Business Careers: Online Customer Service Program

There are several undergraduate degree and certificate programs available online in the field of customer service. (5-6) These programs are designed to prepare students to provide product information, review customer accounts and take orders. Using keen listening and communications skills, customer service professionals also typically handle customer complaints, process returns and solicit sales of new products. (1, 3)
Career Options for Online Customer Service Programs
Online programs in customer service are more often found at the certificate level; however, students can find colleges and universities that offer online customer service programs as associate and bachelor’s degrees. These programs may be combined with another field, such as sales or hospitality. In addition to business courses in marketing, accounting, finance and global strategies, these online customer service programs generally include field specific courses in emotional intelligence, leadership, service operations management and quality assurance. (4-6)
Program graduates could find careers as a customer service specialist, customer care representative, client relations specialist or customer support specialist. (3) While online certificate or associate programs might prepare students for entry-level positions, bachelor’s degree programs typically focus more on management principles and prepare graduates for customer service management occupations. Regardless of the program, these professionals could find positions in most industries, including finance and insurance, business support, hospitality services and health care. (4-6) The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted in 2012 that the most popular industry for these professionals was administrative and support services, which hired 16 percent of workers. (1)
Salary
From 2012-2022, the BLS noted that customer service representatives are projected to see an average growth of 13 percent. Additionally, those working in telephone call centers have a 38 percent growth in job opportunities that same decade. (1) In May 2013, the BLS stated that most customer service representatives made between $19,640 and $50,570, with a median wage of $30,870. The top paying industry was pipeline transportation of natural gas with a mean wage of $53,800 that year. Profiled below are the mean annual wages for the top five industries with the highest levels of employment, according to the BLS in 2013. (2)
• Business Support Services: $27,510
• Agencies, Brokerages and Other Insurance Related Activities: $35,160
• Insurance Carriers: $36,800
• Depository Credit Intermediation: $33,650
• Employment Services: $29,300
Work Life
Professionals working in customer service typically work full-time in an office setting conferring with customers; however, those working in retail may spend hours on their feet. The hours for customer service specialists can vary from early morning to late night, and working weekends and holidays are possible in specific work settings. Dealing with call quotas and irate customers could cause stress for these individuals. (1)
Citations
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Customer Service Representative, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/customer-service-representatives.htm#tab-3 (visited October 14, 2014).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2014-15 Edition, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/OES/current/oes434051.htm (visited October 14, 2014).
3. ONet Online, Customer Service Representative, on the Internet at www.onetonline.org/link/summary/43-4051.00 (visited October 14, 2014).
4. Ohio University, Bachelor’s in Customer Service Online, on the Internet at http://online.ohio.edu/customer-service/#.VD3IVrDF98E (visited October 14, 2014).
5. National University, Associate of Arts in Hospitality and Customer Service, on the Internet at http://www.nu.edu/OurPrograms/SchoolOfBusinessAndManagement/LeadershipAndHumanResourceManagement/Programs/Associate-Arts-Hospitality-and-Customer-Service.html (visited October 14, 2014).
6. Genesee Community College, Sales and Customer Service, on the Internet at http://www.genesee.edu/academics/programs/Business/Sales/ (visited October 14, 2014).