Overworked? Limit stress and raise productivity

A Reader’s Question:

I have never handled stress well. With an increasing workload and some new responsibilities, I am so distracted with worry that I think it is affecting my results. What are some of the best ways to beat stress?

Response from the Editors:

Letting go of stress is easier said than done. But given the choice of being stressed or being effective, it’s wiser to let go of the pressure and save your energy for the situations you are able to influence. To learn to let go, you must decide whether you can do anything to change the situation. Recognize that if you can’t affect the situation, letting go—or worrying—are the only options. Incorporate these tips into your daily routine to shield yourself from stress:

  • Leave one hour of your workday unscheduled. That will offset the stress that results from inevitable delays and interruptions.
  • Use small slices of time effectively. If you have 5 or 10 minutes before a meeting, review your to-do list, read new product literature or an industry-specific article, or answer an e-mail message. When you begin large projects, you’ll have more time because you already completed minor tasks. That sense of accomplishment will reduce stress and allow you to focus on serving customers.
  • Schedule personal time. Choose an activity that relieves stress. For example, schedule 30 minutes each day to exercise, read or socialize with friends and family. You’ll cope with stress more effectively if you know you have a special treat waiting at the end of a hectic day.

Quote of the Week: 

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

—Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon.com

Tip of the Week:

Build relationships
Use these strategies to foster long-lasting and profitable relationships with your customers:

  • Keep customers informed. Contact them when something has gone wrong, to update them on the status of a problem you’re resolving, or simply to check in or notify them of upcoming promotions.
  • Call with a solution in place. If a problem has occurred, call customers quickly, but only after you have devised a well-planned and manager-approved course of action.
  • Don’t make overly optimistic promises. Anything can happen, so don’t overpromise in hopes of hooking your customers; they’ll become angry and reluctant to do business with you again if you fail to come through. Instead, limit what you promise to do and then over-deliver whenever possible. Your customers will love the surprise.
  • Go beyond customer service. Follow up with customers by sending them information you think they’ll appreciate. Some free ideas: newsletters; industry-specific articles, website addresses or book reviews; announcements of upcoming industry events; and invitations to customer appreciation events.

—From the editors.

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Each issue of the First-Rate Customer Service Forum offers you tips for improving your customer service skills. Plus, you have the opportunity to request advice on your most vexing customer service problems—and receive feedback from your peers and our panel of editors!

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