How to Support Omnichannel Staffing

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Paul Chance at NICE discusses how to staff an omnichannel contact centre.

As customer service becomes increasing digital, contact centres must handle a larger variety of channels than ever before.

A recent study by the Society for Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) found that more than 62% of agents now handle phone calls as well as other channels like email and web chat.

On average, the study found, contact centres now handle phone calls plus four additional channels.

To meet these new demands, contact centres are increasingly using omnichannel staffing models in which agents are trained to handle customer interactions on multiple channels.

Doing so helps contact centres:

  • Improve occupancy and service levels when real-time demand is low. Agents who are trained to handle a wider variety of contacts typically have higher percentages of productive time, increasing the organization’s profitability. In addition, agents’ ability to quickly switch channels decreases wait times and improves customer service levels.
  • Rapidly shift agents to the channels with the greatest need. Omnichannel agents have greater flexibility to handle surges in demand on a particular channel and, when trained properly, can swiftly move to support queues that are backlogged.
  • Increase employee engagement. Numerous studies have found that monotonous work reduces job satisfaction, increases absenteeism and causes stress. Implementing an omnichannel staffing model increases engagement by introducing a wider variety of activities and challenges into agents’ day-to-day work.

Omnichannel staffing clearly stands to have a big impact on contact centres. But for many organizations, trying to schedule and forecast omnichannel employees feels as unattainable as trying to extract a single strand of a spider’s web.

Adjust one piece, and you’ll move all the others out of place. The interrelatedness of different channels, prioritization and employee scheduling needs is extremely complex, leading a majority of contact centres to schedule non-phone channels manually, according to SWPP.

To successfully adopt omnichannel staffing, contact centres must overcome these challenges:

  • Managing varying channel service levels. When contact centres eliminate channel-dedicated employee groups, it is difficult to understand exactly where and how to schedule agents in order to meet SLAs. Multi-skill agents generate staffing efficiencies, but to unlock them, hiring, forecasting, scheduling and long-range planning must account for the individual needs of each channel.
  • Creating staffing groups when different interactions require different skillsets. Traditional staffing models and channel management required agents to have excellent telephone skills. New channels like chat require different skills, like multitasking to manage multiple chat sessions. Contact centres also must understand new performance metrics, like how many chat sessions an employee can handle simultaneously or how many email contacts they can handle during an interval.
  • Staffing and hiring the right skillsets for new channels. Do current employees have the right skillsets to support new channels, or will new agents with different skillsets be needed? Some contact centres are asking existing staff to self-identify whether they would be interested in taking on new channels with different skillsets. In addition, contact centres that are switching to omnichannel must consider how new skillset needs impact the hiring process and adapt it to identify candidates with the right abilities for chat, email and social media.
  • Determining which employees support which channels. Skill levels on new channels will vary widely. Contact centres will need a deep understanding of each individual agent’s unique skill profile to ensure that high quality customer service is delivered to the right contacts at the right time.
A thumbnail photo of Paul Chance

Paul Chance

By adopting omnichannel staffing, contact centres can significantly improve service levels on new channels, retain valuable multi-skill agents and enhance profitability.

Workforce management (WFM) solutions powered by artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning can make the transition to omnichannel simple.

For more information about NICE - visit the NICE 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.

Find out more about 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.

Author: NICE

Published On: 18th Feb 2021 - Last modified: 24th Apr 2024
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