Whether or not hybrid work is deemed successful varies greatly today. Many industries have found the right technology, solutions and processes that allow their organizations to thrive in an entirely new way of working. However, some professions traditionally operate better in-person, like the call center. What once was a highly collaborative and coaching-rich environment with the opportunity for face-to-face communication—between supervisors and agents—has become siloed and inconsistent with hybrid work. Pair this with the steep incline of call volume and you’ll find customer-facing organizations are not only juggling an influx in their workload, but a prolonged decrease in connectedness and engagement that has ultimately accelerated burnout.
So, what can customer-facing organizations do? Here are several tactics rooted in key data points that call center leaders can deploy to improve employee experience (EX) and well-being.
Prioritize Connection to Reduce Disengagement
The shift to hybrid work created challenges for EX like isolation and proper work-life balance that resulted in disengaged employees and significant turnover. One recent Gallup report found that U.S. employee engagement dropped for the first time in a decade, with 16% of employees being actively disengaged. Disengagement is, unfortunately, a key symptom of burnout. The World Health Organization describes burnout as having three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.
Data analysis of real-time conversational cues from Cogito’s platform shows that, during this past year, there was an increased need for coaching on critical behaviors like energy levels (+20.48% year-over-year) and slower response rates (+3.93% year-over-year). This data shows us the energy and engagement of frontline phone professionals decreased last year, with them needing more supporting cues to push their conversations along. It also indicates these professionals generally feel less connected to their work. Leaders must find ways to bridge the gap between this disengagement and engagement by promoting employee connections, establishing consistent check-ins, and ideating alternative ways to engage teams—no matter their physical location. If we engage and reconnect with the disengaged, we can be one step closer to improving EX for good.
Increase Real-Time Coaching
There has been a significant increase in personalized on-the-job coaching needed to satisfy customers—to the tune of a 9% year-over-year increase in coaching cues across 18 million calls leveraging Cogito. The rise in coaching cues is indicative of the reduction in professional efficacy that burnout is often characterized by. Without the physical aspect and energy of call center cultures, leaders must consider how to improve the employee experience in ways that can also improve the call experience. The challenge lies in providing coaching for a dispersed workforce designed to support employees’ success. This is where artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions come into play.
Technology has advanced to offer real-time coaching for timely support and structured guidance that result in effective improvements. These real-time technologies can increase self-awareness and boost employee performance and confidence. By focusing on real-time coaching solutions, organizations can move the needle towards bettering professional efficacy.
Center Your Efforts Around the EX, and CX Will Follow
Quality customer experiences are necessary for most organizations to thrive, but customer-facing organizations cannot facilitate high-quality customer interactions without strong employee experiences. Centering efforts around employees and their well-being can help improve performance and engagement while reducing churn, disengagement and burnout. Data has shown that 76% of revenue growth leaders rank EX as a top priority in the next three years and 89% say EX leads directly to improved CX.
The workforce needs empathic leadership to move us forward. When employees are burnt out or stressed, there is no question their performance suffers. Investing in employees and their experience, with a concerted effort to reduce burnout, is one of the only ways organizations can ensure the EX is positive. By focusing on employees first and improving those experiences, CX will follow.
Where Organizations Can Go from Here
The tight and competitive labor market weighs on many organizations today, making this year an inflection point for reducing burnout and improving the work experiences for employees.
Given the ever-mounting pressures weighing on the workforce, customer-facing organizations cannot risk putting employees on the frontline without coordinated support to improve their overall well-being and efficacy to perform their jobs. Leaders must holistically evaluate their organization, how things are done and the improvement of employee-specific areas, especially with the continuation of hybrid work environments. We are far past the days deemed acceptable to leave these efforts sidelined or on hold. Treating employee well-being and EX in its highest regard will ultimately help usher customer-facing organizations towards success.