If you’ve ever experienced burnout, you know how catastrophic it is. Burnout is a mix of feeling exhausted, negative, and distant from your job all at once. It also results in reduced efficiency at work, which in turn affects a company’s customer satisfaction and profits.
Unfortunately, burnout is quite common in the United States. Almost half of US workers report feeling burnt out sometimes, while another 23% report feeling burnt out often. Together, that’s a shocking majority of people feeling burnt out.
And, those stats are even higher for customer support representatives, including call center agents. An overwhelming majority of call center agents (74%) are at risk for burnout. Maybe that’s why call center agent turnover rates are over double than those of other occupations. have over double the turnover rate of other occupations.
Attention all call center managers – don’t worry! Call center agent burnout is common but easily prevented. Let’s dive into common reasons for call center burnout, how to recognize it, and how to fix it!
What are the signs of call center burnout?
Agents usually experience burnout after a long period of consistent stress. Here are some common signs of agent burnout to look out for:
- Increased absenteeism (more sick calls, requests for time off, or work abandonment).
- High turnover.
- Declining quality of work.
- Distanced attitude towards work.
- Increased irritability.
What causes call center burnout?
Call center agents don’t suddenly experience burnout overnight. There are a few factors that contribute to agent burnout over time.
Call center agents are constantly helping customers or staring at a screen. Paired with stringent break policies and high call volumes, it’s easy for agents to feel overworked. Long hours also contribute to decreased productivity and higher rates of burnout.
The work-from-home era blurred the lines between work and home. This is especially true for call center agents, who need real breaks to disconnect from work.
Lack of support and feedback from management.
Agents handle the customers, while managers handle the agents. However, that doesn’t mean your agents are always prepared and supported when they deal with customers. If you don’t check in with your agents or support them when they handle angry customers, they will undoubtedly feel lost or frustrated, which leads to agent burnout.
Feedback is also essential for high performance. If you’re not providing feedback to your agents, you increase the risk of repeated mistakes.
Call center agents deal with more stress than the average employee. Listening to angry customers, hearing complaints, and managing high customer service expectations while being constantly watched can make anyone feel stressed.
The sad reality is that call center agents deal with a lot of negativity at work, which takes a toll over time. High levels of stress lead to agent burnout.
As a manager, you have a lot on your plate. From call monitoring to agent and operations management, we know how tough it is to effectively keep a call center going.
But, you can’t slack on setting clear and realistic goals for your agents. Unfortunately, many call center managers forget to discuss goals consistently with their agents. If you don’t chat about goals with your agents, they might feel lost. Even more agents will feel lost if they don’t have access to your call center metrics. Make sure you share metrics with your agents so they have clear goals to work towards.
The impact of burnout on call centers.
We already know that call centers see higher turnover rates than any other industry. Burnout is a clear contributor to that turnover rate. But, turnover isn’t the only consequence of burnout.
Absenteeism rises since 63% of burnt-out employees are more likely to call in sick. Agents feel less confident in their work, which can cost customer satisfaction. Finally, agents aren’t as likely to speak candidly about career and performance goals with management if they’re burning out.
5 tips to prevent call center burnout.
Call center burnout has severe consequences to your agents’ productivity, engagement, and satisfaction. Additionally, it hurts customer experiences and profits. Luckily, there are a few ways you as a manager can help prevent call center burnout.
Create a supportive culture.
Company culture is essential to engaging employees, improving retention, and fighting burnout. To create a supportive culture and work environment, your management team must prioritize employee wellness.
Call center agents improve skills and performance over time. Remind your employees to slow down and take time to attend to their mental health. Schedule breaks, encourage staff to take vacation days, and share mindfulness practices with your employees. Finally, make sure you support your agents when they’re handling rude customers.
Adopt an open-door policy so agents can approach their leaders to discuss challenges with workload, training, and other concerns.
Your agents are capable adults who don’t need you breathing down their necks. Offer support, but never micromanage. Policies about tardiness and work breaks should be fair but also reasonable and flexible.
Life is stressful enough for most people – don’t make it more stressful with menial things like bathroom breaks. Agent micromanagement is a common contributor to high turnover.
Invest in training for your agents.
Providing customer service at a call center requires strength of character and strong knowledge about products. Agents won’t always have what it takes to improve metrics and handle customers well right off the bat. That’s why it’s important to provide ongoing training for your agents. With so many call center training methods available, there’s no excuse to slack!
Give your agents autonomy.
Remember when we talked about micromanagement? The logical opposite is employee autonomy. Let go of restrictive policies that block agents from doing their job effectively. Improve employee engagement by offering them autonomy.
Show your agents that you trust them, and offer them opportunities to take the lead in problem-solving. When they excel, praise them in front of their peers. This helps them feel more confident, which improves performance and reduces burnout.
In order to give your agents autonomy, assess any gaps in skills and ensure they are provided ample training. The goal is to empower them to resolve customer issues on their own, and lower frequency of escalations.
Optimize your technology.
Call center technology is now essential to improving metrics, satisfying customers, and reducing agent burnout.
At certain times of the day, call centers might experience high call volume. This might be stressful for agents, especially if they aren’t scheduled properly. We know that work overload and stress both lead to call center burnout. Use technology like Fonolo’s Voice Call-Backs to deal with high call volumes and reduce the burden on your agents.
Another great tech tool for call and contact centers is live chat. Live chat helps agents handle customer concerns quickly, which improves customer satisfaction, and in turn, increases employee confidence. However, live chat should always be accompanied by an option for call escalation to a voice call.
Finally, Web Call-Backs (formerly Visual IVR) is a great tech tool that offers so many benefits to contact centers, including reduced agent burnout. Scheduled call-backs, shorter response times, and real-time updates all improve customer experiences, which will improve your agents’ experiences as well.
Make sure you assess your technology frequently. Examine your metrics and assess performance after using a certain technology. Check-in with your agents to get their opinion too, so you can update technology as needed.
Burnout is a costly feeling, for both call centers and their agents. Spend some time getting to know your employees and their needs, set clear goals, and invest in the right technology to prevent burnout!