ghosts in your contact center

Are Ghosts and Ghouls Lurking in your Contact Center? Five Scary Agent Types

Over the past month I made calls to five companies including a Fortune 100 bank, a well-known healthcare organization, a pharmacy, a utilities company, and a Fortune 100 Telecommunications provider. They were personal calls but my secret mission was to see if these companies had ghosts and ghouls lurking in their contact centers.

Having managed contact centers early in my career for eight years I have a tendency to turn every call I make into an observation about their contact centers. Scary, I know!

What did I learn? I learned that there are a lot of ghosts and ghouls lurking in contact centers. Here are five scary contact center agent types and recommendations how to help them:

  1. Agent “I DON’T CARE”: The first agent sounded like she would rather be anywhere else than answering my phone call. She sounded bored, distracted, and not focused.

    • RECOMMENDATION: This type of agent is tough! How do you make an agent care? Hopefully you’ve screened out these types in the beginning so they don’t get hired in the first place. If they do, try recording them on calls and let them listen to their calls. Then ask them for input on how they could sound more empathetic and engaged with the customers when they call in. Good luck!

  1. Agent “ROBOT”: This call was to the healthcare company so I tried to engage with the agent to "connect." I wanted to test her people skills here and I got no response at all. I thought to myself, we haven’t switched to robots in our contact centers yet have we?!

    • RECOMMENDATION: Coach the agent for listening skills and how to respond to customer’s questions. Customer service is about connecting with your customers. If repeated coaching doesn’t work, then maybe this person isn’t in the right role.

  1. Agent “OOPS”: This call was painful – Either the agent had an awful headset or she spent the entire call adjusting her headset but for seven minutes the call volume went from super loud to super quiet and then the sound went from muffled to clear and back. It was so distracting I only heard 50% of what the agent said. Definitely the most frustrating call I made.

    • RECOMMENDATION: Evaluate all aspects of your technology that impact customer touchpoints and ensure they provide the highest quality results for your customers. Also monitor your agents to ensure they are providing quality calls and do coaching as needed. You’d be surprised how much your customers can hear and that they notice.

  1. Agent “HOLD”: The call to the healthcare company was a little odd. I called to update one number in their system and was put on hold for six minutes while the agent updated this one number in my record. When the agent took me off hold, I asked why I was put on hold for six minutes but and she ignored my question and told me to make sure to take the survey at the end.

    • RECOMMENDATION: Make sure you are monitoring your agents to prevent agents putting customers on hold unnecessarily for long stretches of time. And no I didn’t take the survey at the end, but I probably should have!


  1. Agent “SO WHAT”:  On the last call I got an agent that was rude from the start, didn’t listen to my question, and kept interrupting me. I quickly ended the call and sent an email about my question. 

    • RECOMMENDATION: Hiring the right agents can make such a difference for your customers’ experience! When I managed contact centers I always tried to hire employees with positive attitudes because you can always teach someone about products and processes but you can’t teach someone how to have a positive attitude.


Bottom line is that your agents are your company’s first impression to your customers. Make sure you hire right, monitor and coach so that you aren’t scaring off your company’s most important asset – your customers! I highly recommend doing some mystery calling yourself to see how your contact center agents are doing. It’s an eye opener and will help you get rid of the ghosts and ghouls lurking in your contact center.  

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