stress | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24


A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24


It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24


Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… – 8/2/22

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

Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast.

In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step – what points to cover and what points to avoid.

But today, let’s be a little less prescriptive and just talk about some Guiding Principles when you’re engaging the other person:

Avoid the Absolutes – Conveying empathy is important in these situations.  People seem to be less anxious when they feel like somebody is trying to understand them.  However, it’s best to avoid statements that convey that you are certain about what they’re feeling, that you are certain about their situation:  I know exactly how you feel. You are stressed. I know you’re nervous.

By using these statements, we’re making assumptions that they’re stressed about something.  Sure, they appear that way, but we don’t want to state the assumption as a fact, since we could either be wrong or they may take offense if we tell them how they feel.  Instead, use phraseology like: It seems…or I would understand if…or Situations like this can be…

Temper Your Tone – One way to bring nervousness down is to bring the volume down.  Try to speak more softly. Yes, still use a bit of inflection to show interest but not so much inflection that it brings higher energy into the conversation.  We’re trying to pull some of the energy and emotion out of the conversation.

Ease the Expressiveness – If you’re somebody who talks with their hands (like me!) or have lots of facial expressions, if you’re somebody who moves around a lot when they talk – these activities can keep the energy and the emotion in the conversation.

Slow your movements.  Have more of a neutral, yet somewhat positive facial expression.  Relax your shoulders and your arms, and provide a total focus on the other individual.

When the other person is stressed, we don’t want to do anything to create an even more stressful environment for them – or for us.

Avoid the Absolutes, Temper Your Tone, and Ease the Expressiveness.

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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

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


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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