Study: Lack of Customer Focus Linked to Burnout Risk

A whopping 74 percent of contact center agents are at risk of burnout. 

The biggest cause? A company's lack of customer focus. Take a look at the difference between agents who are at risk of burnout versus those who are not.


These results confirm that customer service is a far more satisfying job when your company has a strong customer service culture. Contact center agents believe they can make a difference when a company is customer-focused. Unfortunately, many agents quickly become demotivated when they perceive their company is making it difficult for them to do their jobs.

These results come from a contact center agent burnout study I conducted earlier this year. The study was organized into two parts:

  • Part 1: Burnout self-assessment test
  • Part 2: 15 item questionnaire

The burnout self-assessment is provided by MindTools. It asks participants a number of questions and then provides an overall burnout risk score. You can try the assessment out yourself to check your risk level.

The questionnaire consisted of 15 items that research shows might be related to burnout risk. These relationships were tested by comparing the at risk agents to the agents who were not at risk of burnout.

Here's a summary of the results:

  • 8 items were related to burnout risk (including customer-focused culture)
  • 2 items were inconclusive
  • 5 items were not related to burnout risk

The full report is also available for download.

Report: Most Contact Center Agents At Risk of Burnout

We've all seen the signs.

A contact center agent starts developing some bad habits. You can hear a negative tone of voice. Absenteeism increases. Productivity declines while errors go up. You may even see an alarming lack of caring.

The agent's spark has been extinguished. Your agent seems to be burned out.

You're not alone if you've seen this happen. A new study conducted by Toister Performance Solutions reveals that 74 percent of contact center agents are at risk of burnout. 

A whopping 30 percent of agents face a severe burnout risk. 

Bored contact center agent feeling burned out.


Burnout Problems

The U.S. National Library of Medicine provides this definition:

Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work.

According to their website, symptoms include:

  • Emotional exhaustion

  • Alienation from job-related activities

  • Reduced performance

These are all potentially harmful issues. Emotional exhaustion can make it difficult to project friendliness and caring to customers. Alienation from job-related activities might mean an agent gives less effort and rarely goes the extra mile. The result of all that is reduced performance.

You may even seen a spike in absenteeism when an agent begins to burn out before they finally leave. Or worse, they stay, but as a shell of their former selves.


Study Results Revealed

The study results are now available in a new research report. Here are a few highlights:

  • 52% of agents who are at severe risk of burnout said their company is not customer-focused.

  • 41% of agents who are at severe risk of burnout said they don't feel empowered.

  • 36% of agents with a severe burnout risk think their co-workers don't provide outstanding service.

Survey: What Causes Contact Center Agent Burnout?

Burnout is a big issue in contact centers.

It can hurt customer service, decrease employee engagement, and increase turnover. Once burnout sets in, it can be hard to turn things around.

That's why I'm doing a survey to find out some of the leading causes. The survey is focused specifically on contact center agents, rather than burnout in general.

I'll be sharing some of the results here in July and at the Contact Center Demo & Conference in October.

If you work in a contact center, I'd like to entice you to participate. There are prizes (more on that in a moment) and an opportunity to benchmark your contact center against others.

What is Burnout?

There's a great definition from Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter on Psychology Today:

Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Cynicism and detachment
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness and a lack of accomplishment

Psychologist Shauna Geraghty gives a nice overview on the Talkdesk blog of some of the ways burnout can specifically impact contact center agents. Here are just a few:

  • Absenteeism
  • Decreased adherence
  • Drop in productivity


The Survey

It's open now through May 31, 2016. 

It consists of two parts. The first part is a fifteen question burnout self-assessment. The second part is a fifteen question inventory that seeks to identify the factors most closely related to burnout in contact centers.

Participants have the option of entering into a random drawing for one of three prizes:

  • First Prize: $100 Amazon E-Gift Card
  • Second Prize: $50 Amazon E-Gift Card
  • Third Prize: $25 Starbucks E-Gift Card

Benchmark your contact center! Contact center leaders -- I can benchmark your contact center against the rest of the study to see where you stack up. Please contact me for more information.

I've also created this webpage where you can access more information and resources about burnout.