Call Center Avoidance = Poor Culture (Here’s an Easy Fix)

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There’s no other way to put it: call avoidance can cost call center agents their jobs if they don’t address it, and the most common reason for call center avoidance is poor work culture.

Fortunately, by improving or fixing a call center’s culture, you can reduce or get rid of call avoidance altogether. However, improving a company’s culture is a continuous challenge that can quickly become overwhelming—even for call centers led by experienced managers with extensive resources at their disposal.

By nature, most call centers are stressful, hectic, high-pressure environments, so they can be very difficult to change. That said, there are several best practices you can follow to help your call center do a better job of prioritizing agent well-being, which not only will translate into lower burnout and turnover rates, but also curb call avoidance.

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Why Poor Culture is the Reason for Call Center Avoidance

Call center managers typically attribute an agent’s call avoidance to a number of factors, such as:

  • Dealing with challenging customers on a daily basis
  • Lack of proper training or knowledge
  • Occupational burnout
  • The high pressure of hitting certain metrics and goals

Generally, all of these factors fall under the umbrella of company culture. Meanwhile, the goals, values, and policies a company stands for tend to bleed through the performance of call center agents—whether their managers realize it or not.

For example, when a call center prioritizes the well-being of its agents by offering generous paid time off, flexible scheduling, and a remote work option, employee burnout is much less common. Likewise, call centers that put an emphasis on agent training also experience less call avoidance, as agents who undergo training tend to feel more comfortable when handling incoming calls.

The bottom line is that a company’s culture impacts its call center much more than people realize, so making life easier for your employees can make a huge difference. In fact, just investing in modern call routing technology can also streamline internal communications and help simplify tasks for your call center agents.

An Easy Fix for Poor Call Center Culture

One of the simplest fixes to a call center that nobody wants to work for is to stop making call volume the main performance metric and instead prioritize agent well-being.

Don’t make call volume the most important focus

Giving up on prioritizing call volume is admittedly difficult, as the natural goal of a call center is to answer as many calls and resolve as many customer issues as possible. However, when it’s the primary focus, agents will often adopt bad habits to achieve their call volume goals at any cost. For example, certain agents might avoid answering specific calls that won’t help them hit key performance metrics, leading to poor customer service and uneven agent quality in your call center.

Shift the focus to taking care of agents after each call

You can take better care of your agents in a number of ways, such as by creating a routine that they can engage in after frustrating calls. Thus, rather than starting a new call right after a difficult experience, they have some time to reset.

Depending on how your call center operates, you should make time for feedback after each call or at the end of the day. This gives agents an opportunity to review what went right, the challenges they faced, and how they can improve in the future. Not only does this give them time to clear their minds and finish up tasks before the next call, but it also shows that you’re looking out for their mental health so that they can feel good about representing your company.

What if your boss is relentless about call volume?

Sometimes, a numbers-oriented executive may still want to prioritize call volume no matter what. Fortunately, strategies for dealing with this are available.

First, you can present the case that putting agent well-being above call volume actually results in better performance. Many people work worse in high-stress environments, and hectic call centers can definitely fall into that category.

Schedule a meeting with your boss and agree on a timeline for when you can review the data that can confirm if your agents are meeting their call volume goals after implementing new procedures and policies.

If your new focus on well-being indeed improves your agent experience, you can expect lower agent burnout, less turnover, and better feedback on your customer service—in addition to saving the company time and money by not having to spend so much time hiring and training new employees.

Call volume standards to ensure agents don’t slack off are still needed

Remember, no matter what you do with your call center priorities, it’s still important to have some standards in place to ensure that your agents are delivering quality customer service throughout the day.

You can keep agents on track without pressuring them too much with unrealistic call volume KPIs by setting a realistic goal for the number of calls you want each agent to answer. Base this goal on their individual abilities and their experience in your call center as opposed to setting a blanket number that’s impossible for everyone to reach.

It’s also a good idea to establish a stretch goal that should be challenging to reach but still realistic—and reward the agents who achieve their stretch goals to incentivize everyone to keep improving.

By focusing on individual agents and taking their unique experiences and skills into account, you can maintain call volume standards in a way that still prioritizes agent well-being, striking a balance between addressing customer call volume and making sure your agents get the support they need to succeed.

Fix Your Call Center’s Culture Today

It’s no secret that call centers can be stressful places to work for managers and agents alike, but shifting your culture to deemphasize call volume and prioritize agent well-being can pay dividends.

By implementing a few culture-changing strategies and best practices, you can cut down on things like call avoidance while creating a better environment for both your company and customers.

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