Let’s be real: customer support and success work is hard.
In our “Investigating the Customer Support Persona” study, 87% of the more than 300 CS agents surveyed admitted there are some aspects of the job they don’t love.
Topping the list of the worst aspects of CS work are customers taking out their problems on you, unpredictable work days, and trouble finding the information needed to resolve issues.
Squelch believes support and success professionals are a company’s heroes, and we’re here to make sure you and those around you realize it.
But, no matter how much appreciation you receive from your colleagues (and us), it never hurts to add some self-care into the mix to ensure you stay sane and healthy.
What Is Self-Care?
As defined by Psych Central, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health…Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”
For some, a hot soak or sweet treat might contribute to an improved mood. But don’t be fooled — self-care is “not all salt baths and chocolate cake.”
Instead, it’s about a comprehensive approach to improving all aspects of your health. With that in mind, here are our top self-care tips for CS professionals.
How Can Customer Support and Success Agents Practice Self-Care?
- Take a break from work
- Make exercise a priority
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Don’t forget to laugh
Take a Break from Work
Without a doubt, the best way for support and success agents to engage in self-care is to literally take a break from work. After all, paid time off is meant to be used, not collect dust on a shelf!
The next time you’re feeling under the weather, do yourself (and frankly, your colleagues) a favor and take a sick day.
“‘Attempting to go to work and sticking it out despite feeling fatigued and achy’ can delay your progress and also infect other people (especially if you’re contagious at that point),” says Hillary Hawkins, MD, in a Bustle interview.
In contrast, “[a]llowing yourself to truly rest will speed the recovery process, making you feel even better when returning to work,” adds Caroline Cederquist, MD, in the same article.
Sick days aren’t the only type of PTO that employees leave on the table. Project: Time Off reports that 52 percent of Americans had unused vacation time at the end of 2017, which amounted to a total of approximately 705 million days.
Don’t be one of those people! Talk to your manager or your company’s HR department to ensure you know exactly how many days off you have for the taking and then make a vacation (or staycation) plan.
“Statistically, taking more vacation results in greater success at work as well as lower stress and more happiness at work and home,” according to the Harvard Business Review.
So not only will the time spent out of the office improve your mood, it’ll actually help you to be an even better customer hero upon your return.
In addition to being proactive about fully utilizing your PTO, it’s important to take lunch breaks on a regular basis. (This advice also applies to support and success professionals who don’t have sick leave and vacation benefits.)
The majority of employees (especially hourly workers) are entitled to a paid lunch break. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of open tickets, it can be tempting to wolf down your bagged lunch at your desk while continuing to work. But it turns out this approach actually hurts your productivity.
“Energy isn’t unlimited, and just as athletes have halftime to rest during a game, employees need to rest so they can do their best work,” explains Jennifer Deal of the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California (USC).
“Taking a break in the middle of the day for lunch is a recovery period, allowing employees to come back refreshed and reinvigorated for the second half.”
Make Exercise a Priority
What’s another way to feel reinvigorated? Exercise, of course!
Now, I’m not saying that self-care requires superhero displays of strength like flipping over a tractor tire at CrossFit.
But incorporating some type of daily exercise — especially during the eight or more hours you’re at work — can go a long way toward keeping you physically and mentally fit.
The majority of today’s employees, including customer support and success agents, are engaged in knowledge work, which unfortunately tends to be done while sitting at a desk. But research has found that sitting for long periods of time can take a serious toll on your physical and emotional health.
“[S]itting motionless reduces blood flow to the legs, increasing the risk for atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaques in the arteries,” reports The New York Times, along with a “heightened risk for diabetes, depression and obesity.”
One way to combat prolonged sitting is by utilizing a standing desk. Most varieties allow the user to easily adjust the height up and down, so you can alternate between working on your feet and taking a sit break every now and then.
Standing desks can be pretty pricey, however. So, if it’s not in the budget, be sure to make it a priority to stand up regularly and take a short walk to the bathroom or around the office.
“Standing up and walking around for five minutes every hour during the workday could lift your mood, combat lethargy without reducing focus and attention, and even dull hunger pangs,” explains The New York Times.
Exercise at Your Desk
In addition to sitting less and standing more, support and success professionals can increase their movement during the workday by engaging in “deskercise.”
“While you won’t get to the Olympics this way, you can do stretching, muscle-strengthening, and even short stints of aerobic exercises right at your desk (or maybe in a vacant conference room or stairwell),” writes WebMD.
There are a variety of suggested deskercises out there, but I recommend this set of stretches and strengthening movements from VeryWell Fit that can be done relatively discreetly right in your desk chair.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Standing and other forms of exercise are great for getting the blood pumping, but what about those times when you need to calm things down?
After all, customer support and success are high-stakes, high-stress roles, so it’s critical that any self-care routine include techniques for creating a relaxed body and centered mind.
Depending on the lyrics and tempo, music can assist in creating a variety of moods including a sense of calm.
In order to help start your day off on a relaxed note, we created a “Customer Heroes – Morning Coffee” playlist on Spotify. These 35 songs are the perfect soundtrack to play while you’re getting ready for work or sipping your first cup of joe at your desk.
Listen to a morning meditation to center your mind for the day ahead or before bed to help you unwind from a long day helping customers.
Although meditation apps are great at the beginning or end of the day, they’re not super useful in the midst of a stressful work situation. Imagine putting a customer on hold while you engage in a 10-minute meditation session. Yikes!
But there is another technique that you can use in the moment to turn down your stress level: deep breathing. In particular, I recommend box breathing, so named because it involves four steps that each take four seconds.
How to box breathe: Inhale for four seconds. Hold that breath for four counts. Exhale for four seconds. Wait for four counts and then repeat if necessary.
“If it helps, you can trace your finger in a square pattern while you breathe,” describes Bulletproof. “Or you can close your eyes and visualize traveling around your square. Pairing the breathing with visualization will take your mind off of the stressful situation and help you focus inward.”
Don’t Forget to Laugh
It’s clear that there are many techniques customer heroes can employ to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health — from taking full advantage of PTO to using a standing desk and meditation apps.
But the best self-care tip for support and success agents might also be the most fun: laughter. And you don’t have to take my word for it. The Mayo Clinic explains, “Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.”
According to Gaiam, the health benefits of laughter include:
- lowering blood pressure
- reducing stress hormone levels
- working your abs
- improving cardiac health
- boosting t-cells
- triggering the release of endorphins
- producing a general sense of well-being