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Managing call center stress: Three stress management training courses for agents

How can we help our call center agents deal with the emotional strain of the calls they are taking so that they can still handle each one with the appropriate amount of empathy and professionalism? In back to back calls, our agents might speak to a parent who is crying because they have lost their child and then a caller who is irate because they haven't received a check. By the end of the day our agents are often an emotional wreck. Is there anything we can do to help them handle call center stress?

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Call center stress is very common, and the role of a call center agent is undoubtedly a highly stressful one. Call center agents are required to meet stringent productivity and quality standards, handle increasingly high call volumes, and satisfy a multitude of angry or frustrated callers. As if that weren't pressure enough, they must meet all of these requirements in real time and within the structured confines of the call center, where they are often tightly regulated by scripts, policies and procedures. Agent stress is a significant contributor to poor performance, burnout, low job satisfaction, absenteeism and call center agent attrition.

Call center agents require stress management training to equip them with techniques to defuse the tension of emotional calls and take control of conversations with confidence, proficiency and empathy. Three companies specifically address managing call center stress, each with a unique approach:

The Stress Clinic offers various stress management programs which address inbound and outbound call handling.

Ulysses Learning offers simulation-based eLearning courses to help agents learn complex customer service skills in a safe, simulated environment. These courses also provide them with a strategy for handling emotional calls.

HeartMath offers training in conjunction with biofeedback technology to modify the stress reaction before, during and after difficult calls, while applying new communication skills to the interaction.

For more information on how to help call center agents express empathy when handling sensitive customer situations, please refer to these Q&As:


This was first published in September 2008

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