This workforce management (WFM) paper will examine multi-channel contact center WFM, its challenges, and the factors that should be considered when forecasting and scheduling for multi-media work.
How do I calculate multi-media requirements?
For multi-channel contact center WFM, data collection for forecasting must be enhanced to provide interfaces for all the different multi-media events (email, fax, web chat, etc). Determining staffing requirements for handling multi-media sessions requires service parameters to be specified differently. For example, the number of concurrent sessions for web chat and service objectives specified in hours or days for email or fax.
The forecast must take into account the trends, growth, special events, distribution, and so on. This information may be collected automatically from the email routing system. Email routing packages, such as Mustang, provide the necessary reports on email received, time to handle, etc.
Pipkins flexible report parsing utility enables the integration of multi-media data collection and forecasting into the overall call center forecasts.
Calculation of the agent requirements must take into account the service level required for these events. Conventional call center requirements are often based on providing a common service level to all calls. Email delivery systems may contain routines to automatically prioritize certain email types. They also group agents into agent pools based on skill set. In this respect, the routing system behaves similarly to an ACD.
Delivery systems also vary in the way in which agents are notified of new emails. Multi-channel contact center WFM systems may alert the agent automatically, or may require the agent to tell the server they are ready to accept a new email.
The target service level can be viewed in a couple of ways:
- Service level measured as a function of the time elapsed before an event needs be processed. This could be expressed as an average or maximum wait time.
- Service level based on the event being handled as soon as it is presented to the agent. (Similar in nature to outbound work). In this case, any delay in processing the event would be translated into a lengthening of the time required to process the event.
Having been designed as a multi-channel contact center WFM solution, Pipkins’ Maxima Advantage takes all these factors into account and give the user the flexibility they need to mirror their methodology:
- Any number of event types can be configured. If emails are pooled into different categories, these can be identified and stored separately within the database. This is crucial for accurate forecasting of the changing nature of the emails.
- Agent groups can be identified for the handling of different email pools. If these agents are also responsible for conventional inbound work, this can also be programmed into the team profile.
- In a blended environment, it is crucial that the requirement calculation takes account of the radically different service objectives. Within Maxima Advantage, each event type can, if required, be configured with its own unique service parameters.
How do I schedule to handle multi-media work?
In multi-channel contact center WFM, scheduling to meet the requirements of multi-media is an extension to skill-based scheduling.
To a certain degree, multi-media work (email, fax, etc.) are event types, in the same way that different call types are. The first key element is accurate calculation of the agent requirements. This is crucial in an environment where the event types are blended together for presentation to the agents (i.e. an inbound call followed by an email, etc.).
When scheduling for the non-call element of the workload, it is important to understand the nature of the work.
For example, does the work have a decay rate or does it hang around forever? So, if I don’t answer an email within a certain time, will it go away or will I have to respond eventually? If there is no decay, then I need to staff up to this, possibly at the cost of some other work. On the other hand, there may only be a minimum level of work I need to clear.
Maxima Advantage allows you to set these parameters as you want them. The scheduler will then be guided by these minimum requirements, however low or high they may be.
If the different work types are not blended together, the separate requirements will be treated as more discrete work ‘packets’, but again the user can specify minimum, or maximum, levels of staffing.
by: Dennis Cox
Dennis Cox is the managing director of PIPKINS UK, Ltd., the European headquarters for PIPKINS, Inc. Dennis worked for thirteen years as a workforce efficiency manager at BT (formerly British Telecom) before coming to PIPKINS in 1992. One of his main areas of expertise is the effective integration of workforce management tools and human resources. PIPKINS is a supplier of workforce management systems and services to both United States and international call centers. PIPKINS, Inc. is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, with its European Headquarters located in Yorkshire, England.
“PIPKINS, Maxima Advantage™ is the only Workforce Management system today that has the flexibility to provide the complete skill-set scheduling solution. Skill set capabilities were designed into Maxima Advantage from inception to handle all multi-skilled call center environments.”