Customer service representatives are customer relationship experts who represent their company in almost every conceivable industry. Using their intimate knowledge of the company and excellent interpersonal skills, customer service representatives assist customers by answering questions, completing transactions, and solving any problems that arise. This can include anything from handling customer complaints to providing technical knowledge and support with one of the company's products. Some customer service representatives also process orders or provide information about the company to potential clients or customers.
Entry-level positions in customer service typically do not require more than a high school diploma and some on-the-job training. However, depending on the specific industry in which they work, customer service representatives may be required to meet certain licensing or educational requirements. Additionally, customer service representatives looking to move up the ranks in their company can improve their business and management skills by furthering their education with a degree in customer service management. Other related programs, such as communications or interpersonal relations, might also be a good fit.
For those considering careers in customer service management, a college degree may help them move up the corporate ladder. Certain industries, such as hospitality, finance, and insurance, often require employees to hold a bachelor's degree or meet state-specific licensing requirements. Customer service degree programs typically include courses in interpersonal communication, leadership, management, business law, human resources, and marketing. Pursuing a degree in customer service is an option for anyone, but candidates should possess good communication skills and a sincere desire to help both the customer and their company.
Choosing the Right Degree
A degree in customer service or a closely related field can help customer service representatives gain the knowledge and interpersonal skills they need to be successful. While customer service representatives should possess good ""soft skills,"" taking online courses to further hone those skills can help representatives handle customer inquiries in a clear and compassionate way. Those interested in customer service management positions will benefit from additional courses in business, leadership, and management. This chart includes some of the customer service degrees available and the types of professional positions those degrees can lead to:
Length of Completion
Certificate in Customer Service Management
Certificate programs typically take about 100 hours of study and are geared toward working professionals.
Customer Service Representative, Cashier, Information Clerk, Teller, Receptionist, Retail Sales
Bachelor's in Customer Service Management
These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.
Computer Support Specialist, Financial Clerk, Insurance Sales Agent, Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representative
Bachelor's in Hospitality Management
These programs take up to four years of full-time study to complete.
Hotel Manager, Gaming Manager, Restaurant Manager
As you can see, an online degree in customer service can open the door to a wealth of opportunities in a number of different fields. Students should pursue a degree that lines up with their desired career path.
What to Expect in a Customer Service Program
Students enrolled in a customer service degree program can expect to take a variety of courses aimed at teaching them the fundamentals of business and customer relations. In addition to possessing excellent interpersonal communication and listening skills, successful customer service representatives and managers must have the ability to properly address and solve problems in a timely manner. Furthermore, those in customer service management positions should possess a basic knowledge of business and accounting concepts. Students pursuing a degree in customer service may be able to specialize in one of the following disciplines:
- Customer Service Management
- Restaurant Management
- Hospitality and Hotel Management
- Human Resources
- Project Management
Specializations may not always be available or necessary to complete a degree in the field. However, if one wishes to choose a particular career path, choosing a specialization prior to enrolling may dictate which program is best suited for their future career. While not all programs allow for specializations, most customer service degrees will provide students with a solid background in all customer service related fields.
Curriculum for customer service degrees vary by school. Some popular core courses include:
- Human Resources Management
- Introduction to Accounting
- Service Operations Management
- Principles of Finance
- Hospitality Management
- Systems Management
- Marketing Fundamentals
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers seek candidates holding at least a high school diploma for entry-level customer service positions. Candidates seeking employment as customer service representatives must also possess excellent communication and problem solving skills.
Students interested in earning an online degree in customer service should consider the type of customer service job they wish to obtain prior to choosing a degree program. For example, if a student hopes to gain entry-level employment, a certificate program may be the best fit. However, if they wish to work as a manager in the hospitality or restaurant industry, a bachelor's program could be key in helping them advance their careers.
Benefits of an Online Degree Program
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, customer service representatives must possess excellent communications skills. Depending on the type of industry in which they work, customer service representatives need to be able to process orders, provide product and service information, and handle all forms of customer questions and complaints. Customer service representatives typically communicate via telephone, computer, or face-to-face. It is critical that customer service representatives know how to properly communicate through all of these mediums.
Since many customer service careers require a workable knowledge of computers and computer applications, pursuing an online degree in customer service is a good fit. Students can practice effectively communicating with their professors and peers through message boards, email, video chat, and online networking events.
Online degree programs provide students with a flexibility that traditional on-campus programs are unable to provide. In most cases, students have round-the-clock access to lectures and course materials. This makes it easy for working adults or parents to schedule their educational responsibilities around family and life commitments.
Careers in Customer Service
Nearly all industries have some sort of customer service component to them, making a career in customer service an excellent option. Duties for customer service professionals vary by industry, but those with excellent customer service skills are sought after in almost every profession. Here are some popular customer service career paths, complete with relevant wage and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Expected Job Growth
(2014 - 2024)
|Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers||663,960||$136,020||8.4%|
|Sales Representatives, Services||1,903,140||$70,510||7.4%|
|Real Estate Sales Agents||151,840||$59,360||6.2%|
|Supervisors of Sales Workers||1,446,900||$51,230||5.3%|
|Retail Sales Workers||8,791,750||$25,250||1.1%|
Earning a degree in customer service can lead to many different opportunities in the customer service, hospitality management, and sales industries. Because each student's goals are different, the degree program they choose will mostly depend upon the career path they wish to follow. To learn more about online degrees in customer service, request information from any of the schools listed below.
Cashiers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/cashiers.htm
Computer Support Specialists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm
Customer Service Representatives, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/customer-service-representatives.htm
Financial Clerks, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/financial-clerks.htm
Food Service Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/food-service-managers.htm
Gaming Services Workers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/gaming-services-occupations.htm
Information Clerks, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/information-clerks.htm
Lodging Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/lodging-managers.htm
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Receptionists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/receptionists.htm
Retail Sales Workers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/retail-sales-workers.htm
Tellers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/tellers.htm
Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/wholesale-and-manufacturing-sales-representatives.htm