A vocation for customer service



Work stress can lead to psychological health problems. In customer service fields, one of the principle causes of stress lies in the emotional charge arising from the need to continuously provide service with a smile. Michel Cossette, a researcher in the Department of Human Resources Management at HEC Montréal, surveyed 450 employees and managers in three organizations to evaluate the strategies used by employees to cope with this requirement.

Some employees express authentic positive emotions while serving customers, while others simulate them.

The results showed that some employees express authentic positive emotions while serving customers, while others simulate them. The first group showed better work performance and mental health than the second. The best choice of strategy to adopt depends both on the individual and the employer. Employees who truly value customer service are more likely to display positive emotions.

Work organization also plays a crucial role in emotional expression. For example, employees with greater autonomy, less routine tasks and who are able to develop their skills are more likely to show positive emotions. It would therefore appear that workplace well-being and effectiveness go hand in hand. To ensure good customer service performance, a company would be well advised to hire people with a real vocation for this type of task and organize their work in a way that makes it stimulating.

Michel Cossette's work illustrates a variable that is rarely studied in his field: the expression of authentic positive emotions. It is also helping businesses to better understand the impact of recruitment and the work environment on the psychological health and performance of their employees.