Stress is a major barrier to success and it is affecting everyone.
In a new three-part series Ross Daniels introduces Calabrio’s campaign to support improvements for people, processes and technology to enable greater wellbeing across contact centre organisations. This first article outlines the key triggers for agents, supervisors and senior managers and shows why it pays to take a comprehensive approach to organisational wellbeing.
The impact of the past few years has been wide-reaching and traumatic. Flexible working practices, growing customer demands and a fast-changing competitive landscape are all taking their toll. And these stressors are affecting everyone in the contact centre and beyond.
Let’s start with frontline staff
Stress levels among agents are rising sharply with 96% claiming to feel stressed at least once a week, while 33% of agents are stressed multiple times a week – up from 25% in 2017. Is it any wonder, given that they are dealing with 14.4 additional omnichannel interactions per day?[i] At the same time, many people are still adapting psychologically to an often disorienting ‘work from anywhere’ culture while faced with the practicalities of juggling home and work life.
Agent stress has a knock-on effect on supervisors and customer experience (CX)
A recent study revealed that 60% of respondents agreed that staff attrition and absence, while initially pandemic-related, is still causing CX issues.[ii] Just how do those running the show (aka the operations of the contact centre) juggle agent schedules and skills throughout the day while planning for future recruitment, coaching and training, as cost-effectively as possible? Contact centre leaders also need to understand the bigger picture, such as why staff are leaving for the competition or why customer churn rates are higher than usual. The pressure is on contact centre operations to manage agent stress while at the same time dealing with hybrid working and increased numbers of digital communication channels. Add to this the need to optimise performance, keep teams connected and meet ever increasing customer expectations. It’s all created a perfect storm for anxiety and stress that threatens the wellbeing of employees and the long-term prosperity of their organisations. What can be done to reverse the trend?
Three ways to improve wellbeing
Wellbeing translates into agents who are empowered, taking control of their working lives and the customer experience; where supervisors support the business with a motivated workforce that surpasses key metrics and service levels and where executives strike a fine balance between cost control, innovation and business expansion. Here are three ideas for inspiration:
1. Take an all-round approach – find out what is working and what isn’t – for your agents, supervisors and senior managers. Look beyond the contact centre and think about involving other parts of the organisation, including subject matter experts, to improve knowledge, boost contact centre performance and enhance wellbeing. What processes are in place to share best-practice CX learning so that all departments are encouraged to do better and increase their own sense of wellbeing?
2. Make the most of data – with customer and employee loyalty in flux during the pandemic, companies need deep, relevant insights inside and outside the organisation to help protect and grow customer relationships while keeping staff from straying to the competition. All too often however, valuable information gets trapped inside the contact centre. Essentially, many organisations are sitting on a goldmine of intelligence that isn’t used effectively – are you being held back by data silos or clunky IT systems?
3. Follow the leaders – success depends on gaining control over data using data-driven technologies. For example, Thomson Reuters wanted to understand how the introduction of remote agent onboarding and training, due to COVID-19, was affecting its business. Using the latest analytics, the company identified calls with long and multiple hold times, then worked to establish the reasons why this was happening. The goal was to eliminate putting calls on hold. As a result of the analytics programme the company enjoyed significant benefits with a wide-ranging impact on organisational wellbeing. For example, the Tax & Accounting Professionals Business Unit potentially saved up to 3% of its contact centre’s annual operating budget. Meanwhile, average call times reduced by more than 90 seconds, call holds per call dropped one-and-a-half times and there was a 6.4% increase in customer satisfaction.
Success depends on removing stress at all levels of the organisation. In our next article, discover how modern Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) solutions including AI-infused analytics are the answer to wellbeing. We will also look at how technology can be integral to enhancing staff engagement, optimising contact centre performance and boosting profitability. Head to“Workforce Wellbeing Recovery Kit”
Ross Daniels is Chief Marketing Officer at Calabrio
[i] “Health of the Contact Centre 2021: Agent Wellbeing and The Great Resignation” – published by Calabrio
[ii] “US Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2021-2022” – published by ContactBabel