If the festive season left your frontline staff frazzled, now is the time to give them a welcome energy boost. Magnus Geverts shares his top tips for beating agent burnout—and the competition—in 2023…
Despite the cost-of-living crisis, research from Statista[i] predicted that retail sales during the holidays were expected to reach more than £82 billion in the UK, the busiest shopping period of the year when customer queries typically increase dramatically. Great news for businesses that rely on the festive season to tide them over during the leaner months but extremely stressful for agents in contact centres. 2023 has arrived and the same tough economic challenges prevail, requiring urgent remedies to beat agent burnout and restore the contact centre to full health for a profitable New Year.
Your 5-step Detox Programme Starts Here
The New Year is the perfect time to turn realistic health intentions into reality. Blend strategies for enhanced emotional wellbeing with the latest agent-empowering technology to ensure frontline staff are feeling fit and healthy. Here are our top tips:
1. Get the foundations right—start by tackling the major stress triggers in your contact centre when the calls flood in from customers wanting to return or exchange their gifts. Don’t know what they are? If you don’t have automated analytics tools then simply ask agents directly—they will welcome the opportunity to be involved and asking shows you care and value their input. Next, rethink flexibility—what does it mean for your agents in 2023? Could experimenting with different scheduling techniques be effective? Remember to build mandatory rest time into schedules so agents can recharge their batteries. Managers might also consider developing a special DIY de-stressor kit, full of practical tips to reduce stress levels, whatever the season.
2. Build a team of brand guardians—as consumers continue to tighten their belts, competition is fiercer than ever and contact centres need to engage more intimately with customers to influence brand perception, win sales and build longer-term loyalty. Encourage agents to perfect a compelling storyboard that makes your product or service offering stand out from the crowd. Inspire and motivate team members through gamification, offering rewards to those who share their successes and learning with others. A quick Zoom call at the beginning of the day or an online video that can be watched at leisure is all it takes. This gives everyone the chance to embrace their new role as brand guardians while customers will pick up on their positive energy and enthusiasm.
3. Focus on soft skills—today’s brand guardians require a broader skillset because today’s customers want efficient service with the human touch. Reassess agent training programmes to make sure they are ready for the year ahead. Blend traditional hard skills such as speedy resolution of customer problems and product knowledge with softer skills. Focus on the top five behaviours that are the hallmarks of good customer conversations: empathy, helpfulness, adaptability, active listening and patience.
To minimise stress, empower agents with practical coping mechanisms for dealing with frustrated customers. For example, rather than over-use the word ‘sorry’ to pause a conversation or fill voids, encourage frontline staff to show genuine empathy with an opening response such as, “I know late deliveries are not acceptable and very frustrating for you”. Closing the conversation with a positive resolution of, “let’s see how we can put this right,” is a simple way to keep customers on your side while boosting agent confidence.
4. Introduce ‘lifestyle’ scheduling—and make it an intrinsic part of your wellbeing strategy to beat agent burnout. Self-service automation allows agents to build and edit their own schedules around their life rather than the other way round, in real-time, using their mobile devices. This new form of ‘lifestyle scheduling’ is particularly beneficial to hybrid working when domestic chores and work duties naturally heighten stress levels. Moreover, giving agents greater control over their work-from-home (WFH) regime will leave your brand guardians energised to deliver exceptional customer experience (CX).
5. Analytics are the way forward, inside and out— these modern-day miracle-workers capture and analyse data from within the contact centre and beyond, converting data into valuable business intelligence that can be used to enhance the agent and customer experience. Consider deploying Voice of the Employee (VoE) analytics to capture how agents are feeling to identify those who are struggling and need extra support.
Next, boost agent confidence to deliver stellar customer experiences by introducing Voice of the Customer (VoC) analytics. These clever tools release intelligent insights that give frontline staff a complete understanding of their end-to-end interactions including mood on every step of the customer journey. Meanwhile, they help supervisors uncover potential knowledge and skills gaps to refine and strengthen agent coaching and training. It’s a winning combination that allows the whole contact centre to flourish as brand guardians and make 2023 your best year ever.
For more ideas on how to beat agent burnout and deliver an outstanding customer experience, download Calabrio’s Workforce Wellbeing Toolkit or visit www.calabrio.com
Magnus Geverts is VP Product Marketing at Calabrio
Calabrio is a trusted ally to leading brands. The digital foundation of customer-centric contact centres, Calabrio helps enrich and interpret human interactions, empowering the contact centre as a brand guardian.
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