Customer Service Representatives

by Kate Williams

What Customer Service Representatives Do

Customer service representatives interact with customers to handle complaints, process orders, and answer questions.

Work Environment

Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Most work full time.

How to Become a Customer Service Representative

Customer service representatives typically need a high school diploma and are trained on the job. They should be good at communicating with people and adept at using computers.


The median hourly wage for customer service representatives was $16.69 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of customer service representatives is projected to decline 2 percent from 2019 to 2029. There will be less demand for customer service representatives as more of their tasks become automated.

Customer service representatives work with customers to resolve complaints, process orders, and provide information about an organization’s products and services.


Customer service representatives typically do the following:

  • Listen to customers’ questions and concerns and provide answers or responses
  • Provide information about products and services
  • Take orders, calculate charges, and process billing or payments
  • Review customer accounts and make changes, if necessary
  • Handle returns or complaints
  • Record details of customer contacts and actions taken
  • Refer customers to supervisors or more experienced employees

Customer service representatives answer questions or requests from customers or the public. They typically provide services by phone, but some also interact with customers face to face, by email or text, via live chat, and through social media.

The specific duties of customer service representatives vary by industry. For example, representatives who work in banks may answer customers’ questions about their accounts. Representatives who work for utility and telecommunications companies may help customers with service problems, such as outages. Those who work in retail stores often handle returns, process refunds, and help customers locate items. Although selling a product or service is not their main job, representatives may help generate sales while providing information.

Customer service representatives typically use a telephone, computer, and other office equipment. For example, representatives who work in call centers answer the phone and use computers to explore solutions for customers.

Customer service representatives held about 3.0 million jobs in 2019. The largest employers of customer service representatives were as follows:

Retail trade 14%
Insurance carriers and related activities 12
Business support services 11
Wholesale trade 7
Professional, scientific, and technical services 6

Customer service representatives are employed in nearly every industry. Representatives in offices may work in a large room alongside other employees, so the area can be noisy. Working from home is also possible in some companies. Representatives may be under pressure to answer a designated number of calls while supervisors monitor them for quality assurance. In addition, the work may be stressful when representatives must interact with dissatisfied customers

In retail stores, representatives may spend hours on their feet assisting customers in person.

Work Schedules

Although most customer service representatives work full time, some work part time. Customer service representatives often need to work during busy times, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Jobs in call centers may require representatives to work shifts early in the morning or late at night because some call centers are open 24 hours a day.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of customer service representatives.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations.

See How to Become One $54,760

Financial Clerks

Financial clerks do administrative work, keep records, help customers, and carry out financial transactions.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,540

Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties, maintain records, collect data, and provide information to customers.

See How to Become One $35,390

Insurance Sales Agents

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers and sell one or more types of insurance.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,940


Receptionists do tasks such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing information about their organization to the public.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,050

Retail Sales Workers

Retail sales workers help customers find products they want and process customers’ payments.

No formal educational credential $25,440



Tellers are responsible for accurately processing routine transactions at a bank.

High school diploma or equivalent $31,230

Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations.

See How to Become One $63,000

General Office Clerks

General office clerks perform a variety of clerical tasks, including answering telephones, typing documents, and filing records.

High school diploma or equivalent $34,040

The Handbook does not have contacts for more information for this occupation.

Related BLS articles

Career Outlook: Customer service skills: Occupational employment, outlook, and wages


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Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Customer Service Representatives,
at (visited ).

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