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There were actually 4 questions and I have already answered the last two, I just need help with the two that I have included.
Thank you.



Telephone customer-service representatives have a tough time these days. With automated telephone systems that
create a labyrinth for customers, result in long hold times, and make it difficult for them to speak to an actual human
being, a customer's frustration often settles in before the representative has had time to say "hello." Says Donna Earl, an owner of a customer-service consulting firm in San Francisco, "By the time you get to the person you need to talk to, you're mad."

Erin Calabrese knows all too well just how mad customers can get. A customer-service representative at a financial services company, she still vividly recalls one of her worst experiences-with a customer named Jane. Jane called Calabrese over some charges on her credit card and began "ranting and raving." "Your #%#% company, who do you think you are?" yelled Jane. Though Calabrese tried to console the irate customer by offering a refund, Jane only called Calabrese an "idiot." The heated conversation continued for almost 10 minutes before Calabrese, shaking,
handed the phone to her supervisor and left her desk.

Sometimes customers can be downright racist. One customer-service representative finally quit her job at a New Jersey company because she constantly heard racial remarks from customers after, she contends, they heard her Spanish accent. "By the time you leave, your head is spinning with all the complaints," she said.

Unfortunately, these employees have little choice but to take the abuse. Many companies require customer service
employees to keep positive emotions at all times to maintain satisfied customers. But the result could be an emotional nightmare that doesn't necessarily end once the calls stop. Calabrese stated that she would frequently
take her negative emotions home. The day after she received the abusive call from Jane, Calabrese went home and started a fight with her roommate. It was "an all-out battle," recalls Calabrese, "I just blew up." The former customer-service representative who worked in New Jersey also recalls the effects of the abusive calls on her family. "My children would say, 'Mom, stop talking about your work. You're home.' My husband would say the same thing," she said.

Emma Parsons, who quit her job as a customer-service representative for the travel industry, was frustrated by the
inability to do anything about abusive customers and the mood they'd put her in. "Sometimes you'd finish a call and
you'd want to smash somebody's face. I had no escape, no way of releasing." She said that if she did retaliate toward an abusive customer, her boss would punish her.

Some companies train their representatives to defuse a customer's anger and to avoid taking abuse personally, but the effort isn't enough. Liz Aherarn of Radclyffe Group, a consulting firm in Lincoln Park, New Jersey, says customer-service employees who work the phones are absent more frequently, are more prone to illness, and are more likely to make stress-related disability claims than other employees. Thus, it is apparent that in the world of customer service, particularly when interactions take place over the phone, emotions can run high, and the effects can be damaging. Although the adage "the customer comes first" has been heard by many, companies should empower employees to decide when it is appropriate to put the customer second. Otherwise, employees are forced to deal with abusive customers, the effects of which can be detrimental to both the individual and the company.

1. From an emotional labor perspective, how does dealing with an abusive customer lead to stress and burnout?

2. If you were a recruiter for a customer-service call center, what personality types would you prefer to hire and why? In other words, what individual differences are likely to affect whether an employee can handle customer abuse on a day-to-day basis?

Solution Preview

Let's take a closer look. I also include two excerpts of findings from two studies which supports this response.


1. From an emotional labor perspective, how does dealing with an abusive customer lead to stress and burnout?

The concept of emotional labor describes the management of emotions (showing happiness and empathy, not fear or anger) as part of everyday work performance. In fact, much of the research in this field has been in relation to jobs in the service sector where (mostly female) employees are required to shape their own feelings in order to make customers or clients feel at ease, comfortable or happy (Anleu & Mack, 2005,

However, from an emotional labor perspective, dealing with abusive customers can also lead to stress and burnout. In practice, this approach often translates into asking service employees to be extra cheerful, friendly, and pleasant with customers. Many studies have suggested that this service with a smile emphasis has positive benefits; but there is also some reports that it can also result in negative consequences. One study found two potential negative outcomes: sexual harassment by customers and the dysfunctional psychological effects of asking employees to display unfelt emotions (Deadrick & McAfee, 2001, In other words, holding in all one's negative feelings results in psychological distress and burnout. This is because it is unhealthy to pretend you are happy, when in fact you are feeling angry, sad, and frustrated or some other feeling related to being abused by customers, and instead act as if you are happy and cheery. This leads to stored negative energy and effects cognitive performance leading to stress and eventually, burnout. Instead, these negative feelings are internalized as humiliation, low self image and others (

The following except from a study expands on these above ideas:

Excerpts from: Emotion Regulation in the Workplace: A New Way to Conceptualize Emotional Labor. Alicia A Grandey, Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University in Journal of Occupational Health Psychology

Customer Service Performance

? In the service industry, managing emotions (showing happiness and empathy, not fear or anger) is an important facet of maintaining loyal customers and repeat business.
? As a means of presenting a positive image of the organization and inducing the appropriate feelings in customers, managing emotions may result in good customer service performance.
? However, the personal effort of emotion regulation may impair cognitive performance.
? Burnout is a stress outcome ...

Solution Summary

This response addresses the two questions related to case: abusive customers cause emotions to run high.