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What I Learned While Working in Customer Service

During the summer of 2021, I worked part time at a dermatologist office as their administrative assistant. My job was to answer phone calls from patients, schedule appointments, and help coordinate care between doctors, patients, and other healthcare facilities.

While being on this job, I encountered many different types of people how to navigate stressful situations and clear up misunderstandings.

Whenever the phone rang, I remembered always being nervous to pick it up because I never knew what the patient was calling in for or what mood they would be in. Sometimes they called to schedule an appointment, ask questions, complain, or needed to have a problem resolved. In other words, there was always uncertainty.

Here are some lessons I took away from my customer service experience:

Whenever I encountered a caller that was upset or frustrated, I learned that just listening to what they had to say and acknowledging their emotions helped them calm down, feel heard, and, ultimately, made them more willing to compromise.

The Importance of Listening

Whenever I encountered a caller that was upset or frustrated, I learned that just listening to what they had to say and acknowledging their emotions helped them calm down, feel heard, and, ultimately, made them more willing to compromise.

Oftentimes, people just want to be heard and acknowledged. Unfortunately, most people on the receiving end usually become defensive, and therefore, only aggravate the speaker further.

It was interesting to see how drastic the callers’ moods changed when they realized that I was acknowledging their complaints and feelings of frustration. As a result, they were more willing to return the favor and hear me out, making it much easier to find a compromise.  

This skill can be taken outside of customer service and into daily interactions. In all of your relationships, listening is always beneficial to making sure everyone feels heard.

Staying Calm In Stressful Situations

A part of my job was to schedule patients, and sometimes, I had to deal with an emergency. Other times, these stressful situations were related to an angry caller.

I learned that in order to keep a clear head, I needed to calmly navigate the situation.

Going in hand with my previous point, staying calm allowed me to really listen to the problem instead of throwing more to the fire. As a result, it was much faster to find effective solutions and get help from the right people.

Understanding The Human Desire To Be Important

I learned that everybody carries a desire to feel important. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they do for a living, everybody finds importance in themselves in some way. When accepting calls from patients, I found that acknowledging their importance through respect not only made them more amiable, but also made them more open to what I had to say.

As Benjamin Disraeli, a former Prime Minister of the UK, once said, "Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours."

This understanding not only helped me through customer service work, but in how I interact with others.

While customer service was stressful and difficult at times, I don’t regret it. I enjoyed learning and experiencing something new, even if it got me out my comfort zone.

This experience definitely opened my mind and taught me effective ways to communicate with others while maintaining a good impression.

Hello, I'm currently a sophomore intending to major in Public Relations/Advertising at PSU Bellisario College of Communications. I hope to use my experience and skill sets to help build trustworthy and mutually beneficial relationships between people while also creating a sense of community and bringing people together. Some of my hobbies include drawing, photography, listening to music, spending time with friends and reading a good book.
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