Detection: Weapon of stress-free call centers in the Philippines

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Call center representatives often experience stress at work, commonly resulting from having to contend with difficult customers, and the challenges of passing performance metrics, among many other factors. Open Access BPO takes a closer look at stress and how it affects both productivity in the production floor and the company's service quality.

Call center agents meet different stressors every day as they interact with customers, co-workers, and their supervisors. In a fast-paced environment where the demand to consistently provide topnotch customer support is constant, agents from call centers in the Philippines are pressured to fulfill their roles and meet the imposed standards. This pressure is heightened by the need to exceed expected performance metrics and the possible scrutiny and criticism from leaders.

These sources of stress can lead to decrease in productivity, low career satisfaction, and health detriments among agents. Ultimately, all of these can have effects on the call center operations. When the well-being of agents is affected, the call center may have inefficient customer service representatives that can, in turn, affect the bottom line of the outsourcing client.

What is stress?

Stress is a normal response of the human body to events that can potentially alter one's physiological balance. It's the body's way of responding to signs of danger whether they're real or imagined. Stressors can also be felt internally (expectations and fear) or externally (high job demands and poor work conditions).

Stress can either be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) depending on the amount of time a person is exposed to his or her stressor and the time needed to cope with it. The duration and intensity of a stressor can have varying effects on different people. Stress is therefore a complex but unique experience that varies from one person to another.

Detecting stress among agents

Call center managers must realize that the stress experienced by every agent is multifaceted and personalized.

Signs indicating that one is undergoing stress can be hard to detect. Since signs of stress are unique for each person, it's important for call center managers to know all of the possible indicators.

•   Cognitive–    poor memory, confusion, poor judgment, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, racing thoughts, and pessimism or constant worrying

•   Physical–    sweating, low energy or exhaustion, headaches, indigestion or stomach upset, body pains especially on the back and neck, tremors, dry mouth, and nausea

•   Emotional–    agitation, irritability, frustration, depression, anxiety, feeling of worthlessness, and mood swings

•   Behavioral–    changes in eating behavior, insomnia, procrastination, substance abuse, nervous behavior (nail biting, stuttering, and fidgeting), and isolation of oneself

It's essential for call center managers to be aware of these stress signs and constantly check if some agents are manifesting them. Once stress is detected, it's easier for managers to identify the sources of stress and make the necessary changes to help their agents. By combating stress within the call center, agents can become more efficient in delivering customer service, which is essential in making your call center successful.