Call centre agents work best when they have support from customers as well as management which is why customer services representatives should never hesitate in asking for help if needed (we all fail occasionally). Trying too hard with no results only makes things worse but with these tips in mind below, there are ways that agents can help manage their call centre stress levels.
How does call centre stress affect mental health?
In a call centre, stress is prevalent and can be a burden to mental health. Call centre agents are often bombarded by angry customers, rushed with work deadlines and expected to answer complex questions on the spot. It’s no wonder that many of them suffer from anxiety or depression as a result and here are some factors that can contribute towards that:
Deadlines with unhappy customers can be difficult for anyone on a normal day but with agents having to deal with a high volume of calls each day, this could be detrimental to the morale of a call centre agent as they’ll often be on the receiving end of a lot of abuse and frustration from a customer.
Lack of training and resources
Going into extremely busy periods with a lack of training or availability of resources for assistance can definitely be daunting for call centre agents, leaving them to feel underwhelmed and stressed, thus ultimately negatively affecting the customer’s experience.
While agents might have a script to work from, not having assistance from tools such as call scripting software will prove to be very troublesome.
Lack of engagement due to repetitiveness
Doing the same thing frequently can be tiresome for some people, particularly call centre agents. With the repetitive nature of answering customer calls all day and performing the same tasks consistently, agents can then feel deprived of their happiness in the role and be disengaged with their duties, thus leading to high staff turnover in companies because of the lack of creativity there can be in the role as a call centre agent.
How to manage mental health at call centres
- Distract yourself. Call centre agents need to be able to pay attention and think on their feet. If you find your mind wandering, play a game with some co-workers or listen to music during lulls in the action (and if possible, try not to do this when customers are waiting).
- Keep up an exercise routine. Whether it’s running at lunchtime or going for hikes over the weekends. Exercise is a proven stress reliever that will help keep those call centre stresses under control; it’s such a simple and easy aspect to adhere to and wouldn’t be too costly either.
- Long rest periods. Get enough sleep so you’re well-rested and ready for work every day of the week. Call centres typically run Monday through Friday from around 8pm–5am, but there may be overtime.
- Take up meditation. Call centre agents need to be able to think on their feet and pay close attention to what the customer is saying and which queries they want to be resolved. Meditation can help reduce anxiety and stress, as well as improve concentration levels.
- Ask your boss how best to handle overly demanding customers. Customers should never be made into enemies, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement in some areas. If certain clients are consistently causing problems then tell them politely that things will go faster if they meet you halfway. Call centre agents work best when they have the right customer support to keep those call centre stresses under control.
- Keep a track of your thoughts and feelings. When we’re stressed, the tendency is to ignore our emotions. Take some time out every day to sit down and think about how you feel and call for help when you need it. Don’t try dealing with stress on your own; call friends or family members or even seek professional help if needed.
- Set realistic goals and deadlines. Unrealistic expectations will only add to the pressure that’s already there, making things worse in general. Call centre agents are already under enough pressure to deal with a high volume of calls and maintain a high-performance standard that sees first call resolution improved, so it’s important that agents are honest with themselves and set out to achieve what they can do so in a day.
Call centre agents have a very important role to play in ensuring customer satisfaction is at its highest. Call centres need agents that are going to be able to manage stress and mental health well so as not to affect their performance or the customers’ experience when calling into the call centre for assistance.
There needs to be a focus on proper training, resources available for them and ways to manage stress levels. Call centres need agents who are invested in their own wellbeing so as they can help customers more effectively, thus improving the overall customer experience and satisfaction.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.
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