Customer Service: An Integral Part of Economic Boost. I'm Jerome, an experienced Customer Support and Virtual Assistant. Ask Me Anything! #AMA

Jerome Cenia
Sep 9, 2017

Customer Service.

This perhaps is one of the most common jobs known today and also the most taken for granted.

Customer Service is very essential in economic boost mainly because these representatives are the frontliners in pursuit of a company's promise of utmost satisfaction  to consumers.

However, most often, customer supports are being mistreated. Sure, it's our right to complain for the inconvenience a company has caused to us. But we sometimes forget that we are speaking to a person who wants and tries to help us.

This job perhaps is the most misunderstood, too.  It takes a big heart to become a customer service agent.

Learn why these people play a vital role in the business industry. Ask Me Anything on Sept. 9.

See you and thanks for your support.

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Should a digital marketing company ask you what you can offer to them or how can you be an asset to their company? What would be your answer?

Sep 11, 9:02AM EDT0

Nice question Loi!

In answering this question, it is best that you highlight all of the relevant experiences you had from your recent jobs. It is also a good chance for you to share the skills and achievements you received while working on the same field of expertise. If I were to answer the question, I would start by giving them my past roles and how I managed to handle it, my achievements of the career and share to them as well the great challenges I faced and how I resolved them. And to wrap my answer up, I will highlight all of my skills and relevant experiences 

Sep 11, 9:13AM EDT0

How much customer service is being moved to social media?

Sep 9, 8:52PM EDT1

Nice question Israel! 

The latest trend nowadays is undeniably the social media. Most of the online businesses emerging today rely on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. And where businesses are, customer support agents exist. That is why as the pace goes so fast in the growing economy of online business, we also utilize the readily available platforms that has established number of target customers and that is social media. A lot of customer service responsibilites evolve around responding to comments, replying to emails, and also posting images to these websites to promote such business. Nowadays, there has been a large leap of transition from a typical customer support to the new trend of social media management 

Sep 9, 9:03PM EDT0
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You mentioned you have to have a big heart to be in this career, are there other personal attributes that would help someone in this field?

Sep 9, 8:05PM EDT1

Good question there!

Being a customer support is not a thing you can consider as an easy task. Sure the job is not that complicated but the way you handle a customer is the true challenge that lies within. Every single person has a unique personality. In fact, no two people are exactly alike. That is why, when it comes to approaching people, as a customer support you really have to totally understand them, get in to their pace, and relate to them. Technically, everyone can be a customer support, of course there’s no doubt with that. They can undergo training and workshops. However, NOT ALL customer support has this ideal attribute that is very essential when trying to help people asking for solutions, and that is COMPASSION. I did mention that you must have a big heart if you desire to become a customer support. The reason behind that is, while everyone can be trained in this role, only a few people possess compassion and dedication that  could help them to become successful in this endeavor. 

At one point, the attributes that really help someone to become a successful in this career is a compassionate personality, high attention to details, patience, and most especially the ability to emphatize with the customer  

Sep 9, 8:16PM EDT0
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What is the best part of your job?

Sep 9, 7:42PM EDT1

Wonderful question!

For me, the best part of my job is when you hear people so happy after all the struggle you’ve been  to just to make all things better for them. Customer service is perhaps a job that can be considered as unpredictable. Every day is an opportunity to learn. Every single shift is different from the other ones. But there is one thing in common that makes me really fulfilled while doing my duties, and that is helping those who really need assistance. Although, some customers might insult you or doubt you, after all the efforts, what you can hear is their gratitude. There’s a lot more to discover in customer support world. Perhaps it is the most dynamic career that ever exist 

Sep 9, 7:56PM EDT0
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How long have you been in customer service? Do you enjoy it?

Sep 9, 7:27PM EDT1

Thanks for your question Caitlin!

I've been into customer service for more than 2 years. As a matter of fact, it's my first job before I started freelancing. I never tried to look for another career because since I started this career, I believe I found my path already. And even when I’m into freelancing already, still I offer customer support services as my expertise 

Sep 9, 7:51PM EDT0
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In customer service freelancing space, how can we standout?

