Sales and Marketing Book Released

Peter Lyle DeHaan Publishes New Book: Sticky Sales and Marketing

Peter Lyle DeHaan released his latest book, Sticky Sales and Marketing: Produce Positive Long-Term Results and Relationships on December 1. Sticky Sales and Marketing addresses sales management, sales tips, marketing management, and marketing tactics.

Sticky Sales and Marketing: Produce Positive Long-Term Results and Relationships

In Sticky Sales and Marketing, Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD breaks down sales and marketing strategies in a coherent story-driven process and highlights what works and what doesn’t.

No matter if you’re selling products, services, or ideas, Sticky Sales and Marketing teaches why some sales and marketing techniques work—and others don’t—and what impacts the bottom line the most.

Through insightful stories and examples, you’ll learn how to:

  • Close more sales and gain repeat clients.
  • Understand the keys to a high-producing sales team.
  • Know what marketing channels will work best for you.
  • Apply marketing tactics proven to work.
  • Feel confident in your sales and marketing ability.

Sticky Sales and Marketing will not only teach you the building blocks to marketing that stick, but how to escape marketing failures that could hurt your reputation and your business.

Sticky Sales and Marketing is book two in the beloved Sticky series. Book one is Sticky Customer Service. Future titles include Sticky Leadership and Management, and Sticky Living.

Sticky Sales and Marketing is available now in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time. Read more of his articles or his book, Healthcare Call Center Essentials.

December 2022 Issue of AnswerStat

Read the December 2022 issue of AnswerStat, the information hub for healthcare contact centers.



Feature Content:

DEC 2022 TOC

Case Study: MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Technical Side of Operators Working from Home by Nicole Limpert
At MD Anderson Cancer Center, having a redundancy of operators on-site ensures normal operations without any interruptions. . .  << read more >>

Vital Signs: Integrate Your Call Center, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Pursue these integration initiatives to make your call center operation more effective and be a better place to work. . .  << read more >>

Guest Column: Who Owns Me? by Robert Kobek
Work with the patient throughout their journey by asking them about their experiences and use that information to enhance the patient experience. << read more >>

Ten Years Ago: The Expanding Markets for Healthcare Call Centers, by Monica Corbett
Healthcare call centers can become the nerve centers and personnel resource for the telehealth industry. . .  << read more >>

Industry News

Send us your healthcare call center news for consideration in the next issue of AnswerStat.

Marketplace Directory: AnswerStat Directory of leading Healthcare Contact Center vendors:

Call 4 Health
Startel first impressions are everything
Pulsar360
Keona Health
Patients Count: Enterprise patient feedback solution

About AnswerStat
AnswerStat is the information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources, published specifically for hospital and medical contact centers and distributed free to qualified readers, decision -makers, and influencers at hospitals and healthcare contact centers worldwide.

Contact us for more information.

Integrate Your Call Center

Facilitate Better Communication and Connectivity Within and Outside Your Operation

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

With the staffing challenges that most every healthcare call center faces, it’s more critical now than ever to optimize your operation for greater effectiveness and increased efficiency. One way to do this is to integrate your call center.

Let’s consider some ways for enhanced contact center integration.

Integrate Your Staffing

To integrate your call center staffing is essentially a move from specialists to generalists. This means cross training. It includes both cross training on types of contacts (such as give information, transfer calls, take messages, schedule appointments, and so forth) and channels (such as phone, text, email, and social).

Granted, you may have some areas where cross training doesn’t make sense, but these should be rare exceptions and not the norm.

Cross training improves operational efficiency, increases employee skill level, and better serves patients and callers. Cross training also moves your operation closer to FCR (first call resolution), which produces both caller-centric and center-centric results.

Integrate Your Tools

How often do your employees need to rekey information? Ideally the answer is never. Yet reality falls short of this ideal. Not only is re-entering data time consuming, but it’s also error prone. And although a cut-and-paste transfer helps in both areas, it’s not a solution but more of a shortcut.

Related to this in integrating your auto-attendant with your agent screens. Making an agent ask in person for information the caller has already shared electronically wastes agent time and infuriates callers.

The simple solution is to integrate your call center technology and smartly avoid this needless duplication.

Integrate with Your Organization

Next is to integrate your call center operation with other departments or divisions within your organization. Move from an us-versus-them mentality to a holistic we-and-us team approach. Seek proverbial win-win outcomes as opposed to clinging to a win-lose mindset.

