Tuesday, March 25

Overcoming Call Center Stress

By Roberto Bacasong
Company Writer
Call Center in the Philippines
Unique Interaction

Working in a call center environment can be hurled with so much stress. Call center agents worldwide especially in the Philippines mostly complain this manic behavior which they encounter from their customers. If you ever worked in any call center, stress is always on top of their concerns on how to handle it on a daily basis. Customers, especially the Americans are very hard to deal with. They often display their rudeness to the agents, and unfortunately, racism is typically high.

According to the web, stress is defined as: constraining force or influence: as a: a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part; especially : the intensity of this mutual force commonly expressed in pounds per square inch b: the deformation caused in a body by such a force c: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation d: a state resulting from a stress; especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium (job-related stress).

In another simple definition, stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside world. Common stress reactions include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, and a variety of physical symptoms that include headache and a fast heartbeat.

Many of us are suffering from stress. This can be triggered with a lot of factors in which our job related activity is one of the many causes of this psychological behavior. Call center agents both inbound and outbound services will encounter a lot of insulting comments from their customers. The agents are also berated and questioned their incapacity to give technical solutions demanded by the irate clients. Not contented, the foreign customers will say: "You Filipinos fu**!!", or, "You Filipinos suck!" This is the reality in the call center and beyond. Though call center employees in the Philippines are receiving attractive benefits, they are bombarded with heavy psychological problems especially stress.

The greater number of unhappy customers that the agents may receive in their 8-hour working period is considered stressful to them. Why? The agents may get tired of taking calls of thinking that the next customer might also have the same scenario with their previous customers.

Interestingly, stress can be given immediate attention in order not to make the situation worst. Many call center companies offer various solution to relieve their agents from stress caused by their angry customers. Facilities like fitness clinic, yoga, sporting room, entertainment room, and massages can help agents overcome stress.

In addition, there are certain reminders to the customer service people to fight stress in order not to affect their job. Handling stress properly can bring progress and change in the landscape of the outsourcing industry in the Philippines. The following tips can help you avoid stress:

* Smile and be happy.
* Don't take the bad comments personal.
* Don't involve in an argument.
* Try to fix the problem of the customers.
* Understand the root of the issue

Smile and be happy

Though you can't see the expression of your customers because of the basis of telephoning system, giving your best smile and happy with the job you have can help you make a difference. Call centers agents are trained to practice their good values and proper phone etiquette especially when talking to the customers. Greet them politely, and listen attentively to their concerns.

Don't take the bad comments personal

Although customers may sometime attack you too much, remember that they are disappointed to the products and not with you. The customers may need someone to fix the problem because they don't have the chance to speak in a face-to-face conversation. Most of them have been waiting on the line for almost 30 minutes to one hour which pissed them off. They may throw unnecessary words on you, but as soon as you help them, the situation will change from rough conversation to friendly approach. Being a call center agent, always have the patient in understanding the characteristics of each of the customers they encounter.

Don't involve in an argument

Never enter in an argument with your customer. Avoid giving your personal opinion telling your customers that they've done wrong many times. This will not help solve the customers' problem; instead this may be the start of having a bad argument which might affect the credentials of the agents. The customers may feel that they are ignorant because of the inappropriate and unfriendly approach. Always think of better response when talking to the customers all the time.

Try to fix the problem of the customers

It is better that when the agents listen to the problem of the customers. The agents must always ready to troubleshoot any inquiry that the customers ask. However, if the agents have a hard time in fixing the problem, they can ask their team leaders or their supervisors for the solution. But before doing that, the agents should ask permission to put them on hold for quick seconds. We are not perfect; we may have the skills in oral communication which needed in call center industry but lack of technical experience in other approaches. Many contact centers set up a separate department that specializes in troubleshooting. When the agents told the customers to call them back make sure that they need to do it in order to avoid disappointment from the customers.

Understand the root of the issue

Understanding the root of the issue will answer the problem of the customers. Don't be over reacted when the customers expressed their rudeness to the agents. Again, they are not directly mad at the agents but to the product itself. Let the customers talk and relay all the problems to the agents. In return, the agents should listen to it and take down some of the vital points related to the issue. The agent may politely say: "I empathize with you Sir. Don't worry 'coz I can help you fixing the problem..." Giving the hope that the problem will be fixed right away can avoid difficulty in arising the stressful situation.

These are few of the friendly tips that may help call center agents overcoming stress in their job. Call center is a unique industry giving a promising career to people worldwide.*

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