Rick Alday – Dealing with the emotional impact of customer facing roles
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Matt Graham: Welcome back [00:03:00] to WordFest, stage two. Uh, they say that lightning does not strike twice. Well, I beg to differ because we have two lightning talks that are coming up next. Uh, so we’re going to watch them both and then we’ll do a live Q and A with the presenters after we’ve watched them. But first up is Rick Alday, uh, with dealing with the emotional impact of customer facing roles.
Matt Graham: So Rick has been a graphic designer and a photographer, but for the past decade, he’s worked in customer service roles for different companies in the WordPress industry and is currently with GiveWP. So we’ll see that video in a few seconds.
Rick Alday: My name is Rick Alday. I’m a support technician at GiveWP. For those of you who don’t know what GiveWP is, is just one of the best, uh, WordPress donation plug-ins out there.
Rick Alday: That’s my bias opinion. [00:04:00] And for the last 12 years or so, I have been doing either tech support or customer service, uh, roles in the WordPress ecosystem for different companies. Before that I did freelance photography and graphic design. So for the, a good 20 years of my life, I’ve been doing, uh, dealing with customers, uh, in one way or another.
Rick Alday: And I know from experience, this can take an emotional and mental and physical toll on you. So I’m going to be sharing some of the tips and tricks and procedures that I use and learn throughout my, my career to deal with some of that and minimize the impact that it will have on your life. Um, Stress is a part of our daily life.
Rick Alday: You know, a certain amount of stress is helpful for us to accomplish our goals, uh, get through everyday challenges, but just like cholesterol, there’s, there’s [00:05:00] good and bad stress. And the bad stress is really harmful or your body or your health or your mental health and job related stress is not different.
Rick Alday: All jobs are inherently stressful. One way to. But some more than others. And I believe, uh, dealing with customers is on the top level, right there, you know, most stressful jobs. And, um, as customer service agents, we are often under extreme pressure to, um, you know, deliver and deal with complex issues. We are usually the first point of contact of customers with, uh, with the company.
Rick Alday: So. And customers don’t usually reach out to the company and that they have a problem. And again, that sets the, the precedents or the, uh, tone of the interaction you’re going to have with that customer. And it’s our job to turn that around. [00:06:00] There are plenty of great customers, service agents out there, and no matter how many years you’ve done this, it’s still can be a bit stressful.
Rick Alday: How do we deal with this? The approach we need to take to deal with job related stress has, uh, two components, uh, things that you do at work and things that you do out of work. That’s first start reviewing your work area, check your desk. Is it comfortable? Do you have pictures that cheer you up pictures of your family, of your pet?
Rick Alday: Can you look out the window and see nature? You know, is it organized or do you have a big. Is your chair comfortable? Do you have good lightning? Uh, do you have a plant maybe, uh, you know, you need to work on your work environment, your desk, your office, it has to be comfortable. This is where you’re going to spend a good chunk of your day over your reward days.
Rick Alday: So make sure it has a nice atmosphere [00:07:00] and that’s something you can control at some point, you know, if you work for. You can set up a small space where you are, it’s your space, you know, it’s your workspace, it’s your dedicated space for work as nothing else, you know, just your computer, maybe, you know, printer, if you need it.
Rick Alday: And just the basic stuff that you need to work and things that, you know, make it look nice, make it, makes it comfortable for you. Um, I know this is difficult. If you live in a small apartment or if you share your, your house or your apartment with other people you have, if you have family or pets, it can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.
Rick Alday: So make sure your, your work environment is as comfortable as it can possibly be for you to spend, you know, eight hours a day there. Next, when you do start work, um, start. Easier. And what I mean, my [00:08:00] dad is, uh, start with things that required a little mental energy and GiveWP. We have something called a mental energy kickoff or Mico acronym, M E K O.
Rick Alday: And basically what this means is that we start the day with a task that requires a little mental need, mental energy from our part, you know, it can be answering, um, emails, um, Uh, taking notes, um, reviewing your documentation, et cetera, something that, you know, you, you, you know, it’s not gonna take a long time and it’s not going to stress you out and start with that.
