Support agents are often on the frontlines for businesses, dealing with frustrated customers while working through a repetitive queue of work. Tasks can pile up, leaving agents with a daunting backlog. In a situation like this, the danger of burnout looms and can become a source of unhappiness for your team.
Research shows support agents often encounter stressful situations. In fact, a Cornell study found that 87% of workers reported high or very high stress levels at call centers. But are employers doing enough to combat burnout before it manifests? A Deloitte study found that nearly 70% of respondents feel that their employer is not doing enough to prevent burnout in the workplace. The top driver of burnout in the study was lack of support or recognition from leadership.
It’s clear that CX leaders are responsible for setting the tone and establishing a workplace that allows agents to thrive. As a manager of a support team, it’s your responsibility to ensure your team is feeling empowered and productive so you can deliver the best experience possible for your customers.
We’ve previously authored a blog on self-care methods agents can practice to alleviate burnout for themselves. In this blog, we’ll focus on how CX leaders can identify signs of burnout and five ways to combat it.
What Are the Signs of CX Burnout?
According to the World Health Organization, burnout is typically viewed as chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed and can result in feelings of exhaustion, feelings of negativity related to one’s job, and reduced productivity.
There are many signs members of your team might be burnt out. Is the quality of their work slipping? Are they increasingly withdrawn in meetings or seemingly pessimistic? Combined with a stressful work environment, each of these could be a potential sign of burnout.
We’ve compiled a list of burnout signs that managers should look for among their team members:
- Reduced productivity, which can result in poor performance or missed KPIs.
- An increase in anger or impatience is a sure sign, especially if they’re lashing out at fellow employees or even taking frustrations out on customers.
- Although hard to pinpoint virtually, the physical symptoms of burnout could include your agents suffering from fatigue, loss of appetite, depression or anxiety.
- Negativity or a pessimistic outlook, especially from an agent who is normally cheerful, could be a sign of distress.
- Absenteeism can manifest in ways like frequently calling in sick or not reporting to work at all.
5 Tips to Combat CX Burnout Among Agents
Preventing burnout completely is not within any one individual’s control, but CX leaders can reduce the risk significantly for their team by following the tips we’ve compiled.
1. Offer Training & Education
Being underprepared for a situation at work can contribute to stress. For support agents this rings true, especially those that are new to the workforce or organization. Well-executed onboarding programs are critical to the success of all the agents on your team. It’s important to establish what the essential tools and foundational set of skills are for an agent to deliver a superior customer experience.
It might be tempting to cut investments in ongoing training if budgets are tight. However, by doing that, you are potentially inadvertently contributing to stress and burnout for the members of your team. In addition to alleviating stress, professional development also contributes to engagement, loyalty and retention since research indicates that 92% of workers think formal workplace training positively impacts their level of engagement at work.
2. Show Support for Your Team Members
Nearly all of a support agent’s actions are monitored as part of their role including talk time, average handle time (AHT), customer sentiment and other metrics that can allow CX leadership to optimize and refine processes. Such close monitoring can contribute to stress for employees.
According to a Gallup study, employees who feel supported by their managers are 70% less likely to experience burnout. It might seem obvious, but good CX managers should be there for their team. Things like providing assistance with particularly challenging customers or thinking through solutions for longer-term issues can go a long way.
Be empathetic to your team’s concerns and set time to meet with them individually at a regular cadence. These meetings can occur weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the needs of the employee. It’s critical for managers to ensure that these aren’t skipped, as they will provide an opportunity to show support to your team members and get a sense of any struggles they might be facing.
3. Provide a Variety of Work Assignments
Giving your support agents a variety of different projects that take them away from the repetition of the support queue can help alleviate some of the stress that comes with the role.
Furthermore, empathetic CX leaders may want to consider lightening the workload if team members express that they are finding it to be unmanageable. In a role where hitting numbers and reporting metrics is heavily emphasized, it’s critical to remember that support agents are one of your customers’ primary touchpoints, and keeping them refreshed and happy is integral to providing an overall excellent customer experience.
Also consider leveraging technology like chatbots and automation to alleviate the burden on your human agents. Integrating technology that uses AI to handle basic queries before looping in a human agent can reduce these low-level, repetitive tasks, and allow agents to focus on building customer relationships and solving more challenging problems.
4. Create & Communicate Career Paths
The nature of a support agent’s role is tedious by nature. Those that excel and are able to develop a mastery of serving customers may fall victim to career stagnation if not recognized for their work. Offering advancement opportunities and clearly defining a career path to agents can make your team members feel like they have something to work toward.
Be sure to recognize their hard work with a salary that reflects their contributions to your organization. Without proper compensation, employees will be left feeling underappreciated, which can lead to burnout and potentially even resignation.
5. Invest in Your CX Tech Stack
The technology used by some CX teams can be a pain point for support agents if it’s outdated. Your tech stack might need refreshing if it inhibits agent collaboration or excludes important customer information alongside conversation data.
It is important to listen to your team members if they believe they are working with inadequate or outdated tools. Remember, at the end of the day, your customers will likely feel the negative side effects if your team is using inefficient technology.
There are now many options available that can make agents’ day-to-day lives much easier. Moving to an omnichannel platform like Kustomer with a 360-degree view can dramatically improve workplace efficiency. Agents will have a real-time view into the conversations that occur on all the available channels, so they have context of the issue, without needing the customer to repeat any information. Furthermore, as mentioned above, automating your CX strategy with intelligent routing and chatbots can reduce call volume by cutting down on manual work and routing simpler problems away from agents.
Happy Agents = Happy Customers
It’s commonly accepted that providing customers with an elevated, personalized level of support is essential for brands to develop loyalty and earn repeat purchases. Successful organizations will be those that also realize the parallel between your internal employee experience and the experiences they, in turn, provide your customers.
Want happy customers? Then you’ll need to ensure your agents are feeling supported, productive and prepared to carry out the responsibilities of their role. Preventing burnout should be a priority focus for any leader wanting to elevate their organization among a sea of competitors by delivering excellent support.
Want to learn how Kustomer can help you deliver a modern customer experience? Request a demo here.