Workers in customer-facing roles across the UK are facing burnout after months of being overworked and underappreciated, with no prospect of career progression.
That’s according to our new study, Customer Engagement Burnout1, which surveyed 750 UK workers in customer-facing roles, including contact centre agents and those whose jobs regularly involve talking to customers over the phone.
Customer engagement workers play a vital role in the UK economy. The contact centre industry employs over 800,000 people, with millions more working in other roles talking to customers regularly on the phone, for example box office staff or sales professionals.
However, 72% of these workers say they are ‘burnt out’ or will be burnt out imminently, rising to 83% of those working in contact centres. As a result, the industry could be facing a similar talent crisis to the 2021 HGV driver shortage. Nearly half (49%) said they dislike their job and would be looking to move in the near future, rising to 62% of contact centre workers.
The reasons for this burnout are clear:
- 52% say their workload has increased dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic, and 43% are faced with long working hours
- 88% say the responsibilities within their existing role have expanded since the beginning of the pandemic, without a pay rise or promotion.
- On average, staff have taken on between one- and two-people’s work in addition to their own, with 10% even stretched to the capacity of three or more people.
Workers aren’t just overworked, they’re underappreciated. Nearly two thirds (63%) say their company thinks the end-customer experience is more important than employee wellbeing and 84% feel under pressure from management to deliver quantity over quality when it comes to interactions with customers.
Workers are also reporting that the support measures put in place aren’t having an impact. While just over half (54%) are aware of mental health support initiatives at their workplace, only 32% of them said their managers follow them ‘all the time’. And while 61% have some kind of specialist customer engagement technology to help them do their job, this is much more common in contact centres and is having limited impact on job satisfaction.
We’re calling for a commitment from industry leaders to make 2022 the year of the agent by transforming working practices to put the wellbeing of frontline customer service staff on the same footing as customer satisfaction.
Ben Booth, CEO of MaxContact, said: “For those on the phone to customers every day, two years of working alone at the kitchen table, mounting workloads and little interaction with colleagues has taken its toll. People are telling us that they’re feeling overworked, under supported and aren’t hopeful that things are likely to change. Many are considering leaving their job, and even the industry, altogether.
“We need to make a change and fix the balance between customer satisfaction levels and investment in staff wellbeing.
“That’s why we’re making 2022 the year of the agent. While it’s down to each organisation to provide employees with competitive salaries, benefits and career progression opportunities to make these jobs attractive, we believe every part of the industry has a role to play.
“For us, this means putting workers’ wellbeing – the end-user of our platform – at the heart of everything we do. We’re making sure technology is actually helping staff, including reducing time spent on menial, repetitive tasks, increasing efficiencies of people and making it simple and easy to deliver great interactions with customers so they feel good about their work – without unnecessary stress.
“Those working in customer-facing roles are the hidden backbone of society – we need to make sure that we’re repaying their commitment with the support they deserve.”
To read the full Customer Engagement Burnout report, visit go.maxcontact.com/burnout
- MaxContact commissioned independent market research company, Censuswide, to survey a nationally representative sample of 752 workers employed in customer-facing roles, with 250 respondents that work in contact centres, and 502 respondents who speak to customers every day on the phone. The poll was conducted between 19th and 26th November 2021. Unless stated otherwise, all figures were drawn from this poll.