service representatives can anticipate when heading into a new field.

You’ll draw on your previous experience 

You aren't expected to have mastered everything about your new role before you start your first customer service job. But you did earn the position in the first place, which means your new employer already likes your background and personality. 

Expect to use both.

If you have a background in food service, retail, office, hospitality or even childcare, you will absolutely draw on those skills to relate to customers in your new role. 

"Focus on what you’re already great at, which is taking care of customers,” says Cindy Parker. “Many companies, especially those who hire on the strength of your people skills, prioritize excellent customer service over the hard tech skills you can pick up as you go."

You’ll perform better with a little preparation 

You’ll be better able to help customers when you know as much as possible about the company you represent. 

Early on in your role, you’ll be told a lot about procedures, methods, benchmarks and goals. That information is important, but when you learn as much as you can about the company beforehand, it will feel more organized and logical. 

It’s easy to develop tunnel vision around your personal responsibilities but preparing helps you understand your role within the larger ecosystem of the company.  

“People tend to focus on the tactical things you get buried in,” says Parker, “But a broader perspective is also necessary.” 

In addition to learning about your new company, you’ll also want to prepare your workstation. Whether you’re working on site or remotely, make sure you have everything where you need it. And if you’re working from home, make sure you have the working setup you need to be effective, with a dedicated space and all recommended equipment tested and ready to go.

You’ll be trained 

Customer service jobs come with significant training. 

This should include training on your specific tasks, benchmarks such as call volume, call quality or call duration you’ll be expected to hit, as well as procedures for using customer relationship management software. 

You’ll grow into your role’s expectations 

Nobody expects new customer service employees to break records on day one. In addition to training, you’ll also have resources, materials and managers at your disposal to ask questions and solve problems. 

Use them.

“Take notes in training and per call to track what you’re getting snagged on,” says Parker, “and look into materials and scripts you’ve been provided to see what they say about those trouble areas.” 

If hitting benchmark metrics is a challenge, don’t get discouraged. Find out where you’re struggling and ask for help from trainers until you’re more confident. That’s why they’re there.

Each company has a unique definition of success for customer service employees. Just remember they all want you to succeed in your new role. 

You’ll need to rely on a winning attitude 

Having the right attitude is the key to success in customer service. When a customer is angry or frustrated, don’t take it personally. After all, you’ve just met. A good deep breath can be your best friend.

Working with customers and adjusting to their needs can be a hard job. Be flexible. Lean into your strengths. Remember great service will always be appreciated. 

Each new role comes with new responsibilities, but in every case, you’re there because somebody believes in you. If you can tap into that sense of value, it’ll give you the confidence to handle whatever comes your way as you shoot up the leaderboard and gain valuable new skills in customer service.

If you’re seeking customer service jobs, check out our job board to find positions available in your area.