You’ve landed your first work-at-home customer service job. Congrats. Now, it’s time to get ready for the big day. Here’s how to prepare for your first customer-service shift.
Make the Most of Your Development
Development is an important part of your first customer service job because it’s truly designed to teach you the ins and outs of what you’ll be doing. During development, you’ll learn about the company, about the role you’ll be serving and about the types of issues and problems that come up in customer calls.
This is your absolute best opportunity to get all of your questions answered. Ask yourself how you might handle every situation that gets presented. Could you answer all the questions? If not, keep reviewing your educational materials and even consider doing some role-playing with a friend.
Don’t just do the bare minimum to get by and then move on with your day. This time is meant to truly prepare you for the job, so make the most of it. Ask questions, do some imaginary role-playing and get to know some of your colleagues. You won’t regret it.
Make a New Friend at Work
If you don’t already know anyone in the job you’re starting, the best thing you can do is to reach out and befriend a person. You might have a good opportunity to do this during development. You also may need to keep an eye out for interesting individuals as you start onboarding with your team.
A great place to form relationships with other agents is through the company’s online forum and discussion groups. You also can find people to connect with during your team meetings. For example, Working Solutions hosts regional agent meetings that are a great opportunity to meet your colleagues in person. Listen out for the people who seem most invested, who have been doing this for a while and who have great input or ask solid questions.
Once you’ve identified someone you’d like to connect with, go ahead and connect. Introduce yourself and include something about how you’re about to begin your first shift and are hoping to meet colleagues. Make it clear you don’t intend to become a major time-suck to anyone. Point out you simply want to get to know a few colleagues on an individual basis and ask for input every now and then.
Having someone you can go to with your questions, insecurities and stories can calm your nerves and make you feel more prepared. Plus, when you already know some of your colleagues, you’ll feel like you belong there, even if you haven’t had your first shift yet. Your supervisor might be able to introduce you to a few solid team members.
Notice the People “Around” You
A great way to get ready for your first customer service job is to pay attention to the customer service experiences going on around you and in your own life.
- What do you like about your interactions with customer service reps?
- What are the things (good or bad) that really stand out to you?
- What types of actions do these reps take that are particularly helpful?
- What’s frustrating or upsetting?
Make note of the things that work and the things that definitely don’t work. Then, think about how you might be able to use that experience in your own new job. The problems you solve may be vastly different, but you can learn a lot about having the right attitude and taking a positive, effective approach, no matter what.
Review Your Education Materials Regularly
Just because you passed an exam during development doesn’t mean you’re done with that information. Keep reviewing what you’ve covered so that it stays top-of-mind and will be easier to recall during your first shift—and all the shifts that follow. The more familiar you are with this information, the more quickly you’ll be able to find answers and solutions.
Don’t let that material get forgotten. You learned it in the first place because you’ll need it.
Get Your Workspace Ready
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you need to take full stock of your workspace and make any necessary changes before you begin. You’ve probably done your homework there already and know
what works and what doesn’t. So go ahead and fix things up.
Your chair needs to be comfortable. Your keyboard and monitor need to be at the right height. Keep a blanket or sweater within easy reach for the times when you get a little chilly. And make sure there’s a fresh water supply nearby, even if it’s just the kitchen. Those are the basics, but what about the extras?
Have within view inspirational artwork or some photos of people and places that make you happy and remind you why you’re doing this job in the first place. I love to have pictures of my loved ones smiling at me all through my working hours.
Starting Your Shift Strong
Today’s the day. There are a few little things you can do to to make your first day spectacular. These are some good recommendations to get started:
- Have some water handy. A big glass of water will go a long way toward keeping your voice strong.
- Get a good meal. A well-balanced meal will help you stay energized and keep your focus sharp. Make sure you get some protein—it takes longer to digest, which means you won’t be distracted by hunger signals in an hour or two.
- Have a favorite snack on hand. What better reward is there than your favorite thing to munch on?
- Put on real clothes. One of the perks of working from home is that you could theoretically work in your pajamas and kiss your professional wardrobe goodbye. I’m not suggesting you suit up or put on a full face of makeup every day. Looking nice, wearing clean clothes and even putting on a pair of shoes has the surprising effect of increasing your confidence, however. Combined, they go a long way when you’re starting a new job. Every bit helps.
- Breathe. You’ve prepared as much as you can. Now it’s go-time. You’ve totally got this.
These are my very best tips for preparing for your first work-at-home customer service shift. What do you wish you’d known before you started your first gig?
Angie Nelson has worked from home since 2007, when she took the future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today, she shares her passion for making money from home on her blog The Work at Home Wife