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How to find an entry-level job in customer service

Published March 14, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Starting a career often involves considering entry-level roles that open doors to new industries and experiences. Customer service positions are frequently thought of as one of the initial points of entry into the professional world for some young professionals.

    Some people consider an entry-level customer job a strong stepping stone because the skills developed in customer service — such as communication, problem-solving, empathy, and the ability to work under pressure — are transferable and valued across multiple industries. After working in customer service, someone might pursue a job in sales, marketing, human resources, operations, product management or a wide swath of other options. There’s a wide array of options for someone to pursue after a customer service job.

    In this article, we’ll cover what customer service representatives do, the skills employers may look for when hiring customer service representatives, and some steps to consider taking if you’re interested in landing an entry-level customer service job yourself.

    Whether you’re drawn to the prospect of helping others, eager to develop a versatile skill set, or simply curious about this job role within companies, keep reading for more insights.

    What does a customer service representative do?

    Customer service refers to the support and assistance businesses provide their customers before, during, and after purchasing a product or service. It’s often considered a critical aspect of maintaining a positive relationship between a company and its clientele and is aimed at enhancing the customer experience.

    A customer service representative’s responsibilities can include:

    • Assisting customers with inquiries, complaints, and requests via phone, email, chat, or in person.
    • Providing information about products or services and helping customers make purchasing decisions.
    • Resolving customer issues by investigating problems, developing solutions, and following up to ensure satisfaction.
    • Processing orders, exchanges, and refunds.
    • Keeping detailed records of customer interactions.
    • Communicating customer feedback to appropriate departments within a company to improve products or services.
    • Staying updated on company policies, procedures, and product knowledge to provide accurate information to customers.
    • Collaborating with team members and other departments to improve overall customer satisfaction.

    Customer service may be delivered through multiple channels, such as:

    • In-person interactions
    • Phone calls
    • Email
    • Live chat
    • Social media platforms

    Specific entry-level jobs in customer service

    Customer service jobs can vary in terms of responsibilities. Some common types of customer service jobs — many of which are open to entry-level employees — include:

    • Customer service representatives: Handle customer inquiries, complaints, and orders while maintaining records and providing product and service information. Customer service representatives are often the first point of contact for customers seeking assistance.
    • Call center agents: Lead incoming customer calls to assist with any inquiries. Call center agents may resolve issues, offer technical support, or promote products.
    • Customer support specialists: May provide in-depth assistance to customers, addressing complex issues or technical problems related to products or services. They may work across different communication channels such as phone, email, chat, or social media.
    • Help desk support agent: May support internal employees or external customers. A help desk support agent may assist with technical issues for software, hardware, and systems.

    These roles may exist in various industries, including retail, e-commerce, telecommunications, healthcare, finance, technology, and hospitality. Although each type of customer service job may have different requirements regarding skills and expertise, they tend to share the goal of providing service and support to customers.  

    What’s an entry-level customer service representative’s salary?

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, customer service representatives earned a median hourly wage of $18.16 in 2022. This means that 50% of customer service representatives earned more than $18.16 per hour, and 50% earned less. The lowest 10% of customer service representatives earned less than $13.46 per hour, while the highest 10% earned more than $28.67 per hour.

    In addition, it’s noteworthy that about 373,400 openings for customer service representatives are projected to be available, on average, each year over the coming decade.

    How to secure an entry-level job in customer service 

    Education and training

    While formal education requirements for entry-level customer service positions may vary, having a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. Some employers may prefer candidates with relevant coursework in customer service, communication, or related fields.

    Skills employers may look for

    Below are a few skills that employers hiring customer service representatives may look for:

    • Communication skills: Since customer service representatives deal with customers daily, strong verbal and written communication skills are often essential for customer service roles.
    • Customer-oriented attitude: Employers may seek candidates with a customer-focused mindset and attitude.
    • Product knowledge: Understanding a company’s products, services, and policies is often crucial for people in these roles because they need to provide accurate information to customers.
    • Problem-solving: People in these roles must often be able to think critically and find solutions to customer issues and complaints.
    • Time management: May need to be able to handle multiple customer interactions and tasks efficiently and effectively at once.

    Potential steps to take to secure an entry-level job in customer service

    • Research industries and companies: Understand the type of businesses and industries that employ customer service representatives. This will help you target relevant companies in your job search.
    • Consider the types of customer service jobs you’re most interested in: Working in customer service can mean many different things, so research what interests you the most. You might be interested in responding to customer complaints calls, or you might be more interested in responding to customer service queries on social media channels, for instance.
    • Apply to job postings: You can find entry-level customer service positions on job boards, via recruiters, or on company websites. Be sure to tailor your application to each specific job by customizing your cover letter and resume.
    • Prepare for interviews: To set yourself up for success in interviews, practice common interview questions and prepare examples of how you’ve provided excellent customer service in the past to share with your interviewer. Research the company and be ready to discuss why you’re interested in working for them.
    • Build relevant skills: Consider gaining relevant skills through education, training programs, or online courses. This could include improving your communication skills or gaining a better understanding of the industry in which you’d like to work.

    What to include on your resume if you’re applying for entry-level customer service jobs

    Tailoring your resume to highlight relevant skills and experiences is crucial when applying for entry-level customer service jobs.

    Include any previous roles or volunteer experiences where you’ve demonstrated effective communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and the capacity to work under pressure. Even if your past jobs weren’t in customer service, identifying situations where you’ve interacted with people, resolved conflicts, or managed tasks efficiently can show potential employers that you have a solid foundation on which to build.

    Consider a skills section on your resume that includes both soft and technical skills essential in customer service roles. Emphasize your proficiency in communication, empathy, patience, and active listening, as these may be key to understanding and addressing customer needs effectively. Also, highlight any experience with customer service software, databases, or CRM systems and proficiency in multiple languages, if applicable.

    Lastly, education and training relevant to customer service can bolster your resume. Even highlighting general education coursework you’ve completed can be relevant if you draw attention to examples where you developed your communication or psychology skills.

    Final thoughts 

    You can enhance your chances of securing an entry-level customer service position by providing a well-crafted application, demonstrating relevant skills and experience, and highlighting your enthusiasm for delivering exceptional customer service.