stress

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

In-the-Moment Stress Relief – 3/20/18

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


It is totally understandable why anyone would feel stress as a customer service representative. You may be dealing with complaints constantly. You have the internal pressure of making a quick call while adhering to a 2-inch binder’s worth of policies. You can hear the pain, the anger, and the urgency in the customer’s voice.

You are asked to juggle information, technology, empathy, procedures, and the uncontrollable – the other person.

I can’t provide every answer that will help you alleviate stress in the next 200 words. That would be unrealistic. But what I can do is offer you some quick tips on how to deal with stress in-the-moment:

  • Don’t think of a horror that might occur in the future. Stay in the moment. Focus on what IS instead of the negative what could be.
  • Breathe nice deep breaths. Let your breathing settle your heart beat.
  • Ask the other person questions more than feeling like you have to react with the perfect answers. The questions buy you time and provide you with information.
  • Remember how similar situations turned out well in the end. Remember that you have gotten through this before, and you’ll get through this, too.
  • Think about how to help the other person more than how the situation impacts you. Moving your thoughts away from how it affects you and toward helping others reduces stress.
  • Write down the facts you are learning during the conversation. Documenting is an activity that occupies the mind and the body.

When you’re feeling that in-the-moment stress, utilize these practices to calm yourself.

Use self-care to reduce stress.

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How to Keep Your Cool – 2/6/18

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You’ve had a rough day. It seems like the complaints keep coming. You want to work through your projects, but you find yourself fighting fires instead. And then you get that call – it’s a customer with another complaint or your boss with another urgent request, and you’re going to lose your cool…but you can’t.

You have to take the call. You have to help the other person, but the more they talk or gripe or pull at you or pick at you, the more your temperature rises.

In times like this, remember the BBB technique:

  • Breathe – This can be one of the best things you can possibly do in times of stress. Deep breaths in, hold for a couple seconds, then breathe it all out. Make sure it doesn’t sound like you just ran a sprint, but let the breathing keep your body in check.
  • Break – It’s often a good idea to ask the person if they could hold for just a minute so you can do some research or tell them you need to briefly check on something relating to their topic. Once they’re OK with it, put them on hold – literally take a break (even if it’s just 30 seconds or a minute). It gives you time to gather yourself, to think to pause to breathe, and it even may give them time to settle down. When you come back on the line, immediately thank them for their patience.
  • Get Back-to-Basics – Focus on the facts; ask them for details. Have them tell you the basics – what happened (or what do they need) on what date, at what time, sent to what e-mail address. Literally write down what they’re telling you, and confirm it back to them. When you’re focused on data and they’re focused on data, emotions tend to dissipate.

 
When you feel the heat and your temperature is rising, get your cool back.

Employ the BBB technique.

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‘Got to’ v. ‘Get to’ – 3/7/17

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I was at a community collaborative meeting in Charlotte recently, where 100+ representatives of different organizations gathered. They were from local governmental, not-for-profit, and private businesses. Large and small organizations were represented…

As a part of a brief exercise, the meeting facilitator asked everyone to stand and to get into groups of 2-3. She asked them to tell the others in their group one thing that “they have GOT to do this week.” The conversations ensued, and after 4-5 minutes, the facilitator wrapped them up.

Then she asked them to tell the others in their group one thing that “they GET to do this week.” The conversations began, and the energy in the room (and volume!) picked up dramatically.

It was an interesting exercise as a participant and observer. There was a general sense of stress or worry in the first conversation. In the second conversation, there was more laughter, more noise, more smiles, more positive body language.

In a few cases the “Got to” matched the “Get to.” For those people, it’s especially positive to them that what they’ve GOT to do this week is also something that jazzes them and excites them – it’s also something they GET to do.

It’s great if you’re in a job where your “Got to’s” are naturally “Get to’s”, but if you’re not in that situation (or at least you don’t think you’re in that situation), consider a mindset shift.

Instead of “I’ve GOT to talk to this griping customer,” it’s “I GET to bring some sunshine into this person’s day.”

Instead of “I’ve GOT to deal with all these impatient family members waiting at the hospital,” it’s “I GET to offer some comfort and confidence to others.”

What are your “GOT to’s?” Find ways to look at them positively. Find ways to make them “GET to’s.”

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