Omnichannel contact centers are the future of customer service, and agents are critical to their success. In an ever-changing landscape, frontline workers continue to handle an average of 14.4 additional omnichannel interactions per day, compared with nearly two years ago.
But as customer expectations rise and more channels emerge in contact centers, agent stress levels do too. In fact, our recent contact center survey concluded that 96% of agents feel stressed at least once a week while 33% feel stressed multiple times a week. Those statistics are 25% higher than our 2017 survey findings.
So, what can contact center leaders do to help prioritize agent wellbeing in omnichannel contact centers? Read on to learn key ways to avoid negative consequences of burnout, attract and retain top talent and increase customer satisfaction.
Studies show that when agents feel more empowered and supported in their work, retention levels increase. By making some strategic improvements in your contact center, you can boost satisfaction levels and reduce stress among employees. Explore these top tips for increased agent wellbeing:
A recent Salesforce survey found that 71% of service agents in contact centers have considered quitting in the past six months and 69% may leave customer service entirely. With agent stress levels at an all-time high, it’s more important than ever to identify the reasons behind that pressure.
According to the survey, some of the biggest workplace stressors for agents include:
If you’re unaware of which stressors are weighing down your team, it’s best to ask. Make time for team meetings, but give agents an overview of the agenda so you can have an open and productive discussion. Then add one-on-one meetings to the mix. Some agents are naturally shy or prefer to talk about what’s holding them back in private. Keep conversations regular – weekly rather than monthly – and keep them short. All you need is 15-20 minutes when your agents have a clear agenda upfront.
Another way to identify stressors and monitor agent wellbeing over time is to conduct quick online surveys every quarter or every six months. They have the added benefit of giving you evidence and opportunity to nip new stress factors in the bud.
Encouraging communication about workplace stress can help managers pinpoint problems and find actionable solutions. Plus, it’ll show that you care for your agents.
Workplace mental health is a growing problem, and contact centers are no exception. If agents aren’t properly supported, the demands of increased customer expectations and new hybrid working models can quickly take their toll. This can lead to call fatigue and poor customer satisfaction, followed by high attrition levels among agents and even higher recruitment costs for managers.
Now is the time to prioritize a healthy work-life balance. Train leaders to have effective mental health conversations. A great manager can spot agent problems as they arise and find helpful solutions. Inform your leaders of the key warning signs of agent stress, such as:
Be empathetic and offer tangible ways to help your employees. Practical and discreet methods for a healthy work-life balance include videos and mental health guides full of useful tips that agents can read at their leisure. Consider offering yoga classes, complimentary massage sessions or seminars about how to improve sleep.
Finally, think about whether you can you improve your physical contact center environment. Small changes add up and can greatly impact employee satisfaction. For example, replace small, dark cubicles, which often make agents feel disconnected from the team, with greenery and open floor plans, which offer more natural light and can help prevent fatigue, agitation and depression.
After higher pay, agents want increased flexibility at work (34%). One of the best ways to gauge how to boost morale is by asking your team what flexibility means to them. By making time to regularly reassess schedules, you can help provide a responsive workplace strategy that supports your agents while still aligning with ever-changing customer and business requirements.
Since balancing a work-life schedule is the number one stressor for contact center agents, it’s critical to empower agents to take control of their life with modern, self-scheduling software. This tool allows agents to add more flexibility to their job through useful features like:
In addition to equipping agents with self-scheduling software, we suggest you get creative with shifts and scheduling. Dedicate the time agents would previously have spent on commuting to e-learning and mentoring. Managers should also consider implementing micro-shifts, which are small windows of time that agents can use to accommodate unexpected personal needs. Remember to build mandatory rest time into schedules so agents can recharge their batteries. In today’s hybrid working model, agents can use this time to exercise, care for children or simply meditating.
Take your communication to the next level by weaving it into the foundation of your contact center. To boost support for your staff, you should make yourself as available and accessible as possible. Regularly check in and be open with your call center agents so they know that you can help ease their problems without inviting additional critique. This creates a foundation for solid team communication and encourages agents to feel like they have autonomy in their role.
To stay connected with your team, you should make the most out of collaborative tools, like:
These platforms are a great way to create a sense of inclusivity among agents that engages, informs and motivates them. Additionally, real-time message boards on agents’ desktops, short video clips from senior executives and online all-staff meetings allow teams to foster deeper contact center connections.
Give your agents customized resources that offer both technological and lifestyle support for their main stressors. There are some surprisingly simple ways to reduce stress levels, but most people need a little help and guidance to steer them in the right direction. Start by suggesting ways to signal when they are “on” or “off” duty, and allow them time to connect with colleagues. You can also offer tips for boosting energy levels, such as getting a good night’s sleep, drinking enough water throughout the day and writing down three things they’re grateful for anytime they feel overwhelmed.
For a healthy remote or hybrid working model powered by cloud-based solutions, consider equipping agents with tools and knowledge to create an ergonomically friendly workspace. Enlist the help of your IT department to:
As organizational objectives prioritize the customer experience (CX), agents become your company’s best asset as brand guardians. Encourage this elevated role of ambassadorship to boost confidence and enhance agent wellbeing. Start by working with agents who know your customers best to articulate the perfect brand story that makes your company stand out from the crowd.
Train new recruits and experienced team members on this brand story. Then, inspire and motivate them through gamification opportunities. Offer rewards to agents who share their brand story successes and learnings with others. This gives everyone a chance to shine.
To help agents achieve the perfect work-life balance that keeps them energized and better able to cope with those increasingly complex customer issues and high call volumes, you must have an effective coaching and training program. According to our customers, most agents want training to be more frequent, personalized and flexible.
Encourage an open-ended self-assessment where agents say what they think they’re doing well, where they’re struggling and where they need extra support. Let agents do the talking and give them permission to develop their own self-improvement plans. Better yet, play to agents’ strengths by training them for different roles in other parts of the organization to boost morale and inject fresh ideas.
With more contact centers going digital, a relatively new challenge has risen: how to keep remote workers engaged. Thankfully, there are ways to adopt a data-driven approach to performance coaching that gives agents meaningful opportunities for personal development and insight into future career paths.
Frustrations and stress levels rise as agents strive to provide exceptional customer experiences across many channels and devices. With employee attrition at its highest percentage, it’s never been more important for contact center managers to find supportive ways to help beat agent burnout and workplace fatigue.
By incorporating these helpful tips into your omnichannel contact center, you can empower agents to take control of their schedule, communicate their concerns, manage their stress and find renewed inspiration through performance coaching plans. Remember, a less-stressed agent can offer greater empathy and support to customers, which is why it’s so valuable to prioritize agent wellbeing.
Want to learn more useful tips to help fight employee attrition and workplace fatigue? Download our Workforce Wellbeing Recovery Toolkit.