If you’re drawn to a career in customer service, you likely have a natural inclination for compassion and a desire to make a positive impact on others. Stellar service requires balanced, adaptable energy, plus the ability to bring your best self to work every day. It also requires you to keep cool in the face of unpredictable or challenging situations and personalities.
Maintaining your genuine desire to give–without burning out–means cultivating both professional development opportunities and self-care practices. Following are a few tricks to sharpen your skills on the job…and find more personal fulfillment in the process.
1. Understand Your Customer
Empathy allows you to create a genuine connection with your customer. It enables you to serve with a palpable sense of enthusiasm and dedication.
The dictionary definition of empathy embodies the basics of establishing any great relationship: understanding, sensitivity, like-mindedness. Even the word “chemistry” gets a shout-out. So, keep in mind that empathy is well within anyone’s grasp.
Have you ever had to wait on-hold forever? Or stood in line for what felt like hours, ultimately feeling twice as impatient about your issue as when you arrived? Probably. You can draw on this simple awareness to relate to your customer’s frustration and better position yourself as their advocate.
A solid understanding of your company’s offerings also helps you better empathize with customer needs. You can better speak their language and relate (as well as problem-solve) at a deeper level. At Ruby, we’ve built our business on the principle that meaningful connections are number one when it comes to a high-touch customer service experience.
2. Add to Your Toolbox
To keep your skills fresh and your energy creative, continually make time to learn. Spend a weekend at a professional development class or seminar. Watch a video online. Read a book or an article. There are hundreds of resources on customer service topics that may open you up to a new way of doing things. YouTube, Udemy, Lynda or your local library are just a few places to start.
Before you begin, ask yourself: In what areas of my work/role would I like to grow? What are situations that challenge me or expose my opportunities for growth?
Once you’re clear on your goals, the perfect resources are practically guaranteed to jump in your lap. It’s exciting to find fresh ways to surprise, delight, and support your customer, while keeping your own passion ignited, too.
3. Get Out of the Office…and Out of Your Comfort Zone
We are creatures of habit, repeating patterns day after day. While the comfortable is cozy, it often blocks our ability to receive inspiration. Your work environment is a major component of your mood and mindset. Change up the scenery during your workday. Enjoy lunch away from your desk. Take a walk outside. Check out a mid-day yoga class.
Trying new things in your personal life can also yield transformative results in your work. When we expand beyond our routine, we’re challenged to get over fears, let go of limiting beliefs, and tap into our potential. When’s the last time you did something for the first time?
Maybe it’s an improv or dance class, rehabbing a vintage guitar, getting artistic with a pottery project or cooking an exotic recipe. Living on the edge of your comfort zone helps you to think on your feet.
4. Discover Ways Keep Your Cool
If you’re not in the flow, it’s tough to be a rock for every customer who needs your support. But how do you stay positive when your day consists of dealing with person after person, and problem after problem?
One solution is to develop the right tools. Maybe it’s a breath exercise. Perhaps it’s a five-minute meditation practice, a brisk jaunt down the stairs and back, or a relaxation app or game on your phone that gets you back into your zone.
Find the thing(s) that work for you. Make sure they are specific. Then practice them, daily, until they become a habit. It may surprise you how these rituals help you regain your calm and re-energize your workday.
5. Find a Mentor and Expand Your Network
A mentor can be a game changer in opening you up to new ideas and possibilities. Having someone in your life with experience that differs from your own is invaluable to growth.
Maybe they’ve achieved certain goals you aspire to or you admire their communication skills. Invite them to coffee. You’ll be surprised how many people want to help you when you’re open to asking.
Networking is also a powerful way to elevate your skills. Engaging in a community–both within your profession and in other industries–gives you new insight, knowledge and a more holistic view.
6. Remember Your ‘Why’
A good practice for clarity about your relationship with work is asking, “What’s my ‘why’?” What motivates you to do the work that you do? What drives you to get out of bed and into the world every morning? What’s your superpower?
If you’re drawn to customer service because you enjoy connecting with people and making their lives better, try keeping a Happiness (or Gratitude) Journal. Journaling has caught on like wildfire, and with good reason. Numerous scientific studies have shown the benefits, which range from when you bring awareness to what you appreciate, your mind and body both take note and prime you to attract more of the same.
Once you move away from customer service as a chore or a transaction, you’ll tap into that place within you that innately desires positivity and meaningful purpose. When you remain tuned in to that vibe, happy and satisfied customers are sure to come along for the ride.
If you want to provide an exceptional customer experience but are a little preoccupied running a business…Ruby can help with that. Check out this ebook to learn how we can turn your callers into clients.