Imagine my astonishment when the training department received multiple requests to assist with phone anxiety in a contact center. Times have changed. We have a generation of colleagues that prefer text messaging over phone calls and communicate in that channel for most things. You can order food, schedule doctor appointments, confirm appointments, speak with your family and friends, and more via text. There isn’t a need to make a phone call EVER.
Speaking to strangers in this strange new channel has become a cause of anxiety. Some of our colleagues have reported an inability to answer calls due to fear and anxious thoughts. I needed to find a solution that could be implemented on the floor without harming our service levels or quality scores. An article that I had recently read from Lilli Powell, Professor, Darden School of Business, The ABCs of Mindful Interactions, came to mind. Her mindful interactions process was easily adapted for customer interactions proving that any activity can be done with mindfulness.
It is commonly thought that those who meditate hope to stop all thoughts and rest their minds in thoughtless peace. Thoughts happen. It is what we choose to do with them that matters. Returning to your breath when fear or anxiety begins to rise allows the feelings to move through you. Impossible? Not according to thousands of years of meditative practice.
Andy Puddicombe from Headspace teaches the practice of noting; a meditative practice that teaches folks how to note their thoughts and feelings that distract them while refraining from analyzing or placing judgement. Attempting to note all of your thoughts will become overwhelming. To put it simply, if it’s a thought, label it as thinking. If it’s a physical sensation, label it as feeling.
Dealing with thoughts and feelings is how mindfulness meditation works. When you notice that you are distracted by thoughts or feelings, note the emotion, whether it’s nervous, anxious, or fearful without analysis or judgement. Then gently bring your attention back to the object of your meditation (your breath). This is how to relate differently to distractions and increase your ability to focus and concentrate.
Before you answer a contact (chat, email, phone), transition into present moment awareness to fully “arrive.” Adjust your posture to be alert yet relaxed. Relax into your sitting posture with a few deep breaths.
After a few seconds of awareness of body, bring your attention to your natural breathing process.
Once you’ve arrived, take stock of your breath. Keep in mind that inhaling brings you oxygen into the body, so if you need energy, breathe in deeply. Likewise, exhaling ejects carbon dioxide, so if you need to relax breathe out deeply.
You can use very soft mental labels to guide and sustain attention to the breath. “Rising/falling” for the abdomen and “in/out” for the nostrils. Let the breath breathe itself without control, direction, or force. Feel each breath from within the breath, not from the head. Feel the full breath cycle from the beginning through the middle to the end.
Answer the contact (chat, email, phone) and begin to shift from your stress response to one of curiosity and service. As emotions arise like nervousness, fear, or anxiety, simply note, “I am feeling nervous,” without evaluating whether it’s good or bad. Just notice that the nervousness is present. Refocus on the object of your meditation (your breath) and continue to serve the customer from a place of curiosity and service.
Remember, when an interaction meets some sort of resistance, either from your feelings, the customer’s behavior, or something external like a time crunch, it’s difficult to stay connected to your intentions, the other person, and the moment. Our instincts may narrow our focus for self-preservation. Take a moment to recenter in an alert-yet-relaxed posture and grounded curiosity breathing.
Repeat with each contact.
At the beginning of this article, the anxiety around answering phone calls and a preference for texting may have led you to believe that I was specifically speaking about the millennial generation. In reality, I’ve found that contact center professionals of all ages experience anxiety in their pressure-filled roles.
Practicing mindfulness before, during, and after each interaction puts you in a much better position to recognize the anxiety as a feeling and not let it control you. Like any new practice, this might take a few extra moments at first, but as you practice and form a habit, you’ll find that you naturally flow into your next customer interaction without delay.
Publish Date: October 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Accordia Solution CIS
Accordia Solution is an innovative developer of seamlessly integrated cost-effective omnichannel Contact Center Solutions specifically targeted at the micro, small and medium operations.Our core business model involves the development and marketing of IP Telephony and IP Contact Center Solutions. We also strive to develop customer interaction solutions which include contact center and customer relationship management (CRM) that enhances Customer Experience Of The Future (CEOTF) and optimizes agent productivity.
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Omnichannel contact center platform which can be deployed on-premise, private cloud or public cloud subscription. Our contact center provides all of the modern features expected in a full contact center solution. Includes voice, SMS, chat, email, and social media integration. Built-in integrations for all major CRM's (Plus a built-in CRM). Survey module and QA module are also available.
Alvaria Cloud is the only enterprise cloud contact center solution that allows you to adopt best-of-breed Customer Experience (CX) and Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) applications modularly. Start with one or more applications and then add applications with ease when ready for additional capabilities, as your needs change. With the Alvaria Cloud Platform, you have the advantage of knowing that all provisioning, security, user management and other administrative tasks are already configured and in place.
Noble Contact Center
Noble offers a modern communications platform for optimizing all customer interaction. Put Noble’s unified platform to work for you — building performance and productivity, improving the quality and effectiveness of customer contacts, and reducing costs. With the critical software technologies that contact centres need most, our solutions provide seamless integration to existing corporate environments, reduce your learning curve and protect your technology investments.
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Genesis is the latest advancement in Amtelco’s long line of call center solutions. This call center technology is entirely software-based and virtualized, with cloud-based capability. Genesis provides skills-based automatic call distribution (ACD), built-in speech recognition, text-to-speech (TTS), and voice services to improve call routing and management.
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INBOX allows any digital interaction to be blended into single or multiple queues with zero service interruption with implementation. Organising them by business context with smart tagging and search filters, the events can be automatically prioritised and categorised. Automating the route to the correct agent or business orchestration rule. It also connects with all your social media channels, enabling you to respond and route accordingly in real-time. Customer sentiment is also indicated. Use it to measure trends across your business or by a single event so that your agents can easily prioritise responses.
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Cloud contact software that makes customer contact pain free, so your team aren’t worrying about complex technology and can focus on what they do best. Take control, and design the perfect agent interface with a drag-n-drop visual editor. Combined with AI, leverage data-driven contact strategies to ensure the right agent is contacting your customers at the right time & on the right channel.
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Convoso is the #1 dialer software for outbound lead gen/sales-related contact centers. Our cloud-based omnichannel solution solves the biggest frustrations call centers have with their dialer, including:
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