I have always wondered how someone who loves to help people can ever get bored of that at some point in their career. Perhaps you entered a career in customer service for the wrong reasons? Maybe you’re trying to transition to a different department? Or maybe your helpdesk is limiting you to reactive customer service?
Satisfaction for working in customer support has been sinking. Customer support professionals are 6.8% less satisfied with their job now as compared to when they first started. And support managers reported that maintaining and improving team morale is one of the top challenges they face.
Continually working under high pressure and with a heavy workload has been proven to lead to stress and burnout. And constantly working at maximum capacity means that support professionals may not have the time to invest in personal growth – leaving them feeling unfulfilled.
As a customer support advocate myself, I want to help get to the bottom of this. Let’s go through three ways of preventing customer service burnout, and look at how to keep a job in customer support more interesting.
We’ll look at:
- Ways Support Managers can empower their support teams
- Better ways to understand your customers and make your day-to-day supporting life easier
- How Customer Support Representatives can find new, and exciting challenges in their roles
Join me, as we take a 360-look at how different areas of working in customer support can attribute to burnout.
How Customer Support Managers can reduce burnout
As a manager you hold a lot of cards for how your reps or reps can feel at work. There are many ways to empower your support team, and reduce employee stress. Consider some of these methods:
Stop inducing anxiety through strict performance monitoring
There is an undeniable fact that chats, cases and calls are always monitored for quality purposes. Many companies have audit scorecards with up to 50 different criteria points their reps have to meet when having a conversation with a customer. Upsell – check! Expressed empathy – check! Said “we appreciate your business” – check!
Having the feeling of being watched constantly can definitely be a source of stress for the customer support reps.
I am not saying that performance monitoring should not be there. Yet, by being slightly more careful about monitoring, we can avoid this to be a source of stress for our teams.
While relaxing your eye on your team’s customer service KPI metrics, also consider allowing your support reps to use more than just out-of-the-box solutions with your customers. This means they are trying to resolve an issue which is not possible using only your product or software.
If the employee is criticised for thinking like that and is always constrained to stick to solutions which can be achieved only through the product, this can lead to frustration for the reps.
Reason being, the reps can feel that even though they can help, they have to stick to a formatted and predefined way in how they offer a solution. This can be really frustrating to an reps who knows they can help, but is limited to the corporate structure of the organization.
Give feedback on their work
Using regular feedback sessions within your team is an excellent way to tackle customer service job burnout.
Deliver feedback using the radical candor feedback framework:
If feedback is good, it has to be public, and if negative, it should still be taken up regularly and in-person. What this ensures is that there is more transparency and you know where your improvement areas are.
Tip: Sometimes the word feedback can provoke a little more stress in your team, so if you notice that your staff are not comfortable with the word ‘feedback’, replace it with ‘guidance’ and see the difference!
Understand your customers better
We all know that today’s customers are really smart. They have all the resources at their disposal. A lot of the time we are dealing with customers who tried numerous Google searches to find a solution before they contact support:
- Pre-sales: consumers make their own enquiries regarding a purchase. Quite often, 70% of the decision has already been made before a consumer contacts a company; 27% prefer to ask commercial questions over the phone; whereas 56% opt for the self-service approach.
- Sales: the exponential growth of e-commerce shows that more and more people want to stay in control of the purchase process.
- Post sales: 35% prefer to ask questions over the phone; 48% choose the self-service option.
The trend is clearly pointing towards the customer being happy to help themselves. When they help themselves that means they are solution oriented.
Similarly, when they contact support reps, if only customers knew that we can better help them if we know their persona type! When they ask Kayako support these kind of questions, we can normally decipher which kind of person they might be:
- “So, do you think if I try this, it should work?”
- “Shall I quickly check it on my colleague’s machine to make sure it’s not just me?”
- “Actually, the last time I faced a similar issue, it happened to be linked to our own server. Thanks for pointing me to the right direction.”
- “When you discuss this with the developer, can you also check if it needs any particular settings at our end?”
When supporting your own customers, look for hints in their personality traits that fit your personas to ensure a smoother support interaction. Or, if you haven’t created any persona’s yet, that’s a great challenge for you!
As a customer support rep, you want every customer to leave happy. At the end of the day this is what you count as an achievement.
As a customer you can help make this happen. You may very well ask, how? The answer is in being yourself. If you are the kind of person who googles for a solution and would be more concerned about the solution rather than how it is achieved, let them know. They can help you out accordingly. A little forgiving and accepting attitude as a customer can make a lot of difference for a rep. As they say “treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
Find new and exciting challenges
As a customer support employee, you’re also in charge of your happiness at work. If you simply stick to your job description, and deal with customer queries day in day out – be it cases, calls, and chats – then, there’s no wonder customer service representatives burnout!
Bringing variety into your day is one of the most practical ways to avoid burnout in customer service. As soon as team members start to find new challenges in their day that interest them it’s how they reinvigorate themselves and love their job again. As a support manager – along with trying to find new challenges for yourself – you need to encourage your team to try something new as well.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Be that link between the customer and the engineers
Learn to communicate product feedback to your engineering team, and help make your product better with valuable customer feedback. Support should have a big say in how the product should be developed as they collect so much customer insight.
This can be your chance of minimizing that frustration. You already know the customer and how they use the product. Use that knowledge to not only help the developers but present yourself a new challenge.
If you are a data lover…
…Go for data extraction projects and help scale your support team. There is no denying the fact that the best way to scale support teams is to use data. You need to analyze your customer support metrics to find out how many cases, customers, chats, etc., that you deal with every day. Grabbing these statistics is the perfect way to present the case that you need to hire another member of staff for your customer service team.
If you’re happy to face the public, arrange a webinar
Webinars are a great way to educate customers at scale. Best practice webinars for your product bring you in contact with the customers that are eager to learn.
Your spoken word, along with a video demonstration is an excellent way to communicate with your customers. They may develop an even better understanding of your product when you explain it through speaking to them personally, rather than through a wordy email. While public speaking brings huge amounts of anxiety to some people, this will ultimately lead to less burnout. How?
During webinars you are in a completely different environment. This helps you a lot psychologically because it’s nice to step out from behind your software, and rather than crafting lengthy “how-to” emails, you get to interact with your customer in real-time, answer their questions, and offer them help in a new way.
Introduce new and efficient ways to work
If you love improving business processes to bring in efficiency – go for it. So far, based on my experience, I have found that companies can cut down on a lot of costs.
For example, let’s say you get a lot of requests coming in for software patches to be applied. However, after every upgrade those patches are overwritten and then customers have to come back to you again and the whole process is repeated.
A better way of handling this process would be to track whenever a software patch is applied for a customer, so that you can proactively update it for them. You can make a note of how many patches you have applied for the same issue. This gives you an idea that it needs to be fixed once and for all. This leads to efficiency as on one hand, it gives you data, and second, you save your’s and the customer’s time from repeating the same request.
Another example of where you can call for improved efficiency would be where you have to log requests for the other team to do certain tasks. If you can read through the process and understand why you have to log requests for the other team, you can work towards automating tasks to cut down time and save man hours for your support reps.
So, if that’s you, go ahead, bring in efficiency, make your company proud of you and at the same time get that burnout rate down.
How to avoid customer service burnout
For people constantly facing customers, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. While the interactions with your customers can sometimes feel endless, there are ways you can stop being reactive and start taking back control of your working day.
You can do countless things to reinvigorate your love for working in support.
You don’t have to try everything on this list, but these are some great ways my team, and I found to love customer support again.
Remember you need to do this for yourself, for your own sense of achievement and once you have that, the burnout in customer support is likely to go down!