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6 Tips to Effectively Reduce Stress for Your Customer Support Staff 

May 1, 2024

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Encountering challenges, especially in the domain of products and services, is unavoidable. Whether it’s a faulty product, a delayed delivery, or a simple misunderstanding, there are countless reasons why people might reach out to customer service for assistance. However, the constant stream of repetitive issues that pile up can create stress for customer support teams.

Acknowledging the strain that comes with a customer support job, it’s important to prioritize the well-being of your employees. That’s why we’ve gathered insights and best practices here for managing the stress that often accompanies the demands of customer service roles.

What Makes a Customer Support Job So Stressful?

Stress can significantly influence the performance and job satisfaction of employees. Research shows that call centers often experience an annual turnover rate from 30 to 45 percent, suggesting that employees in this field may experience high stress levels.1 This stress often arises from the need to solve problems quickly and creatively, all while maintaining patience, empathy, and professionalism in each interaction with a customer. Additionally, managing multiple inquiries and issues simultaneously requires them to adapt and respond promptly to each situation.

Moreover, there are additional stressors when working in customer support that stand out:

Handling Frustrated Customers

Dealing with upset customers can be draining and demanding, as it requires employees to remain calm, empathetic, and solution-oriented while facing potentially hostile or confrontational behavior. The pressure to resolve issues quickly and effectively, combined with the emotional toll of absorbing customer dissatisfaction, can increase stress levels for employees.

Excessive Workloads and Repetitive Duties

Constant heavy workloads and ambitious targets are among the job demands that may affect employees emotionally and lead to burnout. In addition, customer support jobs often follow a repetitive and rigid structure. Performing the same tasks repeatedly can become dull over time, restricting their opportunities for creativity and leading to feelings of detachment.

Unreasonable Time Restrictions

Customers expect quick and efficient service, pushing managers to set strict time limits for customer support staff to handle inquiries and resolve issues. However, time constraints caused by limited resources can increase the pressure for employees to provide sufficient support.

Micromanagement

A research study found that 79 percent of employees have experienced micromanagement in their workplaces. Among those working under a micromanager, 85 percent stated it lowered their morale, while 71 percent reported a negative impact on their job performance.2

This shows how micromanagement can create tension and increase employee stress levels, leading to a higher likelihood of employees wanting to leave the company.

Lack of Incentives and Recognition

Any employee who feels that they’re not adequately compensated for their work tends to experience demotivation, disengagement, and stress. Insufficient financial rewards, minimal recognition, and a lack of fulfillment from meaningful work can all play a role in stress levels.

Coping with Pressure: Stress Management Techniques for Customer Support Staff

Understanding how to handle stress in a customer-facing position is equally essential as mastering communication with customers. Unfortunately, stress management techniques for customer support staff are often overlooked. Here are six strategies to help ease stress and empower your employees to handle work demands effectively:

1. Promote Open Communication

While support staff may spend a significant portion of their days engaging with customers, it’s equally important for them to engage in constant communication with their managers to reduce stress. Effective managers can offer guidance, support, and take proactive measures to ease stress upon being informed.

Research has shown that 86 percent of employees identify a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as contributors to workplace failures.3 This indicates that employees not only value transparency but also perform more effectively in their roles when it is present, which can contribute to reducing stress and creating a more positive work environment.

2. Establish Clear Expectations

Employees are not mind readers. Unclear role objectives impact employees’ understanding of their responsibilities and lead to confusion about performance evaluation. Implementing SMART goals is an efficient method to communicate expectations and clarify agent assessment criteria. Furthermore, it’s important to explain the implications of failing to meet these goals to ensure employees have the necessary resources to achieve their objectives.

3. Upgrade Technology and Resources

As customers prefer to resolve issues independently, the challenges employees encounter become more complex and require a broader skill set. Even the most experienced employees can’t provide satisfactory service if technology fails to provide them with the information they need.

