Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, but fear and anxiety about a disease like the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be overwhelming and invoke a variety of strong emotions.
Global events like a pandemic can increase stress levels in the call center and, as a call center agent, you can be setting yourself on the dangerous path to a fast burnout if you allow for workplace stress to accumulate.
You’ll find the following cheat sheet very useful when handling calls from customers who need your help. It provides simple techniques that are a great starting point for every call center agent looking for effective ways to cope with stress and increase performance, productivity and effectiveness.
As a call center agent, it can be easy to obsess over that one call that went wrong or to worry about a meeting later in the day. Thinking about the past or worrying about the future can significantly increase stress. Fight this by focusing on the present.
Take a small break, walk outside and engage your five senses. Notice any sound and smell, study a leaf or a tree as if you were looking at it for the first time. When you spend time in the moment focusing on your five senses, you’ll end up feeling less tense and ready to work.
When you feel stress is getting the best of you, shift your focus onto things that make you happy. Take a minute to write out a list of some of the things you are grateful for and make sure you include things about your job. Maybe you are grateful for your supportive colleagues, or maybe you’re grateful to work from home. Whatever it is, take some time to write it down and reflect on it. That cognitive shift may be all it takes to get you back to your A-game.
4×4 breathing is a simple and effective deep breathing technique that helps to counter the effects of stress. It is something that call center agents can do every day to help buffer themselves from the detrimental impact of stress and help lower their physiological arousal after a particularly tough call.
Take a few minutes throughout the day to practice 4×4 breathing. First, close your eyes and sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale out your mouth for four seconds and wait for four seconds. Then repeat this four times. 4×4 breathing is a simple technique that you can use at any time throughout the day and will have a huge impact on your ability to effectively manage stress.
Listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, reduce your heart rate and decrease anxiety. While you are performing after call work, or during your break time, turn on some classical music to reduce your experience of stress. A little relaxation can go a long way.
As a call center agent, sometimes the last thing you want to do is talk more than you have to. However, this can be a fatal mistake when it comes to managing stress. After a tough call, set up a quick virtual meeting with colleagues and talk it out. Most likely, just discussing it is cathartic enough that you’ll feel better. Sometimes your colleagues will take it to the next level and help give you a new perspective on the issue (e.g., “That customer called last week about the same issue”), much needed support or reassurance. This peer support can go a long way to decreasing your stress and will help put that tough call behind you.
Laughing is a natural way to lower the stress hormone cortisol and increase endorphins which improves your mood. When you need a good pick me up, put on your favorite funny YouTube videos, look at a funny quote or read some funny jokes. Just a few seconds can have a huge impact on your experience of stress and get you ready for the next call.
Exercise is another quick fix to increase blood flow and oxygen to your brain which decreases your experience of stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block at lunch, go up and down a few flights of stairs on break, or stretch it out with head rolls and shoulder shrugs at your desk. All can be a quick way to help you reduce the amount of stress you experience while working.
Working as a call center agent is a stressful job, but you don’t have to let stress take a toll on your performance. By employing the right strategies you can effectively manage how you experience and handle stress. Many of the aforementioned techniques don’t take a lot of time or effort, but can have a huge impact. Give them a go and see how you can benefit!
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