Career Advice | Look hard at the aspects that make the job good — and consider if they’re really worth it, given the downsides.
Q: I provide customer service for my company and lately have been having problems with angry customers. They get abusive, but our management doesn’t support us. How can I deal with this? I don’t want to leave this job.
—Janea, 36, customer service lead
A: Look hard at the aspects that make the job good — and consider if they’re really worth it, given the downsides.
Thinking through this will require some emotional poise, so take time to calm down and get focused. To figure out what to do, it’s important to think through the underlying issues.
It sounds like your situation has deteriorated recently. What happened? For example, something may have changed with your company. Technology or infrastructure issues or a change in company policy could surely lead to customer anger.
Perhaps you’ve had a change. Are you in a different role, perhaps more exposed to the irate customers that call in? Or maybe you’re getting burned out in a challenging line of work.
The other possibility is that your upper management has changed. If you used to have leadership that supported you and there’s now a new regime that does not, that’d be quite disheartening.
As you can see, the root causes for this situation could vary widely. Your next steps depend on understanding these causes and determining where you have control or influence.
For example, if you’ve moved into a role where you handle escalated calls, you may be able to change back to a less stressful level.
In contrast, you may have only indirect influence on more corporate-level decisions. If you see that a change in return policy has triggered a spike in enraged customers, you can pass that information on to higher levels. However, you probably will not be able to take direct action to change it.
Yet, if you’re listened to when you escalate your concerns and feel like you can help find solutions, it can make the stress more manageable.
My concern here is that this likely isn’t the case, given the lack of management support you’ve mentioned.
This raises the question, why do you want to stay? There are plenty of practical reasons people don’t want to change jobs. Location, pay, co-workers all can factor in. Especially with a long career ahead, it seems like you should be taking a long view and considering your options.
Also, examine whether less obvious elements are driving you to stay. Fear of change can hold a lot of people back from finding a better situation. And then there’s feeling like you’ve failed if you can’t handle your current situation.
The key is having a vision for what you want so you can contrast your current situation. Then change limiting mind-sets that either prevent you from helping improve the situation or from opting out if it no longer serves you.
Just remember, changing isn’t failure when it moves you forward.
Submit questions to Liz Reyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.