Customer Service Representative Stress

yelling_in_phone_1 Being a customer service representative is a stressful job. There have been plenty of articles, books, and blogs written about just how stressful a CSR job is. However, I feel like I’m going to add my two cents and write about the stress of an average customer service representative.

The level of stress as a customer service representative depends entirely on the company an employee works for. I’ve seen representatives that love their jobs as CSRs, but that is because they work for great companies that care about customer service.

On the other hand, I’ve seen customer service representatives who hate their jobs. They work for companies that could care less about customer service and care less about them as employees. They put unreasonable controls and policies in place and everyone hates their job. As a result, the employees often give inferior service. As a result of that, the customers get mad and yell at the employees. Everyone gets stressed out and no one is happy.

Being a customer service representative at a company that doesn’t usually provide good customer service is stressful because the customers are usually stressed out and angry themselves. The job turns into a viscous, unrelenting cycle of one angry customer after another.

Besides the actual angry customers yelling and screaming at the representatives, what are some of the things that can stress a regular customer service representative out?

  • Bad managers. It seems that there is no shortage of terrible call center managers, especially the shift and floor supervisors. Some are really great, but others are terrible.
  • Worse executives. The ultimate blame should be put upon the executives who are setting policies and procedures that are unreasonable and don’t allow for the provision of good service.
  • Call times. The companies that track call times and discourage longer calls are actually working against their customers and subsequently, themselves.
  • Strict procedures. Procedures should serve as guidelines, not scripts or policies that are set in stone. It’s impossible to script and predict everything, so procedures that are inflexible are a waste (and an additional thing to stress employees out).
  • Bad computer systems. Bad computer systems can stress anyone out, especially when your job depends on them. Having to wait for bad computer systems, try to figure out ways around them, etc. can make a job that has the potential to be okay very bad.

What are some other things that you think might stress out customer service representatives? Anonymous Cog – are you reading?

6 Responses to “Customer Service Representative Stress”

  1. Jeremy Hodges said:

    Jan 16, 08 at 9:55 pm

    “The first step in becoming a more peaceful person is to have the humility to admit that, in most cases, you’re creating your own emergencies. Life will usually go on if things don’t go according to plan. It’s helpful to keep reminding yourself and repeating the sentence, “Life isn’t an emergency”
    -Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…And It’s All Small Stuff

  2. Bill Gammell said:

    Jan 17, 08 at 5:17 pm

    I’d say two other big ones are:

    1. Miscommunication or non-communication. It seems that CSR’s are sometimes the last to know about a promotional offer or a change in procedure or policy.

    2. No one asking the CSRs what they are hearing from customers. They are viewed as a cost center and something that cannot add any value for the customer.

  3. Service Untitled said:

    Jan 17, 08 at 9:07 pm

    Jeremy and Bill,

    Thanks for your comments! Good points. Bill, I think those are right on. Companies can learn a lot from their frontline people and in turn, should keep them in the loop as well.

  4. Jeff Toister said:

    Jan 18, 08 at 5:44 pm

    This is a great list so far. I’d ad “lack of empowerment”. This causes stress in two ways:

    1) CSRs often aren’t empowered to make independent decisions that are in the best interests of the customer.

    2) CSRs often make notations for someone in another department (accounting, fulfillment, returns, etc.) to follow, rather than fixing the problem themselves. If the system is broken, the CSR can do everything right but the problem won’t get resolved and the CSR will take the brunt of the customer’s wrath.

  5. Service Untitled said:

    Jan 19, 08 at 12:15 am

    Jeff,

    Thanks for your comment. Empowerment and communication about the actual problems are great points and great challenges. The bureaucracy within many call centers and between departments can stress any sane person out.

  6. birdyb said:

    Feb 19, 08 at 11:22 pm

    1. Miscommunication or non-communication. It seems that CSR’s are sometimes the last to know about a promotional offer or a change in procedure or policy.

    YES! I worked at a call center for a Very Large Travel-Related Company, and often times I would get calls from people who would say “I just got this thing in the mail…” and I would have to put them on hold to go look in my employee mailbox (where promos were SUPPOSED to arrive every week… and nine times out of ten, the box was empty. As it had been when I checked on it yesterday, and that morning, and…) and/or call a lead to ask _them_ about the promo, and if I was lucky they’d know something about it. It was enough to make me want to find the marketing people and hit them with something heavy.