4 Causes of Contact Center Stress Managers can Absolutely Fix

Contact center stress is the bane of B2C companies across the globe. Beleaguered agents cause your team’s efficiency, morale, and customer satisfaction to plummet. Left unmanaged, turnover skyrockets.

A study from Gallup shows an average of 68 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged, or worse yet, are actively disengaged in their jobs. The more employees are actively disengaged, in most cases, the higher the turnover rate is at an organization. And contact center stress can be a major contributor to your team’s engagement level.

By shedding the excess weight of the corpulent, noxious beast of contact center stress you improve the quality of life for your agents and deliver a better customer experience.

Here are four types of stress your team is dealing with and what to do about them:

1. Performance anxiety

It’s completely normal to worry about tasks and upcoming responsibilities at work. But when that anxiety starts to control your agent and their professional decisions, you’re walking a slippery slope. Left unaddressed, contact center stress can cause your agents to lack confidence and innovation, and it can increase turnover.

Unclear job requirements, misaligned expectations, and a murky performance review process will make agents jumpy and nervous about their future on your team.

What to do instead:

Give your employees a clearly defined job description and reasonable quotas. And conduct frequent employee performance reviews to help them develop their skills and clarify expectations. Create a culture of feedback. Give it, solicit it, and encourage it between your agents.

2. Insufficient training

Do your agents drop too many calls? Are they struggling to find customers the right solution in a timely manner? Do they default to transferring a case? Are they lost when faced with a difficult customer?

Their training has failed them.

Perhaps you have outdated or inaccurate training material. Or the training program is too short. Maybe they’re struggling to grasp the expectations of their role. Whatever it is, they need you to coach them.

What to do instead:

According to a global study on contact center management out of Deloitte, some 73 percent of executives have earmarked more dollars to align teams this year. And 63 percent are putting budget toward expanding training and coaching.

This quarter, audit your training program to find gaps. Then begin making intentional changes. Take a look at the tools you’re using, and see if they’re helping you coach. Implement regular one-on-one coaching sessions. Use your coaching time to address specific concerns with your agent, then discover the misalignment.

3. Team dynamic

We spend most of our waking lives at the office, and our coworkers are the people we are with most often. A poor or awkward working relationship can make an agent’s already stressful job unbearable. And while it’s tempting to try and make the contact center area seem more “fun,” remember your team exists to serve customers well. The best way to raise the bar of culture is to create a team of experts.

What to do instead:

Given the epidemic of agent turnover, the need for nurturing high-quality contact center talent is increasingly important. But finding talent that will mesh with your team is equally as important to reducing contact center stress.

Hire with intention. Bring in agents who will succeed in your already established culture. In the interview process, think about your other agents – would they want to be around this person eight hours a day, five days a week for the next year? Would you? If the answer is no, then you need to move onto the next candidate.

4. Short staffing

Uncommon circumstances, like a new product release or even holiday shopping, should play into your scheduling decisions. While you can’t control what happens outside of your contact center, you can control how your agents respond to it.

What to do instead:

Figure out how many calls your agents can handle an hour, how many calls they take in a day, and the anticipated increase in call volume to find a realistic number of agents to staff for a shift. If you don’t know how much your call volume will increase, start tracking it. Look at historical data as much as possible to develop trends and benchmarks.

Schedule shifts in advance to prepare for an anticipated increase in traffic. And always plan for the worst-case scenario. For instance, if your marketing team is rolling out a new website, assume something is going to go wrong. Get as many people on the phones as you can. Maybe a holiday is coming up? Think about how it will impact your agent’s daily case volume.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best. That way, your agents won’t get overwhelmed by seeing a hundred calls waiting in their queue.

Being the manager, you’re primed to squash contact center stress because you have the power to create change. By reducing stress, you’ll boost employee morale, performance, and retention numbers. Plus, happier agents provide a better customer experience, which outputs tangible results to your company’s bottom line.