WFM considerations when launching new customer support channels

The contact center has already evolved from the humble call center, as more channels of communication became commonplace. With the meteoric rise of Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, Viber, WeChat, Line, and IMO (you can read more about this here) things are only likely to continue getting more complicated.


There are many things to consider when thinking about implementing a new channel into a contact centre. This article aims to provide a view from the Workforce Management perspective.  Additionally, with permission from Assembled ( I have included one of their videos which shares stories from their customers on how they’ve navigated the rollout of new customer channels and what they’ve learned from past experiences.



Current and Future Demand Size – economies of scale apply when planning for customer channels. For example, in a live channel you have to allow for random contact arrival (queuing theory) in order to meet service level. The larger your volume and workforce,  the higher the probability is that an agent will be available in time to answer the customer contact within SLA. As a result, you can increase occupancy and thus also cost efficiency. On very small volume channels you might be facing the opposite problem, resulting in you applying minimum staffing rules not because of pure workload need but just because you need to cover the opening hours of the channel.


Channel Hopping – yes for every new channel you introduce you are likely to also introduce incremental volume as a result of customers switching between channels depending on how emotive or complex a conversation has become. This needs to be incorporated into any volume demand forecasting.


Technology Capability. What is your current technology’s ability to provide a seamless multi-channel customer experience. How will agent and customer switch between channel and what efficiencies or inefficiencies will this produce?


Data Needs – How will data be captured and how accessible will this be to meet reporting/insight needs. So often data needs are the last consideration and yet Data is the life blood of any workforce management plan.


Workforce Interchangeability – How interchangeable is the new channel with existing channels i.e. can resources be merge or will two separate teams be required for each channel.


Channel Assumptions – each channel type will require different supporting planning assumptions. Sometimes this might just be a different productivity level assumption, but a new channel type can also drive a requirement for a completely new assumption. For example, Concurrency for Live Chat versus Occupancy for Phone channels.

Highlights From Video

(0:00) Defining channel strategy principles

(0:42) Lessons from a channel launch that was rolled back

(2:36) Stripe adds chat support to email support

(5:05) Hacks to improve case routing for realtime channels

(7:15) Daily Harvest launches SMS and inbound phone support

(10:09) Managing social media in support

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