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Adding Channels Increases the Need for Forecasting

September 08, 2011

The channels a contact centers manages have expanded dramatically since the 80’s when the telephone was king—adding email, instant messages and SMS along the way. Based on current trends, it’s evident that contact centers will be adding another essential channel in the very near future: social media.

There’s no arguing that social media connects people in ways that were unimaginable even a few short years ago. There’s also no denying that the information readily available from social media presents an opportunity for businesses to engage and market in a totally new space. Implementing a social media channel strategy in your contact center is a challenge for both technology and staffing, and a strategy that incorporates both is essential to the success of the investment.

Contact center capacity will need to be upgraded to collect social information and listen to ongoing conversations without being intrusive. Likewise, agents will need to be trained on the best ways to join in the conversation and rectify issues.

Perhaps the biggest issue with adding a new channel though comes not from the implementation of new strategy, but rather the volume of communication that it adds. In a 2010 survey, 30 percent of contact centers stated that they struggle with forecasting and scheduling of multiple channels (call, email, chat, etc.). The addition of the new social media channels makes this even more challenging.

Workforce management software like that offered by Monet Software allows contact center managers to properly identify and prepare for volume fluctuations, and can take multiple channels into consideration when doing so. Since staffing is the largest overhead in any contact center operation, knowing when to call in the reserves and when to send agents home goes a long way in cutting costs.

If you’re not using a workforce management program already it makes sense to add it to your strategy, as you increase the channels you’re servicing. As the need to bring social media into your contact center looms, it makes sense to add some WFM support as well.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO (News - Alert) offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Chris DiMarco is a Managing Editor for TMCnet. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert) Chris worked with e-commerce provider Suresource as a contact center representative and development analyst. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page. Follow him on Twitter (News - Alert) @cpdimarco.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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