The call-centre is a funny place. Two weeks in the doldrums with hardly any calls to go round and suddenly we’ve been hit by a hurricane. As usual I was given an advance heads-up by my confidante who serves among the weekend staff that something was coming our way for Monday morning, but still I was nowhere near ready for anything quite of the severity that actually hit us.
The reason behind this tempest is that two of our clients have launched major campaigns. I knew one client was sending a catalogue out; known as a ‘drop’ in industry terms. A drop tends to cause a spike in activity for at least a few weeks, but it’s been so quiet of late that I thought the drop would just get us back to our normal activity levels. Maybe it would have too had it not been accompanied by a huge national ad campaign. Then one of our other clients joined in with a national ad campaign of their own. Of course our managers knew about this, but such knowledge never makes its way to the floor.
Maybe I should be happy that business is, at least for now, booming again and that all our jobs will be safe (overtime is on offer once again), but after weeks of slumber its more an unwelcome experience, one which literally feels like drowning. A few hours into my shift on Monday and I got my first pause in between calls; it felt like coming up for air. I almost took a gulp.. a few seconds passed…. and the phone begins ringing again… back into the fray once more.
I can handle this.. for one day. Today day 2 of the campaign I began feeling the pressure. This manifests itself both physically and mentally. Physically my throat began to feel raw from the strain on my vocal chords from constantly talking. In fact the group I take my break-time with sat in an uncharacteristic silence today with none of us being able to face the rigours of speech. The muscle above my right eyelid has also begun to twitch – a sure sign that I’m feeling too much stress.
The mental effects have an air of the surreal. I begin randomly coming out with the lines I’ve been repeating all day “ok that’s all gone through fine” I say then I realise I’m only halfway through the order that line is for the end of the call once I’ve charged the customers card. I also begin mixing up the clients I’m taking calls for “where would you like the flowers sent?”… there is a pause before the customers confused voice cuts in “flowers, what flowers?” The whole thing makes me feel like a malfunctioning robot and I wonder what it’s all doing to my brain.