When staffing a contact center, the trick is to walk the fine line between being overstaffed and being understaffed.
Overstaffing is expensive, it means your employees do not have enough work to fill their day and understaffing is expensive too as you are not meeting your service level objectives at the expense of customer satisfaction.
As we all know contact centers have to deal with fluctuating workload management challenges every day. Getting staffing right is not easy. Some forecasters take this into account and allow for a percentage of overstaffing so that there is a ‘cushion’ of resources when things get a little rough.
But sometimes your agents get some time to breathe and you may want to better utilize this idle time. However by the time you have decided on this substitute activity, you might be too late as incoming traffic could already be picking up.
Here are 4 ways to give your agents something to do when the dust settles:
- Call new customers or follow-up on a closed case
Giving a new customer a call to verify if the new product or service works well as it should can drive customer satisfaction and you could prevent a customer from calling-in when service levels are already under pressure.
- Send a ‘knowledge nudge’ or online quiz
When service levels are above target you can send a knowledge nudge to inform the agent of changes in products or services or send a quick online ‘quiz’ to test their knowledge and keep them engaged.
- Share a ‘best practice’
Take an example of a great customer conversation in the form of a recorded call and send it to an agent that is twisting their thumbs for a minute. Describe what worked well in the call or what could be improved.
- Balance service levels for multiple channels
The telephony channel is most prone to fluctuating arrival patterns. Blending interactions such as calls, emails, chat requests etc can also help to fill the gaps and find a good balance between agent utilization and agent morale.
The key to optimizing idle time is to make it part of an integrated contact routing strategy and make it ‘non-disruptive’. If your agents need to start other applications and take manual steps, you are wasting their idle time and be putting agent moral under pressure.
I am sure there are many other clever ways to optimize agent idle time you can think of, please share ways you may have done this with a comment below.