Connect with us

Business

How is Agent Burnout affecting your company’s bottom line?

Published

on

Jiten-Modhwadia

Agent burnout affects most organisations to some degree. Not only does it have a negative impact on customer service, which can result in fewer sales or renewals (depending on your type of business) but the knock on effect of absence caused by stress related illness due to agent burnout is a huge cost to the business.Jiten-Modhwadia

Jay Modhwadia, recently appointed Business Development Manager for Customer Service Management at Sunrise Systems, who has many years’ experience of running successful international customer service departments, discusses the issues and suggests some answers.

High pressure has always been part of being a customer service representative and most agents get the job because they are adept at handling customers as well as the strains and stresses it entails. However, the realities of business in recent years mean that many organisations have introduced efficiency measures, tasking staff to achieve more with less. In addition, businesses are facing tougher competition with customers expecting the same or even higher levels of service as they seek to get the best possible value. More ambitious client Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are leading to ever more demanding targets for the Customer Service Desk and all who work in them.

While call volumes often go in peaks and troughs, the sheer number of calls can create a problem. Many organisations do not have an overall view of the customer, one system where agents can see everything they need to know about a customer. Without the right information at their fingertips, agents are frustrated by not having a clear and full picture of the customer they are dealing with or having to bounce from one system to another to find the information they need. This can lead to unhappy agents and unhappy customers.

The situation is further complicated by the growing popularity of social media. Customers expect to interact with organisations in a variety of ways – Chat, Web, SMS, Facebook and Twitter – and this all places even greater demands on today’s more complex, multi-channel Customer Service Desk environment.

With a myriad of legislation to comply with, training agents involves a lot more than simply how to handle angry customers or difficult enquiries. For example, the impacts of legislation imposed by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or Central Government in the form of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests present further issues for Customer Service Desks in any size of organisation. Failure to respond to customer complaints or requests within a specified time period can result in financial penalties for organisations and added stress for their customer service departments.

A further example include the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). On 28th November, it published a white paper entitled ‘Guidelines for call centres dealing with vulnerable consumers’ as the industry’s contribution to a government-led campaign to create a dementia-friendly society. The DMA sets out a best-practice framework for dealing with our most vulnerable citizens in a humane and compassionate way. This is an excellent step forward but it does mean that customer service agents are forced to devote even more of their precious time to understanding another set of rules and applying them to their job.

Combating Agent Burnout
Agent burnout is a result of overwork and stress. It can result in lack of staff motivation, long term absence due to stress related illness and anything in between including highly trained agents simply leaving. Arguably the effects of agent burnout are even more pronounced for smaller companies, as any absence in a smaller team has a greater impact. The time has come for managers to recognise agent burnout and take positive steps to counteract its damaging effects on the overall business. By increasing staff motivation, customers receive a better service, and reducing absence avoids the costs associated with providing temporary cover. By building an environment that mitigates agent burnout, organisations retain skilled and experienced staff, which will help to realise the ultimate goal to increase customer retention, and even cross-sell and up-sell.

Avoid Overwork
Reducing agent overwork can go a long way to mitigating agent burnout and with the use of clever technology, call volumes and efficiency rates can be maintained and improved. The key to this is to automate as much as possible. The introduction of smart technology that integrates with important business processes and other applications such as HR and finance and even provide feeds from social media will reap tangible results. Providing a full overview of the customer, accessible from one system will enable agents to handle difficult calls effectively and sensitively.

Allow Judgement
Allowing agents to use their judgement to best handle a call ensures that they do not become bored, which is another key factor in agent burnout. A system that provides all the customer information they need in one place, empowers them to handle each call most appropriately. An example of this in action might be a recently widowed lady who calls asking to make changes to an account in her deceased husband’s name. Real-time information means that the agent dealing with the first call can update the system so that all other agents are alerted to the fact that the husband has recently passed away and so deal with the caller more compassionately in any subsequent calls.

