Call center positions are mentally and emotionally draining, but the true challenge is using your voice 40 or more hours every week without sounding hoarse or exhausted. Many call centers will bring up vocal issues in training or as they arise, but often they aren't even addressed. It is important to have an understanding of your speaking voice to prevent vocal fatigue and in order to be understood when serving clients over the phone.
Remember to Breathe
Many call centers determine bonuses and rate performance based on speed. Be careful not to speak too quickly: instead of saving yourself time, you will be forced to repeat yourself if the customer feels rushed or if he can't make out what you are saying. You may feel as if you are speaking slowly in order to be clear, but a relaxed and slower speaking pace will actually save your time and your voice in the long run.
The "Neutral" Accent
Having an accent may hinder your performance in a call center. You may be asked to clarify or repeat things several times more than someone having no accent. Many customers already use cell phones as their main line of communication, and the reception may already be unclear.
Look to broadcast news reporters for examples, as most have been trained to have what is called a "neutral" accent, or an absence of any accent. Some call center training centers even have accent neutralization courses, and it would be advantageous to participate if your accent is getting in the way of your success. Patience and practice makes perfect.
Speak in a range that is comfortable, because speaking in a range that is unnatural will lead to vocal fatigue. If your voice lies in a higher-pitched range (this applies to most women and some men), you may be asked to lower your voice in certain situations. Collections and sticky customer service situations may require you to be firm with the client, and lowering the voice denotes authority. Be careful to use this trick sparingly in order to avoid vocal fatigue.
Tone and Inflection
Speak in a tone that involves the listener. Choosing the right tone will make your customer feel important. Remember, you can't smile and wave at someone over the phone. If you sound as if your smiling and happy to please the customer, it will make a world of difference.
Inflections will also help you better serve your customer. Have you ever tried to follow a conversation with someone speaking in a boring monotone? It's difficult. Emphasizing certain words will help the listener understand what you are trying to convey.
Stay Hydrated and Be Responsible
You will be using your voice intensively for eight hours a day and sometimes even more if you pick up overtime. If you're a smoker or a drinker, be sure to drink plenty of water to combat the drying effects. The last thing you want is to sound hoarse on the phone. Also, certain medications and caffeine are also desiccants (they dry out your voice).
Keep in mind that if you're at a concert screaming the night before work and you lose your voice, you may have to take a sick day! You are responsible for the care of your voice.
- Photo Credit callcenter image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com
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