Rick Alday: And then you can jump right into the fire next stick, small breaks every hour or every 40 minutes. Step away from your computer. Go, go for a. Go for a glass of [00:09:00] water, you know, stretch out, do some breathing exercises. You can find some great breathing exercises on YouTube that will only take one or two minutes and breathing exercises will help you regulate your heart rate to if you are person who suffers from anxiety or, you know yeah.
Rick Alday: It’ll help you calm down and just. Relax, what a bit, eh, you need to do that throughout the day. You know, it helps you also clear your mind and kind of reset your, your mental energy a bit, so you can continue your Workday. It’s very important that you do that again. Just five minutes, 10 minutes stops and you go back to work refresh.
Rick Alday: It really helps. Next thing you want to do is avoid multitasking. You know, I know this is, uh, some people consider this an [00:10:00] asset, but not, I’m not going to agree with that in my experience. Multitasking just wears you out really quickly and physically and mentally. I know, I know every job has a different tasks that you need to accomplish every day.
Rick Alday: That’s. What I mean is that you need to break those tasks into chunks. For example, I’m going to set up, uh, I’m going to work on email for 20 minutes and just email. I’m not going to do every, anything else. Uh, and after that, I’m going to spend 30 minutes. I don’t know, writing that documentation. All right.
Rick Alday: So I’m just going to concentrate on that and then. You know, and the next 40 minutes I’ll do something else, but you know, just that one task. And that way I can cover all the tasks that I need to cover throughout the day, but I have to do them all at once. Now, again, do this as much as possibly, you [00:11:00] know, you can, I know that if you work from home, there are distractions.
Rick Alday: If you have family in small kids, it’s almost, you know, you’re going to get interrupted quite a bit. I know from experience that. And just the job. Sometimes you need to like, stop doing what you’re doing and you need to take care of something that’s, uh, you know, origin or really important and it needs to be done.
Rick Alday: So I understand that sometimes you cannot avoid multitasking 100%, but try to do that as much as you can. And, you know, uh, this apply, it goes to your breaks to. when you go, take your lunch break. You’re taking your lunch break Dawn, you know, don’t check your notification from work, uh, try to put your phone away and just enjoy your lunch.
Rick Alday: And if you’re, you know, taking a lunch with a friend or family, just spend some time with them, concentrate on that, you know, don’t check your phone, [00:12:00] doesn’t wander off, you know, or think about work. Just turn off your work mode and enjoy your life. When I rude customer comes along and they often do, they come with insults, they come with complaints.
Rick Alday: They’re really frustrated. And what you need to do first is don’t take it personally. I know from experience by instinct, we take it personally. We take it very, you know, to heart, any insults or. Whatever, um, problem is the, the client comes with, but just agree time to step away a minute or two breeth you know, calm down, never reply it to a customer when you’re mad.
Rick Alday: Never do that. It’s just that, you know, they, they would, the good book says on Proverbs says a gentle [00:13:00] answer, turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. For any situation you don’t fight, fight fire with fire. You want to calm down and be the, the better person and try to ignore any insults, trying to ignore any put downs, just work through your way around, uh, trying to figure out what’s really behind that anger.
Rick Alday: What’s frustrating to the customer. Try to put yourself in their shoes. What are they experiencing? That’s got them so frustrated and what you do about it. Can you solve it in your hands? Not, you know, be as polite as possible and just let them know that. And if you need to, you can scale that, escalate that to a supervisor.
Rick Alday: Sometimes you don’t need to deal with, uh, customers, you know, supervisors have the authority to maybe fire the customers. They are, they’re being really rude. [00:14:00] So yeah. Talk to a supervisor to talk to our coworkers, don’t handle angry customers yourself. You don’t need to ask for help. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Rick Alday: No snacks. Uh, another tip that you know, really works right, is listening to music. I know this is cliche. Everyone says, you know, you’re going to listen to. Calm music or whatever, but, you know, whatever music suits you, you feel like, you know, heavy metal and head back to what you’re doing. That’s fine. Just be mindful.
