What is customer service?

Customer service is the department, team, or individual within a company who provides instructions and support for people who have purchased your product or services. Customer service can happen via email, phone, chat or even over video call if you have the people to provide coverage. It is an incredibly important aspect of modern business—service, support, and customer happiness are valuable to all companies, from tiny startups to huge and established businesses.

What does a customer service team do?

A customer service team handles all incoming inquiries from customers about how to best use a tool. They also are responsible for managing the company’s documentation and any other sites that customers use to solve their issues for themselves (known as self-service). It is also the customer service team’s job to relay any insights from the customer base through to the product, sales, and engineering teams at a company. They are the front-line when it comes to servicing the customer, and they are the best people when it comes to letting everyone know what the customer wants.

What makes a great support rep?

great customer support representative is much more than someone with a good customer service resume. They need to have empathy, curiosity and a strong drive to troubleshoot. Most also need to have a technical aptitude or at least a curiosity to learn a bit more about the technical side of things—most things in support are questions of a technical nature, or generally more advanced than the user could figure out on their own.

A truly great support representative will take the initiative when they notice that something needs to change: they’ll be willing to create or revise documentation, reach out to an engineer, or surface a larger issue to your product team. Everything that they do and focus on will be with the intent to better the customer experience not just in the immediate moment, but proactively moving forward.

How to make a career in customer service

There are so many different customer service jobs that, if you’ve just started working in the industry, it can be difficult to know where to start. There are new roles and titles being created and opening up every day as the industry grows and new needs within teams and companies present themselves.

Because customer support and customer service are booming, people can find something that suits them almost no matter what their background is. Even if you don’t have a deeply technical background, there is likely still an ideal support career available at a tech company.

That being said, the three primary choices for career growth in customer service are:

Operations

As support teams grow, they often need to find someone on the team to shift their focus to the operational side of the team. This could mean that they start focussing more on things like maintaining documentation, scheduling support team members to make sure everything is covered, testing and implementing new tools or anything having to do with keeping the team functioning. This is a good role for people that like to organize and plan.

People

This is typically a person that wants to be a team lead or a team manager. Once they get there, they are the person responsible for running one-on-ones, handling raises, making sure that the team feels happy and supported. They also are usually responsible for things like communicating and enforcing goals on the team. This is a great role for someone who identifies as a “connector” or relationship-builder on their customer service CV.

Technical

If you are super interested in the technical side of support or have found yourself drawn to learning a bit more about the engineering side of things, this might be the path for you.. Usually, someone who chooses to go down a technical path will end up in the role of Support Engineer, building tools for support, or perhaps working on the actual engineering team at a company.

Tip: Make a list of the things that you enjoy doing in your current role, and try to find a role or career that primarily uses those things.

What do companies look for in customer service resumes?

What do companies look for in customer service resumes?
Attention to detail

Do you know the difference between “detail oriented” versus “detail-oriented”? Support people effectively write for a living, so represent yourself well and pay attention to the things you put on what you’re sending out. Ensure that there are no grammatical or spelling errors in your resume.

Experience

How much experience do you have and with what kinds of companies? Some companies may be looking for someone with experience with companies larger than them, others may want a candidate to have a similar experience. Know what the company you are applying to is looking for and represent that in your experience.

Use of language

Ideally, resumes should be one page in length and no longer. Use your language judiciously and convey what you mean without all the extra fluff.

Specific statements

You want your resume to stand out, so use statements that specifically state what you did or the work you accomplished, rather than general ideas. For example, instead of “helped build a team”, write “assisted in hiring half of new support team staff.”

How to write a customer service resume objective

Resume objectives are the one-to-two sentences at the top of your resume that inform your potential hiring manager of your skills, capabilities, and what goals you have for your resume and the job you are hoping to receive. Ask yourself these questions, and then address them while writing your objective:

What value will you add to the company?

The hiring manager doesn’t always care about what they can do for you—they also what to know what you can do for the company. Make sure you mention whatever value that you feel you will bring to the customer service job being offered when you are hired.

Does the role that you’re applying for fulfill your objective?

State a career goal that is within the confines of what is possible at the company. For example, if eventually, you would like to be a CEO, that’s good, but do not list it on your resume for a customer service job. Focus instead on what the next one or two steps in your career might look like.

Do your skills and objectives relate to the job you’re applying for?

If you list skills and objectives that do not make sense or align with what you’ll be doing for the job, it will confuse the hiring manager, and also make your resume less strong. Use skills and objectives that are relevant to the application.

For example, a good customer service resume objective might look like:

Tip: Customer service manager seeking an opportunity to use my communication and people-leadership skills to improve customer satisfaction and lower contact ratio.

How to build your customer service resume

As a support person, you will be, for the main portion of your job, writing. Because of that, it’s super important for you to be concise and clear with your language, pay close attention-to-detail, and avoid any grammatical errors when creating your resume. Beyond that, there are a few building blocks that you should always include in every resume:

Your name and a method of contacting you

Put your name and whatever contact information you are comfortable with sharing at the top of your resume. If applying for a remote role, or one where you may need to relocate, it would also be good to include your current location. This helps to set the stage for your customer service resume, as well as letting the hiring team know who you are.

