Holidays can be stressful in any occupation, but for those of us who work in customer service roles, the season of joy can be especially trying.
If you're in one of these roles, and particularly if you have to deal with people via telephone, you may find that customers are even more obnoxious, unreasonable or just rude than they would be at other times of the year, or in person under the same circumstances.
Customer service management types like to say you should empathize with the customer; apologize profusely even when they are wrong, or are arguing for the sake of arguing and they know the call is being recorded so you are "stuck", or even when the customer is being, well, an 'asshole'. Actually, empathy doesn't always work (and if you're not an asshole yourself, it's difficult to empathize with one). In my own experience, customers can become even more obnoxious if you play the doormat. When they perceive you as being weak and overly apologetic, they become even more aggressive and demanding; and you in turn exert more energy, which induces more stress.
By keeping a professional, upbeat, but matter of fact and neutral tone you may be able to allay the unnecessary and unwarranted stress caused by overbearing customers. If your tone is neutral, and you punctuate your interaction with strategic moments of silence, the customer is less likely to read "impatience" or annoyance or some other imaginary emotion in your voice.
And if you have ever been one of those obnoxious customers on the phone, consider this. Most customer service professionals are just that---professional and intelligent (and yes, they may be as well or better educated than you are). They also care about the service they provide and sincerely want to resolve your issue. Being respectful or at least civil doesn't require much effort on your part; and may engage your customer service person to provide a better resolution to your problem.
Anybody out there with a customer service survival tip--whether you're a customer or the customer service person--I'd love to hear from you!