If you have ever stepped into a call center, you will notice that human beings are attached to computers and machines like slaves. It is sort of like the Chinatown analagy where indentured servants are chained to a stove cooking kung-pao chicken all day long. How depressing — but, easy on the pao please!
The air in call centers isn’t so fresh, and there is noise and stress from nearby work stations. People work like sardines with tiny desks stacked next to each other. Bathroom breaks are not so easy to get either. On top of that you have to deal with irate clients on a regular basis and deal with annoying situations like credit cards that have been turned off, computers that won’t turn on, etc. It just seems like pure hell. No wonder the attrition rate is so high.
The problem is that big call center managers aren’t very creative people. I think they would benefit from reading my blog as well since I offer creative solutions to not so creative problems. If people live in slave-like conditions, how can they possibly stay on the job for more than four months or show compassion? The answer is they can’t. And the solution is to solve all of the hellish conditions one demon at a time.
1. Bathroom breaks
Call center agents should have a more flexible shift where they can take bathroom breaks whenever they like so long as they login the hours they were away from their post (AKA login how long the ball was away from the chain.)
2. Snooze breaks
Nothing beats a good snooze. You feel so much better afterwards. But, should your boss determine when you snooze, or your body? Your body has different needs on different days, so having a six and a half minute snooze at 3pm every Thursday might not be the solution. The freedom of choosing when to snooze is half the victory. There should also be snooze rooms where you can get a comfortable place to lie down in a quiet environment, perhaps with water sounds.
I have a heart problem, so air is particularly critical to me. But, normal humans don’t feel good when they are around bad air. It makes more sense to be in a forest or near the beach to get clean air. And call centers have the freedom to be where they like.
4. Mean managers
Call centers can have certain managers who specialize in metrics, and analysis, and others who specialize in interacting with the workers in a way that doesn’t rub anyone the wrong way. “Your metrics are down 10% today Jose! But, I’m sure you’ll get the calls per hour metric back up, won’t you? — no pressure!”
5. Mean clients
If you figure out who the mean clients are and funnel them to someone who is better able to deal with them, your other agents won’t quit so often. Just one mean client per day can set off call center agents who I know!
6. Task shuffling
If you do call work all day long that can drive a person crazy. It is better to mix it up with data entry, writing, or some other task. It might be harder to find people who can do a good job on more than one task, but it would keep them around more. Being on the phone more than four hours a day in the long run drives me crazy which is why I limit my personal call work to 20 hours a week no matter what!
7. Stressful environment
It is obvious that a call center is the most stressful environment known to man-kind (or Manila-kind as the case may be.) To counteract that stress, why not have a call center in the most de-stressing environment like a beach. Instead of a huge office, why not have high-tech huts on an abandoned beach somewhere. You get clean air, relaxation, and a great environment. Agents could live in units near work and walk to work. And if they quit, they could go back to the city or wherever else they want. Doing the same thing in a forest or prairie makes equal sense.
It is much easier to show compassion if you have suffered in your past. But, being in an unbearable environment doesn’t enhance your ability to be kind to others. That is why a good environment, and a good system of taking breaks and dealing with others is imperative!