How to Prevent Contact Center Agent Burnout

Contact centers are known for their fast pace working environment, but an issue that often comes with these types of places is a lot of pressure. When you work in an environment that hardly ever takes its foot off the gas. How often does that pressure become too much for someone to deal with?  Unfortunately, the answer to that is more often than you think. 

Staff turnover is something that the majority of contact centers are familiar with. However, the ever-growing issue of contact center agent burnout does not have to become a common occurrence in your workplace. 

In this blog, we are going to be examining contact center agent burnout as we discuss what it is, delve deep into the root causes and offer solutions to prevent and overcome it.

Contact Center Agent Burnout is an Extensive Issue

For workers of any kind, there is the everyday stress of the job that you can handle and maintain, but burnout is a more extensive issue. Think of contact center burnout as stress gone wild, the result of repeated work-related issues going un-checked for an extended period. 

Contact center burnout is an issue that has made too many appearances in workplaces across the world and with it now being officially recognised by the world health organisation in 2019 (WHO). Burnout is now something decision-makers need to acknowledge, identify and strive to prevent and eliminate in the operations. 

Symptoms of Burnout

There are visible symptoms of burnout that can be used to identify if your agents are suffering from burnouts such as: 

  • feelings of energy depletion and exhaustion 
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativity or cynicism related to one’s job 
  • reduced professional efficacy 

Now that we understand what contact center burnout is, the next step is it identify its root causes.  

Causes of Contact Center Agent Burnout

Now the causes of burnout can be unique to each environment but there are some common causes that occur frequently such as: 

  • Unfair treatment at work 
  • Unmanageable workload 
  • Lack of role clarity 
  • Lack of communication and support from their manager 
  • Unreasonable time pressure 

Yes, some of these problems can arise as a result of specific people. However, a more realistic assessment of burnout’s origins is that they are a result of an atmosphere at work that requires repair.

Further Causes

The causes of contact center agent burnout are not only limited to the points listed above there are many issues agents face such as: 

Unclear expectations

Employees desire detailed instructions on how to perform their tasks effectively. They shouldn’t have any concerns regarding obligations or evaluation standards. 

Uncertain priorities can occasionally lead to stress. Agents, for instance, need to be aware of whether they should deal with a ticket that has been designated as “high priority” first or one that is nearing the SLA deadline. 

Employees in contact centers may become anxious if they are unsure of who is in charge of a task. A ticket that another agent is already working on shouldn’t ever need an agent to waste time on it. An agent should be aware of who to contact for assistance if they are unable to resolve the ticket. Utilising top-notch helpdesk or contact center software and disseminating a thorough customer service policy will help you clear up any potential confusion. 

Heavy workloads

It goes without saying why this is a stressor. Employees at contact centers become overwhelmed and anxious from too much labor. 

Contact center employees now have a heavier workload than they had in 2020. Since February 2020, call volume has climbed, according to 71% of US customer service leaders. 

As a contact center manager, you don’t always need to hire more workers to relieve the load – better technology can make the existing duties faster and easier to execute. 

Lack of expertise

When agents lack the knowledge and information necessary to address a problem, they end up providing subpar customer service by making the consumer wait too long or passing the problem around too frequently. Additionally, 46% of customers said they would cease doing business with a company if the staff lacked knowledge. 

Customers and agents alike are both stressed out by these circumstances. Because of their lack of experience and understanding, agents often feel pressured, which raises their stress levels. 

This stressor is primarily caused by a lack of training. A workforce that is ready to handle various client encounters is created by improving training and making sure agents have easy access to the necessary tools. 

Set clear KPIs & SLAs

Make sure the agents are aware of the evaluation process. It should be quantifiable; requesting “high-quality” or “rapid” service is not as effective as establishing precise targets for resolution time or CSAT. 

With personalised dashboards to track SLAs, you can give your team additional clarity. Agents can keep track of tickets in various categories, such as unassigned, on hold, or resolved, with the aid of dashboards. 

If your agents are routinely breaking SLAs, it’s possible that your support tools are inadequate. According to 86% of contact center personnel, their contact center’ technology is operating too slowly. 80% report frequent system failures or crashes. 

Your goals might just be unattainable, which is another factor contributing to contact center stress if you’ve previously upgraded but your team isn’t meeting SLAs. 

Build a Caring Culture 

As we mentioned earlier Burnout is about the contact centers themselves and not so much about the agents. Now the percentage of employees who genuinely believe that their company cares about their well-being is less than 25%. With numbers like that, it is evident that businesses need to make more of an effort to build a relationship with their employees. 

Creating a culture that is focused on employee well-being should be on your checklist when you are working towards overcoming burnout. 

Motivate employees with incentives

Even small rewards can make a big difference in job satisfaction.  

One way to motivate agents is to set up an employee incentives program for those who do excellent work. The rewards can be monetary or non-monetary.  

For example, you could give out bonuses for great performance or simply show your appreciation by awarding a “customer service superstar of the month.” 

It’s best to have multiple incentives. Competition can be motivating within reason, but more winners mean more happy employees. 

Improve call center training 

One of the issues facing contact center agents is a lack of training, which results in subpar customer service. Training can increase employee confidence and lower the danger of employee burnout, whether the problem is an inability to use the predictive dialler software efficiently or a feeling that they aren’t working to their full potential. 

Appropriate training can also boost productivity, which in turn lowers workloads that are too heavy to handle. Research indicates that 94% of workers would consider staying at a company longer if it engaged in training and career development, which has a favorable effect on turnover rates. 

Increase agent autonomy

 Since contact centers agents are expected to operate alone, they already have considerable autonomy and are trusted to please clients within a set of constraints. Giving employees more autonomy to make decisions and enhance the client experience will increase their sense of trust and responsibility for their work. Once more, this lowers the stress in contact centers and improves turnover rates. Employees that work autonomously are typically more invested in their jobs, which results in increased performance and productivity. 

Provide manager support

Agents in contact centers frequently work alone and are solely responsible for all facets of their client interactions. Having access to a support system assures staff that their boss will be there for them if something goes wrong, which helps lessen the feeling of loneliness. Managers should concentrate on team-building exercises to promote engagement in remote work. 

Although crucial in any job, it is especially crucial in a work-from-home contact center situation. Employees who feel supported by their manager are around 70% less likely to experience burnout on a regular basis. 

Employees who feel valued, heard, and given insightful feedback by their superiors are less likely to experience burnout than those who are continuously reprimanded, watched over, and micromanaged. 

In a similar vein, contact center representatives who are aware of corporate policies are likely to feel less stressed out when issues do emerge. 

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