By: Ken Austin
Dealing with the public every day can be difficult, and nobody knows it better than those who work in the customer service industry. With angry customers, demanding bosses and little respect, it can really drag down your self-confidence.
Sometimes the job itself can cause a lack of confidence if the worker feels like he or she should have a better job. Don't feel bad about yourself because you're working in customer service. In tight economic times, many people turn to jobs in the food service and retail industries.
If you start to believe that you're "better than" the job, you're only setting yourself up to feel down about yourself. Look at your work experience as an adventure, a chance to observe humanity, or even just a way to pay your car loan.
The saying may be that "the customer is always right," but don't believe in this at the expense of your own pride and self-worth. Customers aren't in the right when they are belligerent and belittling towards customer service representatives. Don't allow them to let you think less of yourself.
While many customer service jobs involve working face to face with customers, others involve taking phone calls. If you're working at a call center, the potential for abuse from customers can be even greater since they're most likely calling you because they have a problem. Don't let a caller's attitude towards you affect your own feelings of confidence in yourself in and your abilities.
If a customer gets angry, you should also avoid responding in kind. If a customer is upset, you'll only make things worse by becoming mean yourself and you'll only feel bad about the situation later.
On a similar note, don't take anything too personally. If you're the cashier at the front of a grocery store, you're likely to hear complaints about the slow workers at the deli counter, the high price of cabbage and the number of sale items that weren't on the shelves.
You should certainly be sympathetic of their plight and refer them to management if necessary, but realize that they're complaining about things that are completely unrelated to your individual job. You can only control how positive the customer's experience is when they're right in front of you. You shouldn't feel bad just because their discontent is being directed at you.
Now, if a customer does lodge a complaint against you, then you should listen carefully to the issue. Make the necessary corrections, using the problem to your advantage to improve your work, but don't dwell on it. Everyone makes mistakes and one complaint doesn't mean you're a horrible person.
Treat everyone with respect, and you will get respect in return. If you're in a management position, assert your authority in a way that doesn't demean your workers. If you're the underling, listen to those in management positions, and if you have a problem with them, take it up through appropriate channels. Picking a fight with those in authority only leads to bad feelings and an unpleasant work environment.
Come to work with a positive attitude. Your fellow workers may be negative, but you don't have to let them color your view of the situation. If you have a good attitude about the entire work experience, you're less likely to let small things get you down and will feel better about yourself overall.
Do the best job you can, even if you're doing the most menial task possible. Cleaning the bathroom certainly isn't glamorous, but it's vital to creating a positive experience for customers. If you take pride in your work, you'll have pride in yourself. When you do quality work, you're also more likely to get praise, raises and promotions, which are always confidence boosters.
Overall, the best advice for workers is to have a positive attitude and maintain a sense of perspective. Will the customer that just yelled at you really matter tomorrow? Then don't let it drag you down today. If you keep this in mind, you'll be able to emerge from the world of customer service with your confidence intact.