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Keep Agents Happy Using Call Center KPIs to Fight Agent Burnout

call center software


Agent burnout is a nasty problem – and no stranger to call centers around the world. It leads to high attrition rates, inconsistent employee experience and poor business results. But it doesn’t have to. By measuring call center KPIs, companies can reduce agent burnout and dramatically improve agent loyalty, company standing and performance. Here are five traits of burnout that can be monitored using KPIs.

Tip: To make the most of call center KPIs, businesses should analyze the metrics frequently, establish internal benchmarks, refine processes and procedures and assess where improvements or stalemates occur.

1. Little Sense of Achievement (Inefficacy)

A flagging sense of achievement is one of three factors associated with burnout, according to Christina Maslach, professor emerita of psychology at Berkeley University. While she and her colleagues identified the three components more than a decade ago, their findings remain relevant; many organizations use the Maslach Burnout Inventory Manual to this day.

Warning Signs: An agent with lower efficacy has largely given up on their work. Consequently, they may display an apathetic attitude or feel overwhelmed. They may also lack clarity about their job responsibilities.

What to Do: If a call center KPI indicates reveals declines in performance, it’s time to poll the agents. Organizations should discover the cause(s) behind each metric before implementing solutions. A cynical agent, for example, may need a new challenge. The agent struggling to understand their role requires clear delineation of expectations and access to resources, training and coaching.

2. Low Productivity

A lack of productivity is usually easy to identify – but not always. Just being in the chair and on the phone doesn’t mean anything’s getting done! Easy metrics that reveal dropping productivity are:

• Calls per hour.
• Customer satisfaction scores.
• Dollars or agreements per day.
• Daily average hold time.
• Daily average aftercall work time.
• Number of transfers per day.
• First call resolution.
• Average handle time.

Warning Signs: Low productivity typically presents itself as “going through the motions.” The agent has lost the energy to exceed their own and others’ expectations and often does the least amount of work possible.

What to Do: Rather than measuring time in the chair, as Shirish Deodhar at Sapience says, companies should measure the amount of work being done. In short, the solution is measuring production metrics, rather than attendance/punctuality numbers.

3. Absenteeism

Most agents on the verge of burnout experience mental, emotional and even physical symptoms. As a result, they call in sick, causing the absenteeism metric to climb. The increase, particularly if widespread, should be considered a red flag.

Warning Signs: Absenteeism often starts with exhaustion and fatigue. The agent may be at work, but they are rarely fully present. Eventually, the exhaustion turns into a cold or depression. The agent then starts using their sick days.

What to Do: Like with the other metrics, businesses should pinpoint the cause behind the symptom. Doing so results in practical, impactful business strategies and procedures. In addition, Rachel Everly at Hppy, a human resources consultancy, suggests creating a wellness program that helps agents cope with stress in healthy, productive ways.

4. Call Center KPIs Indicating Lackluster Work

Even if an agent doesn’t miss work, the quality of their work product may suffer. This is normal, as an agent experiencing the early stages of burnout often checks out from the workload. The “checking out” may not even be intentional, but it sometimes happens.

Warning Signs: Agents struggling with burnout may forget tasks or meetings. The agent may also be irritable, unable to concentrate or more mistakes than usual.

What to Do: Again, companies should investigate the symptom before deploying solutions. The cause could be a problem within the business, but it could also be that the agent has a newborn at home. Regardless, some basic recommendations can be made: companies should provide clear expectations and offer ongoing trainings. In addition, organizations should listen — without judgment — when an agent shares what’s causing them stress and offer appropriate avenues of support.

5. Uncommunicative Agents

Spotting an uncommunicative agent can be hard. After all, they spend their days talking with customers. Communication is their job. And yet, agents can become uncommunicative, delaying their responses to internal emails and chat messages or avoiding the water cooler or coffee pot.

Warning Signs: Besides “sticking to their desk,” an uncommunicative agent may quit making suggestions or giving feedback. They disengage—maybe not from the work, but from their peers and managers.

What to Do: When agents pull away from peers and managers, it’s the managers’ and executives’ responsibility to figure out what’s going on. The latter can do this by creating spaces where agents can be open and honest about what’s troubling them. It also occurs by leading people well, which entails setting team goals and encouraging diverse opinions.

The five metrics outlined above are effective, established measurements that identify unhappy agents. Investing in business intelligence alongside common measurement tools means your business can then integrate personal and business performance. That integration, in turn, allows businesses to evolve processes and to succeed on both an individual and organizational basis.

To learn more about how business intelligence and performance metrics go hand-in-hand, watch TCN’s webinar.

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