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McKinsey Health carried out a survey and collected data from 15,000 employees. The results revealed that roughly one out of four employees experiences burnout.
The burnout phenomenon is one that snowballs. Ignoring it only worsens the situation over time. The customer service and call centers sector is one of the most prone to burnout, given the nature of the work.
It’s a job that demands a lot and puts workers in difficult situations, pushing them to overcome all kinds of challenges.
This article offers 15 practical tips to avoid employee burnout in customer support.
Working in the customer service industry demands attention to detail and patience, as it ensures positive customer experiences. Customer service representatives, call center agents, and support professionals are crucial in promptly addressing customer concerns and resolving issues.
However, the nature of this job often exposes these individuals to chronic workplace stress, leading to customer service burnout. Call center burnout statistics highlight the significant impact of this problem within the customer service industry. Many call center agents, customer service employees, and contact center workers face the challenges of emotional exhaustion and fatigue.
One primary cause of customer service burnout is the constant exposure to angry customers. When individuals reach out to customer support, it is usually due to a problem, setting a negative tone for interactions right from the start. Handling one dissatisfied customer after another can take a toll on even the most resilient customer service professionals.
The pressure of going from one negative conversation to another contributes to center agent burnout. Customer service workers, including call center employees and customer service reps, often grapple with the stress that builds up over time. The demanding nature of the job, coupled with the expectation to provide great customer service, can lead to emotional exhaustion and a decline in overall well-being.
Employee burnout is a significant concern in the customer service industry, affecting individual job satisfaction and impacting customer service teams as a whole. This issue has prompted discussions about the need for better employee retention strategies and cultivating customer service soft skills.
In addressing customer service burnout, call center managers need to be mindful of the mental health of their teams. Implementing effective contact center software can help streamline processes, reduce the workload, and contribute to a more positive work environment.
Acknowledging the prevalence of customer service burnout is essential for the well-being of call center agents and customer service professionals. The World Health Organization recognizes the impact of workplace stress on mental health, emphasizing the need for proactive measures to mitigate burnout in the customer service industry.
Developing a supportive workplace culture and investing in the mental well-being of customer service workers can lead to better job satisfaction, improved performance, and, ultimately, a reduction in customer service burnout rates.
Identifying signs of customer service burnout is crucial, as some symptoms are easily observable, while others may be more subtle. In the dynamic customer service industry, where the number of personnel might be substantial, conducting individual check-ins may not be practical. This challenge is exacerbated in situations where businesses outsource customer service, leading to a lack of in-person supervision. To effectively pinpoint signs of burnout, consider three key warning indicators.
Frequent overworking, elevated stress levels, and incessant pressure from clients and higher-ups can culminate in diminished productivity. If customer service professionals who previously managed their workloads efficiently start exhibiting a decline in performance without any apparent change in workload, it’s likely a manifestation of burnout.
A surge in negative customer feedback serves as another conspicuous sign of burnout. Burnt-out employees often become apathetic, investing less effort in their responsibilities. This lack of commitment translates into subpar customer interactions, resulting in increased complaints.
Burnout can lead to a lack of concentration, causing routine tasks to take longer than usual. Employees grappling with burnout may seek distractions and frequently take short breaks between customer interactions. The diminishing mental capacity resulting from burnout makes maintaining focus more challenging.
Preventing customer service burnout is an imperative task. Recognizing these symptoms is essential for businesses seeking to ensure exceptional customer service. This holds especially true in a sector where call center agents, customer service representatives, and employees in various customer service roles face chronic workplace stress. Businesses must prioritize addressing burnout to uphold their commitment to providing great customer service, particularly when facing angry customers, poor customer service, and the demanding nature of customer service jobs.
Additionally, it’s essential to consider factors such as employee retention, utilizing customer service soft skills, and implementing effective contact center software to manage workloads efficiently.
Acknowledging the prevalence of burnout in the customer service industry, including call center burnout statistics and the insights of organizations like the World Health Organization, is vital for developing strategies that foster a healthy and sustainable work environment for customer service professionals.
The first item of business is to understand the signs of burnout. Customer service reps show certain signs that they are experiencing burnout.
A few examples include:
a change in character, particularly toward a more cynical outlook,
health woes, such as poor posture, headaches, and weight gain or loss.
It’s up to the higher-ups and peers to identify and understand how each burnout sign adds to the problem.
Despite how hard work in customer service can be, it’s imperative to self-care. Focusing entirely on your job leads to poor work and personal life balance. Dedicating time to yourself improves mental and emotional health.
Different people have different preferences. However, the common denominator is to look for ways to avoid negative thoughts due to work.
Take a walk. Spend more time with family and friends. Reach out to people you like and haven’t talked to in a long time.
Try to find new hobbies. Read a book, go out to a restaurant once a week for some fine dining. Relax with ambient music.
Prioritize your health. Exercise regularly. Learn to cook healthier meals. Stay hydrated. Do yoga.
The customer support department has its own goals set by those in charge. For instance, every customer complaint should be addressed and solved within 24 hours. Or, overall customer satisfaction should go up by five percent.
In addition to all the stress from work, piling unrealistic expectations and goals further damages the health of customer service agents.
Customer service professionals should talk with the higher-ups about realistic expectations and goals. Working towards achievable goals rewards you with a sense of accomplishment and reduces overall stress.
Time management is another area where some customer support agents suffer. They don’t prioritize important tasks or go as far as multitasking.
