Here’s a (completely scientific) fact for you: Happy Operators Take Better Calls. Content answering service operators mean happier customers, and better customer service. This is something of a no-brainer for call-center veterans. We know the drill, but sometimes…

All it takes is one phone call

Every operator in every in-bound call-center has a story to tell about That One Call. Sometimes it’s silly and leaves us giggling, but other times it’s the call that sends us home in tears. It ruined our entire day.  It’s the call we try to let go of so we can focus on other calls, but it sits in the back of our head like a tumor.

I can empathize with that. Been there, took that call, got the t-shirt, etc.

I’m not here to vent though. If you’re a call-center operator, you know. But how do you deal with That One Call in a way that won’t bring down the rest of your day?

Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

#1. Remember: What you do is important.

We are not doctors, nurses, lawyers, or engineers. We ensure that doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, funeral homes, HVAC technicians, and electricians (I can go on, but you get the idea) can do their jobs without being overwhelmed. After hours, during the weekend, when the house floods or someone comes down with the flu, we are the people who take those calls.

We are the reason callers get to talk to a real person instead of a machine. The value of that cannot be overstated. Talking to another empathetic and understanding human being, who can make sure their information gets to the right person; helps alleviate whatever crisis is going on in our callers’ lives. We can’t snap our fingers and fix things, but we can put solutions into motion.

On the flip side: we are the reason our clients can have time to themselves. Many calls don’t involve emergencies at all. Someone needs to make an appointment the next day. Others are just checking in and don’t require a call back as soon as possible. We take non-urgent messages, send them along, and allow our clients to get back to their callers on their own time (say, after dinner). Again, the unspoken value is immeasurable.

What you do matters. Don’t let anyone ever convince you otherwise.

#2. People are people

The best thing to remember is that your caller is a person. Even if they’re yelling, or swearing, or just cranky because the office is closed and they didn’t manage to call in time, they’re just a person. Right now, they’re a person with a problem. Chances are good that they’re not angry at you (cold comfort in the heat of the moment, I know). Part of the job no one ever likes to mention is being a front line target. It happens. What to do:

Take a deep breath.

Apologize and take ownership of the issue (even if it’s not your fault).

More deep breaths.

Take a message. You will probably have to apologize again.


Answer the next call.

#3. Remember to take care of you

Putting a bad call out of your mind is easier said than done. Leaving your emotions at the door (which isn’t encouraged) is even harder (especially since I don’t encourage it). You can’t take care of your callers if you can’t take care of yourself.

Easier said than done when tied to a desk by the headset, but here are some ideas:

1.       Take your headset off during downtimes: Reduces pressure on your ears and probably helps keep headaches at bay.

2.       Stand up: You don’t have to walk away from your desk, but just standing up during a lull in call volume will help get blood flowing again, which can help you feel better.

3.       Take your breaks: Getting up and walking away, even if you just go to the bathroom, puts distance between you and a bad call.

4.       Drink lots of water: Staying hydrated has a lot of benefits, including keeping your energy level up.

5.       Remember that sometimes things really are out of your hands:  You can’t fix everything, even if the caller wants you to and it’s okay to admit that—but if you do, assure the caller that you will be contacting someone who can fix their problem. That’s usually all any caller wants: to know that someone understands their needs and that someone will be fixing whatever the issue is.

When you get home after work, take a long shower, drink some tea, read a book, watch your favorite show, go out with friends—do whatever it is you enjoy doing. Vent to your cat (or dog, bird, lizard, wall, etc) if you need to, but try not to dwell. The more you ruminate on a bad experience, the more upset you will get.

Enjoy your time off. Take care of you. Don’t let That One Call win.