Magazine article CRM Magazine

Freaking out over Customers Is Not a Lifestyle: Get Real about the False Foundation of Stress

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Freaking out over Customers Is Not a Lifestyle: Get Real about the False Foundation of Stress

Article excerpt

THE TRUTH about stress is tough for many to take; it's not talked about much. Maybe that's because we don't like to think we make things more complicated or dramatic than they are. But consider: People literally jump out of airplanes for fun, but are hospitalized because they had to learn new software after seven years of experience with the old software.

What does this say about the stress service agents face managing the difficult customer encounters they deal with and often dread? It indicates that stress is more about how they feel or think about things and only loosely connected to what's actually happening. In other words, life is not stressful; it's what we believe about life that is stressful. Add a few espressos, a teenage son or daughter, and a customer who is clearly off his meds, and now a two-hour learning curve for that software becomes the end of the world.

And, for the record, caffeine gives you focus and alertness, not screaming fits, unless your focus is on the fear of a bad result. And generally speaking, teenagers make bad decisions and can be immune to hygiene, which is only stressful if you keep thinking they should do the right thing. (They'll do what they do even with your best guidance. And most often, they will be somewhat okay.) Neither of these things should be enough to nudge us over the top. Additionally, your customers will also have bad days, but again, that's to be expected. Freaking out is what you do when you don't know what to do. It's not how you are supposed to live.

Here are four ways to think about, and gain control over, the stress you and your agents may experience:

1. Don't succumb to drama.

What makes customer relationship management so difficult is you might get 30 calls, texts, or emails in a single day. And one out of every four is someone having the worst moment of his life.

Taking on his drama can raise your stress levels. You would think by now someone would develop something in the software for stress; is there a stress button or a panic button? Maybe a designated area of the software where I can go to help me not freak out?

I realize that this sounds unrealistic, but the actual solution can be very effective, though difficult for many to accept. …

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