Zati Farhana Foto Bernama

A Customer Service Representative Job Is Not For The Faint Hearted

By Larissa Hilary Rajit Lumandan

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 nasty lines that Zati Farhana Zulkarnain has come across many times as a customer service representative.

Customers may not be kind or even can be unforgiving but the customer service representatives still 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 everything in their stride. It is just another day's work.



Zati Farhana works for an international courier service company and is in charge of the major account customers. She shares that the customers at times could be bossy or domineering just because they own an account with the company.

Most are nice but some can rally be patronising and even go to the extent of reminding her that 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 in different 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 continue persevering 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 the assistance of customer service representatives.

"Every day is a challenge for me. The calls I receive each day are not the same," she said adding that she used to work at a consultant firm but eventually lost interest because it was a monotonous job.

"My career as a customer representative started in November 2011 and since then I 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.

Sadly many look down on the job, thinking that the customer service job is only for those who are desperate for a job or the last resort.

LOTS OF OPENINGS FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE REPS

Vasantha Kumar Ravendaran who has a degree in economics from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) started working in the same line four years ago and he could vouch that the job is only for those willing to endure the job pressure and withstand the tantrums of some customers.



"Once a customer called in regarding the shipment of a Baju Kurung that 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 customers too are not always wrong.

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

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

The 29-year-old is fond of his job and has no plans to venture into a new field. He believes not many are aware that there are lots of opportunities in the customer service industry especially with the increasing number of call centres in Malaysia.

ITS A LEARNING CURVE FOR FATIN

For Norfhaten Fazreen Othman, on the other hand, the job as a customer service representative had taught her a lot of skills though there were times when customers had gone overboard 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 my advantage," she said.

The 25-year-old graduate from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) has become accustomed to the dark side of the job as customers often belittle her or throw harsh words at her.

A customer 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 they use 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 the customer 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 customer laughed away.

When customers show antagonism, 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, Norfhaten Fazreen points out she has come across many pleasant customers too in her line of work and make customer 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 is not for all, it requires certain skills including the art of communication 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 Zati Farhana Zulkarnain.

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

A customer service representative is also required to understand the job scope of their colleagues at different departments in order to explain to customers when they call to inquire about the products or services offered.

BERNAMA