WORK-LIFE BALANCE / SEP. 13, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Battle Burnout in Customer Service

Customer service is one of the most interactive professions. You interact with all kinds of people. Some are polite, friendly and happy and others are moody and confused. Regardless of their emotional or behavioral states, you are expected to maintain the highest level of professionalism when handling their requests. Mess up and your employer will be on your toes.

So, how do you strike the right balance between delivering high-quality customer services and handling irate customers without giving up?

Keep an Open Mind

In customer service, each day brings the prospect of meeting new people or handling a complaint you have never heard of. Keeping an open mind helps you to adequately prepare for the day’s challenges. If you happen to meet a rude customer, you will be able to smile back and work on his request with a non-judgmental approach. Fail to keep an open mind and you might as well be on the road to burnout.

Set Goals for Each Day, and Follow Through

One common mistake employees make is going to work without an intricate plan of action for the day. Planning your day allows you to focus on your goals as you navigate your day. As a customer-service employee, you could say, “I want to resolve at least 12 customer complaints.” With such a goal, you will focus on the problems each customer has and you will be able to analyze them intently. If you reach the goal, you will certainly feel better about yourself and at the same time, mitigate the risk of burnout at the same time. If you do not, you might feel disappointed, something that may eventually lead to burnout. Remember to set achievable goals.

Catch a Breather

Everybody has bad days or even weeks. You could be working as a helpdesk professional at a computer manufacturer. And on a given day, you give customers inaccurate descriptions of their problems. As a result, your supervisor gives you an ultimatum; do it again and you are off. When this happens, you feel like everything you are doing is wrong and become frustrated. With a crushed sense of self-worth, you are likely to succumb to burnout. Taking a breather from work helps you to re-organize your thoughts and gain the focus you need to be an effective employee.

Get Help

At times burnout is inevitable. If you have tried all you could and things are not going your way, ask for help. According to the American Psychological Association, burnout makes you susceptible to cardiovascular diseases. Do you want to go down this route? Definitely not. Ask for help from colleagues who have previously experienced burnout. If you feel you aren’t recovering, attend burnout prevention workshops or see a career counselor or life coach.

Employers in this industry should also play their role in helping employees prevent burnout. If you are the boss, invest in good employee training programs, involve workers in making changes that might affect them and empower them with some authority – So if a customer raises a complaint against a customer service representative, he doesn’t have to spend the whole day worrying about being fired.

On the whole, customer service jobs should not lead you to a heart attack; they should be fun and exciting. As each day brings the prospect of meeting new people, take it as an opportunity to learn new things and grow your career.

 

Photo Credits: My Customer

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