Sep 9, 11:24AM EDT1

Great question there!

Customer service in freelancing is an integral part of businesses. Most of the jobs in the freelancing arena is customer support for established and start-up businesses. To make ourselves stand out, we must provide our best efforts to maintain the highest quality possible in our performance. Customer service need not to make itself shine because the industry is in its peak among other jobs in the freelancing world.

Customer service freelancing is very common especially nowadays that a lot of online shops and businesses are popping up anywhere. We're already on the top, and we need to maintain our stand there by providing only the best to our clients and customers.

Sep 9, 11:34AM EDT0
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Hi Jerome, Have you had a situation when you had to decline a request from a long-term customer? How did you handle it?

Sep 9, 1:46AM EDT1

Interesting question Shilpa!

Fortunetely, during the years of my experience in customer support, I haven't encountered such an incidence where I had to decline a long-term customer. However, if I had to encounter one in the future, I would certainly ask a sincere apology of the inconvenience this might impose to him or her. As a customer support, you must not put a period when there are still choices to make. You have to route the customer from a dead end to another path where the issue can be resolved, effectively. In such a circumstance, I would find choices that is a win-win situation for the both of us.

For example, if the customer wants to update his internet service and plans to avail an additional 5mbps to his current subscription. However, his area is not yet supported for the upgrade. In one side, that would mean a NO already. But sure you're wrong when you think of that. There can be a lot of means to handle it just not to give a "no" in the first hand. Try to search for supported subscription that is better than his current plan and offer. Educate the customer that the area is not yet supported and that you have an offer that is better than his current subscription and that is almost identical to his desired plan.

The bottom line here is, when you foresee a situation wherein you might have just declined to a customer, before closing the door for the both of you, find any other better option for him, offer it, and educate the customer.

That is why the role of the customer support is an integral part of business success because once the customer is satisfied with the service and that he or she is well educated with the product or service he or she has subscribed, that means there is a very great chance that this customer will likely recommend the company to his or her circle.

Sep 9, 5:46AM EDT0
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How long have you been freelancing?

Sep 8, 6:05PM EDT1

Thanks for your question Robert!

I've been to freelancing for more than 2 years now. I started as a transcriptionist and currently working as a Virtual Assistant.

Sep 8, 7:28PM EDT0
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What industry do you specialize in?

Sep 8, 3:04PM EDT1

Great question Ricardo!

I've been to a lot of industries while working as a customer service. I specialize in these industries in general:

  • IT and Cable Services
  • Start up Businesses
  • Health and Wellness
  • Retail and Financial Services

Thank you for your question.

Sep 8, 7:25PM EDT0
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Has a company ever downplayed your value as a customer service rep? Can you tell us about a time where you were talking to a customer and they were completely rude to you? How did you handle it?

Sep 8, 2:53PM EDT1

Interesting question Brandon!

I would say, YES. When I started my career as a customer support, it's very challenging to me since I had no prior experience that time and starting up in this career in my country is a challenge unless you're able to pass series of interviews and exams. I applied for a small BPO company as a kickstart for my career. After 6 months of working for them, I realized I've been under-compensated by this company. I received less than the average CSR's wage for 6 months and I haven't had any medical insurance during that time. In comparison to the latest companies I've been to, pay is lucrative and benefits are just so good and attractive.

With regards to my experience, I could never forget this customer who's so irate. He complained about an intermittent internet connection. I ran all the diagnostics and it's very obvious that there's a problem between his modem and the connection to his ISP. It could have been a very easy task as checking all the wired connection in his end, making sure all of them are securely fitted often resolve the issue. However when I politely asked him to check all the connections from the port to his modem and from the modem to his computer, he began to complain even further. That I did not train for this job and the worse is he even called me an "Asian Monkey." I know for sure that I'm Asian, I don't complain about that and that monkeys are everywhere here from where I live, but I believe that statement was so rude. Initially, my mind went blank and i started to feel like I was going to burst anytime. It really hurts being insulted while you're trying to help a person.

Since my task as a customer support is to provide a positive experience to the customers, I ignored my personal feelings and still insist to the customer that checking it out can save a whole lot of effort. After how many attempts of trying, he did check it out and to our surprise, his modem's power cord was unplugged. I even feel worse since the fault is in his end but I still managed to let him realize his fault without sounding like blaming.

