In order to improve agent efficiency and productivity, call centers can use multi-skill and multi-channel routing solutions to increase the number of contacts and agents, which leads to a greater chance of an agent completing communication with a contact just as another comes in.
“This is a desirable position as it creates economies of scale and leads to increases in occupancy, which is the amount of time individual agents are working. The greater productivity lowers the overall number of agents required,” Pommie Lutchmann, CEO at specialist contact center solutions and services provider Ocular Technologies, told ITWeb.
Although cross-training the complement of agents is unrealistic, multi-skill configuration enables contact centers to experience the benefits of cross-training some agents without having to train everyone.
There are specific differences between an ACD dialer/media server and workforce planning tools, according to Lutchmann. The goal of the ACD is to route contacts to agents that day, while workforce management tools analyze current routing and how contacts are routed to agents in the future to model current and future environments.
However, the way to model the optimal multi-skill staff plan is an area of debate. Lutchman said that the ideal workforce management tool must give companies the ability to carry out long-term planning, implement plans and make daily staffing adjustments. In order to do so, the workforce management tool must pinpoint current daily staffing needs and identify the amount and types of agents required to meet goals.
High agent turnover is common and aligned to improving agent proficiency in existing work types and developing additional skills. The key, however, is not to model individual agents, but rather types of agents and contacts, said Lutchmann.
“In time, levels of experience and aptitude in a particular type of agent will remain consistent even as agents are added or removed from the group. Modeling the type of agents rather than the individuals enables a workforce management tool to identify the types of agent required to meet future workloads,” he explained.
Modeling the workforce as it changes is vital to incorporate an abstraction between actual and types of agents since its useful for making daily staffing decisions and enabling planning ahead for the skills required to meet next month's service objectives.
The multi-skilled staffing problem can be solved by dividing types of contacts into forecast groups and types of agents into staff groups, Lutchmann commented. The multi-skill routing logic relating forecast groups to staff groups should be captured within a third layer called a routing set. With staff groups, analysts can track the contribution of agents with skills sets so that the economies of scale achievable through cross-training and utilization of skills-based routing can be calculated.
“Less analytical approaches merely simulate the routing of contacts to individual agents without applying group abstraction,” Lutchmann concluded. “The service level anticipated for the contacts is sufficient, but the staffing information falls way short of helping analysts determine what needs to be done in terms of planning.”
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Edited by Jamie Epstein