Dealing with customers can be rewarding and fulfilling. It can also be distressing and depressing. Customers today are not easy to deal with and things will only get more difficult.
There has been a collapse in trust and respect for organizations in many countries around the world. Much of it is deserved. The populists who now strut across the world stage, throwing off easy answers and fake certainties like confetti, are not the cause. The are just the symptom, like pimples on the face of a new reality.
In this new world, the customer does not simply see themselves as king. They are dictator. What they want, they want now, right now. If you’ve got slow webpages or slow processes, slow service, or slow whatever, then you are in danger of being left behind in history’s ash-heap.
Keeping up is no easy thing. 39% of technology workers are depressed, according to a TeamBlind survey published in December 2018. The survey found that Amazon employees are the most depressed. Not surprising. A customer obsessed organization creates stress like fire creates smoke. Obsession and depression do more than rhyme.
In Ireland, an ESRI study found that job stress is more common among people who are more likely to experience emotional demands such as dealing with angry customers. They were 21 times more likely to experience job stress than staff who face low emotional demands.
Customer experience is a contact sport, and the ego can get very bruised by dismissive or ungrateful customers. Humility, inquisitiveness and the ability to listen are difficult skills to acquire.
Customer experience can also be a career limiting profession. Eight out of ten organizations I deal with do not want to listen to their customers in any meaningful way. Those who champion customers within such organizations are often seen as troublemakers. In such organizations, those who deal most regularly with customers, such as those in service or support, are often the least respected and receive the lowest pay. That’s a perfect recipe for stress.
If you’re in digital, you’re in service. A service culture means putting the customer first. That’s what customer experience is about.
If you’re going to put the customer first, you must also put those who serve the customer first. You must celebrate successful service. Staff need to hear about how things they have done have improved the customer experience. They need to regularly hear about what is working. If someone goes to a major effort to delight a customer, they must be celebrated. If someone simplifies a form they must be celebrated. If someone simplifies content, making it faster and easier to read, they must be celebrated. Customer success must become synonymous with employee success. Those who champion customers should be championed. Putting the customer first must become synonymous with putting your career first.
The impatient, disruptive and skeptical customer is here to stay. Celebrating employees who improve customer experience will not eliminate job stress, but it will go some way to reducing it by making people feel that it was worth the effort.