The call center is currently one of the most stressful and exhausting working environments, in which scenarios of exhaustion, extreme fatigue or burnout are not uncommon. The agents working in a call center are expected to quickly solve the issues of their customers, while maintaining a friendly disposition. To perform this task, they frequently deal with comprehensive amounts of information and regularly perform monotonous and repetitive tasks. In addition, an agent frequently works at unusual times and with constant changes of schedules. The combination of these factors makes call centers an environment especially prone to fatigue and burnout.
In order to maintain the optimum performance of the call center, it is thus fundamental that managers implement fatigue management initiatives that can effectively prevent or deal with its negative consequences. In this effort, measuring the workforce’s fatigue levels is the first step in anticipating problems and acting correctly. This knowledge will support better decisions regarding the management of work shifts and breaks and may encourage other measures such as the creation well-being spaces. This kind of actions is fundamental not only to maintain high levels of productivity but also to keep the workforce motivated.
If a manager disregards the potentially negative effects of fatigue on the workforce, a range of significant problems may arise. On the one hand, agents who are unable to cope with the imposed rhythm simply abandon their positions. This is one of the causes of high turnover in call centers, which is one of the biggest challenges they face. High indices of turnover not only disrupt the process flow and distribution of work but increase operating costs related to finding, rehiring and training new agents. On the other hand, agents that are unable to cope but refuse to leave their positions will underperform, with a negative impact on indicators such as productivity, work quality, and customer satisfaction. This will damage customer relationships and leave a lasting stain on the call center’s brand.
In order to mitigate this problem and provide superior customer service, contact center leaders must ensure that their agents are engaged and motivated. To achieve this goal, it is fundamental that leaders:
- Are aware of the tiredness levels on their team and, with that knowledge, manage work shifts and breaks appropriately. This requires taking into account the level of fatigue of the agents instead of relying on the volume of calls alone.
- Improve work-life balance by giving agents the ability to carry out their tasks in a manner that takes into account both their work responsibilities and their personal life.
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- Vilela, Lailah Vasconcelos de Oliveira, and Ada Ávila Assunção. "Control mechanisms in a telemarketing call center and workers' complaints of fatigue and exhaustion." Cadernos de Saúde Pública 20.4 (2004): 1069-1078.
- Rowan, Jim, and Sharon Rowan. "Call Center Continuity Planning." (2000): 1-2.