Maintaining Sanity In A Call Center

Imagine a time where you put the phone down after a difficult call. Maybe someone just beat you up a little bit, or perhaps you just got an earful over something completely out of your control. Now, consider what your next interaction was like. Odds are the negative call had a less-than-positive impact on your next interaction.

Thrive (Arianna Huffington’s company) loves to solve problems like this. Looking at the behavior of call center employees, they wrote a fairly simple machine learning algorithm to identify when someone just had a difficult call. Instead of plunging that person straight back into the call queue, the algorithm makes sure the employee next receives a “Thrive” call.

Go back to the difficult moment you thought of. Odds are you did some self-talk and brushed yourself off, before starting back up – but sometimes we do a better job of this than others. Imagine what would have happened if your phone rang and someone else – a voice from outside of your head – reminded you to relax, stand up and stretch, and think about a few things that are important to you. Research shows it takes less than sixty seconds for us get our brains to breathe. When we do, it measurably improves our performance in the next activity. When we consider the compounding costs of repeat poor interactions, this can be a difference-making simple observation. It’s both more productive for the call-center, and more mentally productive for the individual- and this is far from a call center only problem.

While it’s only a very slight nudge, hearing Arianna explain it to Reid Hoffman was a powerful reminder of how important it is to take a moment to reset after a negative event. Likewise, if we see someone else in need of a reset, we can help them to do the same as well. Getting our own Thrive call is still likely some way off, but being aware of the difference a reflective pause can make can help improve the experience of ourselves and our co-workers. All it takes is a little awareness of the science behind it.

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