Customer Experience

Updated On: Jan 16, 2024

7 Call Center Stress Causes & Management Tips For CX Leaders

Reading-Time 12 Min

Call Center Stress

As a customer-centric business, providing exceptional customer service is your top priority. Similarly, an agent’s well-being is essential to your call center’s success. 

Working at a contact center can be highly stressful. It requires agents to function reactively, addressing consumers’ inquiries in real-time, which might cause feelings of exhaustion, powerlessness, or fear.

Approximately 87% of call center employees report high-stress levels at work, resulting in an average 30-45% turnover rate. With the cost of $10,000-$20,000 per agent turnover, call center stress can also result in a drastic financial setback.

Moreover, high turnover rates also contribute to understaffed call centers, resulting in increased workload for agents, reduced productivity, and longer hold times, significantly decreasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

This blog discusses the primary call center stressors and practical tips and best practices you can implement to reduce call center stress for improved agent and customer experience. 

7 Most Common Causes Of Call Center Stress

Call center stress can majorly impact agent performance and job satisfaction. Addressing these stressors can improve staff retention and ensure exceptional customer service. 

Here are the top causes of contact center stress to watch out for:

1. Unmanageable workload

Call center work can be extremely demanding for your agents. Unrelenting workloads, high targets, and rigid call schedules are some job demands that may impact agents emotionally and cause burnout

2. Unreasonable Time Expectations

While customers have little tolerance for sluggish service, contact centers strive to speed up by imposing severe time limitations on agents for answering questions and resolving tickets. Coupled with limited resources, these time limitations will likely create chronic stress for employees.

3. Dealing with Angry Customers

No matter how unique a product or service is, it is inevitable to encounter dissatisfied consumers who will exert a significant influence on the workday of your representatives. Handling irritated and angry consumers can be stressful for agents, affecting their mental health and causing stress-related disorders. 

4. Mundane & Repetitive Task

Call center work can be extremely repetitive and inflexible. Doing the same set of tasks day in and day out can get monotonous, and limit agents’ ability to be creative, resulting in feelings of disengagement and burnout.    

5. Lack of necessary resources

When your agents lack adequate resources, including training and knowledge tools, they fail to respond effectively to consumer inquiries, hurting customer service.

Furthermore, due to a lack of training to handle the demanding call center environment, agents may experience high-stress levels when faced with challenging situations.

6. Lack of Rewards and Recognition

Call center personnel who believe they are underpaid for their efforts are generally demotivated, disengaged, and stressed. Inadequate financial incentives, minimal recognition, and the absence of a sense of purpose or fulfillment from completing meaningful work can all contribute to stress.

7. Micromanagement

Companies with poor CSAT scores and excessive agent mistakes frequently turn to micromanaging agents for better results. This approach may create a tense atmosphere and add to agents’ stress. Agents who are dissatisfied with their management report greater call center stress and a desire to leave the company.

Now that we have discussed the main causes let’s explore some tips to help alleviate call center stress and prepare your agents to manage work demands.

7 Call Center Stress Management Tips

1. Invest in the Right Technology

Customers expect companies to be available to support them across email, phone, chat, etc. Given that customers increasingly prefer to find their answers for standard problems, the issues that agents deal with involve greater complexity and skill set. 

However, even the most experienced & relaxed agent cannot deliver satisfactory customer service if the technology cannot connect the agents with the information they need to do their job

Investing in the right technology is mission-critical to ensure efficient and hassle-free customer service delivery. The right technology can mean different things to different companies. However, key considerations for the right contact center technology could include: 

  • An efficient knowledge ecosystem to deliver contextual and actionable knowledge at the right time across customer touchpoints for omnichannel customer experience CX). 
  • Seamless integrations between multiple contact center tools agents use, i.e., Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, Knowledge base, telephone, email, chat, etc.  
  • Intuitive technology that is easier to navigate and adapt to. 
  • Scalability to align with growing business needs and growth demands 
  • Data security and compliance to ensure the protection of customer data and contact center regulatory compliance. 

2. Automate Customer Support

Meaningful work is a prerequisite for employees to stay engaged and report higher productivity and efficiency. However, repetitive tasks that can be easily automated leave agents burnt out and unempowered to engage meaningfully with customers. 

Automating customer support reduces the volume of support tickets for agents and provides them with time and energy to respond to more critical customer problems.

Besides reducing call center stress and a cost-effective means to provide customer support, self-service improves customer satisfaction, as 67% of customers prefer self-service over talking to a support agent. 

