7 Warning Signs of Employee Burnout

Great Day-2

When your customers are on the brink of defection, often there are several warning signs to suggest they are leaving you. For example, in banking if a customer’s average daily balance drops significantly, their automatic drafts and direct deposits are terminated, it’s very possible the customer is tying up loose ends and leaving you for a competing bank. Employees on the brink of burnout or defection also give you warning signs before they leave. Here are some signs that may suggest an employee is on the brink of burnout or defection or that department morale is low and your staff is at risk of burnout.

  1. Delays in customer response. Is it taking longer and longer to get back to waiting customers with a response? This could suggest a lack of motivation or apathy.
  2. Increase in tardiness and absenteeism. Has attendance become more of a challenge for an employee recently? This could be a symptom of dropped motivation, burnout or apathy.
  3. Attitude toward customers. Do you notice a negative attitude, apathy or flat out rude behavior toward customers?
  4. Substandard performance. Do you find that some employees are bored with their work, no longer pull their fair share, have a tough time starting projects?
  5. Increase in average talk times. Believe it or not, this might suggest that employees are spending more time with pleasant customers in order to avoid that next call from a potentially difficult customer. This avoidance behavior is a red flag for burnout.
  6. Decline in motivation. If you find that it’s harder and harder to motivate staff or that they seem to lack self-motivation, this could be alerting you to burnout.
  7. Increased file closing turnaround time. Has productivity dropped to unacceptable levels while case volume is relatively unchanged?

The presence of the above risk factors do not necessarily mean your employees are experiencing burnout or on their way out, but they do give you an opportunity to proactively take steps before problems occur.

***Motivated Your Burnout Employees with This Motivating Event***

Becoming a Customer Service Rockstar – How to Stand Out and Move Ahead

May 14th, 1:00 – 2:30pm ET

Based on Myra’s critically acclaimed “Beyond WOW” workshop, this program delivers 20 concrete ways for your employees to make emotional connections with your customers. From the memorable “Be Gumby” technique to the “Man in the desert” analogy to words and behaviors to avoid to ideas from Disney, Starbucks, Zappos and Apple, your employees will walk away from this training with realistic ideas for improving the customer experience and the inspiration to truly commit to WOWing your customers at every touch point.

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My Starbucks Barista Is Fully Empowered and Your Employees Should Be Too

Hazelnut Macchiato

My daughter and I have this Starbucks thing. We go into Starbucks on Friday mornings before school to browse mugs and music and we both get a drink. This morning I ordered the Venti Caramel Macchiato with skim milk and no whip. The Barista asked, “Have you tried our new Hazelnut Macchiato? If you like the Caramel Macchiato, you’ll love the Hazelnut flavor!”

Just as we were walking into Starbucks, I was telling my daughter that I had a coupon for a free Tall Hazelnut Macchiato. But I left it in the car and besides, I wanted the very large Venti size today. So, I say to the Barista, “I actually have a coupon for free Tall Hazelnut Macchiato. Can I upgrade that to a Venti and pay the difference and then I’ll run out to my car and grab the coupon?” Get this, this completely empowered employee says, “I’ll tell you what. Don’t worry about the coupon and I’ll give you the Venti Hazelnut Macchiato for free.”

The Starbucks employee was completely willing and empowered to honor the coupon that I didn’t even present and he gave me a drink 2 sizes larger than the coupon would have granted. This is true empowerment and it’s part of what makes for a warm and delightful customer experience at Starbucks. (Contrast the Starbucks empowerment with my encounter with a completely un-empowered donut shop employee.)

Train, empower and trust your employees to make decisions on the spot. True empowerment makes for a faster, more delightful and wonderfully memorable customer experience. A lack of empowerment results in a slower and more frustrating customer experience and it actually lowers employee morale. The choice is yours. What will you do?

Need help training or empowering your customer service team? Consider our Customer Service Training.

We are best known for our classroom training – and it is amazing! Our customer service training is led by the industry’s best trainers…experienced, engaging, and energetic. If you poke your head into a Myra Golden training session, you know this training is different. Participant involvement is astonishing. People are having fun and they are completely engaged. Most importantly, the participants are learning real-world strategies that will absolutely empower them to deliver exceptional customer service. Every one of our customer service training sessions is custom designed to meet our client’s objectives and every session delivers a measurable return on investment.

Explore our customer service training now!

Starbucks Surprised & Delighted Me…Again

Starbucks on my Patio by Myra Golden
Starbucks on my Patio, a photo by Myra Golden on Flickr.

I went to Starbucks one afternoon last week. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Panini. Yes, it’s an odd combination, but I like the two. The friendly voice over the drive-thru speaker said, “I’m sorry. We’re out of the Roasted Tomato and Mozzarella Panini sandwich. I can give you any one of our breakfast sandwiches on us though.”

WOW. Without even a second of hesitation, the Starbucks employee made things right by not only offering a substitute sandwich, but by giving me that sandwich for free. This immediate offering ensured that I, the customer, didn’t have time to feel upset or disappointed. The fix was offered immediately and resulted in my surprise and delight.

Are your employees equipped to fix problems this quickly? When I’m designing a better customer experience for my clients, one of the things I insist on is empowerment of the front line. The front line has to be empowered with the solutions, dollar amount, and total freedom to take care of customer problems on the spot.

