How To Handle Stress in Customer Service Teams
Author Maxine Kamin discusses the best strategies for calming nerves and working as a cohesive unit amongst customer support teams.
Working in customer service isn’t an easy ride. Agents are on the frontline of consumer interactions with brands, and often people reach out when something has gone wrong. This means support teams are not only expected to solve customers’ issues, but to soothe their anxieties when emotions run high.
And this takes a toll. Research carried out by Zendesk found that 70% of customer service agents feel overwhelmed. At the same time, 93% of support teams are reporting higher customer expectations than ever before — piling even more pressure on already overstretched teams.
Couple that with the hours spent on repetitive, manual tasks each day and you have a perfect storm of unhappy agents, burnout, and high turnover. Ultimately, this damages the customer experience.
When customers reach out to brands, as well as seeking answers to their queries, they want to feel heard and supported. But if agents are stressed, overstretched, and frustrated at work, they won’t be able to provide the exceptional service that consumers now expect. Luckily the reverse holds true: happy support teams mean happy customers. The key is to invest in the agent experience.
Invest in your people and you’ll see the benefits. Offer regular training and set up paths for career development to keep your agents engaged and happy.
Working in a high-pressure environment can quickly lead to stress and burnout. Checking in with your team and regular feedback are non-negotiables in high-stress environments like the CS space.
The pandemic proved that working remotely doesn’t make people less productive, so trust your team to work wherever they choose.
Take away the burden of mundane, repetitive tasks, and give your agents the chance to focus their talents on more interesting work.
Amazing CX is built upon clear communication. Keep customers happy by pushing information to them and if you can’t solve an issue right away, give a timeframe for when they will hear back.
Customers want to feel heard and understood when they reach out to CS teams. Be attentive: Ask questions and repeat or summarize their issue, to show they’ve been listened to.
Emotional intelligence is crucial to providing outstanding CX. Agents should demonstrate that they understand the customer’s position, use positive language, and offer personalized solutions.
Sometimes customers interact with brands multiple times to solve a support query. If they get 3 different answers from 3 different agents, this causes confusion and frustration.
The most important thing for customers is that CS teams are able to resolve their issues. To solve problems, agents must be creative, adaptable, and practiced at conflict resolution.
Customer service automation is a tool that streamlines workflows and takes over routine tasks: like answering FAQs, tagging and routing tickets, and solving simple queries. This frees up agents to use their talents on more complex and rewarding cases.
Automation also relieves the strain of high request volumes during peak seasons — and allows CS teams to scale their support, without scaling headcount. Here, CX expert and Ultimate Co-Founder Sarah Al-Hussaini explains the traditional methods that CX leaders could use to extend their support offering:
But AI-powered automation has changed the game. Gartner predicts that by 2024, virtual agents could automate up to 80% of low-value and frequently repeatable tasks in contact centers. And there are incredible benefits to partial automation too. This is when a virtual agent collects, verifies, and updates information automatically before escalating to a human agent — giving your team the context they need to work effectively.
As well as supporting agents to be more fulfilled in their existing roles, implementing an AI solution provides your team with opportunities for training and career development. Agents can gain technical expertise and step into new roles as bot managers or dialogue builders.
Automation will never replace the value of human connection. But it removes the burden of dull, repetitive work from your agents and means CS teams can dedicate time to what they do best: connecting with customers.
Browse the Customer Support Academy for more courses on how to improve customer service