Josh O’Farrell of Spearline shares some of the biggest struggles that industry professionals face in day-to-day contact centre life.
The role of a contact centre agent is varied and, at times, difficult. They are expected to answer calls and emails, deal with customer queries, provide product and service information, set and achieve sales targets, and so on.
This article looks at some of the challenges of working in a contact centre, along with some solutions.
Work-related stress is a huge factor in some workplaces and it is one of the top challenges faced by contact centre agents.
“Whether you are big or small, you cannot give good customer service if your employees don’t feel good about coming to work.” – Martin Oliver.
Some contact centres run round the clock to suit all time zones, and their agents are expected to work various shift patterns to facilitate this.
However, being flexible can come at a cost, as agents have reported suffering from stress along with other issues, such as back problems from consistently being seated, and cases of insomnia. Causes of stress for contact centre agents include: dealing with challenging customers, lack of breaks and long unsociable working hours.
Contact centres can aim to combat work-related stress by creating a roster that is as fair as possible to all staff. For example, if an agent has worked two weekends in a row or the past three waking nights, then they could have the option to switch to day shifts for a week.
A roster that alternates shift patterns between all staff equally, where feasible, will benefit staff morale and work performance. It gives staff the opportunity to have a better work–life balance.
2. Excessive Monitoring
Excessive monitoring practices are another challenge of working in a contact centre. When monitoring is too frequent or too intrusive or the feedback is too harsh, this results in further stress for agents as well as job dissatisfaction. Monitoring should be a rare process.
An alternative approach could be to incentivize staff to perform better using work benefits. Happy, motivated staff require less monitoring. Staff meetings and supervision sessions are also a good way to engage with agents outside of monitoring. Build a good relationship with them and they will come to you if they have any concerns.
3. Monotony and Repetition
In order to reduce costs and provide consistency, contact centres have simplified tasks and have created strict scripts for agents to follow. This has resulted in a monotonous work environment that is unchallenging for agents. These scripts stunt creativity, reduce mental stability and leave agents feeling disengaged and stressed.
An alternative solution could be to have progressive stages where agents can work towards fewer restrictions and eventually aim towards the opportunity to work off-script. Agents could be given a trial, and if they are able to think on their feet and satisfy customer requests then they could move up the ladder.
By having more faith in your trained agents and allowing them decision-making discretion, you will improve turnover rates and benefit your company.
4. Technical Issues
Slow boot and processing times, out-of-date software and poor audio quality are some of the challenges faced by contact centre agents. It can add additional pressure or stress to agents if they feel they are ill-equipped to effectively handle customer interactions due to insufficient equipment or software.
Regularly updating software and proactively monitoring audio quality are cost-effective solutions that will ensure your agents’ level of efficiency is not being compromised.
Poor audio quality can be extremely irritating for both sides of the call, and can lead back to frustrated customers who can aggravate your agents.
A company can have positive or negative customer relations depending on its contact centre agents. Therefore, it is important to treat your agents as an asset. Like any job, there will be challenges, but there will always be solutions. Your agents will appreciate you trying the above suggestions in order to make their day more manageable.
The result will be positive knock-on benefits for your company. Happier agents lead to happier customers, creating a happier business.
For more information about Spearline, visit: www.spearline.com