How Simultaneous Interactions Affect Staffing Requirements


A picture of a paper chain of people

Digital channels bring with them significant new challenges for the traditional WFM process of collecting data, calculating staffing requirements and optimizing schedules, then doing it all again as conditions evolve.

Organizations have long relied on a key assumption in the contact centre – namely, that work is sequential and contiguous – an assumption that no longer necessarily holds true.

In the past, before the widespread proliferation of digital sales, service and support channels, organizations planned WFM processes around a queue of voice calls that logically followed the assumption of sequential and contiguous work streams.

An agent handled the first call in the queue from beginning to end, then moved on to the next call only after concluding the first call in the queue.

A unique feature of many digital channels, however, is that they permit agents and employees to handle more than one customer interaction simultaneously.

Chats are one example of this, though certainly not the only one: An agent may shift between several different customer chats concurrently, and this simultaneous capability can bring substantial benefit to the contact centre by adding an additional dimension to efficiency.

Fully realizing these efficiencies, however, requires resolving some open questions that aren’t fully answered by the traditional WFM process:

  • How should AHT be defined? You can take into account either the full elapsed time of an interaction or only time that a given interaction is in focus.
  • How much wait time should be accounted for an agent/employee?
  • How should speed of response be considered?
  • How many concurrent interactions should an agent/employee handle?

The answers to these questions can have a significant impact on staffing requirements calculations because they drive how AHT is calculated – and this, in turn, drives staffing calculations.

Beyond calculating for staffing, you need to consider the effect on service objectives, because this too will raise or lower staffing levels.

And, because no two agents are the same, you also need to consider the handling limits (or saturation level) for each given agent, which affects schedule optimization.

Some people can easily handle three chats at a time or even thrive with more than three, while others become less efficient once they reach this same threshold.

The differences can best be explained by the relationship between stress and performance, which has been well documented in the Yerkes-Dodson law. According to the theory, performance increases with stress but only up to a point; too much stress will degrade performance.

For accurate forecasts and optimal schedules, a WFM process must consider all these elements – at both the team and the individual level. That requires tools able to appropriately consider AHT, service objectives and individual variances in saturation levels.

To stay competitive, businesses need a WFM solution that is ready for interactions that can go beyond the traditional.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of NICE – View the original post

To find out more about NICE, visit their website.

About NICE

NICE NICE is a leading global enterprise software provider that enables organizations to improve customer experience and business results, ensure compliance and fight financial crime. Their mission is to help customers build and strengthen their reputation by uncovering customer insight, predicting human intent and taking the right action to improve their business.

Read other posts by NICE

Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.

Published On: 3rd Jun 2021 - Last modified: 8th Jun 2021
Read more about - Industry Insights,


Learn More - Watch a Webinar


Get the latest exciting call centre reports, specialist whitepapers and interesting case-studies.

Choose the content that you want to receive.