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How to Prevent Your Communicators From Choking Under Pressure

When there is a lot at stake, many professionals, including athletes, singers, and politicians, may face the fear of choking under pressure. Whether it’s your Olympic career, your record deal or your candidacy on the line, it becomes difficult to perform at your highest potential when the stress is insurmountable.

In the same vein, Communicators in the contact center space regularly face this challenge, as they are continuously put in high stress situations. After all, often times consumers dial into your customer care hotline because they are experiencing an issue with a product or service and need quick answers to their questions. And because each customer care interaction is unique due to the caller’s dilemma, personality and urgency, Communicators must be prepared to respond in a calm, professional manner despite the current circumstances.

What’s more, when a Communicator is already feeling the pressure rising during a particularly difficult situation, holding his or her focus can become even more challenging when outside distractions are added to the mix. For instance, many contact centers employ advanced software that helps Communicators understand information about their caller’s transactional history, personal information and demographics. However, handling a complicated phone call and absorbing the information that’s being constantly updated on the computer screen can result in an overwhelming moment.

Contact center supervisors must ensure they are doing all that they can train their employees on how to deal with stressful situations on-the-fly. After all, the interaction is happening in real-time so the ability to think on your feet is paramount to a Communicators success.

Here are a few tips to help Communicators develop quicker reflexes and stronger in-the-moment problem solving skills:

  • Role play: Pair experienced Communicators or supervisors with colleagues who are struggling and conduct mock customer care interactions. Practice dealing with unusual situations, unpleasant callers as well as handling multiple tasks at once with the goal of remaining calm and present.
  • Provide stress management: Coach your Communicators how to manage anxiety when they are overwhelmed. Oftentimes, the best remedies for stress come from outside improvements—like attitude or health and wellness. Additionally, provide continuous support and guidance on how keep calm during an overwhelming situation. For instance, listen intently rather than speak over the customer in a frantic attempt to handle the problem.

When you can help your Communicators improve their quality of customer best practices, they can gain the confidence they need to deliver superior results, even in the most trying situations.

Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry, including the ATA’s highest honor, the prestigious Fulcrum Award.

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