How I Thrive Working Customer Service

How I Thrive Working Customer Service

Anton Dabbs works customer service from a calm, uncluttered desk.

I founded Lemon Squad, a company built on serving customers’ car needs. Providing good customer service was the basis of my company’s success. My wife Regan and I spent decades on the phone with customers all over the country. Customers in all kinds of moods, with all kinds of problems. We learned a lot - the hard way. But our business thrived.

For our fellow customer service people - here are the top three things we learned to thrive working customer service,

1. Accept that Customer Service is a really tough job.

There’s no way to sugar coat this. Customer service is a really tough job. If you’re on the phone or face to face with a customer, you’re the one who represents the business, the gate keeper, the problem solver, the sounding board. You’re it. Whatever mood that customer is in, they’re bringing it to you. And they often make it personal. Regan and I have both gotten chewed out many, many times for things we had no control over. I’ve seen our employees cry because of a particularly mean call. It can sometimes feel like a personal attack. That’s why acceptance is so important. The sooner we accept this as part of the job, the sooner we can move through the particularly rough calls. Because there is a really rewarding aspect to providing good customer service: helping that customer, solving a problem, or simply standing with them as they process their difficult emotions – all of that can be rewarding to us who do this work every day.

2. Listen to the customer. 

I can be very cut and dried and interrupt people. That doesn’t go so well in customer service. I’ve learned over time that there are smoother, kinder ways to interact, and a major key is active listening. Sometimes the customer just wants to be heard. My ego needs to take a back seat. It doesn’t matter that I know cars much better than they do. Or that I already know everything they’re  saying. Or that I could keep this conversation very short and just get to the solution. When a customer wants to be heard, I push my ego aside and listen. I don’t interrupt. I hear them, and I ensure they know they’ve been heard. Active listening opens doors that seemed bolted shut at the beginning of a conversation. And once they’re open, we can make progress. 

3 Care for yourself.

This is super important, because burn out is a major issue for us working customer service. People working in the trenches, one on one with customers, need to put their self care at the top. There are different strategies to help: 

·  Detach from the situation as it's happening. Just because the customer is chewing you out, doesn’t mean you had any control over what happened. It may have absolutely nothing to do with you. Don’t make it about you.

·  Step away after a particularly tough call. Get some air, get some sunshine, breathe, meditate. Remove yourself from the situation until you’ve calmed down and recalibrated.

·  Rely on your team. The camaraderie of others working customer service is really important. And it’s important to have friends and family and a strong social network outside the job, so that you can have meaningful interactions with people beyond the job.

A lot of us work in customer service. It pays the bills. It’s our stability. It provides for our families. It’s a tough job – but also a really rewarding job, when we learn how to care for ourselves in it.

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