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Regardless of what service a company performs or what type of product the company offers, every company will eventually receive some type of communication from its customers. These communications may be complaints, inquires about products or services, or even a compliment..

In order to ensure that its customers receive an adequate level of service or help with their questions and concerns, a company may hire one or more Customer Service Representatives. These employees, commonly referred to as CSRs, serve as the contact point between a customer and the company.

Qualifications and job duties for a Customer Service Representative will differ according to the company for whixh the CSR is employed. In general, a Customer Service Representative is responsible for providing information to customers, responding to requests for service, and handling customer complaints.

As the first, or main, line of contact with customers, a Customer Service Representative has a unique and challenging opportunity to influence customer perception and loyalty. For a large or very busy company, there may be two levels of Customer Service Representatives, those that deal with general questions and handle and resolve complaints and those who answer more specialized or technical inquires.

Customer Service Representatives communicate with customers through a variety of means including the telephone, faxes, or even by a direct meeting. A CSR that helps customers over the telephone is often referred to as a telephone service representative or (TSR). With more and more companies building an online presence, customer service is increasingly being handled using e-mail, helpdesks, and on-line chat.

CSRs may also work in call centers that service one or more companies. A call center is nothing more than a centralized office used for receiving and transmitting a large number of requests by telephone. CSRs who work in call centers are referred to as Call Center Agents. Most businesses that receive numerous calls on a daily basis such as utility companies use call centers to interact with their customers. Currently there are over 2 million call center agents employed in the United States alone.

A Call Center Agent deals with either incoming or outgoing calls. Out-bound call agents make the initial contact. They do telemarketing as well as market research. Inbound-call agents answer calls, on-line chats or emails from customers. They may also engage in other sales work, customer service, and help desk or technical support.

The purpose of a Customer Service Representative is to supply service to customers before, during and after a purchase. They may answer pre-purchase questions, questions on how to purchase the product or service, and offer support after the product or service is purchased.

The importance of customer service varies according to the product, industry and customer. For example, a customer who has some experience with similar products or services usually requires less pre-purchase help than a cutomer that has no experience.

Customer service may even be provided by automated means called self-service. For example, many products and services that are offered over the internet are self-serve.