- Financial call center agent turnover is all too common, but smart burnout prevention strategies can help turn the tide.
- Scheduling consistency, a safe relaxation space, and great employee training programs can also help.
- With the right communication tools, financial services contact center agents are less likely to experience burnout.
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Contact center agent burnout has become a real challenge across the financial services sector. Insurance, mortgage and consumer lending, and investment contact center agents have all been impacted by burnout.
High levels of agent burnout contribute to absences, low productivity, employee attrition, and poor service. In contrast, proactive strategies to guard against burnout optimize the experiences of your financial services contact center agents and your customers.
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Strategies to help prevent agent burnout in your contact center
The following are several key strategies to help prevent agent burnout in your contact center.
Hire the right people
It takes a certain personality and set of work skills to succeed long-term in a call center job. A friendly, customer-oriented attitude is a good place to start. However, other aspects of an employee’s personality impact his or her ability to persevere through contact center challenges.
The ability to manage stress, maintain poise under pressure, persevere through obstacles, and maintain confidence are among traits that protect against burnout. The Society for Human Resources Management recommends a number of screening options to help you hire the right people for your financial services contact center.
Allow a safe space
People who struggle with anxiety or high levels of stress are familiar with the concept of a safe space. It is a quiet place to find solitude and separate from triggers that lead to feelings of stress or tension.
In many cases, the calls that come into a financial services contact center involve highly sensitive financial matters that can cause callers to feel overwhelmed and stressed. That stress can easily spread to agents. Whether it is one call that triggers a stressful response, or a buildup of calls over the day, sometimes a financial services contact center agent needs to step away. In tense moments, agent frustration can boil over and cause volatile blowups. Providing a calm place for an agent to go for a few minutes is better for your team, agents, and customers. It protects against agents feeling trapped at work.
To take things a step further, provide stress management coaching and resources. You can even put up posters and have other aids in your breakroom or quiet place. The safe space is simply a place agents know they can go for a few minutes when they feel the need to exit a tense environment.
Don’t add to the pressure
The job of a contact center rep is stressful enough; you don’t want to unintentionally add to the pressure with restrictive policies and procedures. Unnecessary rules and restrictions offer little benefit and contribute to feelings of workplace discomfort.
During COVID, many employers relaxed dress codes when practical to help workers feel more comfortable. Recognizing the cultural benefits, some employers plan to maintain relaxed policies indefinitely. While you understandably need your contact center agents to dress appropriately for financial services reps, that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to adhere to a strict dress code. A few simple, reasonable suggestions should suffice.
Micro-managing causes stress as well. A positive, coaching-oriented approach is more likely to encourage agents than continuous criticisms.
Improve training programs
A lack of training is a common culprit in burnout and employee resignations. When employees feel inadequate, it makes them less confident in conversations with customers. Uncertainty during tough conversations enhances the stress. This is especially true for agents in financial services contact centers, who are responsible for providing accurate, current information to users inquiring about their financial assets or circumstances.
Training is not just a one-time, upfront activity when done right. Offer periodic, consistent coaching and training for your agents. Provide ongoing access to training tutorials, resources, and cheat sheets that team members can refer to when issues come up.
Provide schedule consistency
A consistent schedule helps agents feel more in control of their work-life balance. If you alternate an employee’s shifts or make constant schedule changes, it is difficult for people to plan their lives outside of work.
It seems necessary, at times, to sacrifice employee comfort for urgent workplace demands, but this thinking contributes to burnout. It puts short-term bandaids on your human resources needs, but the long-term consequences aren’t worth it.
There are available tools to help you with workforce engagement and management. For example, RingCentral’s contact center solution includes workforce management tools, enabling managers to quickly and easily maximize coverage while customizing schedules to ensure agents can enjoy a good work-life balance.
Watch for warning signals
There are often early warning signs that someone is struggling with burnout. It is better to recognize signs before burnout sets in. Early intervention improves the chances that you can help an employee find comfort, get restored, and stay on the job.
The following are some of the common indicators of pre-burnout or burnout among financial services contact center agents:
- Lack of sleep
- Changes in personality
- Reduced productivity
- Tardiness or absences
- Conflicts with coworkers
- Simple mistakes
Provide optimized communication tools
One of the simplest, but often overlooked, ways to prevent burnout is to equip your agents with the best technology tools. Adequate technology helps streamline calls, prevents redundancies, improves first-call resolution rates, inspires collaboration, and optimizes efficiency.
Some key features to help contact center agents include:
- Intelligent call routing
- Workforce Engagement Management (WEM)
- CRM integration
- AI Agent Assist (using customer sentiment to help the agent in responding/handling calls)
- Real-time interaction guidance
- Agent Desktop (for knowledge articles and customer prompts)
- 360 feedback surveys
A cloud-based, cross-channel communications solution is a must in a contact center seeking all of these benefits. Unified communications systems allow seamless transitions between customers, regardless of channel. They also route calls to the most qualified agent and allow for easy transfers to other agents.
In insurance contact centers, some agents may have more experience answering questions about certain policy types. Skill-based contact routing ensures a customer is routed to the ideal agent to respond to their particular question.
In mortgage and consumer lending contact centers, customer-facing agents might need to collaborate with multiple team members to resolve customer issues. They may even work in different locations. A cloud-based unified communications system allows for effective collaboration across all common channels.
In investment contact centers, some questions require reps with particular credentials or licensing. The routing and simple agent transfer capabilities help get the client to the right agent in the fastest way possible.
In banking contact centers, many of the questions may focus on fraudulent charges on a bank or credit card account. The use of unified communications (internal collaboration) and contact center solutions (intelligent call routing) can help get the customer over to a fraud specialist so that the matter can be resolved quickly, adding to an overall positive experience for the customer.
RingCentral supports contact center agents
Agent burnout is expensive for your contact center and impacts the quality of service your team members provide. It is expensive to constantly replace team members and it also has a negative impact on workplace morale. Thus, it is vital that you enact strategies to safeguard against the problems associated with burnout in your financial services contact center.
RingCentral offers a top cloud-based communications system that enhances collaboration and reduces frustration among call center agents. It also allows for seamless transitions across multiple communication channels and easy transfers from one agent to the next to improve first-call resolutions.
Learn more about the benefits of RingCentral for your contact center; see how it works.
Originally published May 17, 2022