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Customer Service Representatives Job Outlook

Employment of customer service representatives is projected to grow by 15 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Providing quality customer service is important to nearly every company. In addition, because companies are expected to begin placing greater emphasis on customer relationships as a way to differentiate themselves from competitors, the need for customer service representatives is projected to increase.

Employment also will increase as consumers continue to demand products and services that require customer support. When a new product is introduced in the marketplace, additional customer service representatives will be needed to answer questions and resolve problems related to its use.

Technology has tempered growth of this occupation to some degree. For example, some technologies, such as Internet self-service or interactive voice-response systems, help customers get the assistance they need without having to interact with a representative. Routing of calls or emails to those representatives who are best able to respond to a specific inquiry will also help make workers more productive, thereby reducing the need for customer service representatives.

However, technology also creates new opportunities for job growth. For example, online banking might reduce the need for in-branch customer service representatives to handle banking tasks for account holders, but it also might increase the need for customer service representatives to help those account holders with using the web site.

The number of contacts with customers is expected to continue increasing, especially with the greater use of social media, live chat, or other means of communication. These increased communications will help spur demand for workers who interact with customers through these channels.

Customer service representatives are projected to grow 46 percent in telephone call centers, much faster than the average. This growth is due in part to industry growth, as many firms continue to hire call center firms that specialize in handling customer contacts.

Outsourcing, the practice in which companies shift call centers and customer service representatives to other countries, will also continue. However, new jobs will be created in the United States as well, as some companies recognize consumers’ preferences for U.S.-based customer support.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for customer service representatives are expected to be good. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

There will be greater competition for in-house customer service jobs—which often have higher pay and greater advancement potential—than for those jobs in the call center industry.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition