Call center agents communicate mostly by phone, thus using their voice on a regular basis and for long periods. Being frequent voice users, however, expose them to greater risks of voice problems. As a matter of fact, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Research Committee found out in a study that:
Too much voice misuse and abuse increase the risk of occupational voice disorders. If this persists, one’s voice may deteriorate and, at worst, cease to exist.
This is surely a nightmare to professional voice users because this means losing their source of income as well. Before it happens, call center agents should know the proper ways of taking care of their voice.
Offshore call center agents are often exposed to activities or situations that can negatively affect their voice. In a normal call center setting, they continuously talk for five hours or more. However, only two hours of continuous voice use is the maximum time allowable. Going beyond that given amount of time will cause a person’s vocal mechanism to get strained and tensed.
However, non-stop speaking is not the only cause of voice problems. There are also other factors that affect an agent’s vocal chords.
Call center offices usually have a low temperature. Like any muscle, a person’s vocal folds become tense when exposed to cold. This causes the throat to feel dry.
Call center agents also experience a lot of stress from some of their clients. The stress, compounded with vocal overuse, will increase the level of strain and tension within the vocal mechanism. A person under stress tends to exert more effort for vocal production which is obviously not a good practice.
Some of the qualities of a good representative, at times, have negative implications in the voice.
A motivated call center agent can talk for long periods without rest in order to achieve his or her quota. There are times that he or she needs to make his or her voice some pitch higher so the client could hear him or her well. If that agent wants to emphasize his or her authority over the subject matter that he or she is discussing with the client, he or she may even speak in a stentorian manner (i.e., loud and powerful). While these things can bring an agent closer to success — or promotion — these can also take its toll on their vocal chords.
Chronic irritation caused by smoking and excessive alcohol intake can also cause voice hoarseness. Smoking, in particular, can cause throat or mouth cancer. It can irritate the vocal cords and cause the throat to swell. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause a chemical irritation of the larynx. If it continues to persist, it can produce a change in the voice that is similar to those seen in smokers.
Not getting enough rest or sleep can also affect the voice. As a person’s whole body feels fatigued or tired, so does his or her vocal mechanism. As a result, the larynx is compromised and makes it prone to overuse.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) said the following illnesses or body reactions also cause voice problems: upper respiratory infections, inflammation caused by gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux, heartburn), growths on the vocal folds such as vocal nodules, cancer of the larynx, neurological diseases, and psychological trauma.
Coffee flows in the blood of the majority of call center agents. It is their trusted friend that helps them ward off sleepiness — especially during the dead of the night — when they are supposed to be alive and kicking. But sad to say, coffee causes a person’s throat to feel dry. It can also give a feeling of something lodged in the throat. This feeling leads to a person’s frequent throat-clearing which is also a vocal abuse behavior.
The strain, tension, over-usage, and increased friction due to forced talking cause the formation of nodules within the vocal folds. Vocal scarring and vocal nodules are among the most common vocal pathologies that professional voice users encounter. The scarring and nodules can also cause the voice to become hoarse and harsh-sounding. As a result, a person can feel pain in the throat or even instances of temporary voice loss or aphonia.
To prevent any voice problems, professional voice users should lessen or totally eliminate their vocal abuse and misuse behaviors by following these tips:
Constant practice of these behaviors will help any professional users, especially call center agents, avoid posing danger to their vocal mechanism.
Call center agents may have all the qualities of a good representative when they entered their jobs but without undergoing to proper vocal training, they may lose one of their most important assets: their voice.
This is why call center companies should also conduct vocal training that will teach their employees how to properly take care of their voice at work.
Here are the benefits of vocal training to call center companies and their employees (see image below):
In the call center industry, the voice is a treasure. Before it takes its toll on you, make sure to take care of it.