Get in the Habit


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I don’t mean that kind of habit.

Now we’re getting closer to the kind of habit I’m talking about.

While reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg (@cduhigg), I’m starting to give my habits, good and bad, more attention. Instead of just giving myself the excuse of saying “eh, it’s a bad habit”, I now stop to think about WHY I do this in the first place. Why are these habits so engrained in my brain? Most of the time, I don’t even know I’m biting my nails. I’ve started to keep a piece of paper next to me at work, jotting down a mark every time I notice my hands in my mouth, as well as writing down the thoughts in my head at that moment.

Besides bad habits like biting your nails and smoking, there are also engrained good habits, such as things we say and how we react. My friend has been a waitress at a singing diner for over 6 years. She told me that she’s at a point now where she can sing a song, deliver food and process payments all the while staying in character. She says she doesn’t even think about it anymore–it’s become a habit.

Habits are a cycle of cues, routines and rewards. According to Duhigg, the cues and rewards may be the same, but you can work to change the routine.

For customer service representatives, we all have our own set of routines we’ve developed to deal with customers. We are given an angry customer and that’s our cue to increase the empathy. We are given a customer with an issue that needs to be fixed and that’s our cue to fix it. Even things we say to customers have become a habit. In my last post titled Talk Like a Customer Service Agent, I present a list of common positive words and phrases to incorporate into your daily speech. Personally, I know that when a customer says certain key words, such as “frustrating” or “confusing”, I’m most likely to say, “I’m sorry” and “I can help fix this.” It’s something I don’t even have to think about anymore–I’m given the trigger and my routine is to fix the issue. The reward always stays the same–a happy, satisfied customer.

So, think about your customer service habits today–are they working for you or working against you? While you can’t change the fact that there are customers with problems, you can change the ways you respond to them and work to create positive customer service habits!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jenny Dempsey
Jenny is Consumer Experience Manager for Apeel Sciences and FruitStand with more than 15 years of customer service experience. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on


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