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How Agent Burnout Decreases Productivity and What You Can Do About It?

Agent burnout directly harms the quality of customer service your business provides and significantly hurts your company’s bottom line. It’s hard to ignore the fact that contact centers are plagued with high agent burnout and turnover rates. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent this negative cycle. As a matter of fact, some contact centers experience almost no turnover at all. So what can you do to move the needle towards improving agent experience, productivity, and longevity?

Become a Workplace of Choice

Best-in-class contact centers are able to engage employees and create a supportive, motivating culture. It starts with a foundation made up of the right technologies and best practices. With these building blocks in place, you’re more likely to break the cycle of burnout and transform your contact center into a workplace of choice. 

What Causes Agent Burnout? 

Agents are subjected to high levels of stress as they handle a high volume of interactions and resolve a variety of customer issues, all while being required to remain pleasant and empathetic. All too often these pressures cause agents to succumb to emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion, also known as burnout, and it’s no secret that these pressures have intensified during the pandemic. 

When we consider the high costs of burnout, we can see that tolerating its spread is not an option. Prevention is key. Once burnout sets in, contact center agents struggle to be productive and eventually check out, either mentally or physically.

Consequences of Agent Burnout

Agents suffering from burnout are generally irritable and lethargic. They find themselves less able to work efficiently and are hard-pressed to muster the empathy and problem-solving skills customers expect.

The reasons for high turnover in contact centers are a subject of debate. While it’s true that low pay is often a contributing factor, it’s not the only one. Other factors that agents cite for burnout are lack of training, lack of a career path, and frustrating technology tools. According to HBR researcher Keith Ferazzi, the total organizational costs of employee turnover range from 100 and 300 percent of the employee’s salary, when recruiting and onboarding are factored in.

It also becomes harder to meet service levels and customer experience goals measured by metrics such as first contact resolution, customer satisfaction, and customer effort score.

How to Prevent Agent Burnout?

There are numerous ways to prevent burnout. Most fundamentally you need to promote a culture of agent empowerment. In short, you need a solid employee engagement program. When you hire and onboard agents and managers with intention and care, you increase your chances of creating a positive and empowering culture. But to seal the deal you need to implement the right processes enabled by technologies, such as quality monitoring, training, and gamification. This is an excellent way to scale improvements and gauge progress.

On the other hand, by implementing agent feedback and training mechanisms agents can take a break from channels they may find exhausting, and get trained to handle new types of customer challenges using new channels.


Implement a Full Quality Monitoring Program

A high-performing contact center with empowered agents is far less likely to experience burnout among employees. The quickest way to transform a low-performing organization is to implement a quality monitoring program. But the best results come from programs that go beyond standard QA tools.

Traditional QA tools are great, but by the time an issue is found the customer experience already has suffered. To counteract this shortcoming, we recommend you implement a 360-degree quality monitoring program that goes beyond problem identification to problem prevention. You do this by implementing a full quality management program that ties together QA, coaching, and motivation. After identifying performance gaps with QA tools, you’re able to deliver coaching to agents based upon evaluation results.

Once you’ve identified an agent’s skill level in any given area you can then deliver appropriate training courses to allow agents to continuously uplevel their capabilities. Industry studies consistently show employees experience higher levels of satisfaction and improved performance when they feel they are learning and growing in their jobs.


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