How Can You Reduce Customer Service Agents' Zoom Fatigue?
A recent article on Psychiatric Times describes "Zoom fatigue" as "the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication". Two key factors explain the fatigue: first, the increased cognitive efforts required to maintain focus during a video conversation; and secondly, fewer rewarding stimuli that one typically obtains while speaking with someone else in-person.
Zoom fatigue is particularly hazardous when customer service agents are concerned. These are people who should spend most of their time speaking with customers. Agents are therefore at increased risk. The impact of their Zoom fatigue on the business is particularly high: having your most tired and burnt-out employees talk to your customers is never a good idea!
And yet, serving customers over video, particularly during times of social distancing, has many benefits. So how can a service provider alleviate agents' zoom fatigue? Here are a few helpful ideas.
Much of the cognitive effort associated with Zoom fatigue is due to the need to focus on the screen. But not all communication channels are equally tiring. Whether your agents is located at a contact center or working from home, you may provide them access to multiple customer interaction channels.
- Good old-fashioned phone calls are still an adequate communication channel. As this Harvard Business Review article cleverly suggests, telling the customer "I'd love a break from video calls. Do you mind if we do this over the phone?" would most likely yield a positive response.
- Email and chat drain your agents' energy a lot less than calls, as it gives them time to think and formulate a response.
- Mixing different channels – email, chat, phone and video – would let agents benefit from a more diverse and balanced workload, thus reducing burnout.
Meet In Person
If you have agents working in the walk-in service locations, allow them to mix in-person and video meetings, as much as possible.
Don't do a "video day" and then "walk-in day", as video day would leave them worn out. Instead, try to blend video calls and walk-ins together.
If your agents only do video because you think it's too early to open your locations to the public, consider ways to start blending in walk-ins in small numbers.
Needless to say, the more agents meet with customers in person, the less of a problem Zoom fatigue would be.
Schedule Video Appointment
Planning always reduces stress. When video appointments are scheduled instead of randomly incoming, an agent can do much better.
- Scheduled appointments allow one to prepare, get to know the customer, and obtain some advance knowledge of where the conversation is likely to go. This helps keep the call shorter, more focused, and less tense.
- Scheduling also helps manage the agent's break time, ensuring minimum interferences with these very important moments of replenishing one's mental energy.
Technology Can Help
Luckily, today we have software tools that can help service providers in their efforts to fight Zoom fatigue.
- Omnichannel customer journey management software enables businesses to provide staff with a healthy, balanced mix of communication formats.
- Advanced queue management solutions provide means of blending in-person and video calls.
- Appointment booking tools can help create an effective schedule for every customer service rep.
*The term Zoom Fatigue was coined in reference to all video call platforms, it most definitely does not refer solely to Zoom!