California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Customer Service Representatives in California

May also be called: Account Services Representatives; Call Center Representatives; Client Services Representatives; and Member Services Representatives.

What Would I Do?

Customer Service Representatives are an integral part of the company’s sales team. They are a direct link from the company to the customer, primarily offering service via the telephone or the Internet. They handle both new and established customers, answer questions, and provide help with problems according to company guidelines. They take orders for products or services, answer delivery questions, find replacement part numbers, and perform other sales support functions. Customer Service Representatives help keep the customer informed of delivery time and order status.

Customer Service Representatives must maintain an ongoing awareness and understanding of active promotions in order to increase sales and customer awareness. As part of the sales team, they may have sales goals to meet and also support company employees in the field.

Representatives frequently enter information into a computer as they are speaking to customers on the telephone. At times, they may need to transfer a call to a supervisor if they encounter a situation in which they do not know how to respond. Conversations are often required to be kept within set time limits in order to fairly distribute their time among the people who require assistance.

Some of the tools used by Customer Service Representatives may include: autodialers, automated attendant systems, desktop computers, digital telephones, and phone headsets. Some of the technology used in this occupation may include the following software: contact center, customer relationship management, electronic mail, mobile messaging service, network conferencing, and voice recognition.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Confer with customers by telephone or in person in order to provide information about products and services, to take orders or cancel accounts, or to obtain details of complaints.Customer and Personal Service
Keep records of customer interactions and transactions, recording details of inquiries, complaints, and comments, as well as actions taken.Writing
Resolve customers' service or billing complaints by performing activities such as exchanging merchandise, refunding money, and adjusting bills.Mathematical Reasoning
Check to ensure that appropriate changes were made to resolve customers' problems.Monitoring
Contact customers to respond to inquiries or to notify them of claim investigation results and any planned adjustments.Speaking
Determine charges for services requested, collect deposits or payments, or arrange for billing.Information Ordering
Complete contract forms, prepare change of address records, and issue service discontinuance orders, using computers.Clerical
Obtain and examine all relevant information to assess validity of complaints and to determine possible causes, such as extreme weather conditions that could increase utility bills.Deductive Reasoning
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Customer Service Representatives must be able to function in a fast-paced and challenging environment while having the ability to multitask various activities. Representatives may work in offices, warehouses, shipping and receiving call or customer contact centers, inventory control, and operations resolving customer complaints. They usually have their own workstation equipped with a telephone, headset, fax machine, and computer. Representatives work early morning, evening, or late-night shifts. Weekend or holiday work may be required.

Customer Service Representatives work in clean, well-lit areas. The noise level in call centers is usually moderate and daily tasks may be repetitious and stressful, with little time between calls. Representatives are frequently required to sit for extended periods of time, looking at a computer screen. Eye and muscle strain, backaches, headaches, and repetitive motion injuries can be avoided by applying ergonomic principles.

Customer Service Representatives are required to be pleasant, helpful, and display a cooperative attitude. They must pay careful attention to details and be thorough in completing tasks. Representatives need strong social skills to maintain composure and control anger when dealing with difficult or irate customers.

Most workers in this occupation are not represented by unions. However, those who work in government or hospital settings have the option to join unions, such as the Service Employees International Union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Customer Service Representative will appeal to those who enjoy providing service to others, analyzing information and choosing the best solution, and using computers to enter data or process information. The Customer Service Representative occupation satisfies those with conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines, working with data and details more than ideas, and following a clear line of authority.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages

The median wage in 2016 for Customer Service Representatives in California is $37,823 annually, or $18.18 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2016Low
(25th percentile)
Median
(50th percentile)
High
(75th percentile)
California$29,902$37,823$49,121
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2016 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits

Most full-time workers in this occupation receive a benefits package that includes medical and dental insurance, sick leave, and vacation leave. Some firms offer retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Prospects for obtaining a job in customer service are expected to be excellent, with more job openings than job seekers. In particular, bilingual job seekers may enjoy favorable job opportunities.

This occupation is well-suited for job seekers looking for flexible work schedules. Many opportunities for part-time work will be available as companies attempt to cut labor costs by hiring more temporary workers.

Many job opportunities will be created by the need to replace Representatives who quit, retire, or leave the occupation for other reasons during the projected period.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Customer Service Representatives is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Customer Service Representatives are expected to increase by 16.4 percent, or 32,000 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Customer Service Representatives
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Estimated
Employment
Projected
Employment
Numeric
Change
Percent
Change
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Replacements
California
(2012-2022)
195,300227,30032,00016.453,100
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 3,200 new job openings per year is expected for Customer Service Representatives, plus an additional 5,310 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 8,520 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Customer Service Representatives
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
California
(2012-2022)
3,2005,3108,520
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements


A high school diploma or equivalent is required for most Customer Service Representatives. It is essential for workers to possess basic computer knowledge and since Representatives frequently interact with the public, strong communication and problem-solving skills are a necessity. They must also be able to follow verbal and written instructions with minimal supervision within specified time frames. Prior experience from any public contact would be beneficial for this job. Increasingly, the ability to speak a foreign language is becoming an asset.

Some employers look for people who have the ability to come across in a friendly and professional manner. The ability to deal patiently with problems and complaints and to remain courteous when faced with difficult or angry customers is crucial.

Early Career Planning


High school students should take English courses that stress grammar, vocabulary, and spelling. Business courses, keyboarding, and computer classes that teach spreadsheet or word processing software programs are also beneficial. Participation in other activities such as drama, service clubs, or sports can also teach team building, goal setting, and project management.

Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs


Training programs are available through Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) under the following titles: Insurance, Customer Service, Customer Service Occupations, and Customer Service Representative.  To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

  • Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Administrative Assistant; Clerical Service; Receptionist; and Customer Service.
  • Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Customer Service Representatives are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Employment Services 5.1%
Depository Credit Intermediation 4.4%
Business Support Services 4.4%
Management of Companies and Enterprises 3.8%
Insurance Carriers 3.6%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Job seekers can look on employer Web sites for job openings or get job leads through their school career center or professional association. Newspaper classified ads also provide a helpful resource for local job openings.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Customer Service Representatives.

  • Banks
  • Computer
  • Financial Services
  • Freight Forwarding
  • Insurance
  • Inventory Service
  • Mailing Services
  • Telecommunications
  • Warehouses

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

This occupation provides ample opportunity for personal growth and development. Customer Service Representatives may advance to supervisory positions after they have gained experience. Success in this occupation may lead to sales or operations management.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Customer Service Representatives with links to more information.

OccupationOccupational
Guide
Industry
Report
Occupational
Profile
Bill and Account CollectorsGuide
Computer Support SpecialistsGuide
Counter and Rental ClerksProfile
Insurance Sales AgentsProfile
Retail SalespersonsGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SystemCode
SOC - Standard Occupational Classification43-4051
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Customer Service Representatives43-4051.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)ECS
   Patient Representatives43-4051.03
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)SEI
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Customer Service Support/Call Center/Teleservice Operation (520411
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Customer Service051800