How To Prevent Customer Support Teams From Burning Out

We all know how important it is for a business to provide great customer service, which can help us maintain healthy relationships with existing customers and attract new ones as well. But take a closer look at any decent-sized organization and you’ll find lots of other people working behind the scenes to keep it going – from salespeople and marketers trying to bring in new leads or close deals, to engineers building products that solve customers’ problems, to customer support staff providing help and assistance. Because they’re less visible to the general public, many of these people aren’t as well-recognized for their contributions or rewarded with corporate kudos, but make no mistake about it: Their efforts are absolutely critical to the success of any company.

In this article, we’ll talk specifically about one group of unsung heroes – customer support teams – who can often find themselves overworked and underappreciated despite the fact that they’re on the front lines every day helping customers solve problems. Hopefully, by reading this you’ll not only discover how to recognize your own best employees before it’s too late but learn how to keep them from burning out and leaving your organization.

To start, let’s take a closer look at the problem with customer support teams specifically. As you know, your front-line team members are most likely to have daily contact with customers – including direct interactions via phone or email as well as indirect interactions through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. They also tend to be closest to the action when it comes to new product development, software updates, and other changes that might impact the quality of their work environment. So they’re arguably more aware than pretty much anyone (except maybe executive leadership) of what’s changing and how those changes might impact them personally down the road. And if you’ve employed less experienced people who don’t yet understand that changes need to be made, they’re also more likely than senior leaders to be the first ones to complain about problems with your products or services.

All of which is why it’s absolutely critical for organizations to make sure their customer support teams are as happy and fulfilled as possible from start to finish. From their hiring process all the way through career advancement opportunities. That’s easier said than done, of course, because many companies don’t invest enough time or money in training their teams properly before sending them out into the field. Then once customers start complaining, those same companies often fail to recognize the importance of listening carefully and acting on that feedback, leading overworked CSRs down a path toward burnout.

How to recognize if there is a burnout problem in your organization

If you’re not sure whether or not there’s a problem, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your customer support teams complaining often about the work they do?
  • Do they routinely feel overworked and underappreciated? 
  • Are they always the first to complain about a new development or changes at your organization?
  • Do you struggle to retain good employees for any length of time, regardless of how much you pay them?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, it’s likely that there are some problems with your customer support teams. And if those problems aren’t addressed soon, many of the people on those teams will eventually burn out and leave for other jobs. Let’s now take a look at why that happens so often in today’s businesses …

How to prevent burnout before it starts

The simplest way to avoid this kind of employee burnout is simply by hiring people who love what they do for a living. Of course, that’s easier said than done when you’re looking at resumes from dozens or even hundreds of job candidates with similar skills and experience levels. 

So as a first step, try to narrow the list of candidates down by comparing their qualifications against some of the following points.

First, look for people who have a history of being good listeners. These are the people who ask a lot of questions and pay close attention not just to what you’re saying but also to how you’re saying it. This is important because it demonstrates that they care about more than just getting answers or fixing problems. It is typically an indicator that they also care about keeping customers happy and making sure everyone has fun along the way (at least whenever possible).

The second thing to consider is whether your prospective employees already enjoy talking with other types of customers in different industries. For example, would they be excited if their only choice was selling car parts and talking to car enthusiasts all day long? Or do they prefer complex products that require a lot of explanation and allow them to showcase their problem-solving skills?

If you’re not sure, ask candidates how much they enjoy being pushed in different directions. Someone who’s looking for stability in every job he or she takes is probably going to want something very familiar at your company which could ultimately cause problems down the line when the next big thing rolls around. That person might be less eager to experiment with new software or take on new training classes if they don’t feel comfortable expanding their horizons beyond what’s already familiar.

Let’s now look at two potential solutions for tackling workplace burnout once it starts to become a problem.

The first is to simply invest in better training for your customer support teams. This obviously requires more initial capital upfront but will pay off in the long run by reducing turnover, increasing morale, and improving the overall quality of work. It’s also possible to use some of these newfound efficiencies to reduce the number of hours each person works while still getting all their regular tasks completed on time, if not early.

When you’re figuring out just how much money you’re willing to invest in the people behind your company, consider asking yourself what would happen if one team member walked away tomorrow. Could you replace that employee today without breaking stride? If that answer isn’t yes, then it’s likely time to put aside some extra cash for your training improvements.

The second option for tackling customer support burnout is to simply begin having fun again. Remember that your employees are people too, which means they’re going to get tired of doing the same work day in and day out without any chance for a break or change of scenery. So it’s important to create some kind of reward system for when they do go above and beyond the call of duty, whatever that may be.

Perhaps you already have rewards but haven’t been communicating them effectively because there hasn’t been much reason to celebrate lately. Or maybe you just need to think outside the box more about how to give credit where credit is due so that everyone feels appreciated each time one team member helps another with something technically challenging.

As long as the work is still getting done, then you should always feel free to experiment with different ways of recognizing your people. After all, these are the reasons they signed up for this job in the first place so it’s important not to take them for granted or treat them like robots. You can’t beat problems down into submission; sometimes you need human beings to solve human problems.

So consider making some changes today by investing in your customer support training and rewarding everyone whenever possible, even if those rewards are somewhat small and don’t cost very much at all. The next article in this series will discuss how leaders can combat customer support team churn.

You’ll learn what types of leadership styles work best with different personality types and why hiring for cultural fit can be more important than hiring solely based on technical or relevant skills.



By using our site you agree to our use of cookies to deliver a better site experience.