Solutions for Stressful Situations


April 12, 2018 —

Customers, coworkers, and personal demands — those are the top three sources of stress for today’s busy customer service professionals.

Managing each type of stress requires different strategies, and it’s well worth the effort to fine-tune your stress management skills, says Genella MacIntyre, author of 5 Steps to Reducing Stress.

In an in-depth conversation with Customer Communicator newsletter, MacIntyre suggests practical strategies for dealing with each of the three big stressors.

The leading source of stress in the customer service environment arises from difficult interactions with customers, says MacIntyre. In this situation, the first thing that she recommends is to avoid getting “hooked in.”

In other words, avoid being drawn into the customer’s emotions, which can lead to a difficult call escalating and becoming even more stressful. After all, one person on the call has to remain calm and focused on the work at hand.

To maintain that level of calm, MacIntyre recommends what she calls a “Relaxation Response,” or a brief break from the conversation — not more than a fraction of a second — to distract oneself with a physical activity which allows a break from the emotion of the interaction.

She offers two suggestions for taking that break while remaining on the call. The first is to drop a pen or pencil so that you are forced to bend over and pick it up. The second is simply to stand and stretch. These and other simple movements can be enough to provide that brief break from the emotion of the call.

The next step is to focus on the issue at hand, gathering information, taking careful notes, researching concerns. All of these things allow one to stay unhooked from the emotion by focusing on the action.

Today’s checklist …

  1. Share. Is your team familiar with the Relaxation Response? If not, share this useful technique.
  2. Support. If you see a rep who is upset and seems to be losing control on a customer call, it’s important to show understanding and encouragement, says MacIntyre. Tell the rep, “I can understand because I have gotten those kind of calls too. But when you [insert behavior … get defensive, raise your voice, or slam the phone down] like that, it’s kind of scary, and can be upsetting for those around you.”
  3. Subscribe to Customer Communicator newsletter so that you and your frontline staff can receive monthly ideas, information, and inspiration on improving the service experience.

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