The start of a new year is a great time to assess what’s going on with your professional life. Are you giving it your very best? Are you being a good employee and teammate? Are you growing professionally and are you happy? We all could benefit from some honest self-reflection and some fine tuning of our work habits and attitudes. If you’re a service agent, I know it’s hard to find time for this, especially this time of year. But you are important and spending a little extra time on yourself can have a high payback.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Treat every customer interaction like it’s a job interview. Think about your previous job interviews. You wanted to impress the interviewer, right? You probably dressed neatly, sat up straight, did some research about the company in advance, rehearsed what you would say about your qualifications for the job and overall tried to put your best foot forward.

Do that with your customers. Try to impress the heck out of them. Be the person they would want to hire. You do that by sounding professional, being knowledgable and technically competent, owning the issue, convincing the customer that you genuinely care and making their problem go away.

2. Start treating your job like a career. People choose to be service agents for different reasons. Some are in it for the long haul and some are just temporarily passing through. Whatever your end game is, you should strive to be the very best you can be in your current situation.

Successful people invest their own time to improve themselves. Sometimes they hone skills that are specific to their careers and sometimes they focus on becoming more well-rounded as a person. A simple but effective way to do this is to read.

There are plenty of websites, blogs and articles about the call center industry and customer experience. Just spending 30 minutes a week reading articles and blogs will make you more informed about your current industry and give you some ideas about how to be more effective at your job. And if you’re looking for a resource to help you be a more well-rounded person, Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is an oldie but a goodie. What he says about sharpening the saw is especially thought provoking.

3. Be the boss of your attitude. Call center work can be stressful, especially if you’re working the customer service lines. Solving people’s problems all day can wear on you, especially if those people aren’t happy and take it out on you. It’s easy to go home cranky and wake up the next day with a negative mindset. That attitude can start to seep into the tone you use with customers and it can take its toll on your well-being.

Poet Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” That’s right. You have control over your own attitude. Isn’t that an empowering concept? Try it and see what happens. If you need some pointers, try this site.

What do you think? Is 2018 going to be a year of personal and professional improvement? It’s all up to you and hopefully these ideas will get you started.

Happy new year!