Enable Proactivity
Another example where a fully integrated system enables agents to think on their feet is the situation when a customer calls who has not renewed their maintenance agreement. If the agent doesn’t know this, they could inadvertently spend time providing service to a customer while fee paying customers are waiting. This degrades the service to the paying customers, but without the appropriate information the agent cannot deal with the situation. With a system that dynamically displays pertinent client information, the agent could offer the customer the option to renew their maintenance and so turn the situation into a revenue-generating opportunity.

Empower Teamwork
A centralised system for handling calls means that agents can work in teams, each seeing what they others are working on. This team-based approach has been proven to improve morale. In addition, such systems can be used to ensure that agents take the breaks they are entitled to by EU law. Even short periods of time away from the desk are proven to enhance performance and productivity. Wherever possible calls should be allocated to those agents not on a break, ensuring that efficient handling of calls is maintained.

By embracing a culture that aims to support agents with enabling technology, organisations can empower staff and improve customer experience in a way that ultimately protects their brand reputation and increases revenues.

 

 

 

Business

Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism really impact the bottom line?

Published

on

Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism really impact the bottom line? 1

By Mark E. Brouker, Captain, United States Navy, founder of Brouker Leadership Solutions

Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism really impact the bottom line? We hear of the leader’s ability to influence others in powerful ways in politics, academia, sports, among other areas. However, in business, profitability is where the rubber meets the road.  How impactful is the leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism in creating a healthy bottom line?

One of the truly remarkable and rewarding tours of duty I had during my Navy career was with a small group of highly motivated doctors and pharmacists from all three services – Army, Navy, and Air Force. These professionals were all hand-picked to join a newly-formed team which was directed to reduce the escalating cost of prescription medications provided for all Department of Defense (DoD) active duty (Army, Navy and Air Force) and family members. Our task was made more challenging because we were to reduce costs without decreasing quality of care. At that time, there were over eight million men, women, and children eligible for prescription medications throughout DoD. The annual cost was over five billion dollars and climbing fast.

Our boss, Dan, was a brilliant, hard-working, and extremely passionate leader who was highly respected by all. Dan cared for us and we cared for him. We were a tight group. We treated each other as family. Dan’s passion was contagious, and he quickly established a culture of caring, hard work and trust. We were poised for success. Because I was senior to other members of the team, Dan selected me to be his deputy.

The idea of creating a small team to bend the cost curve for the entire DoD pharmacy benefit was novel – it had never been tried before. While the team shared a genuine passion for this noble and ambitious undertaking, early wins were few and far between.

After the 6-month honeymoon period ended, enthusiasm was slowly replaced with frustration.  Every morning we’d meet with Dan to share the progress or, more accurately, lack of progress with our respective projects. It was slow and insidious at first, but sarcasm, frustration and pessimism crept into the meetings. A few of the more vocal naysayers would spew their negative venom and Dan and I would make meager attempts to mitigate the damage, or in times of weakness simply join in. These meetings frequently went much longer than scheduled, drained everyone of energy, and were generally recognized to be a waste of time. In short, neither Dan nor I led these meetings. We attended them. One could feel the energy, passion and trust dissipate like air leaking from a balloon.

Mark E. Brouker

Mark E. Brouker

It was clear that Dan and I needed to change our attitudes. We candidly discussed the culture of pessimism that we were creating and, more importantly, how it was sucking trust and the creative juices from the team. Over a handshake, we agreed to help each other curb our negativity and celebrate small victories that were indeed happening. We’d address the challenges, but not mire in them. We agreed to not let anyone hijack the meeting with their negativity.

We were more careful in the words we chose – we rid ourselves of cynical remarks. We were careful with our body language. No scowling or worried looks. Above all, we focused on staying positive. We’d invest a few minutes before meetings to reflect on past successes, however minor, and mention them at the beginning of the meeting. We’d then address the challenges, and close each meeting with a reminder, once again, of past successes.

