Do Your Agents Pass the Stress Test?

Imagine for a moment you’re on the line with a taxing customer; at the same time you’re in the midst of searching for an answer for another caller all while your call queue is steadily building. There are so many tasks at hand you simply don’t know where to begin or how to prioritize. Sound stressful? This is a day in the life of the average contact center agent—it’s not exactly a piece of cake.

In fact, according to ICMI research 87 percent of contact center leaders acknowledge that their agents experience a moderate to high level of stress during the work day. As such, supervisors must make a priority of coaching their employees on how to handle daily stress. After all, when anyone is put under excessive pressure without escape they’re bound to fly off the handle. But, for contact center agents, bundling up their anxiety until they burst can result in serious repercussions and damage your organization’s quality of customer care.

For example, 65 percent of 1,000 consumers surveyed in a recent Parature report said they have cut ties with a business due to just one poor customer care interaction. So imagine the consequences that a strained and frustrated agent could produce for your contact center—increased customer churn, decreased ROI or detrimental reviews.

In order to sidestep stress straight from the beginning supervisors should train their agents how to manage a stressful phone call in the moment. Here are a few tips managers can pass on to their agents:

  • Make more connections: If you want to have a pleasant customer interaction, put forth a pleasant attitude. Express your understanding for the customer’s complaint or concern and then go the extra mile to initiate a real conversation, whether it’s about the weather or last night’s ball game. All too often, consumers forget the agent on the other end of the line is a human being—remind them of this and you may see a change in their attitude. And as a result, you can turn what started out as an anxiety-ridden phone call into an agreeable conversation, at the very least.
  • Do your homework: Ensure that you are extensively educated about the brands you’ll be representing on the phone. A difficult request will only become that much more impossible to handle if you aren’t well-informed on even the most niche facts about the business you’re handling. Simply put, a well prepared agent is a content agent.

Supervisors must ensure agents can pass the “stress test” before they go live on the phones, because even when stress levels mount it’s your quality of customer care will that will shine through and ultimately set your brand apart.

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.