Multitasking might seem like a good idea, but it takes away focus as you want to cover multiple things at once.
If talking to customers takes too long because they need more experience to explain a problem, offer an alternative solution. Ask them to fill out a survey and submit it.
Some customers are also quite chatty and tend to go off-topic. Support reps should have a clear timeframe as to how much they should spend with each customer.
Finally, if it’s hard to determine exactly how much time you spend on different tasks, why not use a time tracker? A tool lets you track precise records and lets you compare yourself to peers.
Disconnecting from work thoughts after getting home isn’t that simple. The work stress you carry with you should be left at work.
Other than prioritizing self-care, which we covered already, it’s recommended that you create and stick to a schedule and keep the commitments you make for yourself.
It takes a bit to determine what’s important and what’s working. Some things you try will add value or offer less than you had hoped.
However, so long as you can set time aside to reflect and rethink what should be changed, you should be able to establish healthy work-life boundaries. And once there, disconnecting from the work will be much easier.
Support and communication from peers and supervisors can go a long way. Talking about stress and burnout from work is challenging, but such behavior should be encouraged.
Direct support from coworkers is a nice boost. Others letting you know you are not the only one going through rough times helps.
If you are in this together, you can make jokes and find the tough situations more manageable. Blowing off some steam to colleagues and listening to their stories also builds stronger customer service team bonds.
Regular breaks are a given. If the work becomes too much, talk to your supervisor and explain why you must take breaks more often.
Customer service employees have a lot on their plate, and pushing them to the limit will lead to negative consequences.
A breather now and then, even if it’s a short five-minute break, gives time to relax and something positive to look forward to on a difficult day.
Try to develop a stress management strategy. It’s something you can work on at work and outside work.
While at home:
go to bed at a reasonable time,
spend time outside,
meditate before sleeping,
avoid looking at electronic devices an hour or so before sleeping,
don’t consume alcohol or caffeine.
While at work:
track what’s causing you stress and see if you can address those issues,
take a short break and do some breathing exercises,
talk to your colleagues when there is an opportunity to do that.
Every little bit adds up and helps you fend off stress and mental exhaustion working in customer service.
Work monotony leads to boredom, which leads to impostor syndrome and other negative thoughts.
Mixing things up is one way to deal with the challenge. It will make the day more interesting.
As a customer support agent, you have different responsibilities. There are some you have to prioritize or cannot ignore. For example, you cannot put off a direct call from a customer.
On the other hand, if you usually start your day by answering fresh emails instead of following up on older emails, why not switch that?
If filing in records is something you prefer to do at the end of the day, you can do it first thing in the morning.
The idea is to rotate tasks to create a sense of variety. Working in a more interesting job leaves less room for stress.
Being stuck in the same place is not great for your mental health. Some people are okay with doing the same job for years, but most want to see improvements and grow as a professional.
Customer support has a lot of potential to provide customer service representatives with useful skills beyond just work.
Of course, if a company doesn’t offer training opportunities, customer service reps are unlikely to spend personal time and money if they don’t see a future in this profession.
Alternatively, a company willing to invest in workers shows that they care. And working for an organization that values employees is a great motivator.
Working in a toxic work environment, combined with all the stress from dealing with angry customers, is a recipe for disaster.
Work culture plays a prominent role in dictating how mentally exhausted employees are. Supervisors have to promote a positive work environment by:
offering training and career development opportunities,
creating open communication lines,
recognizing employee accomplishments,
adding more fun and encouraging company outings, office parties, and so on.
Positive feedback boosts employee morale. Whether it’s recognition from peers or supervisors, a good word goes a long way in keeping the spirits up.
A small compliment can be the difference between having someone break down or finding it in themselves to continue, especially in customer service, where there’s so much negativity from all the customer complaints.
A few ways to recognize employees are:
employee of the Month awards,
days off for volunteering,
hybrid work models.
Customers come with certain expectations. They reach out to the support department to solve issues. However, customers usually think about themselves and do not realize that their complaints take time to solve.
Clear policies stated are a good way to set certain expectations.
For instance, if a customer shops in an international store, a business policy could state that some goods come from specific drop-shipping suppliers in the US or Europe. As such, the shipping time might take a bit longer than usual.
Seeing an expected shipping time on their order provides useful information to the shoppers and discourages them from reaching out to complain about something that’s been covered already.
Another way to manage customer expectations is by collecting data and addressing recurring issues. Customer feedback offers valuable insights.
If a specific product or service doesn’t have the promised features, talk to those in charge and address the issue. If necessary, discontinue the goods until the problem is fixed.
Take some time off whenever you can. Vacation days and other days off exist for a reason. No customer support rep should work themselves to the point where they cannot take it anymore.
Companies should encourage employees to take time off, particularly if they notice that specific center agents are showing signs of burnout.
If somebody has to take over, there’s an option to hire a temporary replacement.
The last bit of advice is to seek professional help. As soon as the situation becomes uncontrollable and nothing else helps, professional intervention is needed.
Burnouts are attributed to mental exhaustion, so talking to a psychologist is the way to go. In severe cases, burnout is a symptom of depression, and figuring that out without professional help is impossible.
To sum up, customer support agents have it rough and experience many issues, including burnout at work.
Prioritizing mental and emotional well-being in this profession is imperative. Otherwise, it won’t be long before you or your colleague can’t longer take it and start looking for a way out. Implement these tips to achieve a healthier work-life balance and prevent burnout.
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