Resilient customer service

Anybody on the customer service ‘front line’ knows you need to be resilient. For every charming customer with a simple question or easily-satisfied need there’s a stubborn, won’t-listen customer who blames you for everything. Resilience is important. But what is it, how do we get it, and how, exactly, do we use it?

What do we mean by ‘resilient’?

Being resilient is not just being stoic in the face of catastrophe (or even a small problem), it is not the clichéd British ‘stiff upper lip’, nor is it laughing in the face of disaster.

Resilience is many things, including:

  • Optimism
  • Adaptability
  • Flexibility
  • Durability
  • Learning from every situation
  • An openness to opportunity

Yes, resilience is hanging in there when there’s a problem. But more than that, it is the ability to cope with setbacks, stay in control, bounce back, come up with a fresh plan or idea, and come out the other side having learned from the experience.

Resilience is essential for anyone working in a pressurised customer service environment, public or private sector, especially is their job involves them saying ‘no’ a lot.

Benefits of being resilient in customer service

If you’re in customer service, working on your resilience gives you:

  • More confidence in your own judgement and abilities.
  • A more focused attitude (a resilient person is looking to solve the ‘problem’ rather than just make it go away).
  • Less stress and burnout.

Put simply, stay resilient and you’ll constantly be improving, doing a better job and – importantly to you – finding it getting easier as your experience increases.

What does a resilient person look like?

Without attempting an exhaustive list, the following are a few signposts of resilience…

Resilient people are adaptable. They may be decisive, firm even, but they are not dogmatic or rigid in their approach. Comfortable with ambiguity, such people can be enthusiastic problem-solvers. What’s more, they often ask a lot of questions in order to find out what’s really going on. Their approach is not to look for the nearest quick fix, but to understand what’s going on and find the right solution. Lastly, they’re confident. They know who they are and while they’re not the best at everything (who is?) they know what their strengths and limits are.

A few tips for starting to build resilience

How to develop resilience? Here are a few starter tactics:

  • Get some sleep – Seriously, sleep helps. Getting enough sleep supports your physical health and mental functioning.
  • Remember the big picture, how your job fits into the whole and what the overall goals are – maintaining a broader outlook helps keep things in perspective, another sign of resilience.
  • Build a network of professional contacts – connecting beyond your immediate role and team is helpful for that ‘big picture’ thinking and you’re also creating a mutual support network.
  • Look out for each other – colleagues look out for each other, and everybody needs a little help sometimes. Looking for opportunities to support colleagues encourages a wider awareness of what’s going on, and a positive, problem-solving mindset.

If that’s whetted your appetite, you can explore the practical applications of resilience in customer service further, including how to ‘bounce back’ and build your coping skills, check out our one-day programme, Resilience in customer service for front-line staff; or give us a call on 01582 463464 – we’re here to help!

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