In this environment, a healthy, pleasing voice is critical for building trust with customers. Just as neat professional attire is essential for face-to-face interactions with clients, successful phone interactions depend on the clarity of the voice. A hoarse voice from a call center agent (CCA) carries the same negative impression as a worn-out suit, and can detract from building credibility and trust with clients.
So a healthy voice is crucial, but because you are talking on the phone nearly 40 hours a week, you are at risk for damaging your voice and developing hoarseness. A 2002 study on voice problems among CCAs reported voice problems in 31 percent of CCAs, with several negative outcomes, including:
- Increased sick days
- Fewer calls per hour
- More breaks away from the phone
- Needing to repeat themselves
- Needing to force the voice out
Overall, CCAs with voice problems were less enthusiastic about selling the product. Voice problems are bad for CCAs, and they are bad for business. Voice experts now think of voice problems in CCAs as a form of repetitive motion injury, because the vocal cords are being injured by overuse, similar to the way data entry personnel may develop carpal tunnel syndrome.
When we talk, the vocal cords vibrate about 200 times a second for women and about half that for men. That can add up to more than a million cycles of vibration during a work day at a call center. Multiply that by five days a week, and this kind of repetitive motion causes excessive impact on the tissues of the vocal cords and can lead to vocal injury.