Your objective for applying for the role (also known as a summary)

This is a sentence or two at the top of your resume that explains why you are applying for the role and what you can bring to the table for the company

Highlights of your professional experience

Pick a few skills that you think are exemplary of your performance in support and list them on your resume. Do not include something just so that you take up enough space. Instead, include things that will separate you from the rest of the group. For example, implementing a very difficult software system, or building a support team from scratch.

Your experience

List the last few jobs that you have had that are relevant to the job that you are applying for. Do not list every job that you have ever worked, and try to keep your customer service resume to one page in length, if you can. Even if you are using bullet points, write full sentences—this is another place to display your writing abilities.

Any relevant certifications you have

If you have any certifications that would be useful for the role you are applying for, include it here. For example, if you were applying for an entry level customer service job at a library, or somewhere that serviced hardware, having an A+ certification listed may be beneficial.

Tip: Always customize your customer service resume and resume objective for each job you apply for. Customization can make all the difference.

What skills to put on a resume for customer service?

There are several different categories of skills that companies consider when looking at applicants for customer service jobs. Try to pick at least one from each of these categories to add to your resume, and represent them in your own words

Emotional Quotient
  • Mirroring a customer’s emotions and de-escalating any situation where things may start to become overly heated.
  • Having empathy for the people around you and specifically for the customer’s situation.
  • Being able to be resilient in the face of difficult customer conversations; having patience when an interaction might not be going as expected.
Communication Skills

Providing clarity in both written and verbal communication.

  • Being able to actively listen when a customer is talking about their issues and preemptively responding to problems before they even are brought up.
  • Understanding the motivations of a customer so that you are able to be persuasive when needed to in order to coach the customer in the right direction.
Organizational Qualities
  • Taking ownership of a situation or issue, even when it is not expected of you.
  • Working well under pressure.
  • Managing time effectively.
Problem-solving Skills
  • Cultivating product knowledge quickly and then solving cases with deeper intuition.
  • Being proactive. You do things without being asked to, and usually, before they are needed.
Critical Thinking
  • Being able to think critically so that you can uncover issues that the customer isn’t even actually expressing. Reading between the lines and being critical is integral for success in a support role, and you should reflect it on your resume.

What to know before you go for a customer service interview

Before you go into an interview for a customer service job, there are some things that you should educate yourself on about the company, any challenges for the role, the product itself, and the culture. This can allow you to both represent yourself properly in the interview process, but also to ask about any questions or concerns that you might have directly to the company.

Here are a few things to learn before you go in to interview:

What are the most important skills for this role?

What questions should you ask the recruiter?

During and leading up to an interview, it can feel like all of your focus is on preparing for the questions that the recruiter is going to ask you on the first call. But, it can be just as important to think about what you are going to ask the recruiter about, no one likes a one-sided conversation after all. Here are a few great questions to get some conversation going:

What are the most important skills for this role?

This helps you to see if your expectations of the role and the reality of the role align. You can also then ask further questions about why they think those skills are so important.

What are some reasons that other candidates haven’t been selected?

This can help identify mistakes that other candidates have made so that you can avoid them.

What do the compensation and benefits for the position look like?

You should get to know what the salary or rate is for the position as well as what benefits it offers before you or the hiring company put too much energy into the interview process.

What is the culture like at the company?

Understanding what a company’s values and culture is like can help you decide if this is the right fit for you. It can also help you anticipate what questions they might ask you about your personality and the type of working environment you flourish in.

How long has this position been open, and is it backfill or newly created?

If the position has been open a long time, also ask about why the position has been open so long. Knowing a little bit of history about the position can give you useful insight into the company. If the position has been open for a long time, it might tell you that the company is fairly picky about their hires, or that the hiring process is long. If the position is a backfill, it could be useful to know whether the person whose place you’ll be taking was fired or left, and why.

 

Importance of hands-on experience with helpdesk software

If you are just applying for your first ever customer support job, it’s possible that you might not have any experience with helpdesk software. But, helpdesk ticketing software experience is incredibly important, as it is likely where you will be spending most of your time.

TIP: Plenty of helpdesks have a free trial. Find out which one the company you’re interviewing with uses, and sign up to test it out before your interview.

If you do not have experience with helpdesk software, ask for the person you are interviewing with to give you a tour through what the daily process of a support agent would look like. If you do have experience with customer service software, ask questions about how the company you’re interviewing with uses the one that they are currently under contract with. Then, you can potentially add recommendations for how you used it at a past company and provide some value with your interview.

No matter what, it’s important that you have a little experience with helpdesk software, so if you don’t have it prior to going to the interview, you should try to.

 

Create the best customer service resume

As a customer support representative you will have the opportunity to make huge impacts in the lives of your customers, and potentially on your product. The first step in the journey, though, is getting your foot through the door. Start by creating a stellar resume that expresses all of the work that you have done, then, move forward to talking to recruiters, interviewing at the company and, in the end, snagging a job at a place that you love. Once you get that job, make sure to check out these training courses by the Freshdesk Academy designed specifically to make new support agents feel at ease at work.