A guide to managing the most high-pressure, high-turnover sector in the world
Contact centres are among the most high-pressure, high-turnover sectors in the world. It is estimated that nearly 30-40% of contact centre employees leave their jobs every year and 74% are at risk of burning out. Not only is this bad for individual agent health, but it also negatively impacts your profitability and business continuity. Further, in a customer-centric world, it is essential to make contact centre stress management a top priority if you are to provide delightful services at a steady pace.
To achieve this, one must first understand the root causes of contact centre stress.
The no.1 cause of stress is problematic callers. Frustrated or angry callers (sometimes, even abusive ones) create a high-pressure scenario where agents must stay calm and not retaliate. This becomes an even bigger problem if agents aren’t sufficiently trained in psychological resilience, which results in severe emotional impacts. During peak periods, handling a series of problematic customers can drive up stress levels inordinately.
Next, the iterative nature of the work coupled with non-negotiable targets can create stress. Agents are essentially addressing the same set of queries, again and again, inevitably bringing down their interest level in the work. On top of that, there are multiple KPIs and performance metrics to remember and achieve.
In large contact centres, the workplace culture and environment also contribute to agent stress. Physical equipment like chairs, headsets, internet connectivity, etc. determines if the conditions are conducive to happy working. In large teams, agent efforts can go unnoticed, and the lack of support and recognition compounds existing stress from the previous two factors.
Contact centre managers must keep a watch on daily operations and agent performance, to flag excessive stress before it can lead to burnout.
In a WFH environment, virtual meetings (particularly when not related to work), can do wonders for remote agent stress. Remember to schedule these sessions within work hours to prevent overtime. Training for contact centre managers, access to mental health resources, flexibility through self-serve schedules, and competitive compensation without over-complex targets are also necessary elements in your stress management strategies.