You got into this job because you wanted to help people. (Or maybe you just wanted a paycheck.) But when you’ve just answered your 5th password reset email of the day, you might be struggling to decide if this job provides you with everything you need.
Customer service work can be amazing and rewarding, but at the end of the day, it’s just a job. It can be also stressful and you might struggle to find motivation.
If you’re feeling uninspired, it’s tempting to place blame on your manager and the company you work for. What does this mean for finding meaning and purpose in our work? It means that our happiness at work is entirely up to us. Yep, we are solely responsible for finding meaning in our work. It depends on no one else.
Think about creating deep skill sets
A specialist’s knowledge resembles a capital T: wide across the top of subjects, but deep into one specific topic. Jean Hsu, an engineering leadership coach, found a new passion in her work through deep diving into specific skills.
Jean found, that becoming a specialist opened her eyes to a new way of working. And not only that, Jean noticed, that specialists were often more in demand than generalists.
Seek real time feedback from customers
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing-that’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar
Feedback from customers can be incredibly rewarding. Even helping someone reset their password can be a nice experience when they thank you for your quick reply and clear instructions. Negative feedback can help us improve, and is rewarding in its own way.
Do you remember getting gold stars in elementary school? Remember that happy feeling every time you got a worksheet back with a new sticker on it? That feeling still exists in adults. Customer satisfaction ratings can trigger it.
Set long term goals, and break them down
If you feel like you aren’t where you want to be, every day can seem like a waste of time. Floating from one meaningless task to the next drains motivation and drive.
Research has shown that you’re more likely to meet career goals when they are specific. Start by looking into your future and determining exactly what you want to see in 6 months, 1 year or 5 years.
What kind of team do you want to be a part of?
What responsibilities do you want to own?
How much money do you want to be making?
Then, break down your long term goal into specific actionable steps that you can accomplish with your daily work. One of your goals might even be to meet for coffee with colleagues who can provide advice on meeting your long term goal. Instead of seeing the next work week as a slog to the weekend, visualize it as five days of moving towards your career goal.
Find joy and meaning in the journey towards your goal. Don’t think “I’ll be happy when…” At that rate, your happiness will always seem distant.
Each step is important. By setting specific, attainable goals, you can find meaning in every task you take on.
Personalize each interaction, and make connections
At the end of the day, customer support is about helping people and making their day a little brighter. As cliche as it sounds, every customer interaction is an opportunity to make a difference.
Front line agents are uniquely positioned to interact with more vulnerable, potentially upset people than any other role. The average support person might help anywhere from five to 50 customers a day. Some of these might be non-technical users embarrassed about their lack of knowledge. Some of these might be incredibly frustrated customers who keep running into brick walls. Regardless, each one needs our help, and we’re in the perfect position to provide it.
Every single person that contacts support has things going on in their life we can’t help with. But what we can do is listen to their concerns, solve any problems we can, and brighten their day a little.
And what’s more meaningful than that?