Are Your Call Center Agents Burnt Out?
Many businesses like to take an “if-it-ain't-broke” approach to most employment issues, and the call center is no different. If there aren't any serious problems, there's nothing to fix, and so preventative maintenance of employees is an afterthought. Yes, employees require maintenance too, and there are some fairly simple ways to tell if your call center agents are burning out.
Burnout is a combination of stresses—physical, mental, emotional, and even interpersonal—that can be a huge drag on a business' profitability. Burnout produces several undesirable effects ranging from low overall morale to reduced service quality to even employee turnover. Such things can cost a company big, so spotting burnout becomes vital to success.
Thankfully, burnout has some fairly clear signs: if employees start asking for more time off or take longer breaks, it's a potential sign of exhaustion. Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness is also a good sign as most of the body's attention is consumed by the largest stressors to ameliorate these. Social isolation and apathy are also big signs, as are irritability and a decline in effectiveness in dealing with people. Considering how much of a call center job depends on just that, spotting burnout is vital to ensuring the best customer experience.
So how does a call center manager address burnout? It would be tempting to use threats of firing to handle things, but this would only make things worse as it would add the stress of potential job loss to an already overstressed environment. The most obvious solution of more time off is also inaccessible due to its demand on the budget.
Prevention works here, starting with improved scheduling. Trying to specifically keep employees spaced out on the schedule can allow time to recover, and get back some of that energy. One company, SpotHero, added employees to its workforce and cut employee workloads in half, while also adding what it called a “hero appreciation day” designed to call attention to the best service in SpotHero. While this may not have the desired effect—the already-cynical burnt-out employee may regard this as what it is, a way to motivate employees without spending money—it may also be a soothing move to the less burnt out, and more of a preventative measure.
There are methods to address call center burnout, and some of these are more accessible than others. For a part of the company that has so much bottom line impact, though, finding some method of addressing burnout will be vital. Proper scheduling can be a big part of this by providing call center reps with the necessary time to recover from a difficult job.