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Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a flourishing industry. Companies take pride in working with reputable third-party providers that can help optimize their operations. Seeing agents assist customers is incredible, but it is not all rainbows and butterflies!
Customer service roles tend to be particularly demanding, even toxic in some cases. Fostering a positive workplace culture helps reduce employee turnover and ensure customer satisfaction.
This page covers toxic issues in customer service in the BPO industry. Keep reading to learn how to address them and improve your corporate culture.
Nine Toxic Problems in the BPO and Customer Service Industry (+Solutions)
To know what BPO is, consider its three key players: you, your hired BPO provider, and your customers. As a client, you partner with a third-party vendor to handle your operations, such as assisting customers and addressing their inquiries.
This business model can be complex, making outsourcing susceptible to toxicity. You must take ownership of your BPO operation and work with your service provider to foster a positive corporate culture. Doing so guarantees employee retention and customer satisfaction.
Below are nine toxic issues in the BPO and customer service industries, plus key solutions:
1. Irate Customers = Irate Agents: Dealing with Angry Customers Professionally
Angry and frustrated customers are common in customer service and the BPO industry. They usually call because they have complicated issues for agents to resolve. Unfortunately, some customer service representatives take their anger personally. They absorb the negative energies and become upset themselves.
- Uphold the utmost professionalism at all times.
- Promote a customer-centric culture in the workplace.
- Provide training for active listening, empathy, and issue resolution.
2. High-Stress Levels: Promoting Work-Life Balance
Customer service, particularly in the BPO industry, involves high stress levels. Agents follow a routine like robots, continuously answering incoming calls and placing outgoing calls. They can only breathe and relax during breaks. Thus, it is easy to see why employees come and go in the customer service outsourcing industry.
- Help agents manage stress in the workplace.
- Allow them to take personal time off.
- Never force them to work when they are sick.
3. Employee Burnout Is Real: Conducting Team-Building and Engagement Activities
Whether employees handle KPO or BPO services, having a large workload can be draining and daunting, especially in customer service in the BPO industry. Employees get completely burned out as they get busy and preoccupied almost daily.
Based on a recent survey, 43% of workers feel burned out. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified this condition as a medical diagnosis, describing it as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
- Conduct engagement activities to break the ice.
- Hold team buildings once in a while.
- Allow your agents to take a break and rest.
4. Lack of Work-Life Balance: Allowing Time Off and Reducing Long Work Hours
According to Zippia, 60% of employees believe they have a work-life balance. However, over 67% say some work aspects, co-employees, and corporate culture are factors causing a lack of work-life balance.
Customer service in the BPO industry is often toxic because of the high volume of calls and messages. As such, agents render overtime (OT) and work on shifting schedules to accommodate customers. Mostly, they are not even allowed to take sick or vacation leave.
- Ensure agent availability with enough headcount.
- Conduct business forecasting and set proper scheduling.
- Allow agents to rest through leave filing.
5. Female or Male Dominance: Promoting Diversity for Innovation
Many believe the outsourcing industry promotes diversity and inclusivity. But like other industries, female or male dominance is apparent in most departments. While female agents dominate customer service in the BPO industry, male employees thrive in technical support accounts.
The statistics do not lie: According to DataUSA, there are two women for every male customer service representative. On the flip side, another report from Zippia states that 62% of technical support representatives are men, while almost 39% are women.
- Promote diversity in BPO to pave the way for innovation.
- Foster gender equality in the workplace, regardless of the accounts.
- Ensure a fair recruitment process.
6. Lack of Appreciation and Recognition: Recognizing Performers and Give Awards
Few things are as devastating as not being recognized for your hard work and efforts. This scenario often happens in the workplace, and customer service in the BPO industry is no exception. However, this can lead to increased employee turnover and the loss of great talent.
According to Wakefield Research for Blueboard, many employees do not feel valued. About 67% of employed Americans say they do not always feel appreciated for their contributions at work. Likewise, 42% of respondents feel there is a lack of a strong culture of appreciation in their companies.
- Recognize top performers monthly or annually.
- Give them the awards they truly deserve.
- Let them enjoy perks and incentives.
7. Overworked Yet Underpaid: Offering Perks and Incentive Programs
Some think customer service and the BPO industry pay well, especially in offshore locations where employees enjoy relatively competitive wages. But given the heavy workload, the truth is that these employees are often underpaid.
Let us take the Philippine outsourcing industry, for example. According to In These Times, the country’s BPO employees face industry-wide abuses, such as low wages and excessive workloads due to stringent metrics. Other related issues in the outsourcing sector include job insecurity and an unsafe working environment.
- Pay employees according to their standard market value.
- Provide them with appropriate compensation and benefits.
- Offer perks and incentive programs.
8. Politicking and Power Tripping: Fostering Strong and Effective Leadership
Office politics is rampant worldwide, and outsourced customer service is not immune to it. The problem stems from the leaders themselves, such as managers and supervisors. While agents with friends from high places get promoted, others become victims of power-tripping and get terminated.
Business News Daily confirms the scenario above. About 55% of employees say they join office politics primarily to advance their careers. Unfortunately, over 76% of workers believe it affects their promotion chances.
- Hire the right business leaders.
- Promote the best candidates for higher positions.
- Discourage office politics and hold perpetrators accountable.
9. Mixing Personal and Professional Issues: Drawing the Line Between the Two
Did you know that outsourced customer service can be very unprofessional? Like other sectors, we have heard stories of office gossip, binge drinking, drug addiction, and third-party relationships. They happen when agents do not draw the line between personal and professional lives.
Outsource Accelerator identified common toxic workplace behaviors, such as office gossiping, aggressive behavior, and inappropriate sexual behavior. These behaviors can lead to stress, burnout, low morale, low productivity, poor work-life balance, and high employee turnover.
- Promote the utmost professionalism in the workplace.
- Teach employees to separate their professional and personal lives.
- Implement and enforce strict policies (such as drug use, alcohol consumption, etc.)
The Bottom Line
Delegating customer service operations with the help of the BPO industry can work wonders for your business. This is true even with offshore outsourcing, where timezone differences could be an advantage.
Hiring the right partner can provide you with a solid workforce, not to mention modern technology and ample resources. Your BPO agents can help streamline your processes, ensure excellent services, and enhance customer satisfaction.
But here is the problem: workplace toxicity is real. Examine your BPO operations to see if your service provider faces some of the above toxic issues. More importantly, follow our recommended solutions to address these problems.
Looking for a BPO provider with excellent customer service? Look no further than Unity Communications, so let’s connect today! As a certified Great Place to Work, our company ensures a positive working environment and promotes work-life balance.