Sure, customer service may seem like a cushy job, but it has some very rough edges. Dealing with comments, questions, problems, and complaints on a day-to-day basis can take a psychological toll. A few common sense tips can keep your reps from burning out and passing the bad attitude on to your customers.

Stress Management 101

We all know that hiring conscientious employees and training them to deal with customer service situations is quintessential. Ensuring that your reps don’t talk back to rude customers is not enough. They need to be well-versed in stress management tactics: Teach them to channel their anger in positive ways. Show them ways you handle difficult situations. Take them through mock scenarios. Give them anti-stress exercises to use when dealing with problem customers.

Also, reward them for positive behavior, stress-reducing behavior in their own lives, like exercising or losing weight. Diminishing their stress levels will keep them from falling apart when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Offer an Outlet

Of course it’s important to hire good workers, but even a stellar associate can lose control when faced with an extremely stressful situation. Remember that Flight Attendant from JetBlue? You can bet his employers weren’t searching his resume for “Prone to Emotional Outbursts” or “Class of 98’s Most Likely to Melt Down”. Simply put, there is no way to tell how people will react to extreme-stress situations until they occur.

Avoid these situations by offering your support staff a release valve. When things really heat up, give them the ability to put a customer on hold for a moment or send them up the chain of command. Once relieved, support their decisions and reward their resolve and cool heads. If you do, they’ll support your business with years of commendable service.

Closing the Managerial Gap

While the customer is always right, sometimes the management isn’t up on current customer service issues. Some policies may be out of date or allow customers to take advantage of loopholes or push employees around. Maybe your business is small, and you personally interact with your customers on a daily basis. Typically, the larger the business, the less time upper management spends on the front lines. To encourage good customer support practices and evaluate longstanding policies, owners and executives should work alongside their reps from time to time. Your employees will appreciate you for it and you’ll get a better appreciation for what works, what doesn’t and a reminder of life in the trenches.

Who’s the Boss?

The flip side of managerial distance is Service Associate Nearsightedness. Reps suffering from myopia can benefit greatly from a window into your job. It may help them understand why current policies are in place. And don’t be afraid to listen to their insights either. Nearsighted or not, they’ve been executing your policies on daily basis. You’ll be surprised at the number of valuable insights into your customer service policies. Knowing that you value their expertise will boost morale and help them avoid the dreaded Customer Service Burnout.