In any business, no matter the domain, there will always be some element of service. When you picture any kind of customer service representative, what comes to mind is an overly-cheery person chirping away on the phone to a disgruntled customer. It may seem hyperbolic, but having worked in several customer service industries, I can attest to its tricky balance of authenticity and acting. But the skills that you can come away with through a service job can be invaluable when applied to everyday life. Here are some of the things I learned on the job.

1. Become a character

Customer service reps can seem utopic. But the people that work in customer service are not so different from everyday people. They don't have superhuman levels of patience; they don't have an extraordinarily high pain tolerance. Mostly, they're able to reason with unreasonable people because they make a transformation. "Becoming a character" may be over-exaggerating the point, but working in service requires you to put on more than just a happy face. It's a performance, just like being on stage. You can think of it like a switch that you turn on, to turn into your cheery self, able to combat even the most banal of administrative woes.

It gives you the opportunity to momentarily forget your personal issues and take on a positive persona. This can be helpful in real life in almost every situation, from a first date to a corporate presentation. Adopting a positive attitude is not being "fake," but projecting your best self onto your audience. We all want to come out on stage looking great, right? Plus, having a positive attitude can also reduce stress!

2. Always have an answer

Customer service people never have all the answers. But it's their job to be hubs of information and assurance. That means, even if you don't know the answer to a question, you have to assure the customer that you will find out, or direct them to the person that will know the answer. But whatever you do: don't lie. A lot of times, people think it seems weak to tell someone that you don't know the answer. But it's a lot worse of an idea to make something up and have to deal with the fallout after. At the end of the day, most reasonable customers appreciate and respect your efforts, even if their problems aren't solved immediately.

In life, always having an answer makes you appear even more confident. But when it comes to big decisions, don't feel that you have to provide an answer right away. Consult with your best sources of advice and then come back with a day that you will have your answer. Remember, the longer you take to respond, the more effort it seems that you are putting into your response.

3. Don't argue

Now the lawyers in the room might disagree with me, but the negative energy that's created during an argument is not healthy for either party, especially in a professional environment. If you're dealing with an unruly customer, you need to know how to de-escalate rather than fuel their fire. People love to complain, and the next step after complaining is ranting. And then, hopefully not, throwing stuff. Your job is to speak in a calm and respectful demeanor and not blame the customer.

Arguments happen in life all the time; they're a part of humanity. But greatly reducing arguments will also reduce your cortisol levels. No screaming, just speaking.

4. Burn your ego

In the service industry, it quickly becomes clear that you are an ambassador of a brand, a representative of a company. That means, you have to sacrifice a bit of your personal identity. It's not a bad thing! It just means that your job is not to be the winner in a situation or prove that you're right. Your behaviors should directly align with the better good of the company which you represent. So you must act for the whole, even if that means letting go of your ego just a little.

In life, we are faced with certain choices that require us to consider the bigger picture over ourselves. Just suck it up and write about it in your memoir.

5. It's not personal

Whenever you have a conflict at work, it's easy to blame yourself. But most of the time, customer complaints have everything to do with things out of your control. You're just the messenger, remember, not the king. When a customer is going off on you, they're not accusing you of having bad character or being a bad person. They're just frustrated with a usually minor banality and have no personal agenda against you.

Similarly, many things in life will be your fault, but you can't take them personally. If so, you'll start to ruminate and bog yourself down, sabotaging your chances of success. The best advice is to leave it in the past, and move on.

Customer service is not an easy profession, but teaches a variety of useful skills when dealing with problems in the real world. So put on a smile and prepare yourself to be patient. Your kindness will be rewarded.

PayPath
Follow Us on

Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

Keep reading Show less

Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

Keep reading Show less