Providing your customer support staff with the necessary tools and technologies for their roles and allowing them to utilize them in their preferred manner increases their efficiency and engagement, leading to greater satisfaction. Highly engaged business units experience 41 percent lower absenteeism, 17 percent higher productivity, 10 percent higher customer ratings and 20 percent increased sales.4

In addition to equipping your employees with essential technology, you can also improve their working conditions by providing the following resources:

  • Ergonomic seating: Comfortable seating arrangements for your employees can include chairs that support proper posture and reduce strain on the back and neck.
  • Quality headsets: High-quality headsets can improve the efficiency and comfort of your employees, especially those who spend a significant amount of time taking calls. Clear audio and noise-canceling features can help reduce distractions and enhance communication with customers.
  • Pleasant work environment: A cozy and pleasant work environment can positively impact employee morale and overall well-being. This can involve adequate lighting, comfortable temperature settings, and aesthetically pleasing decor.

Read more: Body Hacks for Work: Simple Ergonomics for Peak Productivity

4. Revisit and Improve Training Programs

When you invest in enhanced training initiatives, your organization can empower your employees to handle stressful situations with greater confidence and effectiveness. Comprehensive training programs serve as a foundation for equipping employees with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to excel in their roles.

One key aspect of this training is the implementation of well-executed onboarding programs for new employees. These programs provide newcomers with a thorough introduction to the call center environment, including its unique culture, the products and services offered, and the customer service standards expected.

Read more: Fostering Growth: 6 Techniques for Mentoring New Hires

5. Recognize and Acknowledge Accomplishments

Your customer support staff work tirelessly to meet targets and deliver excellent customer service. Recognizing their achievements can make them feel valued and appreciated. Expressing gratitude, whether verbally or through gestures, contributes to higher employee satisfaction, job stability, and loyalty. Personal recognition during performance evaluations or team gatherings can also boost job satisfaction and reduce performance-related stress.

More importantly, providing incentives such as bonuses, paid time off, and non-monetary rewards like gift vouchers and healthcare benefits can further demonstrate appreciation for their hard work.

6. Encourage Employee Involvement

Customer support staff can reduce the impact of stress by actively engaging with their co-workers and nurturing positive relationships within the workplace. When employees share their frustrations and challenges, it creates an environment of support and understanding. This sharing of experiences not only helps them vent and unwind but also equips them with valuable lessons and coping strategies.

You can also strengthen team morale and camaraderie by arranging a variety of office events and activities, such as informal get-togethers like parties, dinners, and birthday celebrations. These occasions can provide opportunities for team members to form connections on a personal level.

EMPOWER YOUR TEAM TO THRIVE IN A SUPPORTIVE AND STRESS-FREE ENVIRONMENT WITH SPECTRA360!

At Spectra360, we understand that managing a customer support team can be demanding, especially when faced with fluctuating workloads and staffing challenges. That’s why we offer staffing solutions tailored to your unique requirements.

We prioritize creating a stress-free environment by meticulously understanding your business goals, culture, and staffing needs to build a reliable customer support team. We pride ourselves on our extensive candidate network and rigorous screening process, ensuring that we match you with qualified professionals who are not only skilled in customer service but also aligned with your company’s values and goals.

Reach out to us today and let us handle your staffing needs so you can focus on delivering exceptional service to your customers.

References:

  1. “Must-Know Call Center Stress Statistics, 2023. Gitnux.” Gitnux.org, gitnux.org/call-center-stress-statistics/#:~:text=and%20physical%20health.-..
  2. Allen, Lauren. “The Psychological Effects of Micromanagement & 4 Ways to Fight It.” Terryberry, 26 July 2023, www.terryberry.com/blog/the-psychological-effects-of-micromanagement-4-ways-to-fight-it/.
  3. Hunkins, Alain. “The #1 Obstacle to Effective Communication.” Forbes, www.forbes.com/sites/alainhunkins/2022/09/15/the-1-obstacle-to-effective-communication/?sh=523e7df19fbc.
  4. Leedy, Ingram. “The Importance of Modern Technology in the Workplace – Protected Trust – Everything for a Microsoft 365 Modern Workplace Experience.” Protected Trust, 1 May 2020, www.protectedtrust.com/technology-in-the-workplace/.

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