Did you know that 28 percent of call centre voices sound strained, tired, and lack tonality for quality engagement? This affects daily performance at work. Believe it or not, call centre issues such as high turnover in staff retention, absenteeism, duty of care concerns and quality customer service are all due to lack of professional voice awareness when speaking.
“To prolong the quality of the speaking voice and reduce voice injuries, all call agents and especially new starters, should receive vocal training”
In a recent study employees from 14 call centres in the UK and Ireland were interviewed for 10 minutes on the phone. The study aimed to assess the organisation’s communication and training needs. Of the 598 call agents who took part in the study, 28 percent reported voice misuse and vocal impact.
“The only reason to master this technique is to be sure the body does not interfere with the soul’s free expression.”La Meri
The call agents reported various types of voice misuse, including:
1. Difficulty talking against background noise (60 per cent)
2. Coughing or clearing the throat (43 per cent)
3. The voice sounding creaky and dry (43 per cent)
4. Failure to be heard when talking on the telephone (41 per cent)
5. Finding it an effort or tiring to speak on the telephone (38 per cent).
Some 20 percent indicated that they would like further information or training to improve their vocal performance at work and also indicated that their voice quality had an impact on their performance at work.
Improvement of voice training topics should include:
- Awareness of vocal health
- Tone of voice for woman and men
- Pitch of voice for monotone or screeching voice and expression
- listening skills, not interrupting speaking
- Speaking too fast or slow
- Voice projection or softening
- Cognitive issues affecting the voice tone
- Voice control to match and mirror the tone of customers
My Experience As Team Leader At Telstra Mobile-net Contact Centre.
For 7 years I worked as a team leader at Telstra Mobile-net Melbourne, where I managed consultants who worked on taking incoming calls. My role was to manage and focus the quality of call intake such as call duration and quantities. Wellbeing was certainly not first on the list of my duties. Statistics came first and staff wellbeing was second.
Over this time I noticed that staff would experience voice fatigue, strain and pain. They were struggling and under pressure to maintain the standards required and this was effecting their moral at work and staff were leaving. Even though over 90% of the work staff conducted required the use of their voice, management placed no emphasis on wellbeing or education and awareness on voice control and intelligence.
In particular, I would notice that within 6 weeks of a new induction, there was a loss of enthusiasm and energy in the voice of new staff and it became more evident that the repetitive use of voice, particularly in the use of scripts, was causing distraction, avoidance of taking calls and absenteeism.
Since then, over the past 20 years, I have been working as a voice coach and human behaviour expert. I am curious how cognitive behaviour effects voice tone. I blend voice technique and human behaviour to achieved a powerful influential speaking voice.
I believe that there three critical aspects that impact the voice quality when speaking. I have authored a best seller book in seven categories called “The art of powerful communication” aligning the mindset, message and voice for influential communication. Download you two free chapters here.
When we are aware of the vocal tone of staff, then only can we ask staff to respond to the voice of the customer.
From my experience I believe the human voice is the organ of the soul and if we require our staff to use their voice in the workplace, they must believe in what they say and they must want to connect with who they speak with. For this to happen staff must be treated the same as they are to treat your customers. Staff must put customer needs first and in the same way the personal needs of staff such as their voices must be taken care of so they can express the speaking effortlessly and energetically.
A voice that is out of balance, will end up with issues that effects speaking, beyond the workplace and into the personal life. When you look after the wellbeing of your staff, help their voice feel strong and healthy, they will build stronger relationships with your customers and want to be at work with enthusiasm.
Duty of care
Occupational safety and health on voice care
There should be an emphasis on preventing, rather than treating, voice problems among call agents. The level of risk of voice disorders among staff needs to be measured.
Managers of working voices in call centres have a duty of care for daily occupational voice demands.
There is a need for awareness and understanding of how to use the voice in sustainable ways. In addition, occupational safety and health policies on voice care should be established and reviewed regularly.
Call centre workers use their voice for prolonged periods, creating significant demands on their voices, thus increasing their risk of occupational voice disorders. 7.5 million people report they have a husky, pain or strained voice. Musculoskeletal problems caused by muscle tension in the larynx, increases the risk of occupational voice disorders.
1 Voice Tip - Voice Warmups and Breathing
Staff must know how to avoid vocal strain such as forcing the voice and not breathing from the diaphragm. The voice must resonate freely and treated as an acoustic instrument. Regular vocal warmups entail doing sirens and lip rill starting at the lower register to higher register of the voice. This will help increase voice quality and volume and eliminate husky and fatigued speaking.
Increase staff satisfaction and moral
Psychosocial health and medical health are both clearly associated with physiological speaking and voice problems. When this happens staff feel apathy towards their work and this creates low energy in the voice volume and tone. When staff use low energy in their voice everyday this causes resistance that will result in vocal strain and huskiness. When staff don’t have a healthy voice, this effects their personal voice, they bring their voice back into their homes and it effects communication at home with family and friends.
Voice injuries such as swelling and huskiness makes you want to have time away from speaking and this results taking time off work.
There is a clear need for vocal health to be included in the health and safety policy of call centres, and for initiatives and strategies to reduce absenteeism among call agents. Get the research here.
Managers of call centres must raise voice awareness for your staff and reduce absenteeism. Voice technique is necessary to understand how to physically use the voice effortlessly for prolonged periods of time.
2 Voice Tip - Throat Strengthening exercises
Strengthening voice exercise for an expanded balanced pitch is necessary so that workers can access a variety of expression when speaking to customers. When a voice feels strong you can speak for longer period of time and you can vary the volume with choice. The voice has more stamina, has more natural volume and is not fatigued. These exercises are useful when repeated daily for 5mins.
Excellent Customer Service
Relationship building with customers.
Your staff lack confidence and credibility when they struggle to speak clearly and energetically and this breaks trust with our customers. Those who depend on speaking for a livelihood must harness the voice to maximise the ability to engage and communicate successfully with clients.
Voice quality includes all the elements of tone which include, variety, clarity, richness, pleasantness, and emotional connection. Unconsciously we produce many layers of expression embedded in the tone of our voice revealing our souls to others. Clients and audiences want a voice that not only informs them but makes listening enjoyable and memorable and inspirational.
Your voice must have the ability to change so that you don’t bore others. We listen better when a voice is not boring such as monotone or when its painful like a high pitched screech. Just like you have a variety of clothing apparels styled for different events and engagements, you could have this with the way you speak and the vocal tones you use. With greater vocal awareness you can use different speaking tonal approaches when responding to enquiries, matching the tonal style of the customer.
3Voice Tip - Vowels for Clarity and accent reduction.
Tight tongue,clinched jaw and strong accents effects how you are heard in communication. How you use your mouth when pronouncing words, effects how your audible voice sounds. Every word carries syllables and this carries a sound. Being aware of how to better and clearly pronounce the sounds (vowels) you make can help you speak better, be understood quicker and effortlessly engage with customers.
Thank you for reading this post.
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