We have often talked about how demanding being a contact center agent is. Whether they are dealing with routine queries or angry customers, it can be an intense job that leads to stress and ultimately lack of motivation and decrease in productivity. It is therefore essential that managers act before this happens and reduce the risk of agent burnout.

This is how.

Hire the Right People

This may sound obvious but candidates who aren’t customer oriented, don’t have extensive experience in one-to-one interactions with customers or lack flexibility are likely to burn out more quickly. Managers should therefore always add an industry-specific personality test to the recruitment interview to filter out candidates that aren’t suitable.

Focus on quality of call rather than cost per call

Aiming for low Average Handling Time sounds like a win-win. It means that your contact centre will handle more queries with less staff therefore making it more profitable. From a customer’s point of view, it will mean that they wait less to talk to someone, which is always important.

However, putting pressure on agents to prioritise quantity over quality won’t do you any good. It can result in agents not being able to deal with customers adequately, which can be very demoralising. And customers don’t care about Average Handling Time targets! All they will feel is that they are being rushed and not valued.

Empower your staff

Staff that are not authorised to make any decisions can quickly become demoralised and burnt out. Ensure that they have the power and the technical tools to deal with low-level decisions. Not only will it make them feel valued, it will also prevent customer queries from going back up to supervisors and line managers, thus freeing their time.

Offer a varied environment

If possible, allocate responsibilities matching skills and interests. Doing something you love is the best way not to burn out. Monotony is the great enemy so allow agents to switch responsibilities with others once in a while.

Provide agents with clear targets and feedback

Working towards specific goals is more motivating but make sure that you set realistic, achievable targets. Likewise, meaningful feedback is generally well received so there should be a time for managers to offer positive input. It will be all the more important to offer more support to agents that they see struggling.