Making Happy Customers When Your Experience Is In a Rut

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Customer service is the backbone of most businesses, and while we can spend hours pouring over how to deal with difficult customers and how to win mainstream fandom of others; we often don’t take into account a huge factor of “service with a smile–” ourselves.

While the strongest trees in the forest are those who have survived the most storms . . . it doesn’t mean that our personal setbacks don’t rub off on those around us.

To grow and maintain a loyal customer base, it is imperative to learn the tricks of the trade than can help you thrive, even in the midst of weathering your personal setbacks.

You May be Easier to Read Than You Think

Whether you’re in a management role, an entry level representative, or a CEO, it’s essential to learn to be self-actualized in a busy setting.

Steffanie Wilk, a professor at the Fisher School of Business at Ohio State University, notes for a UPeen Podcast, that there aren’t many studies that connect the dots between personal setbacks and how the effect your attitude at the office– but there’s definitely a correlation. This phenomenon is called “emotional contagion,” and, as Wilks notes, many employees aren’t aware of the power a positive or negative attitude can have on their overall success.

Wilk, along with professor Nancy Rothburn of the Wharton School of Management, conducted a study to see the effects of just how far our personal problems (anything from a major divorce or bankruptcy, to a traffic jam).

Although the study somewhat predictively uncovered a strong correlation to “starting the day in a good mood,” and performance, it also unveiled a surprising twist. For employees who start the day in a good mood, even the nastiest of customer interactions did not seem to affect their increased positive performance. Which leads to the question . . . how can we still put our best foot forward in the worst of times?

Take Ownership and Action Toward Your Personal Goals

No one should be expected to always walk on the sunny side of the street when dealing with life’s stormy times, but there are ways to avoid elongating stressful personal setbacks and proactively cope; every step toward overcoming personal hurdles is one step closer toward reaching your professional goals. Two of the major, most common career-dampening setbacks include:

Relationship/ Familial Stress:

PhD Nick Nauert reports that those with a low self-esteem often perceive their partner’s acceptance based on their work performance, an issue rampant in both men and women. Sandra Murray of the University at Buffalo has also addressed the issue in a recent study, with concludes that much of that perceived lack of acceptance is just that– perceived.

It boils down to a “chicken or egg” situation; work stress is elevating relationship stress and vice versa . . . there goes your mood, and with it slips productivity and optimal customer relations. The key to better customer service can often be unlocked by learning positive and self-esteem boosting communication techniques at home.

Financial Stress and Obligation:

With average student loan debt soaring at more than 30K for millions of students, and the prospect that anyone is one car accident away from six figures of medical debt, it’s clear that when “money talks” it usually says “goodbye!” Money problems are a huge mood-killer, and unfortunately cause enough stress to destroy the very efforts we make to amend them– i.e. succeeding at work and optimizing your customer service skills.

While some unexpected expenses are unavoidable, many can be planned for well in advance through simple education. The Westbrook Law Firm out of Houston, TX, offers some simple advice for planning: essentially it all boils down to education oneself. If you find yourself drowning in debt, learn what it actually means to file for bankruptcy. If you an unexpected loss occurs, research government programs that may even be able to help you pay your mortgage. Or, if you feel you just need a better handle on your finances, the aide of a planner, or even software like Mint.com can help you keep your wallet on a leash.

While many people think they’ve mastered the art of separating their personal life from their ability to perform at work, we are often not as robotic as we think we are. And, the more research that we explore, the more we realize that to “check that bad attitude” at the door may be impossible, and even hurt customer relations.

Instead, try tackling your stressors at the root of the problem and watch your customer base grow as you become stronger with each proactive move.

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