After that call, I realized that in customer service, every day is a learning and even the smartest and toughest person in the world can sometimes pause in a moment while handling people like this.

Last edited @ Sep 8, 7:48PM EDT.
Sep 8, 7:45PM EDT0
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How long have you been in customer service? Did you have to go to buisness school to go into this career?

Sep 7, 10:25PM EDT1

Very good question Shari!

I've been into customer service for more than 2 years. As a matter of fact, it's my first job before I started freelancing. Also, you need not to go to business school to be in this career. In the Philippines, where BPO industry is booming, the minor requirements include impeccable English communication skills and at least a high school graduate. It's a plus when you're a college level or a college degree holder of any course. Trainings in our facilities are very extensive as we touch even the very basics of subject-verb-agreement and the most complex product specific workshops. Training camps usually take 2 months before deploying newly hired agents to the production floor.

Sep 8, 3:31AM EDT0
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What are the advantages of being a freelancer?

Sep 6, 7:07PM EDT1

Great question Jack!

Freelancing job is perhaps one of the most common jobs nowadays especially that many freelancing platforms are popping up anywhere in the web.

Getting straight to the point, becoming a freelancer is awesome! There are lot of reasons why but I will tell you the most common reasons from freelancers like us why we choose it over physical office work.

  1. Time. You always own your time. Most clients in the freelancing community give you choices for your work shift. I mean, not all, but most commonly you don't have to convert time zones and change your sleeping patterns just to meet client's demand. Also, you can choose the length of the project and the number of hours per week you will work with.
  2. Convenience. Personally, I hate traffic. Well, who doesn't? When you are a freelancer, you have your own home office and you don't have to engage yourself into a bumper to bumper situation on the road. You can even work while you are on your bed!
  3. Flexibility. Most clients understand that freelancers are on the go. On my personal experience, since I work for 2 clients, they always give me flexibility on my work schedule. Also, requesting for leaves and time offs is very easy! No need to send lengthy papers. No need to wait for days for approval!
  4. Communication. This part is one of my favorites. In an office work, you can never have a direct communication with your boss. Most often, you have to speak first with your senior and your message will be relayed to the client. But in freelancing, you always have a direct communication with your client and you are free to give recommendations for the company and even suggest for raise! Believe me, I just did. Perhaps I'm the cheapest freelancer in the world as I only get paid $3/hour. But when I asked a raise. they gave me extra $2 for my hourly rate! That can even be more based on your job and on your performance!
  5. MORE MONEY. When you work offshore as a freelancer, you always get the opportunity to earn more compared to the local skilled workers in your country. Sharing my personal experience, I earn an extra $300 a month compared to a nurse or even a teacher here in my country.

There can be more, however these are my top 5 picks.

Sep 6, 8:53PM EDT0
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Who can become a freelancer?

Sep 6, 4:21PM EDT1

Awesome question there!

It doesn't take too much to become a freelancer. As a matter of fact, everyone can be a freelancer as long as he or she has the time, skills, and dedication to work. At first, I really thought that freelancing is a thing that doesn't fit for me. But when I worked on the first project, everything turned out to be so great!

There are requirements that are specific to technology being used and also skills that are specific to a task you might consider working on. Basically, if you have a service to offer, you can be a freelancer.

This page is not enough to write down all the possible jobs a freelancer can do. To sum it all, anyone can be a freelancer as long as he wants to and as long as he is capable of meeting client's standards and giving out the very best on his/her skills.

Sep 6, 7:10PM EDT0
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How do you work long hours and avoid burnout?

Sep 6, 12:28PM EDT1

Interesting question Chelsea!

Those who work long hours are really prone to burnouts! I've been there before. That was when I didn't have much choice but apply for the job due to financial issues. However, right now, even if I work longer that 12 hours, I still can smile and go on with the day with ease. How did I do it? Simple. I always choose the job I love to do. In freelancing world, you have the luxury to show off your profile on the things you are capable of. That means, if you have a lot of skills and experiences to write on your CV, then you also have a great chance to find a job you love. In considering working on a project, always put this on your mind as a freelancer that you should work on the job you love to do the most.

