Burnout In Contact Centres. There’s a Better Way to Work

Reduce burnout, support agent well-being, and breathe new life into customer service

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Burnout In Contact Centres. There's a Better Way to Work - CX Today News
Contact CentreWFOInsights

Published: May 8, 2023

John Flood

John Flood

Burnout. We’ve all been there.  

It can feel a bit like the lyrics from the Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Sound of Silence.”  

“Hello darkness my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain,
Still remains.” 

Live long enough, and one day you might feel like getting out of bed is a bridge too far.  

Work is no longer fun. Inspiration has become desperation. And no matter how bright the sunshine, burnout overrides joy.  

It creeps in, not unlike the line from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men.”  

“Between the idea, and the reality, between the motion, and the act, falls the Shadow.” 

Eliot’s line “Falls the Shadow” feels like a snapshot of burnout; that creeping in of doubt, fear, or uncertainty preventing us from acting on our ideas or intentions.  

Just ask a contact centre agent who’s been in the trenches a while.  

According to a study conducted by ContactBabel, a contact centre research firm, the average annual agent turnover rate in the contact centre industry was 29 percent, which is higher than the average turnover rate for all industries.  

More pressingly, it also uncovered that burnout was one of the top reasons for agent turnover.  

These statistics suggest that burnout is a significant issue for contact centre agents and can negatively impact their well-being and job satisfaction.  

Indeed, with attrition rates some of the highest in any profession, it’s no exaggeration to say that agent burnout is at a crisis level. And the negative consequences for businesses can be irreparable. 

Happy Agents Make Happy Customers. Unhappy Agents Don’t. 

Agents are brand ambassadors on the front line of every customer interaction. That’s a big ask in the service industry, where agents represent a brand, try to create empathy and listen to customer problems while trying to solve them eight hours a day.  

When agent burnout is pervasive, providing positive customer experiences is almost impossible. 

“Many of us (in management) are guilty of running our people into the ground,” said Dr Phoebe Asquith, Lead Psychologist for Wellbeing Solutions and Senior Business Consultant  at Sabio Group. “It’s not intentional, but ultimately we don’t fully develop our people talent because of burnout.” 

Technology and our always-on world have created a life of bedevilling complexity. Most of us don’t know when – or how – to unplug for the day. For agents that’s a particularly acute problem. 

“We’re hardwired to care about the social and emotional interactions with others. We’re social beings,” Dr Asquith said. But for agents, the common result of caring is exhaustion and loneliness, Asquith explained. 

“It takes a lot of energy to show up and deliver great service. You put on your game face. You smile and you have to be friendly and react professionally when someone is venting, or even shouting at you,” Dr Asquith explained. 

Burnout is a severe problem with tell-tale signs including: 

  • Increased absenteeism and turnover – Burned-out agents are likelier to call in sick or leave their jobs altogether. This can lead to staffing shortages and a decrease in productivity. 
  • Poor customer service – Burned-out agents are less likely to be able to provide excellent customer service. They are more likely to make mistakes, be rude to customers, or not care. This can lead to customer dissatisfaction and a decrease in sales. 
  • Increased costs – Burnout can have negative financial consequences, including the cost of hiring and training new agents, lost productivity, and the incalculable costs of customer dissatisfaction. 

Sabio Is the Dose of Prevention That’s Worth a Pound of Cure

Sabio Group is focused on empowering contact centre advisors to deliver excellent customer experiences, including helping advisors adapt to longer and more demanding conversations, which is a significant cause of burnout. 

Its solutions include agile advisor desktops and AI tools that support agents to ensure that they have everything they need to engage seamlessly to enable human service performance and to support advisor well-being. 

For Well-Being, Be Natural with NLP from Sabio

Sabio’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) solutions can be installed on the agent desktop to analyse conversations, understand what customers need, and proactively find it for them.  

Agents find answers from across systems using everyday natural language. That can include complex sentences, sentence fragments, multiple questions in a single sentence, abbreviations, slang, misspellings, and variances in how people speak.  

Agents can call up information in the natural flow of conversation for a faster, more meaningful customer experience. 

Sabio Console provides a flexible integration between common customer engagement channels (voice, SMS, WhatsApp and webchat) into leading natural language AI platforms including Google CCAI (both CX and ES). It allows users to easily map channels to the relevant ‘bot’ and handles the complexity of media transport and session management, allowing customers to build rich, omni-channel (including channel switching) experiences for customers.   

Find out how Sabio has been empowering people to deliver excellent CX, arming them with the equipment and technical capabilities needed to deliver excellent CX while being the best version of themselves.  

CCaaSNatural Language UnderstandingWorkforce Optimization

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