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Multi-Channel Agent Skill Scheduling for Contact Centers

Posted: by: Chuck Ciarlo

Call centers are contact centers now, which means customers are interacting with agents through a range of channels including emails and live online chat. According to some studies, more than 25% of all customer interactions are now conducted via methods other than the telephone.

One of the goals of any 21st century contact center is to offer the right mix of channels and find an accurate method for multi-channel forecasting and scheduling of agents. The customer experience should be equally positive regardless of how communication is made. 

The challenge is how to offer consistent standards of customer engagement through multiple touch points.The solution is an optimized integrated platform that encompasses data on workforce management, agent skill sets, metrics, scheduling and reporting.

Tips for Multi-Channel Skills Scheduling
Multi-channel scheduling begins with a specification of service goals based on the types of channels the call center must handle, followed by agent skill assessment within each of these channels.

Once these standards are set, scheduling will require accurate calculation of the Average Handle Time (AHT) for each contact channel. This is easier to do with calls than with emails or chats where agent can handle multiple chats at the same time for example. A workforce management system takes these differences into consideration. With this information, the call center manager has two options to choose from:

Dedicated Agent Pools
Once an agent’s skill sets are determined, he or she can be assigned to a dedicated group that focuses solely or primarily on their best channel, whether that is inbound calls, emails or web chat.

The Universal Queue
With this method, all contacts are routed to agents based on order and availability. While this is a less specialized method for handing multiple channels, it does force agents to become adept at handling the various methods of customer communication in a shorter time span.

Workforce management provides the necessary metrics on channels and personnel skills to allow managers to make the best decisions for their contact center. You can watch a short video about multi-channel scheduling and staffing to learn more about this. Agents will be placed in situations where their skills can be maximized, thus improving productivity, morale and customer satisfaction – which is also great for the bottom line.

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