The Hidden Impact on your Customer Facing Teams

Bushfires.  Coronavirus.  Global Recession.  Mass layoffs.  Daily updates on social distancing.  Industries disappearing.  Queues at Centrelink.

 

It’s rough.  Could get rougher.  Could?  Let me change that to probably will.

For the industries who still have sales teams or even teams who speak with customers or clients, there is a hidden stress that we as employers and leaders must keep an eye on.  One of my clients was telling me about a senior sales person who was responding to a customer’s situation with layoffs beyond the situation….On further exploration, it seems his wife had been laid off, kids are home from school, and he’s worried about his own job security…clearly there’s more going on than just the customer’s situation.

In addition to wanting to be there for customers, our sales people are facing their own set of insecurities, fears and feelings.  Add to that foundation the above stressors, and if we don’t pay attention, we’ll have more to deal with than just a diminished customer base – it’ll be a diminished sales/service team that has no more capacity for the customers that are left.

 

Here’s what to watch for:

  1. Survivor Guilt
  2. Unresourceful belief systems
  3. Disconnection from others

 

ONE: Survivor Guilt:

“Survivor guilt (or survivor’s guilt; also called survivor syndrome or survivor’s syndrome and survivor disorder or survivor’s disorder) is a mental condition that occurs when a person believes they have done something wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not, often feeling self-guilt” – Wikipedia.

With thousands more applying to Centrelink each day, it stands to reason that when speaking with a customer who is going through something like this, that there is a level of guilt over the inequity and lack of control this situation presents.  Why them and not me (but at the same time being grateful it’s not me).  This inner turmoil may be percolating at the unconscious level but according to US online forum: “Psychology Today” symptoms to be vigilant when observing and listening to our colleagues and team members include:

Feeling irritable
Having difficulty sleeping
Feeling immobilized, numb, and/or disconnected
Being unmotivated
Feeling helpless
Having an intense sense of fear
Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and palpitations
Having suicidal thoughts

 

Survival guilt isn’t logical.  Not that that stops some from experiencing it deeply.

Provide access to professional counselling services and engage your HR department to support team members with breaks, support and forums to unpack their feelings safely.  Check in regularly with each team member and listen to any indicators that the above is going on for them: sometimes the clues will be in what isn’t said, just as much as what is said.

 

TWO: Unresourceful Belief Systems

When people have limited centres of control, they feel helpless, and in turn, fearful.  With so much going on that lies outside of someone’s circle of control (ie. In the circle of concern), a person with an unresourceful belief system will feel overwhelmed, disempowered and stuck like a rabbit in the proverbial headlights.

As leaders, we can support our team members to expand their circle of control by encouraging them to focus on what lies within that like:

Their attitudes
Their amount and quality of sleep they get
The way they respond
Their levels of preparation and planning
Exercise, diet, meditation and laughter
Knowledge, skill development, learning, study
Activity levels and activity focus
Grooming, hygiene

When their capacity, their internal resources expand, they are able to have a more realistic perspective over what they can’t control but are concerned about, and refocus to the things they can directly impact.

 

THREE: Disconnection

Leaders: be vigilant.  With people working from home, it’s easy for them to begin to feel disconnected from their peers and colleagues.  Build in daily structures to help them share wins, insights that work, learnings, jokes, music and inspiring customer stories with each other.  Encourage a combination of text based group chats, video based coffee catch ups in the morning, Friday after work drinks on Zoom, individual check ins with your team members and weekly team meetings.  Having structured opportunities to catch up are critical any time, but never more so than now.

Customers and team members will remember how we treat them during these times.  Make yourself a promise to behave in a way that will make you proud in years to come as you look back on this time.

 

 

 

View our other posts

Entitlement vs gratitude

I heard a story the other day that I found troublesome but not uncommon.    And it’s something that will absolutely separate those who will be ready willing and able to make the most of 2021 and those who won’t be. The first story was that of an employee who was...

Making the shift from Knowing, Doing to Being

I’m not interested in what you know, how long you’ve known it for or even how much you know.  I am happy that you know it.    Experience shows me though that it’s not knowledge that changes things, it’s the application of that knowledge.  We can know a lot of...

Choose Enthusiasm

Joy!….What is it good for….absolutely everything!  Say it again!   Customer service people, sales people, leaders of people….those of us who work with others to achieve an outcome understands the power of enthusiasm.  Of bringing joy to a situation.  It’s...

Are you successful in spite of yourself?

Success.  Achievement.  Getting results.   In sales and in sales leadership, there’s a measure of success: improvement in sales, improvement in margin, increase in average transaction value, reduction in sales cycles…So when targets across these measures are...

2021 Starts Now

Victorian sales teams: if you’re waiting for the end of lockdown until you can get back out there in person to see your prospects and customers, stop waiting!  The time was 2 months ago.  Act now.   I say this because it’s like we’ve been wading through treacle...

Unexpected lessons from COVID

One of the things I drive and encourage in my client work is a practice of review and reflection.    It encourages and promotes a greater level of self awareness, learnings to take forward into future situations and link new concepts to existing knowledge.  It...

Why Connection means more now than ever

A big part of my business is facilitating workshops with sales teams and their leaders….these days, all of these are on Zoom.    One of the things that initially worried me was how well I’d be able to connect with the participants as I’m not able to physically...

Hibernation

I’m a Victorian.   Just as we faced the end of stage 4 of lockdown there’s no real end in sight…we’re all just hoping we can have a “normal” Christmas.   Now I know it can seem that the weeks are kind of flying by on one hand, but I think it’s because one...

Output over Optics

Remote workforces are here to stay.    While in many ways we’ve never been so “unseen” the essence of the value we bring to others has never been more exposed than it is right now.  Poor sales approaches, poor leaders, poor company values, poor work practices….ta...

From What if to Even if – A practice of positive action

Things are tough right now.   Regardless of where you live, the impact of the decision for Victoria to effectively close up shop will be felt by us all.  It’s just a matter of degrees.  Victorians will of course feel it more acutely. It is human to be despondent...