Customer Service & IT Support Leaders: Do You Hear the Envy?

For decades, leaders have heard the same outcry from customer service, call center, and technical support teams: “We have to treat the customers well even when they are yelling at us. Why do they get treated better than they treat us?”

Service and support leaders, managers, and team leads ask me: “Kate, how do we counter that?  Beyond our efforts to treat team members well, what’s the answer to this endless outcry?”

It depends on what you think the team members seek. If you hear it as an outcry for equality and fairness, you might be tempted to say “because they are the customers” or the old standard “the customer is always right.” Your reply affirms that it is not an equal relationship.

Well fairness and equality may be part of what customer service and tech support teams want. Everyone deserves to be treated with basic human respect and most organizations do not tolerate true verbal abuse on either side.

Customer Service & Tech Support Leaders: Do You Hear the Envy?

Nonetheless, the outcry continues.

I can assure you, after 23 years of training these wonderful teams, that the other part of the outcry is envy. 

It’s understandable how agents, reps, analysts, and associates could envy the customers’ privilege of:

  1. Showing anger and dissatisfaction; they can’t.
  2. Receiving help; they give it and often don’t get help from other teams.
  3. Participating in industry conferences; they rarely see the light of day.
  4. Attending training for professional growth; they have limited access.
  5. Having time to work projects completely; they are expected to perform well while simultaneously clearing the queue.
  6. Working a regular schedule with holidays and weekends off; they often work shifts or are on-call.
  7. Being respected and valued; few top leaders recognize service and support as vital to the organization.

Leaders, The Impact of Envy in Customer Service
The risk and impact of this envy is worthy of your attention.

  • Unchecked envy emphasizes the feelings of unworthiness and diverts valuable focus.
  • It stops teams from consistently delivering the ultimate in customer service. If their heads and hearts don’t love being in service, they won’t.
  • It impacts the teamwork critical to delivering outstanding service.
  • Unaddressed envy can fuel high staff turnover. Some turnover is healthy for service teams. High levels are a warning sign of a service organization in trouble.

Understanding this has given many leaders the chance to cultivate a non-envy culture that inspires and delivers service greatness.
Through workshops, we have helped the front line managers, supervisors, team leads, and staff to replace envy of customers’ privileges with pride in:

  • Breadth of knowledge
  • Continuous learning through experience
  • Great ease and style in working with people — valuable and not everyone has this prowess
  • Multi-tasking and ability to work under pressure
  • Professional skill of being empathetic and objective — many doctors don’t even have this
  • Inspiring yourself and others to excellence

To build and sustain a non-envy service culture, help service team members discover a sense of fulfillment. Fulfillment squelches envy whether it comes from their family life, years of work experience, inner peace, gratitude for having a job, comparison to previous jobs, or a tremendous high from reaching results in the face of adversity. Important note: I rarely hear the cry of envy from service team members who are fulfilled in other ways.

Successful leaders feed fulfillment:

  1. Show appreciation and recognition for service team’s work.
  2. Help them build a positive service team identity.
  3. Work with your peer leaders of non-customer facing teams to build the cross teamwork for shared success and recognition.
  4. Declare your vision of team greatness and ask them for their insight on how to achieve it. Asking engages them to pride of ownership.

  5. Offer training to develop their professional skills. Budget for temps to cover service demands while service team members present a case study of their achievements at an industry conference.

Face team problems, like envy, stress, and morale, and your teams will achieve success.

I look forward to helping you take your customer service and tech support teams from inspiration to action.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Leaders, 12 Worthy Kudos to Spark Employee Engagement
The Ultimate Customer Experience – Challenge of Excellence (video with sound)

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please first email for terms of use. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on customer service, customer experience, teamwork, and leading change. For 23 years, she has turned interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer testimonials and results.

4 Responses to “Customer Service & IT Support Leaders: Do You Hear the Envy?”

  1. Martina says:

    The behavior of the leaders set the tone for the rest of team or organization. In the situations that you have described, if the IT team is approached as valuable individuals, who make a significant contribution to the funtioning and success of the team, and they are included in the celebration of team “wins”, then a lot of the envy and discordance will disappear.
    This is true for any divers sections or teams within an organization.
    Good post, Kate.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I love the way you summarize it Martina — celebration of team wins reduces the envy and discordance.

      So glad that you add your insight to these posts. You have a great way of capsulizing key points!

      Regards and thanks,

  2. Khalid says:


    I second Martina’s comment.

    It’s all to do with perception of the employees. If they perceive what they do as positive then it will be 🙂


  3. Anne Egros says:

    As a parent if your child is being bullied you step in right ? so as a manager if you don’t listen and ask question to understand the real needs your employees have, it can only get worse until you pay real attention to their pain and empower them to give you solutions to fulfill their needs. Great post and love the pictures !

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