Is Burnout Destroying Your Customer Service Strategy?


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Companies are facing a customer service crisis. In any given year, poor customer service costs them $75 billion, as many customers switch brands. Customer surveys show that people are not happy with the service they are receiving. Around 35% of customers have become angry while speaking with the customer service representative and 84% were not satisfied with their last customer service experience.

The problem isn’t that brands aren’t making a genuine effort. Rather, the issue boils down to them channeling all of their resources into addressing some of the causes, while completely ignoring others.

The majority of companies try to address customer service shortcomings with additional training. Additional training can certainly be helpful, but the benefits are usually marginal. There are other root causes that often go unaddressed. Burnout among customer service employees is a serious, yet overlooked problem.

How can burnout among customer service employees derail your business?

Some of the consequences of burnout can be severe for your customer service strategy. They include the following.

Customer service employees are irritable with customers

The last thing that you want is to have your customer service employees taking their frustrations out on customers. That defeats the entire purpose of having them on staff in the first place. Unfortunately, this is inevitable if they are fatigued and overworked.

Turnover will be high

The customer service profession has an unacceptably high turnover rate of 29%. This figure is almost three times as high as the average across all professions. Of course, there are always a variety of reasons employees could seek employment at another company. However, it doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that turnover and burn out are both so high in this field.

High turnover in the customer service profession has serious consequences for employers. They risk being understaffed if multiple customer service employees quit, especially if they don’t provide sufficient notice. They also will have a less experienced team of customer service professionals on staff if people routinely switch jobs. Companies can’t always expect that people with experience in customer service at another company will easily pick up the skills needed to serve your unique customer base quickly enough to bring the customer service team back up to speed.

Employees will make unintentional mistakes

You can’t expect all employees to perform at their peak all the time. They are bound to make mistakes if they are fatigued. In the customer service profession, this is going to cause a number of problems. They might forget to follow up with customers that left messages. They could also get confused and give them the wrong advice or information.

Absenteeism can increase

Employees are more prone to getting sick if they are overworked and dissatisfied. This can lead to them taking too much time off, which will put more strain on other customer service employees. This will further compound the problem and exacerbate burnout among the rest of the team. Excessive absenteeism can lead to understaffing and eventually an inability to adequately serve customers.

What can you do to prevent customer service employees from getting fatigued?

Burnout is clearly a problem in the customer service profession. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to address it. If you have a better track record for providing a lower stress, sustainable workplace for your customer service employees, you shouldn’t have any trouble attracting the highest quality people to join your team.

Here are some of the steps that you can take.

Invest in the right automation tools

Technology can be highly beneficial for customer service teams. It doesn’t just help improve customer service outcomes. It can also streamline the process and takes a lot of the burden off of your customer service staff.

However, you need to make sure that you are investing in the right technology. You need to understand the biggest challenges that bottleneck their responsibilities and make sure that the right tools are used.

Chat bots are an example of a customer service technology that can be highly useful. They can handle routine, simple customer queries without ever having to bother one of your customer service representatives. They can also collect important information before directing customers to a representative, which minimizes the burden on your staff. Real estate professionals have found that email automation and contact management system tools are very helpful, especially when dealing with high maintenance customers.

Train employees for efficiency, not just customer service outcomes

Most customer service training programs focus on delivering the best outcome for the customer. They rarely touch on efficiency, unless that overlaps with stated customer service goals. This means that there could be a number of ways that your highest performing customer representatives are still wasting a lot of energy unnecessarily. This wasted effort make the one noticed, as long as they are still meeting goals. However, they will eventually get burnt out.

This means that you need to focus on helping them improve efficiency. Show them how they can avoid wasting energy on unnecessary tasks, so they don’t feel fatigued by the end of their shift.

Make sure that your team is properly staffed

Understaffing your customer service division is a race to the bottom. All of your staff members will get burnt out. Then your company will get a reputation for failing to set reasonable expectations for them. This will make it harder to attract experienced customer service employees in the future. You can be left with an understaffed team of subpar employees.

You should be able to avoid this problem by avoiding understaffing in the first place. Forecast your need for customer service representatives and make sure that you budget for it.

Image from Shutterstock

Ryan Kh
I'm Ryan, a serial entrepreneur and technologist. My unique skillset and open-minded approach to business has generated more than $3 million in revenue across his portfolio of tech startups with improving their Customer support & branding.


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