25 June 2019

Call Centre Agent Burnout: The importance of good software and good management

By: Liviu Avram

It’s no secret that contact centre agents sometimes experience what’s known as ‘burnout’, according to a Global Call Centre report from 2017, this contributes to on average 20% of staff turnover. However, it’s worth noting the same report says this varies from 4% in Australia to 40% in India, all the same, we can draw the conclusion that burnout is affecting agents in countries across the globe and is having a direct impact on business. In this blog, we’ll talk about what burnout is, we’ll give some detail on its impact, and we’ll talk about what you can do to prevent it in the contact centre.

 

What is burnout?

As of May 2019, burnout is an official diagnosis recognised by the World Health Organisation. The International Classification for Disease describes the syndrome as being the result of chronic workplace stress that manifests itself through exhaustion, low energy, lack of focus towards a job, negativism towards the job and reduced efficacy.

 

How does burnout affect the contact centre?  

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Most agents that leave the contact centre do so in less than a year after they were hired, 20% of them in the first 3 months. To replace the workers who leave, the contact centre faces costs related to the training of new workers, low productivity and low job quality. The costs to replace a single agent, on average, consists of two months of a regular agent’s pay without taking into consideration the low productivity and low job quality output.

 

Contact centre software is a contributing factor to burnout.

One of the reasons an agent will burnout and leave the contact centre is because of outdated or insufficient technology.  This reason is often overlooked, but as we live in an always-connected world where patience and attention spans are lower than they’ve ever been, the performance of contact centre software plays a huge role. Software freezing could be the proverbial ‘last drop’ in an agent’s already overfilled glass of frustration.

Technology plays an important role in our daily life; as such, it is important to recognise this and use the best available contact centre software to enhance performance and prevent burnout. Software should be user-friendly so that agents can focus on the actual tasks at hand, instead of trying to decipher or debug software. And given that one of the main bugbears of agents is switching between multiple platforms, a recommended approach would be to integrate tools so that they are as streamlined as possible.

Geomant's Desktop Connect Solution connects CRM with Avaya

 

The ‘domino’ effect.

Geomant agent burnout domino effect

Poor software usually leads to agents being focused on the software instead of the customer which often leads to low service quality. Low service quality is related to low satisfaction and low self-esteem as most people self-judge by how capable of doing a job they are. All this then translates into the agent in question receiving little or no recognition from managers and low chances of getting a pay rise and/or being promoted. A domino effect of negative outcomes triggered by having poor software solutions in the contact centre.

 

How can I prevent agent burnout?

Given the facts described so far it is safe to say that the burnout of contact centre agent’s increases the costs of a contact centre and generally has a negative impact on the business; to reduce these costs you need to reduce the agent turnover rate and decrease the amount of burnout. The most common ways to do so are through good management, clear and reachable expectations, consistent amounts of work and optimal software.

 How can I prevent agent burnout?

- Providing good management

Providing good management means providing meaningful feedback, meaningful feedback, especially if positive will nullify the sense of unfulfillment and low job satisfaction, which will automatically boost the morale of a worker. The feedback must be consistent, and a quarterly review of an agent is recommended. Part of good management is also creating a pleasant and non-stressful work environment leaving the agents and workers with fewer stress factors.

 

- Setting clear and reachable expectations

Clear and reachable expectations should be set by team leaders and/or managers and should be tailored to an agent’s set of skills. The expectations must be set individually, so an agent knows exactly what a leader or manager expects from him or her specifically. Team expectations are not as efficient as some agents might be better skilled or might have better more experience in dealing with customers than others, so having them work more than others towards a specific goal will always result in frustration and distrust towards the leader or manager.

 

- Give thought to the distribution of workload.

It is important for work distributed to be consistent, an agent will often feel overwhelmed and punished if the amount of work varies from month to month, increasing each month. An agent performing well should not be punished with an even higher workload just because he/she has the ability to do 8 hours’ worth of tasks in 4 hours. Doing so will trigger the burnout much faster than expected simply because the stress level experienced by an agent performing well will be increased. Instead, recognition, promotion, positive feedback and an increase in pay should come into play when increasing the amount of work an agent has to do. Agents and workers should be surveyed during the training sessions before setting a given amount of work for that specific agent.

 

- Take advantage of software

Last but not least, software should be optimal for an agent’s needs. Agents can take advantage of scripting, bots, an intuitive and stable software solution, all helping the agent focus on the task itself and the customer instead of the software. Through scripting, agents, especially the ones without much experience, can set the tone of the conversation without putting more effort into thinking of how they should approach a customer. Bots, especially data collecting bots, can reduce the agent’s time spent on a task collecting the same data from the customer.

Investing in proper optimal software is a much better and cheaper investment than investing in hiring and training new agents, investing in high-quality software will reduce the burnout of an agent and drastically change the turnover rate in the favour of the contact centre. The technology is here, we just have to use it. Geomant offers a variety of solutions for contact centres; from bots, scripting tools, to fully on-premises or cloud solutions for contact centres that integrate well with other CRM tools. Everything agents need to make their jobs easier, increase their overall satisfaction and reduce the rate at which they burnout and look for another job.

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