ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Fostering Emotional Resilience in Your Contact Center

Working in a contact center is notoriously taxing on employees’ emotional wellbeing. Difficult calls can derail workflow and take a serious toll on your staff’s well-being. As a manager or business leader, you must offer support and have a procedure in place to help employees deal with a challenging call. Resiliency can help employees handle disgruntled complaints, and a culture of efficiency can help them move through the sales funnel quickly.

You can only achieve a culture of emotional resilience and efficiency if you have laid the proper groundwork. Your staff needs to know that they will receive support when a call goes badly. Supporting your staff looks different depending on the context of your business. However, almost all contact center staff will need emotional and mental-wellness support at some time.

Contact center staff receive up to 10 hostile encounters every day and suffer from above-average workplace stress, absenteeism, burnout, and depression. Recognizing the harmful impact that work stress can have on your employees is the first step toward a more efficient, resilient culture. Actively supporting your staff’s mental health can improve retention and productivity in your workplace.

You can better support employees who handle nasty calls by setting up a pre-established procedure to help support staff mental health. This procedure should start with a judgment-free, open-door policy. Everyone responds differently to bad calls, and your staff shouldn’t feel as though they have to justify themselves before asking for an unscheduled break or help from management. Staff should know that their well-being is always a priority — even if the queue is backed up and behind schedule.

Understanding Culture

Culture is a largely misunderstood concept amongst many business leaders. Your workplace culture is not solely comprised of the motivational phrases you hang up around the office or the slogan underneath your business’s sign. Work culture refers to the behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs that you and your employees have about the business. Seen in this light, culture is a shared responsibility rather than a top-down directive from management and HR. This means you can’t have complete control over culture, but can work to promote resilient attitudes and efficient behaviors in the workplace.

Resilience and Efficiency Training

Most contact center staff receive basic training in customer relationship management and product knowledge. However, many contact centers leave it up to employees to figure out the most efficient way to navigate disruptive calls. This can lead to poor customer care, as representatives will almost always prioritize their sales targets over interpersonal relations and rapport with dead-end customers.

As a leader, you should train employees to navigate rude or rambling calls with firm but polite transitions toward conversions or the end of the call. There are a few ways to achieve this, but you might consider:

  • A phrase that pushes the lead toward the sale with a “yes/no” outcome;
  • Editing the sales script to include polite ways to end calls that turn sour;
  • Give staff the ability to forward/end calls that have become abusive in any way;
  • Promote and practice formal debriefs after calls that went awry.

Training your employees to become more resilient and giving them official pathways to follow will promote trust on your call floor and help employees navigate tricky calls more efficiently.

You should find time to practice these steps in a controlled, trusting environment. Have folks who are onboarding go through mock calls that don’t go to plan, and let them know you are not testing them — you just want to give them room to practice their resiliency and efficiency before they get on the phones.

It’s worth noting that, in the heat of the moment, your employees may struggle to remember their resilience and efficiency training. If this occurs, you can help them remember your training with stickers and decals in their sightline. Ideally, these graphics should mimic your overall marketing message with a few key phrases that are customized to your brand and training initiatives.

Culture is a vital part of any contact center’s success. As a leader, you can help instill a culture of resilience and efficiency by reassuring your staff that their mental well-being is a priority to your company. You can start by maintaining a no-judgment, open-door policy for any employees that want to debrief after a rough call. This sets the groundwork for a resilient culture and ensures that your people will trust the business and follow training principles properly.