One of the distinctions between an average employee from an excellent one is the ability to perform well under pressure. It is both a personal and professional quality that serves as an asset for any employee.

How so?

In a work context, working well under pressure means dealing with constraints that are often beyond a person’s control. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Resource and time limitations
  • The intricacies of the job
  • Lack of knowledge to complete a task
  • Sudden changes in the work environment and process
  • Conflict with colleagues at work
  • Demands by clients

When employees encounter any of these challenges, they may either rise to the challenge or panic and become inefficient.

Call center jobs are notorious for their high turnover rate. Other factors common in the workplace involve absenteeism, burnout, and emotional exhaustion. Still, offshoring is considered vital for businesses, most especially during the pandemic.

A call center or customer support role can be a fulfilling career. Not only does it offer an attractive benefits package; a support role allows one to help clients solve problems and issues. The job also entails assisting customers, despite the agents having feelings of pressure or stress.

In this article, our very own Nina Afable and Marigold Hernandez share their insights on encountering pressure in the customer support field. Nina serves as a team lead for one of our campaigns, and Marigold is one of her team members. The ladies also discussed ways to stay creative in providing efficient customer service despite work stress. 

Common factors causes of stress on customer support agents

According to Nina and Marigold, here are some of the common pain points a call center agent experiences in times of pressure:

  • “I am not good enough.”

“I tend to feel pressure when I think that I am ineffective. Sometimes, I tell myself that I should have done better during a previous transaction,” Marigold shares. Call center agents are expected to deliver high-quality results. Usually, when they fail to assist a customer effectively or fall short of expectations, they tend to feel like a failure.

  • “Will I meet the targets?”

“I often feel pressured when I commit mistakes,” Marigold explains. As customer support representatives, they need to hit Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics each month, which serve as benchmarks to hitting client goals and monitoring their progress. Non-performing team members are asked to go through coaching when they fail to meet specific targets.

  • “I’m being watched.”

Monitoring and coaching sessions help agents improve and learn from their mistakes. However, the feeling of being scrutinized constantly can cause performance anxiety. It makes them nervous when they are continually monitored more than others. Also, this allows them to assume that they are underperforming. 

  • “I’m having a bad day.”

Harvard Business School professor and author Linda Hill said that one of the tests all bosses face is managing an employee who is going through tough times. In reality, the line between personal and professional matters becomes blurred—especially nowadays, since most of us work from home. As much as possible, boundaries must be set in place between the personal and the professional. Certain situations, such as a family emergency or a personal problem, can and will affect how a person works.

Sometimes, we fail to see a coworker’s current state because we miss to read between the lines. The tell-tale signs can be obvious; others can be more subtle and indirect. It takes a certain type of keenness to look beyond what is said and assess the situation at hand.

4 Super Ways Customer Support can Stay Creative Under Pressure

How pressure affects a team in providing customer support

Negative pressure and stress often lead to negative results. Furthermore, these outcomes inadvertently affect everyone in the team and the quality of the service they provide.

Here are the effects of stress on customer support services.

  • Being more prone to errors. A person’s mental capacity does not function at its best under stress. They are more prone to making mistakes. Sometimes, they also fail to identify their errors even if they double-check their work. 
  • Frustration. Pressure can lead to frustration. There are times when agents take this out on customers by being impolite or indifferent, resulting in a poor customer experience. 
  • Lack of enthusiasm. When work becomes the source of stress, employees may become detached from their job. Worse, a lack of enthusiasm has a way of spreading throughout the entire team, lowering their overall morale. 
  • Absenteeism. Unquestionably, absenteeism is inconvenient for business. Other team members end up dividing the load among themselves, resulting in an increased amount of pressure on each employee. Individual productivity is affected as a result. “Agents who cannot handle the stress or the challenges at work retreat by being absent and even (go) AWOL (absent without official leave),” Nina stated.

Recognizing how stress affects customer support operations can be a game-changer. Team leaders and the overall organization can develop ways to prevent the damages that stress could cause on their people and business.

Four creative ways on how to overcome the pressure

Although it is necessary to overcome stress at work, it does not have to be strenuous. Nina and Marigold share how they handle the pressure in creative ways: 

  • Create a fun culture. Huddles should not be all about reports and memos. It can also be fun and interactive. 

Start the shift with getting-to-know questions to break the ice or any animosity. Engage the team in simple contests that can be done through video calls or via email. Also, prepare some prizes like sweets or vouchers to heighten the excitement.

  • Appreciate. It can be tiresome for employees to always be called out for their mistakes. Nina advised that one way to spread the good vibes and motivate the team is through appreciation. “If they excel in something, I prepare encouraging messages on sticky notes placed on their workstation. It is one way to say that they did a good job—something to pat their back and make them know their efforts are appreciated.” 
  • Empathize. Being empathetic does not only apply to customers. In your team, create a culture of showing compassion to coworkers. Nina encourages team leaders to empathize with their team members. Consider and acknowledge their personal feelings and problems, and offer support as needed.

Marigold agreed and shared that the staff appreciates it when their leaders understand where they are. “Putting yourself into their shoes means you are doing it not only because it is your job, but you are willing to help them. Let them know that you understand the situation and provide the best options for resolving the problem.”

  • Celebrate improvements over mistakes. In any job, learning is a continuous process. A team leader and an agent must understand that every error encountered is an opportunity to be better. “Coaching is not about pointing out their mistakes. I have to let them understand what went wrong and how they can do it better. So, we are both learning. We are digging into why we encounter the mistake and what can be the solution moving forward,” Nina shares. In this way, growth opportunities are highlighted—not the agent’s mistakes.

Working under pressure can really be overwhelming. By being creative in handling stress at work, one can turn a difficulty into an opportunity to grow. Marigold says, “Every day, I always expect that there will be challenges. There’s nothing wrong with that because it helps me prepare my state of mind and emotions for what’s to come.” 

Meet the Superteam

Pressure or stress is inevitable in working at a call center. However, it can be handled well with the right support and practices implemented in your team or company.

Stress can be minimized in creative and fun ways, even within the work setting. These approaches will not only help build morale or increase productivity among staff members; it will also help the team provide the best service to their clients and customers.

Do you want a team that has this kind of SUPER way of handling stressful situations?
Book a consultation now

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