The cause for stress in the call center seems obvious and yet very little is done about it. Either naivety, ignorance or plain voracity keeps form useful changes from happening. Recent studies reveal that 83% of call center agents are highly stressed with their job. Over my 20 plus years of consulting call centers all over the world, I witness common challenges that contribute to the stress level of the front-line agent in particular. By the way, studies also back the fact that billions of dollars are lost each year in revenues directly contributed to stress in the work place. So many call center executives complain that their call center is a “cost center” not realizing that they can do something about it by addressing my 5 common factors why the stress exists in the first place. I will share the top 5 starting with the least and working up to the number one reason. For the sake of this article, I will need to be concise. I can share deeper detail if you care to contact me or look up videos and webinars on our website.
Number 5, is somewhat broad because I encompass two major components to make up this factor, which is CULTURE. By culture I refer to Leadership and Facility. It is said that an employee doesn’t leave because of the company, they leave because of the leader. Especially in the call center space, leadership is at an all time low. If you are a leader, don’t feel bad about that – do something about it, but make sure you are not included among the weak and inefficient. I have been fortunate to tour many call center facilities and many are well designed promote a productive environment, while others are sloppy and trashy with no intention of investing to improve. Think about the added productivity and reduced turnover that a well thought out culture will bring to your business.
Number 4, is SYSTEMS. Systems include technologies and processes. There is a fine balance between what should be automated and what must be left to the human touch. When it comes to technology in the call center, I see so many incompatibilities between systems and a frustrated flow of processes that prohibits the representative from accomplishing their job. So little thought is given to the holistic concept of how to implement technology and how it will effect the work flow and not hinder it.
Number 3, is MULTI-TASKING. The more you ask an entry level agent to do the less effective your call center operation will be. I see so often the boundaries being pushed by asking the front-line agent to do more with less because of budgets constraints and lack of operational skill from the leadership. No doubt, there are a lot of moving parts to a call center and keeping up with customer satisfaction can be a monumental task in and of it’s self. Asking your team to be expert in a few things will take you much further than being sloppy at many. Think about it.
Number 2, is SAYING THE RIGHT THING. Between the written script, quality assurance, legal disclosures, speech analytics, net promoter score, and the host of other K.P.I’s, it’s a wonder call center agents can hold a conversation at all. This is not to mention taking off the proverbial amateur hat and putting on the professional speaking hat when at work. A well spoken call center agent for me are few and far between. So little attention is given to appropriate speech and if call center leadership doesn’t address it soon, it will be their demise. Poor customer conversation is tolerated when we tolerate poor customer conversation. To tolerate sloppy conversation will no longer be accepted and the trend is to engage in compelling conversation live-voice to live-voice. A virtual solution is NOT ACCEPTABLE, more on that another time. Speak as one with intelligence and authority is the objective. When a representative is not saying the right thing and doesn’t get capable guidance they will shrivel and die emotionally.
Number 1, is RANDOM CONVERSATIONS. I get this time and time again from just about every call center I have ever worked with. The most stressful factor is not knowing who you are going to draw on the phone. Will it be a nice person or a mean person? For most front-line agents, the anticipation of what type of person you will be speaking with has more to do with their mood than anything. Needing to be flexible and on the spot with how to deal with a particular situation along with meeting the demands of the employer can cause (in some cases) deep emotional strain.
The good news, is that there is a remedy and strategy to overcome these barriers that down trodden call center operations. Working in a call center can be a most rewarding experience and produce many times more “wins” than losses. I love helping call center operation find the answers to these challenges and overcoming them to become prosperous and successful. Contact me if you wish to learn more about how you can turn your call center or career around.