Customer service is an industry notorious for its ups and downs. A service agent’s day can often be a mixed bag of celebrating wins and trying to fire fight complex issues (often accompanied by upset or angry customers).
Whilst the job can most certainly be very rewarding (who doesn’t love solving problems and making people happy?) it can also come with stress, exhaustion, and a hefty dose of frustration. Working with people who have different personalities, backgrounds and situations requires a great deal of patience and empathy.
It can be hard to maintain constant professionalism and not take things to heart. We’re all only human. However, the repercussions of damaging a customer relationship through verbal retaliation or mentally checking out, can be dire.
…it takes 12 positive customer experiences to negate the poor impression left behind from a single bad experience.Bandt
We think you customer service heroes deserve a little bit of support – some uplifting ideas and strategies for your toolbox. So, here’s a rundown of our top tips to maintain a positive attitude in customer service – for the benefit of you, your customers, and the company as a whole.
1. Build self-awareness
When strong emotions bubble up, it’s all too easy to get lost in the moment by saying things you don’t mean or speaking in a tone that even your best efforts can’t cover up. That’s why it’s important to have a practice that helps you recognize these emotions – where they’re coming from and what practical action steps you can take to avoid feeling so much frustration, anger or overwhelm, in future.
2. Learn techniques to keep negative thoughts at bay
It’s totally okay (even healthy!) to sit in your feelings for a while but don’t hold onto resentment or bitterness about negative interactions. As hard as it can be, remember that holding onto anger only hurts you and not the other person (who is likely blissfully unaware).
It also helps to remember that it’s not about what happens to you but, instead, the way you choose to see or perceive it. Sure, you might have had one or two customers say “adios” this year, but weren’t they the ones causing trouble and putting a huge resource burden on the company anyway? Better out than in, we say…
You can also try humming (don’t knock it before you try it!) to interrupt negative thought patterns or “anchoring” by decorating your space with family photos, positive quotes, awards you’ve won, candles, flowers… whatever feels uplifting when you see, touch or smell it!
3. Focus on keeping the tone positive
No matter what direction the conversation takes, it’s important to maintain empathy and positivity at all times. Your consideration, commitment and confidence in issue resolution is what will keep customers calm and collected when they’re frustrated.
Keep reminding your customer that their problem will be solved and you’re onto it. When they feel secure, they will be much less likely to nag or complain! It also helps to keep a smile on your face – a simple tactic but it really does come across in your communication (even on the phone). Smiling will automatically lift your mood too.
4. Lean on your team for support
Everyone knows that the relationships you have with your boss and co-workers can make or break your job satisfaction. It’s important to invest in team bonding and encourage a culture of support, good energy, and empathy.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, and equally, be that support system for your fellow teammates. You never know, you might even end up looking forward to work just because of all the laughs, coffee, cake, and mutual understanding!
5. Get creative and be flexible
Try to approach problems with an open mind and see them from different perspectives. It can be tough when you feel like you’re faced with challenge after challenge to overcome but being a little innovative with your solutions can really get the brain going – it can even be fun! See incoming customer dilemmas as a satisfying puzzle to solve. And remember, two heads are always better than one – lean on your team for ideas too.
6. Deliver more than you promise
This is your opportunity to turn a disgruntled customer into a brand advocate! Don’t stop at fixing their problem. Look for opportunities to take it one step further. If it’s within your power, offer them a freebie or upgrade. These little extras will be the memory that your customer takes away from the interaction and, ultimately, the sentiment they pass on to family and friends.
7. Keep up your hobbies and morning routine
Work issues can feel all-consuming when you don’t have enough of a work-life balance. You can set yourself up for success by creating an energetic, uplifting start to your day using a morning routine. This could include exercise, a nice breakfast, reading, music, meditation, or whatever else helps you feel good.
Make sure you’re also prioritizing evening social activities, creative outlets, and anything else that recharges your batteries. You can only show up to work as your best (and most patient!) self if you invest in some fun and down-time.
8. Be honest about mistakes
A little apology goes a long way. You’ll probably notice a real change in your customers’ tone of voice when you say sorry and own up to any mistakes that you (or your company) have made. It’s not about groveling and begging for forgiveness but simply allowing the customer to feel listened to and understood.
9. Pat yourself on the back
Now, this one must not be forgotten! This is your permission to celebrate the small wins – rewards and appreciate yourself when you help someone or solve a tricky problem. These moments will increase your confidence and motivation… they’ll make it all feel worth it. Think about your career and how the small hurdles you jump are progressing you towards your goal.
Have any of these tips or tricks worked for you in the past? What else do you have up your sleeve? We’d love to hear!