How you handle those high influx of emergency calls will determine if you're given further opportunities.

It’s the first cold day of fall, major holidays, warmer days of spring - it’s the days your phone doesn’t seem to stop ringing with no-heat/ac calls, sewer stoppages and breakdowns. It’s call cluster time.

We look forward to these busy times - it's shooting fish in a barrell in terms of sales. However these fervent yet trying times can make or break your company, according to business and marketing consultant Steve Coscia ( How your management system handles the rush says a lot about whether you have what it takes to succeed in business.

When a deluge of emergencies come into your office, everything from answering the phone to dispatch to job completion will etch in the minds of your customers how well you perform under pressure - and whether they’ll give you another call in the future.

Coscia explained all the key elements of call cluster control during a teleseminar, “Total Customer Service Superiority,” hosted byPMcolumnist and business coach Adams Hudson ( The two discussed how levels of stress on these crazy days can quickly get out of hand, especially if upper management shows signs of distress.

As the graphic at-right shows, emotional stress runs in a four-part cycle: homeostasis, demand, react and recovery. A healthy manager and plumbing service team will undergo this stress cycle with each call. However during call clusters, situations can disrupt the cycle.

“Often during busy times there’s no recovery period; it’s on to the next call,” says Coscia. That’s where problems and stress can compound. Rushed calls by the CSR could miss pertinent information needed to complete the job. A poor dispatch could result in longer wait time for the customer. A technician hurrying through a repair could forget his training and create a poor sales experience. It’s the snowball effect and it can mean missed opportunities. Keys to following the full cycle of stress control are the following:
  • Internal communication
  • Flexibility
  • Management
Coscia mainly spoke about the manager’s role during call clusters. His job comes heavily into play. It is essential that managers are able to work their way through stress on the job. A calm, cool and collected leader does wonders for a team. (Think in terms of football quarterbacks in the pocket trying to make a big play.)

“The manager sets the pace and rhythm of system efficiency. He sets an example. If the manager loses his cool, employees will also,” Coscia explains. “A company that can’t handle stress during the high times of opportunity won’t get a second opportunity to impress customers when the next call cluster situation presents itself and can lose out on the rest of the season.”

Coscia introduced me to a new word: Eustress. This is the opposite of distress. Eustress is the euphoric feeling of accomplishment, of reaching the pinnacle. Handle distress calls in the proper way (from the top down) and relish the feeling of Eustress in your business.