How To Reduce Burnout In a Call Center

Call centres are high-pressure environments, you have to deal with customers rude or nice, you also have to bear in mind that your calls are being monitored and timed,  comes with a lot of stress (physical and emotional).

Call centres have become notorious for having one of the highest employee attrition rates of any industry. According to this post by QTA, attrition rates for the call centre industry ranges between 30-45%.  Comparing this to the 2015 average employee turnover rate for all industries which was pegged at 16.7%, you can see why burnout is such a problem in the call centre business. But…

What makes call centres stressful?

A variety of factors can contribute to stress levels in a call centre, some of the common causes include;

#1. Ineffective Work Tools

Call centre agents are usually being measured on their response time or how long it takes to wrap a call, this adds pressure on the agent who needs to improve on these timings to get better performance ratings.

Ineffective work tools such as faulty telephone headsets and slow (outdated) computers are an added source of stress which can affect the agent’s performance and eventually his/her morale.

#2. Excessive Monitoring

Call monitoring becomes stressful when the practice becomes too frequent and it’s feedback critical or distasteful. Agents exposed to such become depressed and anxious after a while and would lead to disengaged employees if not curbed.

This doesn’t mean calls should not be monitored for Quality Assurance, they have to be monitored, but feedback should be communicated with the aim of tutoring the agents on how they can better handle calls.

#3. Over Standardization

In most call centres the agents have a script for almost everything they do, this does not just take away the creativity and individuality of the agent, it also means the customer failed to have a personalized experience with the agent.

It only takes some time before work becomes simply monotonous and repetitive, the agent starts to feel worthless and frustrated as they see any potentials for personal growth in their role. This adds to stress levels of the agent and also impacts on productivity

#4. Lack Of Incentives

Incentives are important for keeping employees engaged and stress away. Incentives like fair compensation and recognition are critical for employees in any industry, unfortunately, most call centre employees earn low salaries and are not rewarded or recognized in a meaningful way.

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Anxiety and pressure from financial obligations are a source of added stress and a lack of reasonable rewards/recognition all lead to poor work performance because there is no incentive for the agent to do better. (Read about: creative ways to reward and recognize employees)

#5. Angry Customers

Make you customers this frustrated

Having to deal with an angry or abusive customer is inevitable when working in a call centre, some of these customers might be extremely rude and verbally abusive to the agents who usually have no time to prepare themselves mentally for such interactions.

The agents are expected to handle the needs of the demanding customers and they must avoid further upsetting the customer. This sort of calls are emotionally tasking and have a negative impact on the agent’s morale.

All of these factors lead to increased stress levels, burnout and subsequently a high turnover.

6 Ways To Reduce Agent Burn Out

Burn out is a very serious challenge in the call centre business, it is important that a proactive approach is taken to avoid it. Below are 6 tips to help reduce call centre agent burnout and call centre stress.

#1. Offer Agents Challenging Responsibilities

Allocate tasks which are not too simple to achieve or too challenging for the agents to handle. The job responsibilities assigned to the agents should match their competence and interests.

Agents should also be allowed to switch their responsibilities from time-to-time to avoid the monotony and boredom that comes from doing the same task day-in-day-out. The tasks should be assigned in such a way that they are interesting to accomplish, you can do this by attaching small perks to completion of such tasks.

#2. Loosen up on the Scripts

The use of scripts is an easy and efficient way to ensure standards are maintained and it helps to speed up agents call handling time. But, scripted conversations lack personality and frequently leave customers feeling like statistics and the agents get bored by saying the same thing repeatedly.

Friendly agent

It is important that the agents are allowed some degree of freedom to balance the scripts with their individual uniqueness. This would not only reduce burnout but also enhances the customers’ experience when they interact with agents.

#3. Reward and Recognize Agents

Most times rewarding and recognizing employees are not considered necessary due to cost implications (they are being paid for their work aren’t they?). However, rewarding and recognizing agents goes a long way in improving engagement and reducing burnout.

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Creating an effective way to reward and recognize agents can be challenging. While financial rewards are always appreciated, the rewards do not necessarily have to money.

#4. Provide Effective Work Tools

Functional work tools are necessary for agents to carry out their tasks efficiently. Ensure that work tools such as computers and telephone headsets are functional and up-to-date. 

Work tools

Investing in modern call centre software would do wonders to the efficiency of agents as they become more productive and better able to assist the customers, this eliminates stress and reduces burnout.

#5. Avoid Overworking Agents

Too much exposure to calls is detrimental to an agent’s performance, when agents become overworked they burn out faster. It is very important to avoid overwork as much as possible.

Explore other means of reducing workload by leveraging on technology and automating the processes where possible, this would ensure that work efficiency levels are maintained and the agents are not overworked.

#6. Make the Environment Fun

fun place to work

Making the call centre a fun place to work helps improve employee engagement and reduces stress. A simple way to achieve this is to have events once or twice a month. The events can be anything from collective birthday celebrations, to giving the agents TGIF snacks on the last Friday of every month.

Fun in the workplace will put a smile on the face of the agents & their happiness will equally rub off on customers, leading to a more positive and friendly experience.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this. Are there other ways burn out can be reduced? Please drop a comment below 

Kelechi Okeke


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  • Slideshow – Five Ways To Motivate Your Customer Service Team – CXService360

    […] There are lots of ways to keep your customer service team motivated, some are variations or combinations of one or more of these 5 points. The ultimate aim of all these is to eliminate burnout and enhance team productivity (Read: Curbing Agent Burnout In a Call Center). […]

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