Rick Alday: Your coworkers, you, you know, working at share office, you know, put your headphones on and, and jam away, you know, if you like jazz or whatever, something that really helps you, uh, hypes you up and doesn’t interfere with the. Go ahead and do that, uh, on a tip, do [00:15:00] not procrastinate on difficult tasks or tests that you don’t like.
Rick Alday: We all have that one thing that we don’t like to do at work. You know, we don’t like it as much. It’s not our favorite thing, but it has to be done. And our tendency is to put it off, you know, kick the can down the road every day until the deadline of. And now we’re really stressed out because we get to do it and it has to be done.
Rick Alday: And, and we haven’t even started yet. So try to set up a time, you know, uh, small, uh, time chunks of 10 to 15 minutes every day to tackle that, uh, tasks that you are trying to avoid that way, you know, 10 minutes a day, by the end of the week, you will have worked on it almost an hour. And that’s pretty good, you know?
Rick Alday: But if you can do that, you know, can set up more time to do that, go ahead and do that, but do not [00:16:00] procrastinate. You know, eventually all tasks will accumulate and that’s in the back of your mind. You’re thinking about that and you’re stressing out and you’re stressing out and that’s not good. Um, and another thing similar to mental energy kickoff, you want to decompress at the end of the day.
Rick Alday: Uh, it’s similar to, you know, starting your day with a task that requires a little mental energy. Try to end your day with, uh, doing similar tasks. Uh, it could be just, you know, 10, 15 minutes before your shift, just, you know, stop doing the hard things and do the easier things. You know, you can maybe write up some notes, um, write some more emails that require.
Rick Alday: No research, um, read your docs again. I don’t know, thinks that, you know, you [00:17:00] know that your job will require a little mental energy and finally end your day. When you log off from work, really do that. You know, don’t have a work email installed on your phone. Uh, don’t have slack related, uh, work groups in, in your fall and things like that.
Rick Alday: Um, just take time for you, you know, you out of work, you’ve done a great job and you know, you’re excellent, but now it’s your time. It’s your family time. It’s time to do something else on a personal level, you have to disconnect. Um, again, set up a time to really disconnect from internet, really social media, uh, Do not look at a screen for a good hour.
Rick Alday: So if you have a hobby, go ahead and do that. If you work out, go ahead and do that. You [00:18:00] know, spend time with your family, read a book, something that gets you away from any screen really helps you out with your mental energy and your mental health. You know, especially at night, you don’t want to be checking your pond, you know, on your bet before you go to sleep.
Rick Alday: Um, It will helps you out. You know, you have to step away from any screen because it also affects your vision. It affects your, um, mental health and, um, it’ll eventually add up to the next day and the next day. So take an hour or so every day to just disconnect from everything and enjoy nature. Can. And you, your family and your hobbies and, and your, your life, it’s your time.
Rick Alday: Another thing I want to point out is [00:19:00] that you need to encourage a work stress discussion at the workplace. And, um, I don’t know if your award allows for this. You have, if you slack, or if you use email or whatever, but be able to communicate. With your coworkers, with their supervisors, um, about stressful situations at job at your job and how you can deal with that.
Rick Alday: Uh, what can you do to minimize, you know, stressful situations? Because it, it, it doesn’t, it, it doesn’t just help be you as an employee. It helps them as an employer, you know, um, according to study in the UK, Uh, businesses are important to lose around 37 billion pounds, British pounds every year and poor customer service.
Rick Alday: And based on their, in that research, uh, 73% of consumers are [00:20:00] reported to select a company or product based on friendly employees or customer service representatives. So this is where a happy employee can make a big difference in terms of, or of sales and revenue. You know, like I said, in the beginning, all jobs are somewhat stressful and people are different.
Rick Alday: We all handle stress differently. We’ll have personal, uh, issues that we have to deal with every day. And that, you know, it’s another variable movie. Our employers cannot control that, but there are things that can be, you know, minimize. Done differently at work that could minimize just general stress for all of us.
