If you want to work in your pajamas at odd hours of the day or night, you may be a perfect candidate for remote customer service jobs. Customer service representatives are in high demand as companies become increasingly global and need to staff help centers 24/7.
These jobs generally are not highly paid. Representatives typically earn between $10 and $20 per hour. But they are often extraordinarily flexible. You want to work from home? No problem. You prefer the midnight until 4 a.m. shift? Completely doable. Want to work around an irregular school schedule — or small kids? You can often schedule yourself for any hours you want.
And outside of a quiet space, fast Internet connection and a decent computer, there are few requirements for these jobs. Most do not require a college degree. And while some expect customer service experience, previous experience with other customer-facing positions, such as a job in retail sales or telemarketing, is good enough.
Flexibility vs. pay
That said, potential customer service representatives need to be careful. That’s because there are two ways to hire customer service reps — as employees or as freelancers. Freelancers get plenty of freedom. However, they often have to deal with unattractive contract terms that could cause them to get paid for only a portion of the time they work.
Employees, meanwhile, give up some of the freedom that can make these jobs attractive. Some companies require reps to be available 40 hours or more every week, for example. But employee positions typically pay better, come with benefits, and still allow working from home.
Pros and cons of freelance
Freelance customer service representatives, meanwhile, can schedule themselves and work part-time. Generally, the companies that they work through connect customer service representatives with dozens of large companies. Reps get to choose the type of company they want to work with, whether to represent just one company or several. And then they choose their hours out of the hours offered by those firms.
The catch? Many freelance customer service jobs pay by the “productive” or “engaged” minute. That means you’re paid for the time you spend on a call or responding to someone’s chat message — but not when you’re sitting at your desk waiting to get calls or messages. If no one calls, you don’t earn any money. And, yet, you’re generally required to stay available during the hours you selected regardless.
Moreover, customer service jobs require training. And only a handful of the platforms that enlist freelancers for these positions pay for the necessary education.
However, a few of the companies that enlist independent contractors for customer service jobs provide a few safeguards in their contracts. These safeguards promise you’ll be paid for at least a portion of the time that you’re scheduled to work, even if you are not fully engaged. For instance, the contract might say that you’re paid for “engaged minutes” but that you’d be paid for at least 30 of the 60 minutes in your shift, engaged or not.
Moreover, while few freelance platforms will pay by the hour for training, some offer education “stipends” that compensate workers for at least a portion of the time spent.
If you’re considering a customer service job that pays by the minute, be sure to read the contract and see if it has these safeguards. If it doesn’t, keep looking.
If you’re willing to take any customer service job, you’ll have no trouble finding work. Google “remote customer service jobs” and you’ll get hundreds of thousands of hits. But the jobs that pay well and offer benefits — or that are wildly flexible — are a bit harder to find.
We’ve highlighted several of those below, starting with three companies that will hire you as an employee and pay for benefits. The final three are independent contractor sites. We’ve included in these one well-advertised site that we suggest you avoid. Know that most independent contractor sites pay by the minute, so their “hourly” pay equivalents should be viewed with a grain of salt.
By and large, you’ll earn more as an employee, particularly when factoring in the value of benefits. The contract positions are advisable only when flexibility is your primary goal.
Amazon has a wide array of full- and part-time remote customer service jobs available, many of which require no experience and only a high school degree. You will provide remote customer support by phone and email to help customers solve their issues with orders or with other Amazon products and services. Virtual training is provided to the successful candidates. Promised pay ranges from $16 to $35 per hour.
Full-time work-at-home customer service reps get employee benefits including a 401(k); medical, vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage; as well as discounts on Amazon purchases. Part-time at-home employees get life and disability insurance, vision and dental coverage.
TTEC hires both full-time and part-time workers to provide customer service and sales. Salary ranges go from minimum wage to $20 an hour, plus benefits. However, if you’re bilingual or willing to go for supervisory positions, you can earn considerably more. Many jobs also qualify for performance bonuses. The company has more than 20,000 remote workers worldwide.
United Health Group: employee
The big health care provider is actively advertising for remote customer service jobs, which provide training, decent pay and benefits. The one catch here is that United Heath wants people willing and able to work a 40-hour week — and maybe more. And customer service representatives should be available at any time during the company’s 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. workday. That throws a wrench into the traditional selling point of these jobs — the flexibility. That said, if you don’t mind full-time work, as long as it’s work-from-home, there are copious positions available. Moreover, many include full benefits, including health insurance and paid time off, as well as performance bonuses.
We’ve listed the freelance marketplaces by best-to-worst, based on flexibility and payment terms, including whether they generally offer minimum pay when paying by the minute. But, be aware that if you live in states with strict labor laws, including California and New York, pay-by-the-minute schemes don’t fly. Most of these platforms will reject your application to avoid running afoul of state laws. Although the jobs are remote, labor laws apply to all state residents.
WorkingSolutions enlists at-home customer service reps from the U.S. and Canada to serve a wealth of large corporations that need help around the clock. The site says that once an applicant is accepted, they’re matched with potential clients. At that point, the freelancer gets a contract that spells out the terms.
Contracts vary on many important details, says Gail Rigler, the site’s Chief Marketing Officer. These details include pay rates, whether you’re paid by the hour or minute, whether you can receive performance bonuses and whether you’re required to commit to a minimum number of hours. Reps who are paid by the minute generally get “minimum pay” contracts to assure them that they’ll earn money for at least a portion of the time they’re working during a slow period, says Rigler. You’re also likely to get an “education stipend” here for the time you spend training. Pay range: $10 – $20 per hour.
LiveOps also pays representatives by the minute — and commonly by the productive minute. However, customer service representatives are generally not given any minimum pay guarantees, so you may not be paid at all if the call center is slow during your shift. The site also does not provide education stipends to complete require training. Pay rates range from 25 cents to 45 cents per minute, which theoretically pushes top pay to $27 hourly. However, because of the potential for significant unpaid time, you should view the hourly pay equivalents as only an estimate.
Arise presents its work-at-home customer service jobs as a way of becoming your own boss. The site requires anyone who registers here to have a Taxpayer Identification Number and a business license. Once signed up, it will present you with the chance to work with a number of companies that need customer service representatives. However, most of these customer service jobs require training and you will need to pay Arise to provide it to you. Typical cost: $50 to $250. The site also charges “business owners” $40 a month for access to its platform that users say is riddled with bugs. This is semi-flexible remote work, but it is the worst of breed, according to SideHusl.com. Every other customer service option mentioned above is better than this one.