Zati Farhana Foto Bernama

A Customer Service Representative Job Is Not For The Faint Hearted

By Larissa Hilary RajitLumandan

KUALA LUMPUR(Bernama) -- "Do you know that this is urgent? Do you even know what I want? Or you're just plain stupid to understand anything? You can't even do a simple customer service job!" These are the nastylinesthatZati FarhanaZulkarnainhas come across many times as a customer service representative.

Customers may not be kind or evencan beunforgivingbut the customerservice representativesstill have to work on the premise that the customers are always right.The role of customer service representative is often not much appreciated but those in the vocation take everythingin their stride. It is justanother day's work.

ZatiFarhana works for aninternational courier service company andis in charge of the major account customers. She shares that the customers at times couldbe bossy or domineeringjust because they ownan account with the company.

Most are nice but some can rally be patronisingand even go to the extentof reminding herthat they are the ones paying her salary and hence she has to meet their demands.

"When I first started working as a customer service representative at a bank, I was paid only RM2,100 per month without any allowances.I had to work indifferent shifts and deal with customers who can be pretty abusive," she shared.

Despite of the demanding nature of the customers and the unkind words, and a salary that does not commensurate with what the customer service representatives have to go through daily, why does this 29-year-old lass and the others want to continuepersevering in this field?

THE CHALLENGE THAT KEEPS THEM GOING

Zati Farhana who has a degree in international business wants to remain in the same field as she likes challenging work and the satisfaction derived by assisting the customers, especially the ones who really appreciate theassistance of customer service representatives.

"Every day is a challenge for me. Thecalls I receiveeach dayare not the same," she said adding thatshe used to work at a consultant firmbut eventually lost interest because it was a monotonous job.

"My career as a customer representative started in November 2011 and since thenI never thought of leaving. I'm very much happy with my job and Insya-Allah(God Willing), my goal is to be a customer service team leader in the future," she said.

Sadlymany look down on thejob,thinking that the customer service jobis only for those who are desperate fora job or the last resort.

LOTS OF OPENINGS FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE REPS

Vasantha Kumar Ravendaran who hasa degree in economics from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) started workingin the same line four years ago and he could vouch that the job is only for those willingto endure the job pressure and withstand the tantrumsof somecustomers.

"Oncea customer called in regarding the shipmentof aBajuKurungthat went missing. Based on our procedures, I told him to wait as I looked into the matter," he said.

But the customer yelled and cursed instead

"He used vulgar words and even asked me if I had attended school before. He claimed that I did not understand the value of an item and speak only based on procedures. The customer had his point," he said, adding that customerstoo are not always wrong.

Besides this, there were also customers who would come straight to theoffice looking for him.

"It's not that bad as it seems. Their aggression is not the same like when they speakto me on the phone and so far I have no problems in managing them," he added.

The 29-year-old isfondof his job and hasno plans to venture into a new field. He believesnot many are aware that there are lots of opportunitiesin the customer service industry especially with the increasing number of call centres in Malaysia.

ITS A LEARNINGCURVE FOR FATIN

For Norfhaten FazreenOthman, on the other hand, thejob as a customer service representative had taught her a lot of skills thoughthere were times when customers had goneoverboard with their words.

"Being a customer service representative has improved my communication skills a lot. I plan to open my own business in the future and I think I can use the skill to myadvantage," she said.

The 25-year-old graduate from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) has become accustomedto thedarkside of the jobas customers often belittle her orthrow harsh words ather.

Acustomer once yelled at her saying that she was just a customer service representative and her main job is to provide and serve whatever was requested by customers.

"It's true that it's part of my job to serve customers but theyuse abusive words against me. He started calling me useless and brainless. Sure, I would never take it personally; I don't even know him but I'll never forget what he had said to me," she said.

She also recalled another experience where thecustomer verbally abused her after she disclosed her name.

"You're just a customer service representative. Anyone can do what you do. You have to do what I asked you to do".

She quoted one customer saying "since you all customer service staff are so free, I give you all some work to do lah",and the customerlaughed away.

When customers showantagonism, she would try her level best to tolerate them and get the job done.

"I'm not complaining but people have to understand that we're human too," she said, adding that she is just like everyone else trying to earn an honest living.

Nonetheless, NorfhatenFazreenpoints out she has come across many pleasant customers too in her line of work and makecustomer service representatives happy.

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SIDE BAR

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE

The job of a customer service representative isnot for all, itrequires certain skills includingthe art ofcommunication and great patience.

"It is not easy. Most people think that you can be a customer service representative as long as you know how to speak a language fluently and willing to work on shifts," said ZatiFarhanaZulkarnain.

"You must be very confident in everything you say and you must know how to convince a customer. It teaches you to be patient andget ready for multitasking," she explained.

Acustomer service representative isalso required to understand the job scope of theircolleagues at different departments in order to explain to customers when they callto inquireabout the products or services offered.

BERNAMA