Customers communicate with agents through a variety of communication channels, and many centers have been transformed into multichannel contact centers. Customers have the choice of contacting companies by telephone, email, snail mail, and increasingly, using web-chat. From the company’s perspective, the move to new communication channels has benefits in terms of both differentiated customer service and cost reduction.
Research has shown that, on average, the cost of handling calls is five times higher than that of handling emails. The telephone still represents the majority of the communication mix, but it is also by far the most expensive channel. The decision about which communications channels are to be made available to the customer should be predicated on the need to balance the cost of service and the benefits of high customer satisfaction.
The increasing number of communication channels poses a challenge for the contact center workforce management planner in providing the correct number of appropriately-skilled employees at all times during the day for all channels.
Customers not only expect a high degree of availability on the telephone, but there are also high expectations concerning the response times to emails, faxes and other newer channels like text messaging and social networks. Response times of several days are increasingly unacceptable for these alternative forms of communication. It is therefore desirable for companies to handle non-call, non-abandoning contacts such as email (which does not have the immediate response criteria of telephone queries) primarily during times with lower call volume, in order to increase productivity across the labor pool. Appropriate service level standards need to be defined for all contact channels.
The white paper, Multi-Channel Scheduling -Back Office Planning with WFM from InVision Software, explains how call center workforce management planners can properly carry out forecasting and scheduling in a multi-channel environment and how customers may achieve the proper balance ofservice between channels by using service level simulations.