Multi-Skills in the Multi-Channel Era

With the continued growth of multichannel service options for our customers, our agents face many challenges that weren’t planned for when they were initially hired for their service roles. Recent studies show that our millennial employees are able to juggle tasks and skills more easily than our older employees and Gen Y are more likely to become bored with repetitive work and tasks so they enjoy the work variety.

We can certainly recruit for new agents with multiple channel skills going forward, but how will our established, longtime center agents handle these new skill demands? Many may be able to transition to the new skills needed. Unfortunately, some of your agents, regardless of their age or center experience, may not be completely successful in meeting the challenges of today’s constantly changing communications environment.

I’ve seen some excellent phone agents of all ages who also have very poor writing skills. There are other agents who are very proficient at written communications but are clearly uncomfortable during calls and struggle with verbalizing empathy phrases.  Still others may love fast-paced social media interactions, but cringe at the thought of solving a problem face to face with a customer in a retail service location that their company may rotate agents through.

Given the range of skills and abilities in your center now, you will need to decide how multi-channels will be staffed to be most effective for your customer needs, your business goals, and to help your best agents continue to be successful and feel engaged.

These questions are a good place to start:

  • Does every agent need to be proficient on all customer channels or just focused on the one they are most successful doing?
  • Would a core group of successful “multi-taskers,” combined with a few agent channel specialists who handle only one channel, make sense for my center?
  • What is the best way to train and support my longtime agents in the multichannel settings?
  • How can I involve my agents in transitioning our center to improved multi-channel experiences for customers?
  • How are workforce management and intraday management tools able to make sure my staffing, agent skills and customer experience needs are best met?

·          Multi-channel, multi-skills and multi-tasking will continue to drive our customer communications.  Make these work for you by assessing your own center needs, the skills of your people, and designing the strategy for successfully implementing and growing these opportunities for great customer experiences.  What brings success for other centers may not necessarily be the right approach for your business.

About the author

Since 1983, Melissa has partnered with Contact Centers and Retail Teams to help them develop strategies, operational processes and skills to successfully blend People, Process and Technology for Customer Experience success.

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