GoResponse Telephone Answering Service Staff

The debate over allowing agents to read during quiet periods

The call centre environment can be an extremely busy place, but there are also times when things become quiet and agents may be sitting at their desks drumming their fingers and waiting for calls to come in. Some telephone answering services allow people to read during these times, whilst others strictly forbid it.

There are a number of benefits to allowing people to read, and if there is no customer service or other productive use for an agent’s time, there is little risk in allowing agents to pick up a magazine for the odd five minutes here and there. Periods of low occupancy occur even in the best call centres, and allowing a few perks can often make workers feel more engaged with their company. Whilst reading a magazine or book might be a little too extreme for some firms, checking the internal database or social network can be a positive use of time. Finally, although reading might be stopped during core hours, sporadic occupancy, after 7pm for example, could be the perfect situation to allow reading.

Despite some call centres allowing people to read, others are against it. Lulls in traffic can be used to train or offer refreshers to employees, and agents with downtime can assist colleagues with emails and other problems. Additionally, staff could take the time to do product and service research instead of reading a magazine.

Every call centre is different, and each should decide whether reading will be allowed. However, it is important for managers to establish just how much downtime is being noted; too much downtime could mean that centres are simply overstaffed.

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