Rick Alday: So I’ll be sure to talk to your supervisors, your higher ups and, um, if your company is not open to that, maybe it’s time to look somewhere else, you know? Um, sadly, uh, but it is your health [00:21:00] after all. So be sure to take care of it and.
Rick Alday: That’s pretty much it. And, you know, uh, just wanted to share that as a side note, that I also, uh, dealt with depression and anxiety for many years of my life, and I’ve applied these dips to my personal life and they’ve really helped me out, you know, um, at the end of the day, you need to take care of yourself too.
Rick Alday: You need to eat healthy. You need to get out. I sleep in that’s really important. Take care of your physical health too, because that will also affect your mental health obviously, and ticket one day at a time, you know, don’t quit smoking culture keyed on, you know, stopping carbs, cold Turkey that doesn’t work.
Rick Alday: It’s one [00:22:00] step at a time. You are not alone. If you need help, definitely reach out friends, family, um, open to, uh, messages, Sue. Um, I don’t tweet much, but I, you know, you can reach out to me and share your experiences, say hi or prayer request and you know, whatever. Uh, I’m good. Uh, and I’ll be happy to share on a more personal level.
Rick Alday: My experiences. Uh, things that I do on everyday basis to deal with that again, it’s your mental health take care of it. Take care. Bye.
Matt Graham: Welcome back. So we have, uh, both Nate and Rick here to answer your questions.
Nate Finch: Hello.
Matt Graham: Awesome talks. If they [00:23:00] hit, they hit a chord, obviously different courts with meaning. Um, the last, uh, last eight months, I’ve been kind of going through a tough time with, uh, with my mental health, but I was playing around with headless WordPress, probably I wanna say six years. I actually did it. I actually did a talk, uh, in, um, we’re, uh, WordCamp Hamilton about, uh, about doing a. Um, using WordPress as like an app development, uh, framework. So yeah, what you’re talking about is really cool. Yeah.
Nate Finch: That’s fun, man. That’s a bit about too in that, uh, uh, we’re using WordPress for web apps book came out, actually, I’m trying to remember the guys at WebDev Studioes
Matt Graham: I haven’t actually had a chance to read that one over yet.
Rachel Winchester: I have a question about how you first, uh, I guess, got into JAMstack and building static WordPress sites. [00:24:00] And really like when that moment for you, when it clicked that this is the way to build.
Nate Finch: Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, I think for me, at least I think it’s different for everybody, but when you see, I think like, I don’t know, I grabbed a Gatsby theme first starter. It wasn’t a few, it was, it started as before. And it’s like, you know, you, I think you’ve just come out of, and they had like the, uh, WordPress course, it was really just like plug and go and how easy it was to like get started.
Nate Finch: Kind of get it going well, I don’t know. Easiest relative term. Absolutely. Um, so back it up a little bit there, but like Netlify had their free hosting still does, like my personal site is still there. And so you just like deploy it and you’re like, oh, that’s there. And it’s just pulling all this information from my site.
Nate Finch: Well, that’s cool. And so the tools are there, you know, so I think it was just like, kind of the right moment when Gatsby kind of came along and, uh, Netlify came along to really [00:25:00] have, uh, an easy way to get that up. So I know there’s other solutions now, uh, through Vercel, through Strattic, through all sorts of like headless options and stuff like that and static options.
Nate Finch: And everything’s. Yeah, but I think for me, it was just like seeing the speed and, you know, Gatsby has the, um, what is it called where you hover over a link and it like, pre-loads the page. So it was just like, just so fast and the images look so crisp and clean and there’s just so little that you have to do or whatever.
Nate Finch: So, yeah, I was like, this is cool. That was great.
Rachel Winchester: Nice. I been getting into JAMstack about a year now. Um, but not as a developer WordPress, um, and while getting into it, I’ve been listening to so much heavy metal. So I like how Rick. To heavy metal and that people can listen to whatever music that you like.
