In one of my previous blogs, I talked about “10 Reasons behind Call Center Agent Burnout”. The highly demanding nature of call center agent’s job and tough work schedule result in overwork and stress and ultimately lead to burnout. Constantly interacting with customers to resolve their queries is likely to be very stressful. It can result in lack of motivation and decrease in productivity. Moreover, too much work can lead to long-term absence due to stress-related illness and eventually force them to leave the company, increasing call center attrition.
In order to prevent these complicated situations, call center managers must take the essential steps required to reduce burnouts and to counteract its damaging effects on the business and overall profitability. They need to build an environment that has the capability to motivate and retain skilled and experienced employees and mitigates burnout. This will not only increase customer retention and loyalty but also help in cross-selling and up-selling other products.
Below are 10 Ways to reduce burnout in the agents:
Hire the Agents who are Right Fit
Managers need to look for a pool of employees who can work productively under resource-deprived conditions as well. They should hire agents who manage to deliver results even if there is scarcity of resources and have energy to find innovative ways to satisfy customers. Consequently, such individuals would display customer-oriented service behaviors in the workplace. This will reduce burnout and improve their productivity. In addition to this, they should be skilled at having intense voice-to-voice interactions with customers.
Managers must add a Personality/Job Fit assessment test to the hiring process which should be designed based on the Call Center’s nature of work. This will help in filtering candidates who are not suited for the job as they will burn out fast.
Focus on Quality of Call instead of Cost per Call
Managers should emphasize more on KPIs such as Customer Satisfaction Score and First Call Resolution (FCR) rather than Cost per Call and Average Handle Time (AHT). Pushing the agents to achieve lower Cost per Interaction and AHT and penalizing them for not completing the customer call soon, creates role conflict stress in the agents. Burnout increases when agents feel that they are not serving their customers properly as they need to scale up their operational efficiency. They get more stressed and frustrated.
Managers should ensure that the agents are allowed to solve a customer’s issue in the first call itself, no matter how much time it takes, thereby reducing repeat calls and increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Set Clear Performance Expectations
A lack of clarity in their targets, duties, and roles can lead to call center burnout. It makes it difficult for the agents to find the right direction and they get confused as to what is expected out of them. Call Center’s management should define clear goals for each agent and maintain transparency while communicating the metrics they will be measured on. Explaining their exact role in the team and accountability would definitely motivate them to work towards the desired goals and reduce burnout.
Steer Clear of Overwork
One of the most important things to consider when it comes to reducing burnout is to lessen overwork as much as possible. Leveraging technology and automating the processes would make sure that the efficiency levels along with the call volumes are maintained without putting much stress on the agents. Integrating smart technology with business processes will reap tangible benefits. For example, providing complete information about the customer via CTI screen pop will enable agents to handle difficult customers easily and effectively.
Allow Judgement and Authority
If the agents are allowed to use their judgment to best handle a customer, it will not only prevent them from getting bored but also boost their confidence. Lack of authority to solve a customer’s query, even if they are well aware of the solution, results in frustration and burnout. Managers should eliminate these situations by allowing agents the autonomy to perform at their best.
Enabling effective collaboration within teams is extremely crucial for reducing burnout. Implementing tools such as call conferencing, call barging and whispering and call transferring ensure that people from different departments can work together to solve a problem. They feel more supported and assured. When agents work in teams, it improves their morale and permits them to take breaks and short periods of time away from the desk can prove to enhance performance and productivity.
Offer Challenging, Not Overwhelming Responsibilities
The job responsibilities assigned to the agents must match their skills and interest. Managers should allocate tasks to the agents in a way which make it interesting and challenging for them to accomplish. Also, doing the same task in a routine manner might make the work environment monotonous and boring for them, leading to burnout. Agents should be allowed to switch their responsibilities from time-to-time to prevent monotony and boredom. Probably, the ones handling voice calls can be made to tackle social media customers and vice versa.
Train Agents on Effective Usage of Scripts
Providing agents with scripts is an easy and efficient way to keep them on track and to speed up their call handling time. But, at the same time, scripted conversations can leave the customer feel just a number rather than name and identity. Customers are forced to have an impersonal conversation and the agents get bored by saying the same thing repeatedly and get burnout. Hence, there is a need to provide them with training sessions that teach how to balance scripts with uniqueness and original calling experience.
Provide Meaningful Feedback
Providing agents with effective feedbacks can have a significant impact on their efficiency and productivity. When an agent is burnout and is struggling to perform, the manager must offer him extra inputs. In general, agents welcome feedback, particularly if positive behavior is emphasized as much as areas needing improvement. Share best practice calls with agents to recognize excellence and encourage the right behavior and performance. Give them tips in order to help them improve productivity, quality and customer satisfaction. After the managers provide them with meaningful feedback, they should also monitor the agent’s performance and track his/her progress.
Revamp Rewards and Recognition Process
Call Center managers have the ability to create a strong sense of job satisfaction and keep agents motivated by recognizing, communicating and rewarding performance excellence. However, due to budget constraints, finding an effective way to reward agents and developing the right rewards program can be challenging for them. While financial rewards are always appreciated, they’re not always possible. Although, there are many low/no-cost ways for managers to recognize and reward the agents. A few approaches are:
- Allow shift changes and accommodate vacation requests based on an agent’s overall performance
- Encourage top performers by inviting the most outstanding agents to take an active role in departmental activities, such as coaching new hires and delivering training sessions
- Give the agents the freedom to choose their own rewards—for example,-gift cards, movie tickets, lunch vouchers, or a day off, etc
- If the use of remote agents is a viable option, include working from home as an alternate way to recognize top performers