Maintaining Self-Care and Positive Customer Focus in the Face of Difficult Situations
Two line ups: one for gratitude and the second, complaints. Which one is longer for your company?
For many organizations, the gratitude line-up is rare and hard to see. There are two reasons for this: one, you are meeting your customer expectations and two, people can only stand in one line at once.
Those dealing in customer service roles have one of the most difficult jobs in any business. They need to deal with the unreasonable, dissatisfied, angry, disgruntled and demanding people who use your products or services.
To be the one who coordinates resolution to issues and is accountable to keeping customers coming back requires heavy armour and a strong heart. Serving others can take a toll on our stress levels, anxiety, attitude and morale. It can be very difficult at times to leave our work behind the office doors.
If you feel like you take the world on your shoulders, that you have always had compassion for others and you like to fix things and please others, you are likely highly empathetic, caring and are in a role that helps others be happy. Welcome to customer service and holding the power to make a difference in the lives of others!
The costs of this undertaking can be huge emotionally and physically if you take the work you do too personally. What I mean by that is by the end of the day, you feel like you were in the ring with Mike Tyson and he is standing tall and you feel like dropping to the canvas.
Many jobs can feel this way and in order to sleep soundly at night, there are a few things that can keep us centered, confident and assertive as we deal with our customers throughout the day.
- Be Compassionate: It is a gift you have and sometimes our pre-recorded response takes over and doesn’t allow us to truly be in the customer’s shoes. Customers want is to be heard and acknowledged, as would we. In being open and curious about what they are going through, both sides will be more engaged which increases the chance of less negativity and a more positive outcome.
- Lock the Trigger: There are things that set us off and guess what, irate customers will want to do that. If you get knocked down in the ring, they may feel closer to winning. Evaluate your experiences, what pulls your trigger, why, and what is the emotion behind it? Emotions drive behaviours and if we can better recognize the bullets, we are more likely to deflect them.
- Shake it Off: If an animal deals with something threatening, they react and after, shake it off. We deal with ‘threatening’ situations throughout the day in customer service roles. The threats could violate our ego, beliefs, values, role, authority and personality traits. For many of us, we don’t take a break to shake. The tension stays fixed in our muscles and could be there for the work day in hopes that they will get a chance to release after our stressful commute home. Take breathers throughout the day, move your body and release your emotions in a healthy way.
- Not Me: You and the customer are human and there is an expectation that needs to be resolved. Focus on the expectations, not the beliefs of the other, how unreasonable they are or how they behaved. Stop and know it’s not about you, unless it is something you failed to do. Then own it, apologize and move on. Your role is the conduit to the expectation and if you were on the receiving end of the unmet expectation, you may react the same way.
- Self-Awareness: Know your personality type, your strengths, weaknesses, fears and what makes you happy. Your way of being is the reason you are in this role – embrace that. Self-awareness also leads to knowing what might be standing in your way of not being as effective. This could include a lack of confidence, not believing in what your company stands for or being one to avoid conflict, therefore not acting assertively when needed. Understand these gaps and get support with how to transform them so you can leave at the end of the day knowing you did your best.
I hope the above will help you to process your experiences in a way that is more empowering and that better enables sweet dreams at night. In an age where customer service can make the difference in an organization’s success, ready your body and mind for a day of being the reason customers choose to work with you!
Kwela’s Customer Relations workshop provides essential skills for building collaborative internal and external client relationships.
Glen Sollors, Senior Consultant