A customer support agent or CX talent’s job is fast-paced and requires rapid multitasking regardless of the process he/she is a part of. Customer service can get pretty stressful, especially when juggling multiple queries, dealing with people when they are at their worst, etc. One of the tougher working conditions involves sitting at a desk and calming a frustrated customer threatening to cut all ties with a particular brand. Therefore, this goes to show that stress is real and it can take a toll on everyday life if not managed properly causing a multitude of problems ranging from sleep deprivation to sinking productivity and/or trouble focussing eventually leading to increased irritability and frustration.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress. A call centre operator or a customer support representative is sometimes faced with unexpected or unpredictable situations or an unending volume of calls during peak times, which can make it taxing for them to cope. That, combined with the daily stressors of balancing home and personal life can sometimes be too much to handle. Although a decline in the incoming surge volume of calls does not automatically mean that agents get a break.
What our agents at VOIZ have to say about “Stress Management”
Every profession has its ups and its unique challenges. Listen to what three of our support agents had to say about managing stress when we quizzed them about it.
“Before I begin my shift, I cook my meals for the entire day by myself as that calms me and helps me get prepared before I start my calls. Once I complete my shift, I go for a nice long run and leave work right out the door before I get back home. This routine has been my go-to stress management technique for the past one and a half years of my working with VOIZ.”
– Shalini, 29
“I do the 9 AM to 1:00 PM shift and the 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM shift and I must say that segmenting and differentiating work stuff and home stuff plays a significant role in making my performance and productivity better. I’ve noticed that I’m always more anxious during my second shift so I do everything I can to eliminate that by finishing up my household chores, dropping the kids off at my parents’ place etc after I finish shift one.”
– Brindha, 36
“I’m an online gym trainer as well as a support agent at VOIZ. I used to do the morning shift and then rush to host my fitness training sessions. I was always anxious and tensed due to this jam of having to do both. But once I realised that my anxiety lay in teaching my clients, I straightened out my schedule and moved my classes to the morning after which I relax for an hour and work from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM at VOIZ which anyway the footfalls in the fitness centre is low.”
– Arunodhay, 27
Here are some of the techniques to help you combat stress and anxiety
While it has its upsides like growing and learning from working in a fast-paced, high energy environment, being a customer support agent can sometimes make you feel like ripping your hair out as it is with any working position. In such a high-pressure environment, it’s inevitable for support representatives to feel overwhelmed and stressed out from time to time.
Source: Ring Central
Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you combat work-related stress that can prevent industry-wide baldness and allow you to be more focused, efficient, engaged and productive in your work while also eventually making you enjoy and appreciate what you do.
- Leave home at home and work at work
Whether it’s home or work, everyone has personal problems when it comes to either or both compartments. But leaving personal problems at home, and leaving work problems at work can help navigate a seamless workflow that doesn’t allow you to lose focus or get distracted easily. By mixing the two up you will only compound the problem and add to your stress unnecessarily. The moment you pick up your headphones to start your day as a support agent, forget about the undone laundry, screaming children, unpaid bills, dirty dishes etc. Think of work as your mini getaway from all of this.
The same rule applies to the very second you conclude your shift. Don’t think about a call that didn’t go as planned or a customer that hurled an insult your way. There will always be a tomorrow and you can do better. So after work hours, when you are home or in the company of your family, forget about all that went wrong at work and focus on being in the present. Compartmentalization is easier said than done but once implemented can help you prevent home stress from spilling into your professional life and vice versa.
- Breathing exercises for the win
Studies have shown that deep breathing techniques can lower your blood pressure and slow your racing heart, inevitably relaxing and calming you down. The 4X4 breathing technique is an effective and simple way to counter the negative effects of tension and stress. We encourage agents to incorporate this technique into their daily work routine as it can help buffer them from the detrimental effects of a tough call or any stressful situation or stimulant or just improve their focus on work.
- Spotify to the rescue
Music is known to boost energy levels and brighten up moods. Listening to music also has calming effects that can affect stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol relieving you from the symptoms of anxiety and stress. Compile a playlist that can work well at making you happy and keeping you motivated. During your break time, indulge in some music and shake off those stressors away.
- Maintain a journal
The practice of optimistic thoughts and thinking has been proven to manifest and change your mood and perception for the better. By taking a moment to note down something you are grateful for or positive about (does not have to be work-related) can help you improve or elevate your spirits on a difficult day when you read back on it.
- Make the most of your breaks
Your breaks are yours to do what you want! Every shift will have a scheduled time off, make sure to make the most of it. Don’t work then. Get hydrated, take a quick walk around your space, stretch, take a power nap, listen to some music or just get away from your work desk. Just make sure to unplug and enjoy every moment of that short break as you be back on the phone soon enough.
- Do not take it personally
As an agent, you will come across many customers who are annoyed and frustrated and take it all out on you. While that is not very pleasant, you must remember that these outbursts are not personal attacks directly intended for you and while it is easy to lose your temper while dealing with such customers, it is not acceptable behaviour for a customer support representative to do so. A harsh reaction from your end can tarnish a brand’s reputation and can jeopardize your position by writing feedback. Therefore, in moments like this calmness and politeness are your biggest assets.
Understand that in these situations you cannot control what your customer is saying but you can control how you react to it. Therefore, understanding that the customer is expressing his displeasure towards a company’s policies, services or decisions has nothing to do with your personal self. This understanding can keep you calm despite the harsh statements that come your way and this way you can keep your stress level in check by doing your part as a support agent with non-attachment, prudence and suave!
Stress undeniably is a part of everyday life. And customer service representatives being the voice behind many notable brands may feel the varying amount of tensity as opposed to other professions. But what’s amazing here is that the job is nothing close to being monotonous and will always leave you feeling empowered after a great call. By employing the right destressing tactics you can effectively manage stress and not let it impact your performance or interfere with your personal life.