By Christa Peters, Senior Manager, Instructional Design & Knowledge Management
“…in some jobs, managing emotions is the job. In the US…about 8 out of 10 people work in service jobs. The human touch is hard to automate.” – Adam Grant
It’s the end of the day. You are in a customer-facing role. Are you exhausted or invigorated?
Adam Grant’s podcast “Faking Your Emotions at Work”, based on the book “The Managed Heart”, by Arlie Hochschild may have some insight into what you are feeling, and why. Both the podcast and the book introduce the concept of emotional labor.
Emotional labor is explained in the podcast like this: imagine your response to a terrible gift from your aunt: smiling and pretending to love it. In a customer experience role, Emotional labor requires you to fake this happiness hundreds of times a day. Additionally, your wages and career success are tied to it, and finally, you recreate it with strangers, rather than your aunt.
The reason emotional labor is so exhausting is because we are often “surface acting”. Faking it. You are not being authentic. Let’s be honest, having to pretend all day is arduous. It can lead to burnout, substance abuse, and a myriad of mental health issues (depression, anxiety).
So what’s the answer?
Feel the emotions, make natural connections and “deep act”. Don’t fake it until you make it. Feel it so you don’t have to fake it. Deep acting requires you to make a connection with your customer and to put yourself in their situation. Deep acting not only improves your happiness but also increases the customer experience.
It makes sense, if you are in a conversation with someone (friend, spouse, parent, sibling, date) and they are pretending to be interested, it is a pretty terrible experience. But if someone is engaged, even if they are relying on their “deep acting” skills, and the conversation is naturally flowing, you leave that interaction feeling excited, engaged and more connected to that person.
It’s concepts like these that Percepta considers as we continuously improve upon our training programs. Being a front-line customer experience agent is one of the toughest jobs, and we are excited to continue to foster our Culture of Service value by giving our teams tools to make their roles easier.