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Scheduling tips for a multichannel contact center


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5 min read


  • Multichannel contact centers require the right amount and mix of agents
  • Overstaffing and understaffing are expensive problems facing multichannel contact centers
  • Workforce management solutions help you build effective, efficient schedules


You’ve decided to invest in a multichannel contact center, so customers can contact you through text, video conference, social media channels, and the phone. The question arises: how do you ensure that your contact center has the right amount of staff at the right time?

That’s where workforce management solutions can help. In this article, we’ll explore the challenges of scheduling staff at a multichannel contact center and how WFM software ensures you have adequate staff to cover all of your channels.

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Staffing challenges at a multichannel contact center

We’ll use two examples to illustrate staffing challenges at a multichannel contact center: overstaffing and understaffing. Each contact center offers the same mix of channels: social media, text, telephone, and video conference.


Contact Center A has an overstaffing problem. They have five agents for each channel during the hours of 9 AM to 5 PM. However, there’s very low traffic.

At any given time, three agents are handling interactions for any given channel. Two agents sit idle per channel. That’s costing the company money, and the eight agents sitting idle don’t feel so great about the situation either; they don’t come to work intending to sit idle.

The twelve agents who have enough work to do are resentful of their less-busy colleagues. All in all, the atmosphere at Contact Center A isn’t pleasant.


Contact Center B, in contrast, has an understaffing problem. They have two agents for each channel between the hours of 5 PM and 10 PM. There’s very high traffic – so high, in fact, that agents can’t handle it effectively.

While none of the agents are idle, they’re also unable to meet customer demand. Customers have a poor experience; many of them choose to abandon the interaction because it takes so long for someone to answer them.

The culture at Contact Center B isn’t any better than Contact Center A. Agents feel overworked and some of them are becoming burnt out. The turnover is rising, which means the contact center invests more and more in training agents who won’t stay very long.


How WFM software ensures effective contact center scheduling

WFM software helps contact centers avoid overstaffing and understaffing in contact centers by offering omnichannel analytics and tools to assist you in building a schedule that ensures adequate coverage.

Offering omnichannel analytics

Omnichannel analytics measure performance of all channels a contact center uses. While these analytics might seem like something that the marketing department would use, these metrics tell contact center supervisors about how many people are utilizing a given channel and how quickly agents respond.

Through omnichannel analytics, you might see that live chat is a popular option, but not as many customers use video conferencing. This tells you that you need more agents trained to do live chat, and fewer to do video conferencing.

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Assist you in building a schedule that ensures adequate coverage

WFM software helps you build a schedule that makes sure your contact center has enough agents with the right skill sets.

With WFM software, you can see which shifts are  the busiest and what customers want from the contact center (for example, it might be that many customers need to return products). That allows you to schedule agents for the shifts when they’re needed most, and to utilize agents with the most in-demand skills.


WFM software in action

We’ll go back to our previous examples of Contact Center A and Contact Center B to illustrate what life looks like after WFM software.

Resolving overstaffing

After implementing WFM software at Contact Center A, the supervisor realizes that the 9-5 shift doesn’t need 20 agents on staff. The busiest shift is actually from 4 to 10 PM.

Moreover, the busiest channels are live chat (on social media and text messaging) at those times. The manager offers the agents who don’t specialize in live chat the opportunity to retrain, and several of them accept it. They’re also willing to work the later shift.

Now that agents spend less time being idle, they feel better about their work. The agents who didn’t spend as much time being idle don’t feel resentful that their colleagues aren’t doing as much work as they are. The culture has improved tremendously.

Resolving understaffing

Contact Center B has also implemented WFM software. The manager at that contact center has made some important discoveries, too. He’s learned that the 5-10 PM shift has the highest traffic for all channels.

To prevent burnout and high turnover, he needs to hire two more agents per channel. Once these agents start working, the current agents notice their workload is much more manageable. They feel less stressed.

Moreover, customers aren’t abandoning their interactions the way they were before the WFM software implementation. Agents can answer questions in a timely fashion, so customers aren’t stuck on hold or waiting. Customer satisfaction scores rise, as do customer retention rates.


The benefits of WFM software

As shown from these examples, WFM software helps contact centers run more efficiently and improve the customer experience.

Having too many or too few staff isn’t efficient. You’re either wasting money on agents sitting idle, or you’re losing money because you don’t have enough staff to respond to customer queries. It’s also inefficient when your agents aren’t happy because they don’t feel productive or they’re burnt out.

Moreover, having the right amount and mix of agents makes the customer experience better. A third of customers are frustrated by waiting on hold, while 46 percent of customers will abandon a brand if they don’t feel agents can meet their needs. Fast response times and knowledgeable agents solve those problems.


Effectively schedule agents with RingCentral’s WFM software

RingCentral’s WFM software helps you meet scheduling needs with omnichannel analytics and assistance in building schedules with adequate coverage and the right mix of skills. To learn more, get a demo.

Effectively schedule agents with RingCentral’s WFM software
RingCentral’s WFM software helps you meet scheduling needs with omnichannel analytics and assistance in building schedules with adequate coverage and the right mix of skills.

Originally published Feb 03, 2022, updated Jun 19, 2024

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