Can Low Energy Cause a Bad Attitude?

We all know how important it is for anyone in a customer service position to exhibit a customer-friendly attitude. Whether on the telephone or face-to-face, customers almost instantly assess the attitude of person they are dealing with.

Most customer service organizations work hard to only hire individuals who exhibit great customer-friendly attitudes, and they often provide training, communication and other activities to reinforce the importance of customer sensitivity.

So why then do we still experience so many people in customer service position whose attitude toward customers seems to be apathetic, bored, annoyed or frustrated – or occasionally all of these at the same time?

One fundamental reason may be low energy. If you think about the typical customer service job, it can be incredibly draining and challenging, even for those with fantastic attitudes.

For telephone-bound CSRs, sitting for hours at a time is stressful and unnatural. Our bodies were not designed to be in the sitting position for hours at a time. We were designed to walk, to move, and to a large degree the flow of blood and other vital fluids in our systems depends upon physical movement.

For face-to-face CSRs, there can be many energy drainers including:

  • Rude, disrespectful customers
  • Overwhelmed by too many customers
  • Bored by not enough customers
  • Not knowing proper procedures
  • Not being informed about changes
  • Making errors because they weren’t given current information
  • Lack of control
  • Unfriendly or negative co-workers
  • Personal issues
  • Computer and other technology-related problems
  • Work environment (too hot, too cold, etc.)

When it appears that an individual CSR, or an entire customer service work group,  has an “attitude problem,” before jumping too quickly to a training or a firing/hiring solution, take some time to assess the baseline energy level of the individual(s). Here are a few indicators that your core issue may relate to their personal level of energy and physical stamina:

1. Do they sit for more than 9-0 minutes at a time without at least a 15-minute movement break? (Note: leaving one’s desk and going to the break room to SIT does not count as a “movement” break)

2. Is the individual overweight, and/or is the group predominantly overweight? This may be a sensitive issue for some organizations, but the bottom line is that being overweight is a prime indicator of low physical energy, and low energy is a cause of poor customer service attitudes. So, comfortable or not, this issue cannot be ignored.

3. Is the attitude issue more predominant in the afternoon (or toward the end of a work shift) than in the morning? Many people with energy issues tend to start their day strong, but struggle in the afternoon.

4. Do they have easy access to healthy snacks and fresh water? And do they have NO access to unhealthy vending machine “food” and sugary sodas? (Best practice: Make ONLY healthy options available onsite)

5. Is there acknowledgement that the CSR role is in fact a challenging one that requires a high level of energy and physical stamina throughout the work day? If this is not proactively understood and expressed by managers, it is not likely to be a part of the work culture.

For more tips on how to create greater Energy and Stamina for customer service representatives, Frontline Learning offers an online training module (also available on DvD video) which focuses on helping CSRs understand how physically and emotionally demanding their jobs can be, and why they need to pay special attention to their health and wellness practices.

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