By Varun Tyagi
Let’s face it – it’s easy for anxiety and boredom to creep into any job, including customer support. Listening to customers’ rants, complaints, and arguments incessantly can be a challenging exercise. Not to mention the equally daunting and exhausting task of following-up and responding to one angry customer after another. Before you know, your support agents are burning-out like dry wood struck by lightning in the summer grasslands of Australia. And pretty much like forest fires, burnt-out agents are bad for business!
Unhappy agents are unproductive agents, and unproductive agents will leave your customers unhappy. It’s a vicious cycle that every customer support team manager strives hard to avoid; productivity is after all the sword by which the support team lives and dies. Most times though, it’s not so much about the work that your support team is doing as it is about how they feel about doing that work. As a customer support team manager, it’s both necessary and beneficial to have a direct line of sight into these feelings, so you can take timely and appropriate corrective measures and manage your support talent effectively.
You might be thinking, “easier said than done”! Well, it’s true – how can one turn feelings and emotions into actionable data? The age-old concept of ‘flow’ might hold the key to how customer support managers can nudge their teams back into the ideal state of productivity, happiness, and satisfaction. But first, what is flow?
A psycho-physiological experience, for anyone who seeks it
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high), the psychologist who first studied flow in the ‘70s, and author of the book ‘Flow State’ said this about flow in his February 2004 TED talk:
“There’s this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger. And once the conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.”
Wow, that sounds too good to be true, right? But the utopic state is very much real, and so are the benefits associated with it. Besides the obvious psychological benefits such as subjective well-being, satisfaction with life, and general happiness, “flow state” is also considered to improve productivity, motivation, and company loyalty. Not just that, studies have revealed that people who entered flow exhibited deeper breathing, slower heart rate, and activation of the facial muscles that help us smile.
But for too long, flow state had been considered to be the exclusive realm of artists – the fabled “zone” where painters, musicians, athletes, and people in not-so-ordinary professions would unleash their creative energies, attaining inner peace and happiness in the process.
Over time, our understanding of flow and has improved. Research has shown that anyone can enter the ‘zone’ or flow state, provided certain …read more
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