I have been working on customer support for many years and I dealt with disgruntled customers on a regular basis. Their dissatisfaction became my frustration. My mood became poor. Even in my private life, my happiness went away. I thought about quitting my job. But could this be the solution? Here is how I changed my universe and conquered back my happiness.
Let me outline a daily situation to show you my mood and mindset in those days:
The customer calls.
He is complaining.
Angry and croaking loudly, he screams into the phone.
I have to hold the receiver at an arm's length from my ear to avoid damage.
My blood pressure goes up, I get hot-headed, and my mood worsens.
I felt lost.
Like you can see the customer's dissatisfaction jumped into my vanes. I was flooded by frustration over and over. I took all the angry calls very personally. That was my first mistake. Complaining customers do not know and mean me in person. They try to address there dissatisfaction. And often they do it in a messy way. I needed to step back. Customers do not address to me. They address their problem with the product or the situation.
"Stepping back was a key to me."
At that time I talked to a friend about my work, and he told me a story from psychologist
Paul Watzlawick. It´s called "the hammer".
a man wants to hang a painting. he has the nail, but not the hammer. therefore it occurs to him to go over to the neighbor and ask him to lend him his hammer. but at this point, doubt sets in.
what if he doesn't want to lend me the hammer? yesterday he barely spoke to me. maybe he was in a hurry. or, perhaps, he holds something against me. but why? i didn't do anything to him.
if he would ask me to lend him something, i would, at once. how can he refuse to lend me his hammer? people like him make other people's life miserable. worst, he thinks that i need him because he has a hammer. this has got to stop!
and suddenly the guy runs to the neighbor's door, rings, and before letting him say anything, he screams: "you can keep your hammer, you bastard!"
From the book "The Situation is Hopeless, But Not Serious: The Pursuit of Unhappiness", Paul Watzlawick 1983
The story fascinated me. I couldn't get it out of my mind. I recognized the power of mindset. I can´t change the customer, but I can change my way of thinking. So I decided to empower myself and changed my whole attitude.
First I prohibited me to think ever again "what an idiot". Thoughts like that put a barrier between me and my customer. After that, I began to prepare myself positively in the morning and started a daily experiment of friendliness and understanding. How many people can I help today? It became a challenge. I started to visit the island of my customer and at the same time, they were delighted with my work, and I was proud of myself.
"Changing my attitude changed my world."
The longer I experimented and worked on myself, the better I got. Bit by bit I had successes that motivated me, so I expanded it. I went into the phone calls positively. The conversations became more pleasant. I had the feeling that the customers didn't see me as a problem but as a solution finder. I started to enjoy it, and the customers felt it. Customer feedback got better. And the best thing was I went into the evening relaxed and in a good mood.
Customers have problems that need to be resolved. I am there to show them the solution. A lot depends on my inner attitude, my mindset as to whether I will succeed.
Now I'm looking forward to work. 😊
Photo: Me in the Anaga Mountains, Tenerife, Spain