Rachel Winchester: So I’m curious, what kind of music do you listen [00:26:00] to throughout your day? What do you like to work to?
Rick Alday: Oh man, like my music taste is really all over the place and um, you know, I, I can share some way in my playlist and some of them I’d rather than that, but yeah, I mean, I just listened to. Well, I’m working at drink to loosen, to like some like low-fi music.
Rick Alday: Uh, but again, it depends on my mood and what I’m doing. Uh, I definitely, you know, head bang sometimes, and I have my kid like working next to me. She’s taking a homeschool at moments, or I cannot put out my music too loud. I use my headphones and, but, um, yeah, I mean, It depends on my mood. So it varies quite a bit.
Matt Graham: Yeah. So I guess speaking of variability, what is that one [00:27:00] thing that you need to do every day to. Yourself, like I want to stay sane, but really the, the thing is focused. What is that one thing that you always need to do?
Rick Alday: Okay. Um, what works for me is taking a lot of breaks. Like a lot of five minute breaks, every 40 minutes every hour.
Rick Alday: I need to just step out of the office and. I just, just go, ah, what are my plants and our yard? And that’s like, what I like to do. I like to do gardening on my time off and that just like completely, completely just takes me away. Any, uh, anything I’m working on online? So, uh, one of my coworkers, he lives in the near the woods.
Rick Alday: He has like a large property in South Carolina. So, you know, he, he almost with the, like coming to slack, I’m going to take a walk in the woods and that was for him. And so, yeah, but that’s something I need to do. I need to [00:28:00] go outside and look at green style, look at plants, look a flower, you know, But I do.
Rachel Winchester: Yeah. I definitely understand that. I think, uh, well, I don’t know where, where everyone’s located in the world, but where I am in the winter, you can’t get too much sunlight during the day. So I have to leave and go outside during lunch to even, get some sunlight. Um, so yeah, I definitely, I definitely feel that, um, going outside during your work day and making a point of it.
Rick Alday: And just because I dunno, I guess most of us work, you know, we’re sitting down all day, you know, working. So just getting up, even getting, you know, grabbing a cup of coffee or just walking around like five minutes, it really, you know, helps you out with your back pain and, you know, physically, mentally, it just kind of resets you a little.[00:29:00]
Rachel Winchester: Yeah, unless you’re too excited about the develops develop the WordPress static site that you’re developing.
Nate Finch: I was actually the,
Matt Graham: yeah, that’s the question I wanted to ask you, Nate. So I I’m a developer. And I ha I feel like it could, I don’t know what it is, but I have this rollercoaster of this is so cool too. I hate this. How do you go into that?
Nate Finch: Oh man. Well, yeah. And it’s, it’s also, you know, a thing of like, oh, this is only going to take me five more minutes. I know. And then five hours later, you didn’t go outside. You didn’t take your walk. You didn’t, you know, like say hi to your family or something, working at home or whatever and all that.
Nate Finch: Um, yeah. I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out sometimes because I know that I’ll, you know, if I could I’d work like all day and all night, and I just love figuring all this stuff out is one of the things I love about development, right. Is that you’re solving problems, like figuring out puzzles and [00:30:00] stuff like that.
Nate Finch: So, um, yeah. How do you deal with that? I think like part of it is like, You know, setting a timer for things, for sure. Kind of like Rick was talking about, you know, um, I think the other side of it too, is to have multiple things that you’re trying to figure out, um, that you’re, or that, and if you have other tasks you need to be doing that, you’re like, okay, I can only spend like 30 more minutes on this before I have to move on to something else.
Nate Finch: And for me to like part, I was a freelancer for, you know, six, seven years or whatever, and joining a team, uh, whether it’s at a design agency or now like Strattic where we’re a hosting company, um, You know, having other people around you that have those like have skills or can be your rubber duck or, um, give you insight and stuff like that to all that.
Nate Finch: Like, if you can just like talk to the people, like again, requisites so much great advice, Rick, that, uh, uh, it’s super helpful. Just feel like, figure those things out and get unblocked and move forward. You know, team like the sum, the total is greater than the sum of its parts, [00:31:00] right? Yeah.
