Any job that entails interaction with the public involves varying degrees of customer service, but many times customer service positions involve solving issues with upset or confused customers. This differs slightly from the professional who chooses a sales position where customers may know exactly what they want or need help to fill a vague need. A customer service representative may not always have to sell, but a sales representative will always have to provide customer service.
Customer Service Requirements
Customer service representatives deal with customers either by phone, Internet or in person. They document in detail all interaction with customers, whether it involves an inquiry for services or resolving a customer complaint. One of the most important responsibilities assigned to a customer service representative is to make sure that the customer's situation is resolved. If it cannot be resolved during the first interaction, it is vitally important that the representative follow up on the situation until it is resolved to the customer's satisfaction.
Customer Service Key Skills
An important attribute a successful customer service representative should possess is the ability to listen. Most people hear others when they speak, but listening involves acknowledging the customer's issue and his concerns on getting that issue resolved in a timely manner. A customer service representative should also have extensive knowledge of her product and of any applicable computer systems and software to further improve her assistance to the customer.
Sales Position Requirements
A sales representative’s primary job is to assist customers in finding and purchasing his company’s product. To do this, the representative needs to be able to greet and converse freely with customers. This helps to determine what the customers are looking for and what features are important to them. Knowing this information lets a sales representative determine what product fits a customer's needs. After determining the right product for the customer, the salesperson is responsible for processing the order and following up to make sure the customer is satisfied.
Sales Key Skills
Good communication skills are a must. Without the ability to communicate with customers, the salesperson has no chance to determine and fulfill customers' needs. Because sales jobs are usually assessed by performance, another key skill is a high tolerance for stress. Additionally, an effective salesperson will understand how to make an appealing presentation. To the customer, the sales representative is the representative of the product. Knowledge of the product and dedication to customer satisfaction are key.
Education and Knowledge
While neither job requires a college education for an entry-level position, it does not hurt to have a higher education to make a person more attractive to a prospective employer. Most employers do require a high school diploma or G.E.D. for employment. Product knowledge and a basic knowledge of sales and customer service principles are also a must to make yourself attractive to your potential employer. Many times, these positions will require a personality assessment test to ensure the right type of personality matches the specific job.
- Photo Credit for sale image by Keith Frith from Fotolia.com
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