Frustration and pessimism were slowly replaced with enthusiasm and optimism. Wins starting coming. More wins followed. Within 2 years, our small team was saving DoD over $100 million annually with no reduction in quality. Our small team was recognized within the industry as a center of excellence. Our success was nothing less than stunning.

How did this happen? It turns out that Dan’s and my behaviors had a much more profound impact on our team members than we could have ever imagined. In fact, studies have shown that the leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism directly impacts their team members level of enthusiasm and optimism. Why is this the case? A study by Gallup found that employees who are supervised by highly enthusiastic leaders are 59 percent more likely to be enthusiastic than those supervised by unenthusiastic leaders.[1] In other words, the leader’s behaviors, in this case optimism and enthusiasm, are contagious. Further, studies have indeed shown that businesses led by enthusiastic and optimistic leaders were significantly more profitable than those led by apathetic and pessimistic leaders. [2] [3]

Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism really impact the bottom line? Unquestionably the answer is yes. The leader’s ability to influence in politics, academia, sports and yes, profitability in business, is profound. Those businesses led by leaders who understand, respect, and embrace the strong correlation between the leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism as it relates to performance and profits – and most importantly practice these behaviors – are at a distinct competitive advantage.

Be a great leader – lead with enthusiasm and optimism.

Mark E. Brouker, Captain, United States Navy (retired), Pharm.D., MBA, FACHE, BCPS, is founder of Brouker Leadership Solutions, and author of Lessons From The Navy: How To Earn Trust, Lead Teams, And Achieve Organizational Excellence. For more information visit http://www.broukerleadershipsolutions.com/.

[1] Gallup, “State of the American Workplace, 2017.” Accessed February 12,2020.

[2] Michael Bush, A Great Place to Work for All (Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2018), 26

[3] Marcus Buckingham, First, Break All the Rules (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1999), 40

 

This is a Sponsored Feature.

Continue Reading

Business

JPMorgan to launch UK consumer bank within months

Published

on

JPMorgan to launch UK consumer bank within months 2

LONDON (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co will launch a digital consumer bank in Britain under its Chase brand within months, the U.S. banking giant said on Wednesday.

The bank said the new business had already recruited 400 people and would offer a range of products, including current accounts.

The UK venture will be led by Sanoke Viswanathan, who has been named chief executive. Viswanathan was previously chief administrative officer for JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank.

The digital bank will be headquartered in London’s Canary Wharf financial district, with customers supported from a new call centre in Edinburgh.

Reports about a likely tilt by JPMorgan at the UK consumer market have been circulating for around a year, but the bank had publicly disclosed few details.

“The UK has a vibrant and highly competitive consumer banking marketplace, which is why we’ve designed the bank from scratch to specifically meet the needs of customers here,” said Gordon Smith, CEO of consumer and community banking for JPMorgan.

(Reporting by Iain Withers; Editing by Jan Harvey)

Continue Reading

Business

European regulator clears Boeing 737 MAX airliner for return to service

Published

on

European regulator clears Boeing 737 MAX airliner for return to service 3

(Reuters) – Boeing Co’s modified 737 MAX airliner is safe to return to service in Europe, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Wednesday, lifting a 22-month flight ban after two crashes of the jet which caused 346 deaths.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said it had “every confidence” that the plane was safe following an independent European review of changes ranging from cockpit software to maintenance checks and pilot training.

“Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here,” Ky said in a statement.

“We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval. But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service.”

Regulators around the world grounded the MAX in March 2019, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet five months after one flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea. A total of 346 passengers and crew members were killed in the two crashes.

The United States lifted its ban in November, followed by Brazil and Canada. China, which was first to ban the plane after the second crash, and which represents a quarter of MAX sales, has not said when it will act.

Relatives of some crash victims have strongly criticised the move the clear Boeing’s best-selling airplane.