Empower your frontline to be able take care of problems on the spot. When you do, you’ll surprise and delight customers and you’ll keep customers from even thinking about going to the competition (or spreading negative word of mouth advertising, tweeting, blogging, etc.).

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Identify Customer’s Needs by Asking “What does a man in the desert need?”

Do you want parrots or people in your contact center?

Last October, after I delivered a wonderfully-received keynote in Orlando, I grabbed my camera bag, slipped out of the conference center and visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I’d never been to Animal Kingdom without my family and I was looking forward to just being able to walk around and take photos without the stress of searching for attractions or snacks. The very first photo I took upon arriving at the park was of two parrots.

The parrots were vibrantly colored to the point of taking my breath away. Parrots are not only stunningly beautiful, but they are among the most intelligent of birds. Their ability to mimic human speech surprises and delights children and adults alike. My keynote that morning focused on giving contact center agents the training, support, freedom and empowerment to make “emotional connections” with customers. As I shot photos of the parrots in Animal Kingdom, I thought about how often contact center agents are groomed to be parrots, instead of being intelligent human beings.

Contact Center Agents are often carefully trained with scripts that sedulously echo the company’s pre-planned words. They end up sounding robotic, cold, and not always intelligent. Making emotional connections with customers is nearly impossible when agents use scripts.

As beautiful as parrots are, we don’t want our employees to be parrots. Give your employees the freedom, support, and incentive to veer away from scripts. Encourage them to use their own intelligence, creativity, and energy to connect with customers. Encourage them to comment on things they hear. Hearing a barking dog in the background could spark a few seconds of small talk for the dog-loving agent.

Maybe they could talk about plans the customer has for the 4th of July. Making emotional connections puts customers at ease and it makes the service experience unique and memorable.

Don’t make your employees sedulously echo the words of a script. They aren’t parrots. They are people with energy, creativity, and intelligence. Set them free and I’ll bet your customer experience will burst forth like the vibrant color of tropical parrots.

Imagine sitting in a local coffee shop that’s nestled in a bookstore, and talking over a latte with Myra about ways to help your employees deliver the best possible customer experience, and ways to help reduce stress on your employees as they deal with difficult customers.

Every week, often literally from a coffee shop, Myra gives you ideas that in one way or another are actionable towards improving your customer experience.

Sign up and join Myra over coffee every week.


The Issue Is Not the Issue. How the Issue Is Handled Becomes the Issue.

Glazed Donuts by Myra Golden
Glazed Donuts, a photo by Myra Golden on Flickr.

My son is home sick today, so I went to a donut shop to get him a little treat. I got to the first window and ordered a dozen glazed donuts and chocolate milk. When I got to the second window, I was handed a box of glazed donuts and a small box with one frosted chocolate donut. The lady at the first window apparently thought I said “a chocolate donut” instead of “chocolate milk.” Easy mistake. I probably didn’t articulate well enough.

I explained the error and the employee’s reaction surprised me.

Well, it’s gonna be a different price. You’ll have to wait while I get a manager.”

What followed was even more surprising.

Her expression, tone, and words told me I’d really put her out.

About a minute later a manager appeared and asked for my receipt, and then he disappeared. Three or so minutes later the employee returned and told me the difference between the chocolate donut and chocolate milk was 45 cents. I had no cash, so I handed her my debit card. She disappeared for

another several minutes.

While I waited to have my debit card hit for 45 cents, I noticed there were now 6 cars in line behind me.

I’m thinking, is it really worth having me wait nearly 5 minutes for this simple transaction and back the drive-thru line up by at least 6 cars? If I owned this donut shop, I would have wanted my employee to either be empowered with the knowledge to instantly take the additional charge and send the customer on her way OR make the little exchange and just eat the 45 cents.

After another 2 or 3 minutes passed, the employee emerged again and said the manager couldn’t figure out how to just charge me the 45 cent difference.

So he refunded the chocolate donut and charged me for the milk. Ok, whatever. Again, was the 45 cents worth having me and 6 other customers wait? Did the little mishap at the first window really warrant the aggravated tone, expression and words?

When it comes to problems, the issue is not usually the issue. How the issue is handled becomes the real issue.

The simple misunderstanding of a chocolate donut instead of chocolate milk is no big deal at all.

The way the employee handled this made it a big deal for me. Her tone, words and the lengthy wait made a lasting and negative impression on me.

Everybody thinks to train employees on the company’s products/services and to give them necessary phone skills. But very few people in customer service actually get the training they need to handle problems in such a way that they immediately restore customer confidence.

But you can give your employees the training they need to make sure the way an issue is handled never becomes the real issue. Start training your people on how to handle issues in such a way that they delight customers and create moments of magic –and not moments of misery.


In my customer service online training I dedicate a full course to how to handle problems and complaints: 5 Keys to Restoring Customer Confidence After a Problem Occurs.

In that course module, I share a problem response letter I received from American Airlines. This is one of the best letters I have ever received from a company! The letter restored my confidence in American Airlines. It got me literally saying, “Wow” and it is the picture-perfect model of how to respond to a problem.

If you’d like to see this perfect problem response letter from American Airlines, just come on over to this page where I discuss the letter in a 6-minute video taken from my online learning suite.