Coping When You Get Slammed

Mug-clubber Starbucker had a great question that he raised in a comment on a recent post:

[Do you have] any "coping" strategies for managers who just know their agents are
going to get slammed but still need to keep the quality high (and not
sacrifice it to quantity)?

His question is a common one, and an important one. Unfortunately, in all my years working with call centers, I’ve yet to find a ‘magic bullet’. If there was, I’d be in the magic bullet business making a fortune. Nevertheless, Starbucker’s question is right at the heart of what makes QA so important.

CSRs often ask, "Isn’t this nit-picky? Who cares if I said ‘please’ or used the customer’s name?"

The customer cares – and it’s when you’re getting slammed, calls are stacked in queue, and you’re taking one call after another that it matters most. The difference between a mediocre customer experience and a quality customer experience is a number of little things that are done and done well – and don’t add significant time to the call. When done correctly, QA helps agents develop behavioral habits that become 2nd nature. When things get stressful, they continue to do them out of habit.

A couple of thoughts:

  • Have a disciplined QA process that trains agents to consistently handle calls with courtesy and friendliness. When the going gets rough, you can trust them to do what they were trained to do.
  • Stay focused on the long-term, big picture. You’re going to get slammed as sure as the tide will come in. You’ll get through it and then you’ll get slammed again. Capable leaders train their supervisory staff to handle the daily battles so that they can focus on how to win the war.
  • If you can’t give ’em a break, give ’em a smile or a laugh. I watched one call center manager put on a silly outfit and walk around the call floor during a stressful time. The laughter and smiles it produced was a much needed psychological "rest" for the CSRs. Send a mass e-mail with a simple joke in it. Do something just a little crazy to give your font-line something to laugh about.

Any call center managers have other thoughts and suggestions? Post a comment and share with us!

Flickr photo courtesy of My Sweetheart the Drunk

4 thoughts on “Coping When You Get Slammed

  1. Tips For the Times You Get Slammed

    If youre a call center manager, Tom Vander Well of QAQnA has some good tips on how to deal with getting slammed: Have a disciplined QA process that trains agents to consistently handle calls with courtesy and friendliness. When the…

  2. Thanks Tom for taking this one on – your advice is excellent (as usual!). To your third bullet, we knew we were going to have a tough day on the day after Labor Day so our supervisors donned aprons and cooked and delivered lunch to our agents (since we cut back their lunch times). All the best!

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