It is common for people to feel some level of stress in the workplace. In fact, studies have shown that a certain amount of stress can have a positive effect on people. It can encourage people to focus more intently on their tasks and gain confidence in their ability to handle things.
But, when the stress and strain become too much, it can leave employees seeking their next opportunity. This is a frequent issue for customer service teams. In fact, one study showed that the turnover rate for customer service call centers can be as high as 30 – 45 percent. Having a high turnover rate is costly for businesses and destroys team morale, so it’s best to help your customer service teams avoid stress in the workplace.
Understanding the Causes of Service Team Stress
Why does dissatisfaction and stress run rampant in call centers? It is partly the nature of the role that agents have in the company. As the first point of contact with your customers, they tackle all kinds of stressful situations. Let’s consider some of these.
This means that much of an agent's day is spent trying to soothe the hearts and minds of upset people.
Emotionally Charged Customer Interactions
In many situations, customer service agents are dealing with problems — problems that are making customers feel sad, angry or frustrated. This means that much of an agent’s day is spent trying to soothe the hearts and minds of upset people. They are using an invaluable skill that helps protect your business’ good name, but this can be very tiring work that leaves them feeling emotionally depleted by the day’s end.
Since you provide the same type of products and services to the same type of customers again and again, it’s inevitable that your support personnel will be asked the same type of questions again and again too. This can become very boring, causing agents to respond to customers with less enthusiasm and more irritation. In the long run, this can lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction scores and a corresponding increase in stress for the employee.
Sometimes people who work in customer service roles feel unappreciated. Agents may feel like others are unaware of how frequently they turn brand blemishes into positive experiences for customers. They often feel like the work they do does not contribute to the success of the company as a whole, which can make their role feel meaningless and uninspiring.
So how can you avoid stress from infecting your customer service team? Well, like many solutions, it requires using the right person-to-person and technical tools to address these common customer service agent issues.
Personal interaction is key for helping to resolve some of these issues. As management begins to identify dissatisfaction and spikes in the service team’s stress level, they can help by actively getting involved.
Establishing clear, achievable and measurable goals can make people feel like they are part of something that has purpose and value.
Set Clear Goals
First, make sure everyone is working with clear objectives in mind. By helping team members understand what the goals are — both for the team and for themselves — they will be better able to evaluate their own performance and make adjustments. Establishing clear, achievable and measurable goals can make people feel like they are part of something that has purpose and value. Plus, as people reach the goals, this can be used as a basis for recognizing good quality work and making people feel appreciated.
Invest in Training
It is a helpless feeling when you are confronted with an angry caller and don’t have the skills to offer a solution. Make sure that proper training is provided in all areas of an agent’s job. They will need to understand the tools they use, what is being sold by the company, what the customers may need, and a wealth of soft-skills so that they can build a virtual connection with customers. By giving them this support, agents are better able to cope with stressful customer situations.
Be a Leader Who Listens
Listening isn’t simply about letting people rant and vent — although that can certainly be part of it. It also means keeping an eye on the tickets and cases that agents are handling. Evaluate the steps that are taken so that you can gauge where and when people might need additional training, support or even professional opportunity. This will help you step in before agent stress builds up.
Tools to Help Avoid Customer Service Stress
Of course, giving your team the right tools is critical too. Agents should have all of the information and know-how needed to be able to help customers quickly. When these are in place, agents can focus on empathy and soothing stressful situations that may arise.
Create a Knowledge Base
Often, repetitive requests can be dealt with by customers themselves, but they simply don’t know how to take care of them. Instead of having your agents walk the one-thousandth person through the same script, document the instructions in a knowledge base. Knowledge base information can easily be sent along to customers (or even searched by customers in some cases) so that they have step-by-step instructions on how to take care of their own needs. Not only does it spare the agent from having to process the same request again and again, but it also improves the customer experience because the agent then has patience to listen with empathy.
By documenting and automating your business processes, it frees agents from repetitive administrative tasks while ensuring that the requests are properly handled and continue to move forward.
Automate Business Processes
Chances are that your business runs on hundreds of processes that are repeated again and again. Whether agents are answering questions about product returns, password resets, HR issues, etc., they likely repeat many of the same steps when helping customers throughout the day. To help reduce the repetitive nature of their job, implement business process management software. By documenting and automating your business processes, it frees agents from repetitive administrative tasks while ensuring that the requests are properly handled and continue to move forward.
Centralized Access to Customer and Equipment Information
Customers want to feel like you value their business and are keeping up with their needs. By implementing a customer service tool that allows agents to have the right information — customer details, related customer transactions and related equipment information — at their fingertips, agents can demonstrate that this is the case. Gone are the days when customers have to repeat their information again and again or wait on the line while agents cross-reference their information in another system. Customers end up happier, which reduces the stress and anxiety that agents may have in working with customers.
The benefits of avoiding stress in customer service teams go far beyond simply reducing turnover. Those who are less stressed become more creative and productive in their jobs. They take fewer sick days. They may even becoming raving fans of your business when not in the workplace. So take steps now to avoid stress in your customer service teams today.