Have you ever witnessed a fracas between a customer and a frontline employee? For those who have not had the experience, take it from me, it’s usually neither a pretty sight, nor a pretty sound. For those of us who have been unfortunate spectators, it brings out a lot of sighing and head shaking. Often, notwithstanding the fact that some customers are impossible, I find myself thinking that such situations could have been avoided if staff had been properly trained to remain calm and composed under pressure.
In the world of customer experience, one of the most critical skills that customer contact staff should possess, is the ability to remain unflappable if a situation with a customer becomes challenging. When employees are able to control their emotions and not be ruled by their emotions, the result is often a harmonious customer interaction. Calm employees create calm customers in many ways.
Calm employees who demonstrate self-control and self-management, create calm customers when they do not react to negative comments, when they resist the urge to engage in a war of words and when they remain pleasant during difficult customer contact situations. Self-management allows an individual to choose how he or she will respond to a particular situation, whilst remaining emotionally stable and I have to let you know, that getting to this state of self-management takes time, commitment and sustained effort.
Self-controlled employees demonstrate elevated levels of frontline etiquette, because they are able to focus on courteous language and courteous behaviour, without distraction. A frontline employee with an undistracted mind is not hindered by moodiness or vexation, clearing the way for him or her to greet customers warmly and with a smile. An undistracted mind can listen neutrally by editing out the “white noise” or drama that can contaminate communication and undermine positive interaction. This clears the way for employees to “not take things personally” and to focus on resolving the needs of the customer without unproductive and disruptive exchanges. Customers experience warm exchanges that are not distorted or tainted by reactive outbursts.
When customers come to conduct business, they show up with their personality types and these can range from pleasant, to demanding, to talkative, to overly friendly. It takes an emotionally stable employee to navigate these myriad personalities throughout the day, whilst delivering solutions that exceed expectations. One of the secret weapons that calm employees use to prevent tension, is a process that assesses the personality types of customers and selects personality flexing strategies that harmonize the interaction. Additionally, during customer encounters with challenging personalities, it is a joy to witness calm employees diffuse potentially explosive situations by simply using the technique of intentionally choosing words that motivate, over words that infuriate, to soothe customer vexation and win customer trust.
So here’s a couple of additional day to day techniques that emotionally stable, self-managed and emotionally mature employees use to build powerful engagement bonds with their customers.
Firstly, they set up an anchoring mindset that is positive, by deciding that they will share goodwill and not ill will with whomsoever they meet, on a daily basis. They remind themselves that everyone that they encounter may be fighting a personal battle and that they will not add any more burdens to those battles. In other words, these emotionally mature employees decide to be givers and not takers of positive energy. The sneaky and somewhat ironic thing about this philosophy, is that it’s a bit self-serving, because by being a giver of positive energy, the employee is creating a positive force-field around himself and herself, so that he or she also benefits from the positive energy. The other remarkable feature about this energy sharing, is that calm employees share goodwill even when they are “not in the mood.” They force themselves to override the low energy feeling and reboot to an uplifted state. Note to readers and businesses…..this ability does not develop overnight.
Secondly, calm, emotionally stable employees are trained to have “no expectations” of their customers and, of individuals, generally. These employees understand that people show up “as they are” and that in turn, as service providers, they have to meet people “where they are.” By reminding themselves daily, of this reality, calm employees reinforce their self-calming process. By having no expectations of others, a huge burden about how individuals should and should not behave, goes away, exchanges start at ground zero and the door is opened for goodwill to flow freely without the burden of expecting customers to behave according to predetermined “rules of expected engagement.”
All of this talk about customer engagement, brings to mind Maya Angelou’s words about how we influence another person’s feelings. She said; “people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will not forget how you made them feel.”
For the business that is blessed with emotionally mature employees, undoubtedly, this translates into reputational bragging rights for customer engagement, great customer stories and ultimately, repeat business.
For the business that has yet to be blessed with emotionally mature employees who attract rave reviews from customers who have experienced great encounters, it’s not too late to start this journey. Goodwill and positive energy are always available for harnessing.