Your Customer Support Team is Burning Out: 4 Ways To Turn It Around
Note: This is a guest post from Susanna James at Kayako.
Your customer support team sits smack bang in between your customers and your product. They have to deal with the best of both and the worst of both, and for this reason it can be a job of highs one minute and like lows the next.
Combine this with feeling undervalued by their employers, demotivated by their roles, and generally overworked, and burnout sets in.
If you don’t tackle employee burnout right away, you risk ending up with an unhappy support team. They’ll be dissatisfied, exhausted, and ready to quit.
What Leads To Burnout In Support Teams?
It’s no secret that support is a high pressure work environment. Team members answer to both the customers’ needs and the best interest of the business. They’re under pressure to respond quickly to problems and manage difficult situations with grace and efficiency.
They have a lot of work to do. They might not have all the resources they need. And people expect a lot from them. It’s a tough gig.
Continually working under high pressure and with a heavy workload has been proven to lead to stress and burnout. And constantly working at maximum capacity means that support professionals may not have the time to invest in personal growth - leaving them feeling unfulfilled.
How Serious Is The Burnout Problem?
A study we conducted on the state of the customer support industry found that 73% of support professionals say managing time and workload is their greatest challenge at work.
Managing a heavy workload can also lead to decreased job satisfaction. The study revealed that for support professionals, job satisfaction declines over time, with respondents reporting a 6.8% drop in satisfaction compared to when they first started their jobs.
Team morale is shown to suffer too - 45% of customer support professionals find maintaining and improving team morale challenging or very challenging, with customer support managers placing this as their biggest challenge after managing time and workload.
What Can You Do To Stop Your Support Team From Burning Out?
The results of the survey suggest that there is a need for many support professionals to be able manage their workload more effectively and reduce stress - whether that’s through better tools, greater resources, or stronger leadership.
Here are four actionable tips you can use to protect your support team from burning out, and some tools and guides that can help along the way:
1. Be Vocal About Your Team's Achievements
Support teams don’t often get a lot of love for what they do - and this can be very demotivating. Make sure you shout about support's achievements just as much as you would for any other part of the business.
Openly communicate wins with the team and share them with the rest of the company too. Highlight outstanding examples of customer service. Showcase projects that support team members have worked on. Celebrate and acknowledge the hard work that your support team put in.
Gather customer retention insights and see which ones you can track back to the support team - you’ll be able to place a monetary value on the work that your support team does. Then tell them about it!
Here are a couple of tools that can help with sharing your team’s wins:
iDoneThis is a great tool for sharing successes of your team. At the end of each day, your team gets an email alerting them to the day’s achievements. Share and celebrate wins with one click!
Bonus.ly helps your team to appreciate each other in smaller ways. Team members can award microbonuses to their peers, which can be traded for vouchers, tickets, and other small thank-yous.
2. Support Your Support Staff One-On-One
Treat your each member of your support team as an individual. Make sure that every team member has weekly, private one-on-ones with a line manager where they can share their ideas and concerns.
All too often, support team members don’t have the opportunity to vent their frustrations or share their thoughts in an environment where they feel listened to. They often don’t have the chance or the time to ask for help if they need it.
Ensuring that each member of the support team has this time this will make them feel valued and will help their line manager to more easily identify the signs of burnout if they start to appear.
Not sure what to begin with one-on-ones? These guides will help:
This detailed post by Moz offers really helpful guidance on providing effective one-on-ones, including how to communicate well, how to structure them, and how to handle difficult subjects.
And if you’re stuck for things to ask, this list of 101 questions to ask in one-on-ones will give you some ideas.
Or check out a tool like Lighthouse, which is built to help your team have awesome one-on-ones.
3. Help Your Team Members To Achieve Their Goals
Working in support can become monotonous if there’s no development or activities outside of answering tickets. Encourage members of your support team to take on projects, and give them the time to do it.
This could be projects like updating self-service documentation; sending handwritten thank you notes; or writing a blog post for the company blog. Having something to focus on outside of the ticket queue will help motivate your team and give them a sense of accomplishment.
Let your support team lead the way when it comes to deciding on projects. Often, when people join a new company they are brimming with ideas for their role. Encouraging them to pursue these goals, and regularly checking in to review progress towards them, will show your team members how far they’ve come.
There are loads of handy tools that your team can use to measure their progress. Check out these:
LifeTick is a helpful tool that your team members can use to plan out their projects, track progress towards goals, and share their achievements with you and the rest of the team.
Todoist is helpful for when your team members feel like they’re doing nothing but answering tickets. They can set up tasks with notifications, which they can tick off when they’re completed, and will see a satisfying overview of what they’ve achieved over time.
4. Respect And Encourage A Healthy Work-Life Balance
Stress at work is compounded when there’s not enough time to unwind outside of work.
Take care to make sure your support team isn’t overworked, or feel like they have to work out of hours every single day to simply get through their daily task list. If this is the case, there’s either something drastically wrong with the way the team is run, or simply there aren’t enough staff.
Make sure your team feels like they have the option to take time out if they feel overwhelmed. This could mean offering flexible working hours, or the opportunity to work from home or remotely. Make sure your team members take their holidays - you could even try offering unlimited holidays like Virgin does!
The less burnt out your team is, the better their work will be - you’ll be surprised what a little flexibility will do to motivate your team and have them working at full capacity.
Here are a few ideas to help your team balance their work with life outside of work:
Encourage your team to practice self-care at work. Offer them the option of a gym membership, or in-office yoga classes or a monthly massage to help them relax at work.
It’s really important to make sure that your employees are taking the time off that they need. This Entrepreneur article gives three great suggestions for how to make sure your team are taking time off when they need it.
Put Out The Fire And Rescue Your Support Team
As increasing demands on companies to provide more responsive support on more channels, expectations on customer support teams will continue to grow and burnout will become more of a risk.
It’s key to the success of your support teams to make sure that you give your team members the trust, freedom and ability to manage their workload and develop their skills, while knowing that they’re valued and appreciated by the business.
Investing in your team in this way will reduce stress, boost morale, and result in a more productive support team that want to stay with you for the long haul. What more could you ask for than a team who loves what they do and wants to help the company grow?
About Susanna - @susannaja
Susanna James is a content marketer at Kayako, the customer service software provider. Her expertise lie in helping tech companies reach bigger audiences through awesome content. You can find Susanna over at the Kayako blog where you can get the latest tips and insight on delivering great customer support.