A Customer Relations Representative working in a business is responsible for answering customers’ questions, obtaining answers to those they don’t know, and assisting consumers in resolving problems with company products or services. The main function of the Customer Relations Representative is to make the customer feel that he or she is important and that any difficulty with the product or service can be resolved. The customer relations department works in conjunction with the public relations department in trying to make sure that customers are satisfied. Many corporations feel that word of mouth is the best advertising. A pleased customer will tell his or her friends about the product, and they may purchase the product, too.
The Customer Relations Representative or consumer relations representative, as he or she may be called, has varying duties depending on the structure of the company and his or her specific responsibilities. Before the Customer Relations Representative begins to deal with customers, he or she usually goes through a training period. During this time the individual learns all about the company, its products, and its policies. He or she will most likely be required to read and study policy books and other written material about the company. The individual will probably use the company’s products in order to become totally familiar with them.
The Customer Relations Representative answers phone calls made by consumers. The consumer may call the company for a number of different reasons. He or she may want to obtain information on a product or may need an explanation of how to use or put together the product. The consumer may need warranty information or instructions on how and where to service a faulty or broken item. The customer may also get in touch with the company to complain about a problem with a product or about poor service. The Customer Relations Representative is responsible for answering the consumer’s questions. If he or she does not know the answer, the individual will be expected to find it. The individual may call a superior or someone in a specific department in order to find the correct information. He or she will then be responsible for calling or writing the customer. In some companies, the individual is required to keep extensive records on all people who call. This information may be handwritten or may be typed into a computer terminal.
The Customer Relations Representative usually needs the person’s name, address, and phone number and a short explanation of the question or problem. He or she may also get product code numbers, and dates and places of purchase. The Customer Relations Representative is responsible for taking calls of irate customers. These phone calls may come in for any number of reasons. The consumer may have purchased a faulty product, received bad service, or may just be complaining about an area that is totally out of the control of the company.
The individual tries to get to the root of the problem and determine if he or she can handle it directly or if the call should be forwarded or referred to a supervisor. The Customer Relations Representative must know company policy. In many situations the company will offer to replace or repair a product at no charge just to keep a customer satisfied, even if the company was not at fault.
Depending on the corporation, the individual may also be called upon to take orders, check on the status of orders, or do billings. The individual is often required to write letters to consumers to apologize for a problem, to explain a situation, or to offer a solution. The Customer Relations Representative may also have additional writing responsibilities. He or she may be expected to write leaflets, booklets, or newsletters aimed at helping the consumer and keeping him or her aware of company products or the usage of products. If a product recall occurs, the Customer Relations Representative may become involved in the recall procedure. He or she may take the calls from customers who have already purchased a product and explain the replacement or refund process. The individual may also phone or write customers who have sent in warranties to make them aware of the problem.
The Customer Relations Representative works normal business hours. He or she is responsible to the customer relations manager or director.
Salaries can range greatly for Customer Relations Representatives depending on their experience and responsibilities and the size, structure, and location of the company. Individuals who have limited experience and responsibilities or those working in smaller businesses may earn between $20,000 and $25,000 plus a year. Others who have more experience and more responsibility and are working in larger companies in metropolitan areas may earn up to $35,000 or more annually.
Jobs may be located throughout the country in all types of businesses, large and small. Midsize and larger corporations usually have more than one Customer Relations Representative on staff. In large businesses there might be 20 people or more holding down this position.
The next step up the career ladder for the Customer Relations Representative is to become an assistant customer relations manager, director of customer relations, or coordinator of consumer affairs, depending on the structure of the company. Depending on his or her qualifications, the Customer Relations Representative might also advance by becoming an assistant director of public relations. Individuals need a good educational background to advance their careers. They must also be willing to relocate to find a position if one does not open in their current company.
Most positions for Customer Relations Representatives require that the applicant have a four-year college degree. While some positions do not require anything but a high school diploma, higher education is necessary in order to advance the individual’s career. Any type of major may be acceptable. Good course options might include psychology, sociology, English, public relations, marketing, advertising, writing, and communications.
The Customer Relations Representative should be articulate with good communication skills. He or she should also have a pleasant phone manner. A lot of the individual’s time is spent on the telephone talking to customers with questions or problems. The individual should have the ability to display empathy when dealing with a problem. He or she should be able to handle many details at one time without getting flustered. Computer capability is a plus in many positions. The Customer Relations Representative must be personable. He or she should be able to deal with an irate consumer in such a way that the customer calms down so that the problem can be effectively solved. The Customer Relations Representative must never let his or her temper show. In some positions the Customer Relations Representative is expected to fulfill writing functions. He or she may be required to write letters, reports, customer service pamphlets, or booklets. A working knowledge of the English language, letter writing, spelling, word usage, and grammar is necessary.
Customer Relations Representatives may become members of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business (SOCAP). This organization holds seminars on effective ways to deal with consumer problems in business. Individuals may also belong to private and voluntary consumer organizations that advocate specific consumer interests.
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