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While we might have every right to be dissatisfied with the products or services we purchase, frustrated consumers rarely express anger toward the correct person.
Although we perceive them as representing the company, they personally had nothing to do with the problem that is making us angry. Yes, the procedures the company has in place might be extremely annoying and frustrating, but they didn’t determine those procedures, they are merely paid to follow them (literally by reading scripts from which they are not allowed to deviate).
Customer service employees often average up to 10 hostile calls a day and must tolerate personal insults, screaming, cursing and even threats—regularly. They are required to stay on the line and ‘salvage’ even the most hostile calls.
Unfortunately, it isn’t unusual to hear otherwise decent people confess to treating call-center representatives in a manner they would consider verbally abusive and reprehensible in any other context
A recent study found that when customer service reps receive a heighted number of angry or abusive calls, it impacts them psychologically and emotionally. Not only do they brood at night about these encounters, it also damages their moods the next morning.
In other words, our outbursts literally cause representatives psychological wounds that spill into their lives after their shift is over. Indeed, brooding and rumination is a damaging psychological habit that is indicative of emotional distress and can lead to depression, helplessness and an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease
Not surprisingly, customer service representatives have one of the highest employee attrition rates in any industry because few workers can manage the heavy barrage of psychological and emotional assaults they sustain.
As a result, companies have to regularly hire and train new call-center employees, causing a vicious cycle in which a chronic influx of new workers increases their hesitance and inexperience, which then frustrates us and inflames our tempers even further.
Cstomers must remember that treating customer service reps as emotional punching bags represents a form of bullying that should be as intolerable to us as any other form of bullying.
We are entitled to feel angry but when we do, we would be much better served writing an email to a company executive than yelling at a customer service representative. After all, it is the executive that makes the decisions, produces the products, and instills the procedures that are angering us in the first place, not the entry level employee who answers the phone when we call a toll free number
On the other side of the phone, customer service representatives should treat their emotional wounds when they sustain them and not allow them to get worse.
For example, they should become aware of the dangers of brooding and ruminating over angry encounters with customers, and they should practice treating that and other psychological wounds as soon as they sustain them.
(read The Seven Hidden Dangers of Brooding and Ruminating)
Perhaps if we all made efforts to improve our interactions with customer service representatives, especially over the holidays, it would be a happier holiday season for all.
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