If you feel like this last year has been overwhelming, you’re not alone. Everyone is in the process of adapting to a new normal as cities around the world start opening up.
So if it feels like your customers are a bit “short” on the phone with you these days, remember that everyone is responding to this transition differently. As a customer success rep, you’re not only looking out for yourself — you are in charge of delivering a top-notch experience on behalf of your company.
In these moments, being more human goes a long way. Beyond resolving in-the-moment conflict, you’ll also strengthen your customer relationships and core business. So what exactly does it take to be more human in your interactions?
Here are some super-simple suggestions to make your calls more meaningful.
1. Kindness goes a long way
Working in customer success, you’re on the front lines of everyday frustrations.
Often, that means you’re on the receiving end of bad moods. So what do you do, as a human being who works on a screen for a living, when someone is angry, upset, or yelling at you?
You remember that the other person is a human being, who has flaws just like the rest of us. That person is probably under a lot of pressure. Give the person space to blow off steam. Close your eyes, and count to ten.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the best solution, in the moment, is to double down on your kindness. Research has found that kindness has a role to play in “mending broken spirits.” Not to mention, being kind to others is good for you and can actually make you happier. That’s because, when you’re kind, your brain triggers a chemical response.
In this way, you can think of kindness as a unique type of armor and strength.
2. Active listening resolves conflict
When a customer approaches you with a problem, it’s your job to help them out.
But listening goes deeper than just paying attention and answering questions. With an understanding of why an issue is coming up, you can offer a more meaningful solution.
Active listening can also help resolve problems before they have a chance to fester. For instance, in one study, researchers found a link between active listening and a reduction in lawsuits.
So how do you become an active listener? Psychologists recommend the following:
- Create a safe space for people to express themselves by opening up and sharing something first
- Ask open questions using language such as “tell me more about…” or “help me understand…”
- Paraphrase information through phrases such as “what I’m hearing is that…”
Here’s another simple tip: don’t multitask. Try to resist switching between apps or scrolling on your phone. Stay present.
It takes a lot of concentration to become an active listener. Be prepared to practice, and don’t be hard on yourself if it takes time to pick up the skill.
If you’re looking for more active listening tips, here are a few exercises to try out with your team.
3. Practice nonviolent communication
One of the biggest myths in business is that emotions don’t matter. The reality is that emotions are running high for people, all the time.
It’s impossible for anyone to shut off who they are — and when you’re on a customer success team, you engage with a wide range of personalities who each receive information differently.
The term “nonviolent communication” describes a range of educational techniques for keeping conversations empathetic and honest.
Some techniques, according to an article published by venture capital firm First Round Capital, include:
- Asking open-ended that asks for valuable input rather than a one-word reply
- Taking a mental step to observe what’s happening in a current situation
- Ensuring that your own emotions are okay — taking a step back if necessary
- Having a clear understanding of the needs at hand
- Getting clear on what the other person is asking
These steps can help get everyone on the same page regarding an issue instead of letting egos and conflict get in the way of a solution.
Last but not least
Compassion fatigue is a real (scientifically studied) thing. If you’re in a customer-facing role, it’s important that you remember to take breaks, get fresh air, and remember to laugh with your teammates — the best you can.
If you’re feeling burned out, know that a lot of tech professionals are experiencing the exact same thing. Don’t feel guilty getting that extra sleep, taking a longer break, or stepping back from a day off.
When you work for your brain for a living, your mental health is invaluable.
If you’re looking to connect with fellow customer success leaders going through similar experiences, be sure to check out Quala’s Humans of CS Community. We host virtual meetups on important topics every other month. Dial in to ask questions, share advice, and get answers.