Shocking Number of Agents Being Sexually Harassed by Callers

‘Is sexual harassment of call centre operatives (from callers) a big issue?’ poll cover

Have you ever experienced sexual harassment in a contact centre? Or know someone who has?

A recent poll has highlighted that this type of behaviour from callers is more common that we might like to think – after Steve asked our LinkedIn Community ‘Is sexual harassment of call centre operatives (from callers) a big issue?’

Not only did we find this question extremely interesting and want to share the results with you, 696 of our industry professionals thought so too and responded to the poll. Here’s what they said…

‘Is sexual harassment of call centre operatives (from callers) a big issue?’ poll graph
Sexual Harassment a Big Issue? Response %
Yes 39%
No 36%
Part of the Job 8%
Never Happened to Me 17%

A staggering and concerning 39% of respondents stated ‘Yes’ – that sexual harassment of call centre operatives from callers is a big issue.

Furthermore, 8% seem to accept it as part of the job. This highlights that sexual harassment is an issue contact centre leaders need to be aware of.

Interestingly, however, an almost equal number of respondents (36%) said it wasn’t an issue, whilst 17% said it ‘Never Happened to Me’.

This contrast in results suggests that perhaps the issue is linked to specific industries and sectors, as opposed to being an industry-wide concern.

Equally, it’s possible these results may reflect the experiences of different genders, if we assume that half of the respondents are female (and saying ‘yes’) and the other half are male saying ‘no’.

Whichever may prove to be the case, the results speak for themselves… With almost 50% of respondents reporting an issue, contact centre leaders should be putting proactive measures in place to support and protect their frontline teams on this matter.


We have also looked through some of the comments left by respondents to identify additional insights relating to the results:

Evening and Night Shift Agents Are More Vulnerable

Different services will attract different types of callers at different times. Evening and night shift agents are more vulnerable to such calls, and despite technology identifying, tracing, and recording most callers, it still continues.

Personally, too few organizations use this information to take action against abusive callers.

The fact is, if you’ve been responsible for a large enough number of contact centres, in a very wide range of sectors and over a long period of time you will, unfortunately, have probably come across pretty much every scenario including this one.

The very fact it happens to a single agent doing their job, let alone many, already means it is too big an issue.

Thanks to Simon

It Has a Huge Impact on Those That Face It

It’s a big problem – especially in terms of its impact on the people suffering from it.

Thanks to Nathan

It’s a Huge Issue

This is a huge issue. You just get so used to it that it doesn’t even warrant bringing it up.

This experience made me feel glad I got away from a contact centre customer service role.

Thanks to Emilia

Agents Should Have Training on How to Handle It

It’s enough of an issue that it’s been worth specifically flagging to agents in their training that it’s something which could happen to them, and explaining how we’ll support them if it does.

Thanks to Zak

I Can Only Recall a Handful of Incidents

I can only recall a handful of incidents of this type of call happening over the 13 years I worked in call centres.

I don’t think it’s a massive problem. The bigger issue is with how to deal with it when it does happen and what support contact centres provide to staff who are affected by it.

Thanks to John

Are Callers Hiding Behind Withheld Numbers?

I suspect these callers hide behind withheld phone numbers!

Thanks to Steve

You Must Have Employee Protection Against Abusive Customers in Place

One thing I’ve found to be certain… You can predict service-related caller behaviour (why they call, info they require, likely times, etc., etc.) as these form the basic foundations of your resourcing strategy.

However, no amount of profiling or call analysis will allow you to predict how callers may potentially act on a personal level or where their triggers are.

When it comes to your staff and their exposure to extreme customer behaviour, you must have employee protection against abusive customers in place – in the shape of tangible support from well-trained and capable line management ready to support staff, at any time, should this happen.

Thanks to Simon

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 6th Jul 2023
Read more about - Contact Centre Research,

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