Matt Graham: Um, no, actually, uh, AmyJune, which was one of the, uh, one of the speakers earlier, uh, posted the, um, the, from the developer Twitter account. It’s like, this’ll just be the five minutes fix.
Nate Finch: Yeah. Five minute fixes every day.
Matt Graham: Yeah. Right, exactly. Right, right. Exactly. That’s that’s well, that’s the limit because if you go above that, then you know, it ends up being an eight hour fix.
Rachel Winchester: Well, I, I guess I have one more question. Um, I’m curious, uh, w w with who you deal with that at your job, um, do people come to you excited about static or do you have to convince them.
Nate Finch: Yeah. So a lot of the folks that come to Strattic are, [00:32:00] you know, mid-size or enterprise level folks that have been running WordPress for years, and they have worked on other hosting platforms with their hosting companies and they there’s like this kind of sweet spot sweet spotat Strattic where we can take your WordPress site as it is and make it static and then put that out.
Nate Finch: And we also like build in these serverless integrations, like for gravity forms or contact form seven, or need WordPress search or the list goes on. Right. Um, but they have been. I told that if they want to do something static, something fast and scalable and secure that they need to rebuild their site and stuff.
Nate Finch: Well, you know, they’ve spent years on this or, you know, tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of people, hours or whatever on the site that they have in the set up that they have. And their marketers love it. Their SEO, few people love it. Their content writers love it. They don’t want to switch.
Nate Finch: You know, a non WordPress platform or whatever. Uh, and they don’t want to have like a deployment, like a, [00:33:00] uh, a build process necessarily where they have everything he coupled where there’s like, you know, next she has her Gatsby on the front end and WordPress on the backend. And they’re still dealing with that security then too, because they still have their WordPress site up and it could still be taxed.
Nate Finch: The folks that come to us are basically saying like, Hey, when you shut down WordPress, that means that our WordPress can’t be hacked. That’s great. And then you have all these awesome integrations and stuff that other hosting static hosting platforms or a static kind of integrations don’t have out of the box.
Nate Finch: Like I said to the PML for like one multinational site and stuff like that. So those are the kinds of things that are like really important and like the headache, like we were just talking with somebody else who was like, you know, you all have. Not to say that we cost somebody their job or whatever, but it’s like, you know, if we were doing what we were doing before we came to strata, we’d still have another person and a half or something like that on staff.
Nate Finch: That’s just, just watching our site. Right. Like they’re not doing anything productive or whatever, they’re just trying to help us with the thing. So, [00:34:00] yeah. So yeah, it’s, it’s cool. That’s kind of the same story, uh, you know, two dozen different ways and stuff like that. Uh, come on.
Rachel Winchester: Yeah. Yeah. I’m very interested in, in, in, um, how people are transitioning, because I know it’s, it’s, it’s kind of new or it’s coming back.
Rachel Winchester: Um, but it keeps trying to, uh, to, to, you know, get even more popular, which is really interesting.
Nate Finch: Yeah. Right. Yeah. Everything’s uh, that was old is new again or something like that. Right. So.
Matt Graham: All right. Well, thank you gentlemen, for, uh, for being able to be part of our Q and A I’d like to also thank our sponsors, Bluehost, Cloudways, GoDaddy Pro, Nexcess, Yoast and Weglot. Please be sure to visit their tents and chat with them and you might even win some prizes. So [00:35:00] don’t forget to get your photo snapped in photo booth as well, and tweet it out with the hashtag word, WordFest Live.
Matt Graham: Also thank you to our media partners and our micro sponsor. Uh, right now in the community tent, uh Cloudways or sorry, that’s in the next hour. Cloudways is, will have their hourly giveaway. There is a, uh, well, it’s probably only about a nine minute break in the schedule right now. Uh, so head on over to the community tent and we will be back in nine minutes with, uh, starting off at the Asian continent.
Matt Graham: You all make our Big Orange Hearts full.[00:36:00]