Well, if you ran out choice and took the job available, think of the things that keeps you inspired and relaxed. During hectic days and busy weeks, I always give myself an hour to relax. You can either take a power nap or listen to music. Hydrate yourself enough.

Lastly, always take a day of your week to spend with people you really care for. Sometimes it only takes a dose of inspiration to shake off those stress hanging around.

Hope this helps :)

Sep 6, 7:05PM EDT0
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What sites do you work on?

Sep 6, 12:01PM EDT1

Great question there!

I am using Upwork (upwork.com) since I started my freelancing career. I also have an account to multiple freelancing websites like freelancer.com and VSF (Virtual Staff Finder) which is based on Facebook.

You can check out my profile here:

www.upwork.com/freelancers/~0114345a54cf5d2276

Sep 6, 7:03PM EDT0
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What tools do you use?

Sep 6, 11:20AM EDT1

Great question!

I’m using a lot of tools as a freelancer. I use these tools all the time whenever I start my day for work. 

First on the list is Skype. It is perhaps the most useful communication tool I use, all the time. All the communication between me and my clients starts here. 

Second is Time Tracker. As an hourly paid freelancer like me, I always use trackers to make sure my client and I have the best deal of our efforts and that only the job being done is paid. Not only we’re keeping a good relationship in our business, also, we are not compromising each other by making sure what is paid is also what is due. 

I also use Dropbox. This where my client drops tasks need to be done and where I send my work well done. 

There are a lot more tools you can us depending on the nature of your job. These, however are the most important things I cannot work without. 

Sep 6, 11:33AM EDT0
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What fees does Freelancer charge?

Sep 6, 9:21AM EDT1

That's a good question!

The fees freelancers charge is the services they offer to a client. These are the works or tasks being done successfuly based on the client's demand. Usually freelancers submit proposals to clients who are in need of people who could make things done. There are also times when clients do reach freelancers rather than wait for someone to submit a proposal. Since there has been a wide variety of services freelancers could offer, they are mostly paid for their expertise.

Freelancers receive either an hourly basis or fixed price payment, depending on the agreement between them.

Sep 6, 9:42AM EDT0
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How much do you charge?

Sep 6, 7:41AM EDT1

Hi Kevin! Thanks for asking!

I ensure that I always provide the best experience to my client and also the best deal of what he's paying for a service I offer. I am, perhaps one of the cheapest freelancers in the industry right now. I am paid $2-$3 an hour, while some are being paid even more than $10/hr.

I don't propose higher rates unless the job is very challenging. But when I work for a task or project that is just easy and manageable, I always charge the cheapest for them. I want to help the client by not only having the best top-rated output but also help them to save a lot more to spend on others things that matter the most aside from paying me so high. :)

Last edited @ Sep 6, 11:13AM EDT.
Sep 6, 8:10AM EDT0
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Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

Sep 6, 2:27AM EDT1

Awesome question!

I would have to say, I prefer to work with others. Working alone is surely a very good avenue for those who can't work well with a large group. However, there are times when we have a challenge on some things that might need open suggestions or opinions. When you work very closely with others, there is a very big room for improvement, simply because you can share ideas and work on some challenges together that could have been hard if you're working by yourself. Also, I'm a very sociable person, so I love the presence of the persons working around with me. :)

In this case, I prefer to work with others :)

Last edited @ Sep 6, 6:28AM EDT.
Sep 6, 6:26AM EDT0
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What do you do when you don't know the answer to a question?

Sep 6, 12:29AM EDT1

Thanks for your interesting question!

There are times when we have to face a day so clueless on how things should be done. There are also times when we don't know an answer to a question. In moments like this, I simply don't pretend that I know everything. To save both of our times, I open this honestly to the person that there's a challenge for me getting an answer to a question. If all of my resources have been exhausted, I would not hesitate to ask for help and suggestions to resolve a problem I'm having challenge to.

Last edited @ Sep 6, 6:22AM EDT.
Sep 6, 6:22AM EDT0
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