Ever heard of the term “compassion fatigue?” It’s a condition characterized by the lessening of compassion over time, and it usually afflicts those in the healthcare profession. I think compassion fatigue also affects customer service representatives. Much like nurses, therapists and first responders, customer service reps can suffer from stress over frequent negative conversations with customers. This results in loss of productivity, self-doubt, and anxiety — clearly, these are not ideal dispositions for those on the front-line serving customers.
Whether you’re a contact center supervisor or a customer service rep, combating compassion fatigue is important for job satisfaction and brand perception. Below, we’ve listed three tips to overcome those days when dealing with frustrated or irate customers feels like an impossibility.
1. Be Kind to Yourself
It’s easy to get down on yourself when you can’t muster up the positive attitude required to deal with complaining customers. So first off, remember to be kind to yourself. Know what you’re feeling is normal and something that afflicts others, too.
Being kind to yourself also means taking measures to alleviate the compassion fatigue. Make sure you take time off of work. Remind yourself that a bad interaction with a customer doesn’t define who you are. If you’re a supervisor and you suspect that an employee is unusually down, initiate a conversation to determine if it’s work-related. Show kindness and understanding towards that employee.
2. Find Emotional Outlets of Support
Tap into resources that can provide support. Potential people may include co-workers, managers, friends unrelated to work, family members, and even a therapist. Expressing your feelings of frustration and stress to members of your support circle will not only help alleviate your emotions, but also prevent you from losing your cool with a customer.
3. Put a Smile in Your Voice
Numerous research studies indicate that smiling — even when you’re faking it — can help boost your mood. Some studies even suggest that smiles, whether it’s your own or one you see on another person, can decrease aggression. Most customer service reps interact with customers over the phone, where it’s physically impossible to see a smile. However, it’s certainly possible to hear a smile over the phone. Think about times when you’re having a happy conversation on the phone. Even though you can’t seen one another’s smiles, you can hear the positive effects of the smile by the person’s tone.
If your compassion fatigue isn’t alleviated by the above tips or your usual outlets for stress, seek professional care. Compassion fatigue is a real condition that can deepen in severity. At the end of the day, it’s not just about the job, it’s about your life.
Do you have any additional tips for combating compassion fatigue? Please share your insights and help the men and women who are on the front-line of customer care.