Helplines breed call centre addicts

Public-sector call centres must provide training to help staff deal with attention-seekers who become addicted to helplines.

Kathy Mulville, director of the Telephone Helplines Association, said attention seekers often plague staff with calls.

“Twenty-four-hour helplines have opened up a new type of dependency. Some people are addicted. These callers will be manipulative and they will call repeatedly.”

Speaking at a conference in London last week, organised by employment analyst IRS, Mulville said managers must ensure staff share information so they are up to date on how to deal with known or aggressive callers.

Measures to tackle difficult callers include training in the use of a script to end the conversation. “You might need a system in place to monitor some of these calls and everyone needs to be aware of how to deal with them.”

Mulville said they should look to the voluntary sector, rather than the private sector, to learn from its experience. “They have been doing it for much longer than the private sector and in an environment that is much more comparable to the one the public sector has to work in,” she said.

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