6 Truisms for Instant Customer Service Motivation
Greek mythology is a good source for wicked stories. Take King Sisyphus , who received the heavenly punishment of rolling an immense rock up a hill, only for it to roll back down when nearing the top – repeating this routine for eternity. On bad days, that's what working in customer service can feel like.
Whenever you've fixed one customer's problem, the next one comes crashing down. With many of these interactions marked by negative emotions such as anger and frustration, staying motivated can be a real challenge.
And yet, with the right frame of mind, customer service can be one of the most rewarding jobs you can find. Here are six truisms to revisit whenever your motivational tank is running low.
1You are the face of the company
As a customer service representative, you are the face of the company. You are its eyes, mouth, and ears. When a customer seeks out help or advice, they contact you . No other department has such a direct link to the company’s most important resource: its customers.
Your daily experience interacting with customers offers invaluable insights for the company. What’s more, how you communicate and interact with customers has a tremendous impact on their perception of the company – larger than any marketing budget could ever buy.
2Obstacles = growth
Difficult people and situations are an inherent part of customer support. When facing them, try to remember that it's your response to these obstacles that defines you.
Obstacles force you to stretch and to develop as a person. Dealing with tricky social situations allows you to hone critical abilities like empathy, reason, compassion, and overall communication skills. This will benefit you in all spheres of your life — professional and private.
As stated by Tim Ferris , "a person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
They can seem like nuisances in the moment, but would you really want a life without problems? Solving problems is largely what life is about. What's the fun in scoring a goal without any defenders trying to stop you?
3Stress is there to help
Difficult customers naturally cause you to feel stressed. Although the common perception of stress is negative, it actually has some unexpected upsides.
In a TED Talk by psychologist Kelly McGonigal, she explains that stress is a mechanism your body uses to help you meet challenges. The combination of an increased heart rate and quickened breath means more blood and oxygen reaches your brain. Your body becomes stronger, prepared to face any obstacle.
Allow these feelings and natural processes that occur during a time of stress to reassure you that your body is on your side.
This corresponds with a study by the University of California, Berkeley, which concluded that “some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioural and cognitive performance.”
Don't let it rule your life, but a bit of stress will drive you to peak performance. As long as it's guided towards the right things, that is. Which brings us to the next point.
4You only have to worry about what's within your control
There are certain things in life that you can influence, but there are many more that you can't. You can think of this practice as circles of control .
First, there is your own internal circle. Within it is everything that you can control, like your thoughts and your actions. Outside of this circle is a larger circle filled with things that you can’t control– such as the weather, the laws of gravity, or how a customer addresses you.
Most stress in customer support derives from worries about how the customer acts or reacts. It is hard to think of a better example of something outside of your control. Instead of worrying about these external factors, focus on what you actually control: your mind, your actions, and your words.
Those are your tools. Focusing solely on them frees up time and mental bandwidth to actually work towards a solution.
5Everyone has history
No one can be really sure what someone’s day, month, year, or life was like. But we can imagine that their experiences are different from our own – for better or worse.
Perhaps the most powerful tool we have, especially to control our own emotions, is imagination. When dealing with difficult customers, it can help to imagine that they might be going through a painful time in their private lives.
The anger is just an outburst of misdirected stress. If you were in their shoes –with their life, their genetics, and their nature– you would be acting exactly the same. Remaining mindful of this fact makes it easier to empathize and deal with the situation in a calm manner.
6You’re in the business of helping people
On bad days, customer service can seem like a never-ending stream of complaints. Try to remember that, whatever mindset the customer is in, you're here to make things better.
When customers have questions, you’re here to guide them to answers. When they have problems, you’re here to work towards solutions. When they come to you with complaints or issues, you're here to alleviate their suffering.
Human interaction is what makes customer service challenging, but it is also what makes it great. A small interaction, like calling a company’s customer service department, can make that person’s day. It can make your day, too, knowing that you just made someone’s day a little better.
You're in the business of helping people. That’s a beautiful thing.