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Contact Center Leaders Must Avoid Burnout, Too

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“Highly engaged employees make customer experiences. Disengaged employees break it.” - Timothy Clark.

And to this I will add that most times, it’s the leader or manager that encourages employee engagement. But what if you, as a leader or manager, is the one disengaged, the one who feels reluctant to log in for the day with the ever-looming dread of what the day has in store for you? A July 2020 Gallup study on employee engagement noted a sharp decline in engagement among leaders and managers.

As a member of the call center leadership team, I know how a Monday feels. As soon as I log in for the day, instant messages (IMs) start popping up, text messages start blinking on my phone, and I get the occasional phone call since a team member didn’t get a response or just preferred calling. Despite all this, wait timesheets need to be reviewed and approved and training material must be updated or created.

At the end of the week, I was exhausted, even though I was working from home and reducing my commute to work. I thought I would have more time on my hands, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

I needed to do something to battle these feelings of being overwhelmed. Here are a few elements I’ve incorporated to help me reengage and do my best to prevent burnout:

Team member recognition – my monthly goal is to recognize at least two agents each month for their efforts. I’ve chosen to identify team members for best attendance for six consecutive months, an excellent attempt to meet their individual agent goals, go above and beyond for a caller, and more.

Personal motto – I’ve taken a sticky note and pasted it to the bottom of my primary monitor, which says, “To add value to other people’s lives as well as my own.” Doing this helps me remember my purpose in life, especially during those challenging times. It helps me set the tone of the conversation or guides me about how I want to react to a situation.

Learn something new – I enjoy learning new things, especially things that I can use to help my team. For example, I recently completed a Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT), which taught me ways to keep team members engaged during virtual training.

Templates – If an email or task needs repeating a few times, I create a template for it, such as a template to email reports or timesheet approval to the client, easy-to-fill-in coaching template forms, and quick responses to IMs on the steps to log into the phones. Such templates help me keep information consistent and save me time.

Coaching opportunities – While having casual conversations with team members, I find informal coaching opportunities. For example, while talking with a team member, I identified that she had calls come into her phone line where callers selected the wrong prompt. They were supposed to speak to someone in payments, and the team member had to transfer the call. She told me that she wasn’t creating a tracking ticket for the inquiry since these were transfers with little interaction, but our call center is 100% call documentation, which I helped explain to her. Afterwards, her phone call to tracking ticket percentage went up.

Time blocking – if I need to perform a time-bound important task and don’t want it to skip my mind, I will send a meeting invite to myself. Checking off items on my list gives me small wins. I also break down the more significant project into smaller tasks; for example, I prepare for new training by the following broken down tasks: training binders, schedule meeting invites, develop training plans, bookmark training trainer resources, etc.

Team building events – even though our call center has an activity committee, I enjoy participating in the events they organize, such as celebrating Halloween or Customer Service Week. Such events bring about a certain level of excitement, and knowing that our team members had fun makes me feel happy.

Taking a break – it’s a good idea to incorporate some deep breathing exercise, mindful meditation, quick cardio exercise, or yoga before the start of your day. I’ve noticed that doing regular deep breathing exercises for a minute or two has helped me stay calm during challenging circumstances. However, sometimes a two-day break where I don’t open up my laptop is a great way to unwind. I’ve noticed that coming back after this long weekend helps me return to work feeling refreshed.

Many of these suggestions aren’t groundbreaking, but straightforward to put into practice, helping you save time and reengage as a leader or manager.