Top 3 Stressors for Today’s Contact Center Agents
In a late 2017 study by Meditation at Work, the top three sources of overall workplace stress were identified as:1
- Workload — 36 percent
- People issues — 31 percent
- Work-life balance — 20 percent
Not surprisingly, these findings—particularly the identification of “workload” as the top workplace stressor—correlate with what we at Calabrio discovered with our recent The Health of the Contact Center2report. The majority of the specific stressors outlined by contact center agents relate to workload, with 25 percent saying they feel stressed at work multiple times per week and 12 percent saying they feel stressed all of the time. The result? Forty-three percent of contact center staff are unhappy in their roles, and 35 percent are considering leaving their jobs in the next 12 months.
It’s clear your contact center agents—your frontline for your brand’s customer experience—are prone to feeling stressed, isolated and abandoned. And they may think you don’t care. In fact, 52 percent of contact center staff believe their company isn’t doing enough to prevent their teams from burning out.
But, by understanding why and how your agents feel stressed, you’ll be better equipped to alleviate their stressors. And—with April being National Stress Awareness Month—what better time to do it than right now?
Increasing expectations and a growing focus on the customer experience put even more pressure on agents already dealing with exploding call volumes.
Our study shows call volume increased by 39 percent over the last 18 months. And agents know it—38 percent note the sheer volume of calls as the most challenging part of their job.
It’s not going to let up anytime soon, either. Customers expect personalized experiences that meet their complex needs, so agents must manage call volume better and faster.
But are you doing everything you can to support them? It’s time to understand if your scheduling forecasts are as accurate as they can be. Also look at if you’re utilizing different scheduling tactics—dynamic availability, dynamic scheduling, intraday scheduling—available to you, to ensure your contact center is staffing enough agents at any given time.
Multi-channel communications enable self-service for simple inquiries, leaving the most complex issues for agent assistance.
New self-service and communication tools like web chat and text help your customers receive better, faster service on basic inquiries. This approach is great for customers, but it leaves agents spending the majority of their time dealing with complex customer inquiries, not “easy wins.” And for 56 percent of agents, dealing with complex issues is the most challenging part of their role. It’s not expected to change anytime soon either—32 percent of contact center employees believe customer queries and demands will become even more complex over time.
Find ways in which your agents can more easily share with each other their expertise and advice on how they handle complex inquiries, perhaps via formal, ongoing peer mentoring programs and online collaboration tools. Recognize and reward the agents who seem to handle the complex issues with ease, and develop additional training programs for agents who need more help.
Which leads me to my last point…
Lack of proper training and inadequate technology tools leave contact center agents unable to efficiently resolve many customer issues or requests.
Shockingly, 60 percent of agents believe their company doesn’t always provide the technology they need to help customers, 44 percent of agents say they lack the proper tools to do their jobs effectively and 14 percent think one of the reasons they’re unable to resolve customer issues is because of a lack of training.
It’s time to ask your agents for a prioritized wish list of training topics and technology tools that would lessen their stress while helping them deliver a stellar customer experience. Then stay up to date on how their new training and tools are working for them, and make it a habit to always be on the lookout for what they need next.
1 Meditation at Work, “Stats & Facts About Work Stress to Consider in 2018.” Nov. 8, 2017.
2 Calabrio, “The Health of the Contact Center: Agent Well-Being in a Customer-Centric Era.” 2017.