Just because they smile and politely help customers tackle sticky situations with style and grace, it doesn’t mean customer service reps don’t get stressed or experience burnout. It is a stressful industry, after all. Read on to find out how you can maintain your sanity and stay productive if you (or even if you don’t) work in customer service.
Photo credit: Wayhomestudio
It is common to experience stress in the workplace. Some studies have even indicated that a certain level of stress can positively influence people by encouraging them to be more focused on their tasks and more confident in their ability to deal with various situations. However, not everyone on the team may be enjoying the stress at work, especially the customer service reps who have a higher chance of experiencing burnout. Customer service is usually stressful because people frequently approach you with problems, meaning everyone expects you to make them your top priority and sort them out quickly. Dealing with complex scenarios and disgruntled clients every day can be emotionally tasking, and it can take a lot of energy.
You may ask yourself, “What exactly makes customer service reps experience burnout?” It is all in the job. They act as the initial point of contact between clients and the company and handle stressful situations all day. Customer service stress can stem from the following reasons:
They spend the whole day dealing with problems that make clients frustrated, angry, or sad, meaning they also have to soothe their minds and hearts in the process. These valuable skills they use to do so can leave them emotionally drained when the day is over.
Customer service reps get daily repetitive requests about the company’s services and products, so their work can become monotonous, possibly leading them to respond to clients in a way that reduces customer satisfaction.
Most times, people working in customer service can feel unappreciated despite all they do to put out potential fires for the business on the client front lines. This can make them feel uninspired, in addition to the stress.
So when customer service staff come to work already stressed from anticipating these problems, it can make it harder for them to get through the day. So here are a few ways to get to the root of customer service stress and avoid burnout at work.
Ways to avoid burnout from customer service stress
Plan and stay organized
When you work in customer service, you have to learn to adapt and be flexible to all kinds of situations, which is no wonder they find themselves spread out thin. You will experience all sorts of unpredictable scenarios, and some of them may take longer to solve than usual. This is why you have to develop a structure for your workday, so the adrenaline rush of dealing with new situations doesn’t leave you worn out at the end of the day. Having a daily plan of your work activities can also help you reduce stress triggers and better visualize your monthly and weekly schedule. This allows you to budget your time better and avoid scheduling conflicts. Make room for unforeseen circumstances in your schedule as well, so you don’t end up trapped by your plan.
It is always better to be organized when handling customer complaints to avoid responding wrongly to clients or missing any issues. When your house is in order, it helps to reduce your stress levels, allows you to work better, and keeps you productive. When you develop an ideal system that works for you, grow with it and stick to it. It will make you more effective and less stressed.
If you are like me and thought multitasking made you more productive at work, then I am here to tell you that the opposite is true. It is actually one of the culprits of customer service stress. Customer support staff always have a lot of work to do, and they may feel the need to multitask to keep up. However, multitasking causes more errors and a significant reduction in productivity.
I would advise you to try looking for some productivity hacks to help you reduce stress levels, stay focused and avoid getting distracted. One trick you can try whenever you feel overwhelmed is to walk away from your workstation or desk for five minutes, then come back. This can help you get focused and back on track so that you can handle the high-priority matters in your docket. The Pomodoro technique is also another efficient technique I’m currently using that you can also implement. It is a system in which you get rid of distractions and work continuously on a task for set periods of 25 minutes, with short breaks in-between. You can use an app, a timer, or a watch to keep track of these periods as you work on your tasks.
For a more personal approach, you can ask someone on your team who has been in a customer service role for a long time what they do to stay productive. You might benefit from their system, so it is worth the ask. Allow yourself time to adjust to any new productivity system you adopt, and you will be more efficient in no time.
Maintain a balance between work and your personal life
This point is essential for reducing customer service stress and burnout. Make sure that you spend your time outside work recovering from your daily stress triggers. One of the best ways to forget about work is to unwind and spend quality time with loved ones. Let your work-life stay at work if you want to protect your personal time. However, this can be harder for people who work from home. You can deal with this by unplugging completely and not checking work projects, emails, or Slack on your phone or laptop after work. Develop a ritual at the end of your workday to let your body and brain know that you are closing shop for the day.
Take care of yourself and find a stress outlet
The best way to achieve a work-life balance is to have an outlet for your internalized stress. It can be anything from listening to music, exercising, meditation, taking a walk, or picking up a hobby. This stress outlet can be a way to tell your body that it is time to switch off from work mode and wind down. Hobbies can help you boost your creativity and improve your performance at work. When you experience a particularly emotional interaction with a customer, you can give yourself a time-out to calm down, focus, and realign, so you do not transfer that negative energy to someone else.
Stress can make us want to isolate, eat junk food, and mess up our sleep cycles, but if you’re going to beat the effects of stress, it is better to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Eat more nutritious foods, get enough sleep, and work some physical activity into your day. You’ll be surprised at how less burdened you feel by the pressures of work.
Laugh a little more
Laughter is a great stress reliever, and as a bonus, it can also keep your heart healthy, burn calories and boost your immunity.
So how can customer service incorporate humor into their routine? Keep a laugh journal to note down any funny things that may happen during the workday, and revisit them in your own time or share them with your team. Establish a rapport with your colleagues so that you can share office jokes from time to time.
With clients, you can try to help them see their situation from a positive point of view to help them cool off. It can also help you build an authentic connection with them, enhancing your service and reducing stress levels.
Keep in mind that some things may be funny to you, but not to others with humor. So make sure to keep things light without snubbing or offending your coworkers.
Lean on your team
They don’t say, “teamwork makes the dream work” for nothing. Don’t be afraid to turn to your team when you need help if things get tough for you. However, teamwork does not magically appear when you need it; you need to be intentional about establishing it. Involve yourself with your team members from the start. They can help you celebrate your wins and lift you up when you need the boost.
“Big up yourself”
The fast paced-world of customer service includes high-pressure and repeated bouts of stress, so you need to have a lot of determination to tackle it daily. So an excellent way to get through stressful periods is to acknowledge your losses and your wins. Taking note of your successes will help you accept the bad moments from a new perspective and quickly move on from them. Whether it was solving a challenging problem, or getting a customer out of a sticky situation, pat yourself on the back at the end of it all. After all, you did that! And in the spirit of acknowledgment, happy customer service week!