No doubt, call centre agents do go through a lot of stress attending to customers. The level of stress is compounded when dealing with high customer expectations and requests. Truth be told, the major function of call centres is to satisfy their customers, and attend to every query; in essence, overall customer satisfaction must be a priority.
But, it should not be all about customers alone; call centres need to pay attention to their agents’ wellbeing as well. The wellbeing of call centre agents should not be of less importance in connection with customer satisfaction, therefore, managing stress at call centres should make the priority lists of call centres. Why then do we hold that agents’ wellbeing is not any less important at call centres?
Why should call centres prioritize the wellbeing and overall health of their agents?
Due to the volume of work, queries and customers to be attended to, call centres are known for their notorious workload on their agents or employees. The resulting workload usually culminates in stress on the agents, and eventual health crises. The affected agents would then have to be replaced as their health condition cannot carry on with such strenuous work. According to statistics from the Office of National Statistics, customer service workers like call centre agents and others are twice as likely to call in sick as the average employee.
The constant change of call centre agents due to poor stress management and the resulting health crises eventually leads to strain on the management and glitches in service. The overall stability of service is affected due to the constant change as new employees need some time to get acclimatised with the nature of the particular agent work.
Financially, as well, call centres are affected. There are some financial costs call centres have to pay when employing new agents. Most especially in the training of these new agents, money is spent to put training kits, equipment and other logistics in place.
You can imagine the finances and operational instability it would cost most call centres when having to deal with health crises in their agents. The only way to avoid this is effective stress management. Call centre management should make it a priority to put more focus on enhancing the wellbeing of their agents. When proper stress management infrastructures are put in place, the probability of call centre workers falling sick would reduce, they will be glad about their work, and a resulting increase in productivity and quality of work follows. All these would, in turn, culminate in a profitable and successful call centre.
The importance of stress management and paying attention to employee well-being in call centres cannot be overemphasised. Poor stress management and enormous workload eventually lead to poor service, if not eventual service breakdown.
Having established why it is important to take proper note of agents’ wellbeing and factor in their stress management, let’s see some ways by which this can be done in call centres.
Practical ways to manage call centre agents’ stress and preserve their overall wellbeing.
This is one step that people feel is too superficial and very unnecessary. But, it is very important and effective in managing stress. As a call centre, you should pay attention to the build of your workstation; seats especially. You should go for seats with an ergonomic build. What are we saying here? This simply means seats that make sitting on them very comfortable. Comfortability is very important, especially with work such as a call centre agent that inhibits stress. Ergonomic spaces enhance productivity as they reduce the probability of getting tired easily.
Active promotion of worker wellbeing
There should always be an awareness that worker wellbeing is not any less important. Call centre management can employ the NHS five ways of well-being:
- Connect with other people
- Be physically active
- Learn new skills
- Give to others
- Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
Call centres should embed these five points into their administrative processes, and make it more of work culture.
Keep Good Interpersonal Relationships
Little did many know that good interpersonal relationships with their workers go a long way in increasing productivity and overall work quality. Call centre agents go through a lot of stress as we have previously established. Call centre management can help them manage such stress by having a good interpersonal relationship with them. This would include checking up on them(agents) to see how they are doing, motivating them with gracious words, sending resilience messages, and other uplifting acts. Though, these acts do not in themselves reduce stress, but, they help the agents to improve their mental health. Such positive motivations and courtesy calls help to mentally balance them, and put them in the right frame of mind.
Incentives are a good way to motivate your workers and relieve them of work stress. The same is true with call centre agents. A good way to help your workers keep the right frame of mind is to give them incentives. These may be in form of gifts, certain allowances, among others. Incentives are a good motivation to work, and a potent means of shaping the cognitive mind to reduce stress.
Other ways to manage call centre worker stress include organizing fun games, reducing background noise to enhance ease of comprehension of what a customer is saying, promoting collaborative efforts, and others.
One thing is certain, call centres can never go wrong with prioritizing worker welfare and well-being alongside that of customers. To preserve work productivity and quality, agent welfare should not be neglected.