EASA represents 31 mainly EU nations, excluding Britain which formally left the bloc this month. Britain is expected to issue its own separate approval on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Rachit Vats; editing by Jason Neely)

Continue Reading
Editorial & Advertiser disclosureOur website provides you with information, news, press releases, Opinion and advertorials on various financial products and services. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third party websites, affiliate sales networks, and may link to our advertising partners websites. Though we are tied up with various advertising and affiliate networks, this does not affect our analysis or opinion. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you, or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a partner endorsed link.

Call For Entries

Global Banking and Finance Review Awards Nominations 2021
2021 Awards now open. Click Here to Nominate

Latest Articles

Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism really impact the bottom line? 4 Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism really impact the bottom line? 5
Business20 mins ago

Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and optimism really impact the bottom line?

By Mark E. Brouker, Captain, United States Navy, founder of Brouker Leadership Solutions Can a leader’s level of enthusiasm and...

JPMorgan to launch UK consumer bank within months 6 JPMorgan to launch UK consumer bank within months 7
Business4 hours ago

JPMorgan to launch UK consumer bank within months

LONDON (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co will launch a digital consumer bank in Britain under its Chase brand within...

European regulator clears Boeing 737 MAX airliner for return to service 8 European regulator clears Boeing 737 MAX airliner for return to service 9
Business4 hours ago

European regulator clears Boeing 737 MAX airliner for return to service

(Reuters) – Boeing Co’s modified 737 MAX airliner is safe to return to service in Europe, the European Union Aviation...

Wall Street expects near-record iPhone sales despite delay, shut Apple stores 10 Wall Street expects near-record iPhone sales despite delay, shut Apple stores 11
Business4 hours ago

Wall Street expects near-record iPhone sales despite delay, shut Apple stores

By Stephen Nellis (Reuters) – During the last three months of 2020, Apple Inc delivered its flagship iPhone 12 model...

ECB comments suppress euro, dollar perks up ahead of Fed 12 ECB comments suppress euro, dollar perks up ahead of Fed 13
Business4 hours ago

ECB comments suppress euro, dollar perks up ahead of Fed

By Ritvik Carvalho LONDON (Reuters) – The euro fell on Wednesday, under pressure after a European Central Bank official said...

Business jet prices seen as stabilizing in 2021 after year-end order blitz 14 Business jet prices seen as stabilizing in 2021 after year-end order blitz 15
Business4 hours ago

Business jet prices seen as stabilizing in 2021 after year-end order blitz

By Allison Lampert and Ankit Ajmera (Reuters) – Preowned business jet prices are seen stabilizing in 2021, boosted by a...

Sterling gets vaccine boost to hit 8-month high vs euro 16 Sterling gets vaccine boost to hit 8-month high vs euro 17
Finance4 hours ago

Sterling gets vaccine boost to hit 8-month high vs euro

By Joice Alves (Reuters) – Sterling rose to a fresh eight-month high against the euro on Wednesday as Britain’s faster...

GameStop stock doubles again with no let-up in amateur interest 18 GameStop stock doubles again with no let-up in amateur interest 19
Business5 hours ago

GameStop stock doubles again with no let-up in amateur interest

(Reuters) – Shares of videogame retailer GameStop Corp surged another 130% on Wednesday in pre-market trading as amateur investors continued...

Britain may raise contactless ceiling after pandemic payment surge 20 Britain may raise contactless ceiling after pandemic payment surge 21
Business5 hours ago

Britain may raise contactless ceiling after pandemic payment surge

By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will look into raising the limit on contactless payments from 45 pounds to...

Auto recovery fuels optimism for Europe's earnings season 22 Auto recovery fuels optimism for Europe's earnings season 23
Business5 hours ago

Auto recovery fuels optimism for Europe’s earnings season

LONDON (Reuters) – Expectations for European companies’ profits in the last quarter of 2020 are improving as the reporting season...

Newsletters with Secrets & Analysis. Subscribe Now