Call Center Scheduling Encompasses Non-Voice Communication Channels
How much does bad customer service cost American businesses each year? While it’s a difficult number to pin down – customers don’t report each time they abandon or choose not to make a purchase because of a lousy experience – often cited research from NewVoiceMedia estimated that $62 billion is lost by U.S. businesses each year following bad customer experiences.
The compelling argument, therefore, is that improving the customer experience, even just a little bit, would lead directly to revenue gains by companies large and small. But which improvements should you focus on? It may help to look at customer grievances. Consistently, research finds that customers’ biggest pet peeves are long hold times, rude agents and having to repeat themselves from agent to agent and channel to channel.
Long hold times, of course, can be laid squarely at the feet of poor call center scheduling. This is an area many companies, even experienced ones, fail on, according to a recent article by Shep Hyken writing for Forbes.
“Numerous surveys have revealed abysmal results for response times to customer comments, complaints and questions on support channels such as social media, email, etc.,” he wrote. “For example, a 2016 study by Eptica showed that email response times averaged more than seven hours. The company that responds faster than its competition will stand out and win.”
Even if companies are scheduling telephone agents properly, customers are expecting fast response times via every channel they choose, so it’s important to choose a scheduling solution that takes non-voice channels into account, also. It’s not enough that there are plenty of agents on the phones. There must also be enough agents coping with email, text, chat, mobile app, social media and other digital channels.
The complexity of scheduling today means that it’s no longer possible to use manual methods such as spreadsheets. Modern workforce management solutions are scheduling engines that can incorporate all call types and non-voice channels to generate staffing schedules that allow agents to handle all customer communications in a prompt manner.
Multichannel skill scheduling needs to begin with a specification of service goals based on the types of channels. (In other words, the company must decide what it’s goals are for response times on email, social media, etc.) From here, good workforce management/schedule software can make a calculation of the average handle time (AHT) for each contact channel. While call center managers have been doing this via manual methods for years with calls, contacts from other sources such as emails or chats are much more difficult to figure out, since agents can handle multiple chats or emails at the same time. A good workforce management system takes these differences into consideration.
A good call center scheduling solution can help managers determine which choice to make next: dedicating an agent group to one kind of contact, or distributing different contacts (a mix of inbound and outbound calls, chats, and social media) among agents to vary their work. The latter method, also called a “universal queue,” can help with employee engagement by varying the work and reducing the repetitive nature of call center work.
Whichever method a company chooses to handle omichannel customer communications will vary by company needs, but it’s clear that performing well on all communications channels can never be accomplished via older, traditional scheduling methods.
Edited by Alicia Young