The Psychology of Contact Centre Work: Understanding and Mitigating Stress Triggers   

Author: Wil Sokanovic | Date: 12/06/2024

Contact centres play a crucial role in the customer service industry. They provide businesses with the support they need to attract customers, resolve issues, troubleshoot problems and improve the customer experience overall.

But the challenging nature of contact centre work is sometimes underestimated. Management teams facing their own pressures may assume that the agent training or salary on offer is enough to satisfy agents in their role. Contact centres also risk falling behind competitors when it comes to technology. This can lead to agents being asked to deal with challenging interactions where technology is a hindrance.

Also, it’s easy for management to simply look at the metrics of an agent and assume all is well. However, while contact centre agents can be resilient people who can handle pressures and demands, they can also suffer in the workplace through accumulated stress. As time goes on, that takes its toll.

Contact centre agents can continue to hit their targets whilst slowly feeling like they are unravelling. If they are good at their jobs, contact centre agents can keep up the pretence that they’re fine. By simply looking at performance stats, it’s easy for to miss the signs of burnout in contact centre teams.

Managers Needs to Spot the Signs of Burnout

Stressful and emotive interactions are a day-to-day reality of life as a contact centre agent. Dealing with challenging clients is the most common source of stress, but the pressure to meet targets, build relationships with colleagues and work prolonged hours can also be challenging.

Despite being an issue for many years, call centre burnout is still extremely common and can impact everything from turnover rate to complaints and adherence to compliance. Delivering exceptional customer satisfaction is critical to the success of a business, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of agent wellbeing. Businesses must find ways to balance the achievement of customer service goals with their employees’ well-being and mental health.

Fortunately, mental health awareness is a topic that’s regularly discussed these days, especially in the workplace. It’s now widely accepted that employees suffering from burnout and stress find it hard to switch off from difficult workplace situations even when they’re not working.

Companies are responsible for ensuring that agents receive all the help and support they need. But first, they have to effectively spot the signs that an agent is struggling. Understanding the specific stress triggers within the business is the first step.

Common Stress Triggers In Contact Centre Roles

The role of an agent is demanding. The fast-paced nature of the job means that there’s little downtime between calls to process and reconcile difficult interactions.  When you add to that the other aspects of the role that can make it stressful, early intervention to spot stress triggers and support employees is crucial.  In call centres, specific stress triggers for employees can include:

  • Dealing with angry customers and emotional interactions regularly
  • Process or regulatory changes that impact how calls are handled
  • A lack of training or bedding-in time as a new hire or when upskilling
  • Shift patterns that include long or unsociable hours
  • Limited support as supervisors and managers are stretched too thinly
  • Increasing call targets to meet the business objectives
  • Changes to call centre software or platforms not performing as needed
  • Limited career opportunities
  • Other employees leaving causing a resource shortage

Suffering In Silence

Some agents are happy to speak up and ask for help, but sadly, countless others suffer in silence. They may worry that managers won’t think they’re capable of doing the job and they could be let go. Others may feel embarrassed to speak up and ask for support. Agents who suffer in silence will keep going as long as they can, but this is dangerous for their mental health as they are at risk of complete burnout.

Management teams and those in senior positions need to be willing to do all they can to spot the signs of burnout. Not every member of the team will be vocal about their concerns. It could simply be in their personality to internalise their issues, or they might have other issues.

A lack of confidence in job security, or a lack of belief that something will be done are also common reasons for an employee to suffer in silence.

Voice Analysis Can Be Vital For Spotting Struggling Agents

Of course, it’s not always easy to spot these issues, or find solutions to the problems agents face especially when agent internalise their issues.

But, by using intelligent voice and speech analysis, a deeper insight is gained into how agents are really feeling. AI-powered voice analysis software can be used for everything from automating mundane but important tasks to analysing conversations. It detects and flags signs of potential problems bubbling under the surface, enabling line managers to step in and support the agent.

By making some aspects of the role easier through automation, the right contact centre technology can help to reduce day-to-day stress levels and make the job easier for agents.

Voice analysis helps businesses to spot potential signs of trouble for agents. By uncovering changes in their speech patterns or being alerted to red-flag statements made by agents during calls, line managers can quickly step in to support the agent and mitigate further risks to their mental health.

Voice analysis software is an incredibly powerful tool that helps managers to monitor the wellbeing of all their team, reducing the burden on them to be alert to everything, which is impossible.

Support Your Agents With Awaken

Having the right contact centre technology can help you support your agents and manage call centre anxiety and stress. However, you must partner with the right provider if you want to get the most out of your investment and achieve the desired outcomes.

Awaken has an AI-driven suite of tools that have been specifically designed to support call centre agents and maintain a productive working environment.

Book a free demo today to see how our solutions can support agent wellbeing, improve agent performance and boost customer satisfaction.