Knowmax’s omnichannel-ready knowledge base can be integrated with your digital channels like chatbots, website help center, mobile applications, interactive voice response (IVR), etc., to provide 24/7 customer support.

Step-by-step troubleshooting instructions, picture guides, articles, and quick FAQs can assist customers in fixing their issues quickly and hassle-free. 

If a customer cannot resolve a problem independently, the issue can be escalated to a human agent. With the smooth transfer of contextual knowledge from one channel to another, agents can maintain customer trust by delivering fast and accurate solutions.  

3. Empower Agents with Guided-Assist Workflows  

Customers who are already irritated by long hold times and listening to unpleasant wait tunes expect an immediate and effortless response to their concerns. However, if customer service SOPs are scattered across silos, your agents will struggle to provide accurate and timely answers. 

In such cases, simplified, guided workflows can assist agents in taking the next best action based on customer input. This will save agents time and effort looking for information and relieve them of the stress caused by thinking too hard on tight deadlines. 

Knowmax’s guided-assist-based decision trees enable you to transform complex SOPs into automated next-best action-based workflows without requiring any technical expertise.

You can integrate decision trees with your CRM to auto-traverse customer information and ensure fast and mistake-proof customer service while improving your agent and customer experience.  

step by step guided workflows

4. Enhance Agent Training

Call center employees must often encounter and resolve unpleasant client interactions, which cause them chronic stress. However, with enhanced training, agents feel more prepared and confident in their roles, thus reducing stress levels. 

Establishing well-executed onboarding programs is the first step to familiarizing new agents with call center culture, products and services, and customer service standards. Additionally, ongoing training and coaching improve agents’ skills and keep them updated per the changing processes.

This provides agents with feedback on their performance and helps them identify areas for improvement. 

Moreover, incorporating learning methods such as video tutorials, e-learning, classroom training, and hands-on learning help agents stay engaged and retain information better. 

5. Motivate agents with Incentives

By incentivizing agents, call center management can create a more motivated and engaged workforce. While every agent has a different drive toward motivation and work ethic, aligning the strategies to the agent’s perspective is a great way to keep them engaged.

Setting up a staff reward program for individuals who accomplish good work is one approach to combat call center stress and inspire personnel. It means incentivizing agents to meet or exceed performance metrics such as call handling time, customer satisfaction scores, etc.

This will enhance agent morale even when faced with inevitable challenges, such as furious customers, by giving their everyday duties purpose and meaning.

Additionally, providing agents with opportunities for professional development can motivate them to continue to improve their skills and knowledge. Agents who feel their employer invests in their professional growth are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

6. Set Clear Expectations 

According to a survey, around 31% of agents feel stressed due to unclear supervisor expectations. The ambiguity in role objectives affects agents’ understanding of their responsibilities and generates confusion about performance evaluation. Not only this, but it also creates job dissatisfaction, which often leads to call center burnout.  

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals is an effective way for CX leaders to convey expectations and explain agent assessment measures. Furthermore, to ensure that agents have sufficient resources to achieve their objectives, it is critical to communicate the consequences of not achieving these goals.

This can motivate agents to work harder and take their responsibilities seriously. Clear communication and goal setting can help agents achieve their objectives and improve customer service.   

7. Foster Transparency

The fact that 59% of agents are at risk of burnout, while 52% of employees feel undervalued by their management, makes it imperative to create a clear, healthy, and transparent work culture that encourages high-performing employees. 

Promoting open communication between agents and management is key to reducing stress. You can achieve this by encouraging agents to freely share their feedback and ideas and sharing management’s strategies and goals.

Both constructive and positive feedback can help agents understand where they need to improve and where they are doing well. Furthermore, this can contribute to building trust between agents and management. 

Fostering employee engagement programs can also create a sense of community and reduce the feeling of isolation that agents can experience in a call center.

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Final Thoughts 

Customer expectations are rising across all industries, increasing the pressure on agents to provide convenience. However, when agents are stressed, their performance is hampered. Therefore, identifying call center stress is crucial to cultivate a healthy and profitable work environment. 

By focusing on agent experience, CX leaders can improve customer experience The tips outlined above can be adapted to create a more productive and fulfilling work environment, leading to higher employee retention and improved customer satisfaction.

Kamal Pathak

Lead Product Manager

Kamal Pathak has over 10 years of experience as a product manager building successful B2B SaaS products in customer experience space. He enjoys writing, speaking, and coaching aspiring product managers.

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