By this point in the new year, the post-holiday blues are starting to subside. We’ve agonized over the return to “reality” and begrudgingly settled back into our routine.
But the post-holiday blues hit different for customer service teams. While many were baking cookies and wrapping presents, agents were going head-to-head with the biggest digital Q4 in ecommerce history. Not only did they endure a multiple month-long holiday rush, but they did it amidst the labor shortage and pandemic-induced supply chain issues.
The work doesn’t stop after the Times Square Ball drops. For support reps, the peak season chaos continues into the new year as customers return gifts, make exchanges, and cancel orders that failed to arrive on time. The incoming service requests continue to pile up, contributing to the harrowing holiday backlog.
While the holiday hangover is a challenge in and of itself, an even bigger threat is underway: burnout. Peak season aside, burnout is very prevalent in the customer service industry. Even before the pandemic, over half of customer service employees felt burnout on a daily basis. It comes as no surprise that those numbers have and continue to be on the rise. Today, 94% of Americans report feeling stressed at work and nearly 80% are concerned about their mental health.
Businesses that are not actively addressing and fighting burnout in the workplace are putting their support team and ultimately their business at risk. Failing to combat burnout directly affects the well-being of your agents. That alone is reason enough to take action.
Burnout also leads to employee churn, inability to scale, and affects the quality of service your organization is able to provide. On a large scale, workplace stress costs the U.S. economy more than $500 billion. Making it a mission to reduce burnout within your service organization can ultimately boost your bottom line.
Here are 5 actionable ways to beat customer service employee burnout:
1. Conduct Regular Pulse Surveys
Before you can address your service team’s burnout, you need to be able to measure it. An employee burnout survey can help you identify the current rate of your team’s burnout, along with the root causes. By conducting regular pulse surveys and taking action on the results, you’ll also ensure that your team members feel valued and heard.
If you haven’t already, collect feedback from your agents on their post-holiday stress levels, burnout rate, and their overall peak season experience. With this information, you can more accurately create short-term and long-term plans for addressing and combating burnout. It can also provide you with ideas on how to prep for the next holiday season, so you can be proactive in your burnout prevention efforts.
2. Support Mental Health In The Workplace
Stress in the workplace is not just office anxiety; 76% of people say it affects their mental health. It takes a toll emotionally, mentally, and even physically. When it comes to burnout prevention, prioritizing mental health is imperative. From organizing leadership trainings to planning accessible work events and providing mental health benefits, there are many steps businesses can take and initiatives to implement that promote wellbeing in the workplace.
3. Alleviate Pressure
Working in customer service is stressful as is, but even more so during times when support query volumes spike. As the ticket queue increase, so do customer wait times - which is likely to result in more frustrated customers and lower CSAT.
Deploying a technology like AI automation can help you tackle this domino effect and reduce pressure on agents.
While humans have a ticket capacity, AI does not. The right AI automation tool has autoscaling capabilities for hypergrowth, seasonal peaks, and daily fluctuations - creating elasticity when it’s needed most. Whether it’s a typical busy workday or one of the busiest of the year, AI automation can help alleviate the stress your support team faces without sacrificing the quality of service that is being delivered.
4. Reduce Repetition
It is draining for humans to tend to the same task over and over again, yet nearly 90% of an agent’s time is spent repeating the same answers to the same questions. Take the post-holiday return rush, for example. This year, an estimated ⅔ of shoppers will have returned at least one gift. That’s a lot of returns to process!
Imagine how much time and repetitive strain you could save your agents by reducing the number of return order tickets they have to tend to. While you can’t eliminate return requests (without angering a lot of customers) you can leverage a tool like AI automation to handle high volumes of routine issues. Thankful’s AI Agent can fully resolve 50+ of the most common ticket types such as “return order” and “exchange item” with consistency and ease.
With AI taking on the mundane transactional tickets, human agents can put their time and energy towards solving more particular customer queries and providing more meaningful experiences. Agents will feel more accomplished, less bored, and will be less susceptible to burnout when they are able to partake in more rewarding service interactions.
5. Encourage Team Recognition
Supporting customers can sometimes feel like a thankless job, which is why customer service agents need to be frequently recognized for their efforts.
Encourage a culture of recognition where employees receive thoughtful, meaningful feedback from their managers and peers, and consider adopting employee recognition software to spotlight core values, celebrate team achievements (like making it through the holiday season!), and recognize employee milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries.
While customer service burnout post-peak season is a large threat, it is not exclusive to this time of year. Burnout can occur at any time and there are no set-it-and-forget-it solutions. The effort put into minimizing workplace stress and reducing burnout needs to be ongoing in order to be successful.
Businesses making it a priority to address and fight burnout in the workplace is long overdue. So the sooner employers take action, the better.
To learn more about the negative impact burnout has on your business and discover more burnout prevention tactics, download The Ultimate Guide To Beating Customer Service Burnout.
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