Customer Service Representatives are responsible for directly dealing with customers, which puts them in the line of fire for the customers’ fury and annoyance at a product or service failure. It is the CSR’s job to pacify the customer and provide effective solutions. In order to do the job successfully, it is important to manage stress and distant themselves personally from the interactions. Work related stress is common in every organization, but customer service staff suffer the worst kind of stress because they don’t have an outlet and are required to keep interacting politely with the customers. For customer service staff, stress can eventually cause problems in interacting with customers and colleagues which can adversely impact business performance. The long term impact of stress at work includes low level of motivation, mental and physical problems. This indicates that stress is an important management concern which needs to be addressed in an efficient manner before it takes a toll on the performance of the company.

Recognizing the Problem

The first step towards managing stress at workplace involves recognizing the problem and the symptoms of stress in the organization. Some of the indicators of high levels of stress include, absence from work, low levels of motivation and high employee turnover. Stress can also be manifested in the form of behavioral change including smoking, sleep deprivation, change in eating habits. Stress-prone workers may seem distracted, irritable, angry and anxious. Some workers experience depression, aching muscles and other physical ailments due to stress. There can be a number of reasons for stress, it could be due to work overload, tiring situations, poor organizational policies or ambiguity in responsibilities.

Some of the ways through which managers can reduce and manage stress for customer service representatives are as follow:

Creating the Right Work Environment

CSR’s often experience stress due to an uncomfortable working environment, since it directly impacts their well-being and mood. It must be ensured that workplace offers a conducive environment, which may include air-conditioned room, comfortable sitting arrangements and properly functioning equipment. For instance, workers can feel stressed if phone lines are noisy or the computers are malfunctioning, since it prevents them from working efficiently. Managers should create a welcoming workplace ambiance, since it impacts the mood and inclination to work. For example, desks could be provided instead of cubicles, as they don’t restrict view and open spaces encourage creative thinking and trigger good mood.

Managers should find ways to make workers comfortable at the workplace. Workers should be allowed to take frequent breaks without being frowned upon. Additionally, staff should be allowed to socialize during their breaks so that they can take their minds off work for a while and relax.

Effective Communication

People often experience stress due to lack of communication and unclear roles and responsibilities. They should be told exactly what is expected of them. Their roles and responsibilities must be clearly designed and communicated properly so that there is no confusion surrounding their job description. Ideally, their targets and job description should be challenging, but realistic, which means that they shouldn’t be overwhelmed with work that they can’t possibly complete or handle. At the same time the work needs to be challenging so that workers feel productive which also prevents stress.

Managers need to develop an effective communication system whereby workers are kept in the loop. Frequent updates must be sent out to customer service agents so they are prepared to deal with situations and tasks. For example, if there is a change in the application process for a service, staff must be made aware before dealing with customers. This will help them stay on track in terms of their work assignments and keep them motivated to reach subsequent milestones. All communication must be kept polite and aggressive behavior or harsh tone should be avoided, since it only causes stress and miscommunication.

Empowering CSR’s

Empowering the customer service representatives is also important because workers often find themselves under stress when they are made to take dictation from the managers. While a general framework or guideline is provided, workers must be allowed to think for themselves, improvise and get the job done as they see fit. This will not only reduce stress for workers, but will encourage them to provide out-of-the-box solutions for customers.

Team Building and Events

Companies often provide avenues for relaxing and leisure for workers including trips, parties, dinners and sports activities. This will not only help workers cope with stress, but could prove an effective bonding exercise for the staff. Companies should organize team building and training workshops which provide a learning opportunity for employees and helps them relax and take their minds off stressful routines. Managers need to make a genuine effort to find out about the interests of the employees, as it would help them come up with ideas to make the environment better and organize events relevant to the interest of employees.