indifference-in-customer-serviceI would like to give credit to Jun Loyaza, whose recent post “3 Ways Helpdesk Indifference Will Kill Your Small Business” served an inspiration for my article.

In his post, Jun is revealing 3 signs that get your customers thinking that the customer service agent may be indifferent to their issue. He is making great points there, such as non-responsiveness of the service agents, the use of canned responses and lack of historic records. If you have a few minutes, I recommend reading his article.

The topic pulled some strings inside my heart and I decided to extend on it a little bit. In this post, I would like to speak about a different kind of indifference, which cannot be detected by the above-mentioned signs, but which the customer can still feel.

As a customer service professional who is working in this field and serving customers for 6+ years, there were a few times, a good number of times actually, when during the interaction with a customer, I felt that I did everything perfectly, exactly as I am supposed to and as I am expected to. I was approaching the customer personally, was attentive to their issue, found a solution for them, avoided canned responses etc. And still, I felt that something was missing. I felt that despite doing everything “correctly”, I was not doing my best. I was indifferent.

Now I confess in it and understand that I really was indifferent. Although factually, customers could never accuse me of giving them bad service. On those occasions, they couldn’t find anything wrong if they wanted to. But both of us felt that although I was giving them customer care, there was no heartfelt care.

Looking from it at a distance, I realize that the reason for that indifference was my own emotional, mental, physical condition – mostly lack of energy, tiredness or some trouble on my mind. I just couldn’t give any real care, get emotionally involved with the client and their problem, because I didn’t have energy for it. And perhaps, it is justifiable.

We are all living under stress constantly, so maintaining your own physical, emotional and mental balance is a work by itself. However, the interesting thing is that at the time when these situations were happening, I didn’t recognize what exactly was missing, why I felt some dissatisfaction with my performance. I had some vague feeling about it, but my mind was at its defense, going through checklist and supplying me with confirmations “no, this you have done, this one is ok, you didn’t use any canned responses, there simply can’t be anything wrong”.

The fact that I was trying to fool myself, to close my eyes on the feeling that something was wrong, did not serve me well. Why? Because that way I could never improve.

Emotional involvement was missing in my attitude. The moment I recognized that indifference was that thing which was stopping me from performing better, I could also clearly see the way to improve.

Now, as I said above, it may not be easy to get disconnected from your own set of problems and give yourself totally to the customers’. At first it will be difficult. However, if you understand that this is the only thing that needs to be fixed in your work and you concentrate on the goal, you will manage. Whenever you notice yourself feeling disengaged or perhaps even irritated at the customers problems which distract you from thinking about your own, you can remind yourself: “Oh, but why is that I am being careless again and not giving full attention to the customer?”

After some time, I am sure you will find yourself able to switch your attention between different things and apply it just where it is needed at the moment. It is a skill. I would say it is one of the most valuable skills for a customer service person.

If you are managing a customer service team, how can you help them to battle this kind of indifference? You cannot bring in this quality in people by demanding or by forcing everyone to follow the instructions. The only thing you can do is to share your own emotional well-being and positive attitude if you have it. If you can contribute to creating a joyous environment at your workplace, no better help can be imagined. For this, however, you first need to make sure that you are not indifferent yourself. If you really have this emotional care for others, it will be easy for you to surround yourself with people of the same quality and create a truly great workplace for everyone.

In the end, after reading this self-confession of a customer service worker who is trying to find ways to become better, you may call it perfectionism. You will say that this is not a tangible dimension of our work and we cannot implement and control it. And perhaps you would be right in this.

Still, I believe that we can make our workplace better if we start from ourselves. Wherever we are focusing our attention and trying to grow, be it work or some other activities, it will lead us to better understanding of our own self and becoming better human beings. And better human beings will for sure be better workers and better caregivers. So I am on my way. Are you with me?