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Reducing Stress, Drama and Frustration When Things Go Wrong – A Troubleshooting Outline

By Rachael Needham, VP of Strategy & Operations

For most people and companies, business-as-usual dramatically shifted in the last year and a half, which can add stress and anxiety to already busy lives and work environments. Our ability to communicate and problem solve has become more important than ever. Good communication can help reduce stress and frustration while improving efficiency and productivity.

Whether in the workplace or our personal lives, making a conscious effort to improve our communication and problem-solving skills will only benefit us. Being negatively stressed or stressed out adds a level of difficultly none of us need, so finding ways to deal with stress that work for you is important. I shared some simple solutions for handling stress in a previous post – check those out here.

In this post, I’m sharing a model to assist you and your team when things go wrong, pressure is high, and solutions are needed ASAP. When we are equipped with the skills to communicate well with each other, and put those skills into action, we can reap the benefits of lower stress.

In the spirit of Customer Service Week, let’s take a closer look at some troubleshooting steps for customer-related issues in the B2B space. Some of this may seem pretty obvious, but when things go wrong, and it’s not immediately clear what needs to happen, following some basic practices can greatly reduce the stress and frustration levels for team members.

Step 1: Identify the issue – It’s key to identify the problem or impact of a situation. Not accurately identifying, understanding, or explaining an issue leads to unnecessary stress and frustration. Clearly understanding the issue equips the team to provide relevant input or feedback.

  • Ask: Is the issue critical, impacting production or customers in real time?
    • If yes, getting all necessary team members on a call to discuss can be the fastest way to be sure everyone is aligned and aware of what’s happening. When facing issues with production impact, gather your tech, content, client relationship, and any other relevant teams on a group call as fast as possible. Move to Step 2.
    • If no, the normal troubleshooting and bug fixing process can be followed.

Step 2: Troubleshoot with the right people – As you troubleshoot a high priority, production impacting issue, be sure to have the relevant team members present to share and collaborate. In addition to the Technical team members, having the Customer Success and Delivery Management account leads are key as they will be relaying the information to the client and will most likely be the ones who have assessed the client’s anxiety or concern level, which should be considered along with any tech risk.

Client concern should be weighed alongside the tech risk because those relationships are important and can tip the importance level on an issue in one direction or another. For instance, if there is an issue, but the client has some other key deliverables with a higher importance level to them, the issue may be considered less severe. Likewise, it could go in the other direction, where something the Technical team views as low risk is seen as high risk by the client. This is often related to the client’s individual business rules and objectives.

  • Ask: Is the issue already clearly identified?
    • If yes, move to the root cause.
    • If no, work together to define and clarify the issue as precisely as possible. This may mean getting on the phone with the client or whomever identified the issue.
  • Ask: Is the root cause for the issue known?
    • If yes, do we know how to fix it?
    • If no, how much time can we take to identify it? What has been communicated to the client thus far about timing?

Step 3: Avoid common pitfalls – Getting to a real and viable solution can be extremely difficult when the issue isn’t understood. Not accurately identifying or understanding the problem can easily create more stress and frustration on top of an already frustrating situation and take more of the teams’ time.

When there isn’t clear communication about a situation, lots of time can be wasted trying to get to the bottom of the issue. Productivity and efficiency are greatly reduced, and the added pressure can cause unnecessary and unhelpful tension.

For high priority/ production impacting issues, I highly recommend having a team phone call, as it’s one of the easiest ways to ensure everyone is on the same page and fully aware of the status. While group texting channels (Slack, Teams, etc.) are great for day to day, it can be too easy for people to miss things as the channel is flooded with comments.

If you aren’t already, start paying attention to how you are communicating and engaging with those around you. Improving those skills is an ongoing process and worthwhile endeavor; acknowledge mistakes you’ve made and use them to make positive changes in future communications.

 

Developing the skills to communicate well is a key part of emotional intelligence. Good communication and problem solving takes practice and can be particularly challenging in times of high stress and anxiety. However, the benefits of clear and open communication in high stress situations pay off as you and your team bring solutions to the table with speed and efficiency.

When it comes to B2B customer service and handling critical support issues, speed and efficiency are essential. With a conscious effort to improve your communication skills, use the help of this outline to reduce stress, drama, and frustration when things go wrong. Happy troubleshooting, solution finding, and communicating!

What are You Doing to Deal with Stress?

By Rachael Needham, Head of Delivery Management

A key to good relations with our (yours and mine) clients is dealing with stress. When we’re negatively stressed or stressed out, we are less likely to be friendly, come up with creative solutions, or handle difficult situations well.

There is lots of great information about stress and handling it, so this is just a little reminder and snapshot of stress and handling it. Let’s take a look!

1. Is stress good or bad?

It’s both. There is stress that gets you up and going, which is good. However, bad stress is distress. It impacts you physically as well as mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and just about any another “ally” you can think of.

2. The physical impact of stress

Stress sets off inflammation in the body, stomachaches, headaches, and a long list of other issues. The biggest cause of inflammation in the body is from stress. The physical impacts can lead to illness, fatigue, brain fog, etc. And what happens when we have physical issues?

3. The psychological impact of stress

What affects us physically affects us psychologically, and vice versa. Studies show that just one night of poor sleep impacts our reaction time while driving and our decision making. Negative stress will have a knock-on effect as we work with colleagues and clients. Negative stress can sneak up on us, and begin impacting our decisions, words, and interactions, which can cause smaller issues to become escalations. Escalations create more stress and may draw others into negative stress, compounding issues by triggering stress motivated reactions.

4. Simple Solutions

There are lots of solutions for dealing with stress. Sometimes the smallest changes to your regular routine can have a major impact. Which of these things could you start doing for yourself?

  • Go to bed 30 minutes early a few nights a week
  • Walk barefoot in the grass once a week / month
  • Bounce on an exercise ball / on a trampoline / in place for 5-15 minutes a day
  • Stop looking at your phone / watching TV an hour before going to bed
  • Take a pharmaceutical grade, bio-available, quality nutritional
  • Eat a fresh salad / avocado twice a week (or an additional time if you’re already great about consuming veggies)
  • Chat with a trusted friend or co-worker
  • Take two 15-minute breaks a week to breathe / pray / meditate
  • Read a book on personal development / techniques to handle stress
  • Meet with a therapist
  • Watch a funny video that will make you laugh out loud

stress less

If you’re dealing with high negative stress and feel like it’s more than you can handle, please reach out to a doctor or professional counselor who is willing to look at both your physical and mental health.

 

Here’s to a great life ahead as you pursue stress-free health and supporting customers and clients from a place of wellbeing!