Work is hard, right? It’s kind of meant to be – hence the title ‘work.’ However, that doesn’t mean we need to feel work stress so intensely all the time. Call center agents deal with a special kind of stress. They’re literally listening to issues. All day. Every day.
So in the attempt to improve our employee experience (which we know improves our customer experience), how can we help our agents manage call center stress?
What do call center jobs entail?
Your call center agents are some of your most valuable assets: They’re your frontline workers. Agents act as the voice of the company as they’re generally the ones your customers hear most. They manage your customer’s issues, their complaints, and attempt to be the expert problem solver.
Call center agents also multi-task with documentation and reporting that generally falls under their job description. In between all that, they’re also trying to keep tabs of every minute, down to the bathroom break, to ensure they play their part in customer experience metrics.
It’s a lot to juggle around, and can generally lead to a lot of stress.
Stress: A workplace hazard
Did you know that OSHA actually deems stress to be a hazard of the workplace? They estimate the cost of stress at $190 billion a year in annual healthcare bills. With approximately 65% of people claiming work to be the source of significant stress, we have cause to be alarmed.
There are several factors in the workplace that can cause this to bubble up. Fear, overtime, rising expectations or even just unreasonable pressure will take people to their breaking point.
When you start seeing your agents simmering with stress, talk to them and offer them some of these stress management tips.
General stress management tips
If you’re in the camp of needing direction on general work stress management (rather than those who just aren’t doing it), here are a few friendly tips from the American Psychological Association:
- Identify the problem. What are the situations setting you off? What’s the actual root problem?
- Prep your response. If you’re able to identify the problem, start building out viable solutions. At the very least, know how you can take control and respond.
- Weave in relaxation. Sometimes, simply breathing is what you need. Do you need calming music? Perhaps origami? Incorporate techniques into your day.
- Be vocal. Closed mouths can’t be fed. If you’re experiencing hardship or are simply drowning, make your supervisors aware of the issue at hand.
- Ask for help. Whether it be a teammate or your supervisor, ask for appropriate help from who you need it when you need it.
How to manage call center stress
You need to look out for your people, as well as coming to their aid when they cry for help. However, with a few proactive measures, you may beat the need to manage call center stress before it becomes a monster to tackle.
Equip your teams with the proper technology to assist the process. It may seem like a steep upfront cost, but when you add up the total of missed or lost revenue from the lack of proper equipment, you’ll easily see that it’s an easy ‘yes’ to that new customer service platform.
Sure, time is of the essence. However, scheduling and planning should be your best friend. Work out your scheduling so your call center agents have a brief moment to prepare and read over a customer’s profile. Allotting them the time to acquaint themselves with your customer will leave them better prepared to serve that customer more efficiently. A well-rounded and knowledgeable interaction will leave a customer with a better experience from holding just for a minute or two up front, and your employee will appreciate the chance to catch their breath as well.
You also need good leaders in place. Just because someone is good at what they do doesn’t mean they’re meant to lead people – find the people who excel in leadership. People leave bad bosses more often than a bad job. Promote your employees that have great people and communication skills. Effective communicators and leaders will make sure that call center stress is managed appropriately by putting the actual person as a priority.
Happy employees are retained employees
Managing an effective employee experience strategy directly impacts your business success. Company culture, as many would put it, doesn’t just have to do with the latest coffee machines or nap pods. Investing in your culture, and employee experience, can offer your organization measurable success like:
- Double the customer satisfaction
- Twice the innovation with percentage of revenues from new products and services
- 25% greater profitability over competitors
Consider these three pillars for building your employee experience strategy:
Educated employees bring more value to your organization and promote a better customer experience.
Elevate someone that has been around, knows the product and has done an outstanding job rather than immediately going to hiring externally. Don’t be afraid to create positions for someone shining in an area where they’re becoming a value add.
Engage your teammates and take genuine care in how they’re doing, even if it’s just in their professional life. Take five minutes once a week to facilitate a brain break and do something that gives someone a smile.
When you make the investment into your employee experience, you don’t just gain happy employees – you keep valuable ones. It’s always telling when a company has a revolving door of talent, with untapped potential you already invested in now walking out the door. Don’t let yourself miss out on valuable assets. And don’t forget: Happy employees will mean happy customers.
Your people are your charge. And if your call center agents aren’t doing alright, then your customer experience will surely feel the impression of it as well. Stress is a real thing, and a real hazard (as we’ve learned). Take care of your agents so they can help take care of you.
The impact of your employee experience can drastically change not just their stress levels, but your customer’s satisfaction as well. Download our white paper to learn more about leveraging employee experience for customer experience.