20 Nov Stop the Churn and Burn of Customer Service
High stress, low wages, abuse. We’re not talking about indentured servants, we’re talking about customer service. agents. Unfortunately, agents are often treated badly. It’s time to stop the churn and for businesses to take responsibility for the environment their employees work in by reducing employee harm.
The industry standard for quality assurance (QA) monitoring is low. Call Center Helper research found of the centers polled,“41% monitoring fewer than four calls every month.” On average, only 1%-5% of customer engagements are reviewed. This is insufficient data for maximizing expensive customer service operations, and it has not reduced unnecessary hostile treatment.
When management has the right tools to identify the abuse they are able to intervene and even prevent it.
Churn and Burn
Whether in person, by phone, email or text, abuse of customer service representatives is rampant.
Guy Winch, Ph.D. over at Psychology Today indicates contact center employees experience 10 hostile encounters per day on average that includes insults, threats, and vile language. This creates what Winch calls a “grossly uneven power dynamic between caller and call-center representative,” exploited by customers with agents often being told not to defend themselves.
An article by Jeyapal Dinesh Raja and Sanjiv Kumar Bhasin in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine details the difficulty of the contact center work environment including repressed emotions, sleep deprivation, stress and physical problems.
In the US, because so many call center jobs have been sent overseas, there is a focus on obtaining ‘super agents’, as Lydia DePillis over on CNN Money states. These are agents that can handle multiple types of customer issues, but they require a greater investment to train.
It is common to have a churn and burn attitude toward service agents, with the churning and burning happening to the agents. From Lewis Mills on LinkedIn: “These new Churn and Burn companies look at hiring employees not as adding to the value of their business, but as the means to an end…Over time the employees either burn out, are driven away by the practices of these owners, or are replaced by newer staff.”
Women tend to experience more abuse, particularly sexual abuse. There are more women in contact centers worldwide than men, and in lower level positions. However, harassment and abuse are human issues and all agents deserve a safe, respectful work environment. It’s time to stop the churn.
The Economic Cost
Harassment and abuse increase churn. It is costly to train new agents and costly to lose well-trained, high performing ones. The medical fallout from repeated workplace violence, even verbal violence, is connected to costs of turnover, absenteeism and impaired performance.
The Societal Cost
People treated badly carry that to their next interaction. A tool that supports verbal respect for both agent and customer helps to create a more respectful world. Those treated well in turn carry that forward too.
Every industry has customer service. Preventing abusive behavior on both sides of the interaction benefits all.
Stop the Churn – Solution
CSAT.AI automates the overwhelming process of quality assurance in customer satisfaction (CSAT). At the same time, CSAT.AI provides a tool to reduce the trauma incurred by agents. AI is employed to evaluate agent and customer interactions using traditional CSAT metrics, while simultaneously alerting management when agents receive aggressive, bigoted, sexual or other abuse by customers.