This may be the most challenging integration initiative as it requires a shared perspective to reach a mutually beneficial result. Without having a common goal, the altruistic call center manager can fall victim to the me-first mentality of a predatory counterpart.

Integrate with Your Stakeholders

The final consideration is to integrate your call center with your stakeholders. For the inhouse call center, this means a better information flow between you and other departments, such as marketing. For the outsourcing operation, this means a better data exchange between you and your clients.

Also don’t overlook your staff. Seek to better integrate with them and their needs. Look at schedule development and posting, performance reviews, and handling the compensation aspects of their work. This integration is even more critical now in face of a worker shortage. Although your primary stakeholders are those you serve, without your staff, you’d have no chance to serve them.

Conclusion

Pursue integration initiatives to make your call center operation be more effective and a nicer, saner place to work.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Who Owns Me?

Patients-Count: Enterprise patient feedback solution

The Enterprise Nature of the Call Center in Healthcare

By Robert Kobek

Given two very long and I believe distinguished careers in the contact center industry and the hospitality industry, I’m not surprised about how little patient feedback information is shared between stakeholders in a company.

Being new to the healthcare industry, I’m keenly aware of the requirement to survey for Medicare reimbursement. What about the rest of the journey?

Very few of us executives have the luxury of focus. We look at the entire landscape, ecosystem, culture, call it what you will. There are times when focus can be misunderstood. One specific example is the way an organization views its contact center.

It’s imperative to use horizontal/peripheral vision. This phenom is what will create an enterprise view of how your contact center remains a profit center. From appointment to billing, the contact center is the point of the spear in managing the relationships between you and your patients.

Later I will use three examples to show the impact of a contact center report on at least seven departments or silos in an organization.

And in the case of gathering patient experience for the contact center where there are at least two outcomes, enhancing the patient experience through process improvement.

There is also a big difference between research and online feedback management where measurement of every key performance indicator is reported to more business silos.

Invariably, there is someone in the company who will treat a contact center like they are an orphan. Here is some guidance: Do what you can to help them understand what goes on in that critical, tip-of-the-spear part of the business. Contact centers are profit centers. Treating it any differently is a mistake.

Measuring the patient experience (PX) at the point of the omnichannel contact center/phone call has significant benefits when measuring the appropriate KPIs.

Applying them to training, retention efforts, net promoter scores, customer effort scores, and a host of other important process improvement efforts, requires dedicated energy. With measurement, effort becomes a project, a project becomes executable.

The beginning of the complete process to measure to enhance the patient journey has begun. The complete journey with qualitative and quantitative data, both structured and unstructured data (reporting).

What is particularly interesting (if you are anywhere near the data geek I am) about measuring the voice of the patient is how it compares with the way your dialing machine tracks a distinct set of KPIs.

And, depending on your contact center stretch goals, there are comparisons between average speed to answer and a customer effort score (CES) question to the patient. Comparing those measurements with the disposition given by the agent and you have quantifiable evidence of a disconnect.

 A positive experience on the initial patient call sets the tone for the rest of the journey. Like the golf tournament precedes a trade show. With the enhancement of the patient journey at the contact center, the enterprise journey walks in step with the patient.

An example will help. The following comes directly from an NPS report.

In this case, there are several stakeholders inside your organization that can benefit from a customer comment. At a minimum:

  • center management
  • training
  • scheduling
  • patient experience professionals

This verbatim comment is the result of a patient responding negatively to one question “would you recommend us?”

Another example, and perhaps more important—the CES question. “Did xxx made it easy for me to do business?”

On a 7-point scale, one being they made it hard, seven it was easy, wouldn’t it be good to know why the scores from one to five were so low? Who should care?

  • accounting
  • marketing
  • training
  • center management

Then yet a third, the email delivery report. This one drills down on your ability to communicate effectively with the patient, at all levels. A clean list is a happy list.

Who benefits:

  • the patient
  • center management
  • IT—data managers
  • digital marketing
  • patient EX management

Who owns the feedback? Every stakeholder in the enterprise owns the obligation to enhance the patient experience.     

The lesson here: work with the patient throughout their journey by asking them about their experiences. Every stakeholder in your organization should play a part in deciding what the voice of the patient should be. Then use that information to enhance that experience.

There will be certain outcomes for sure. Your patient will remain loyal to you and in the event you are billing Medicare your star ratings will come in much faster and higher.

It will be an honor to work with you at your convenience.

Robert Kobek is the president of Mobius VP, LLC, and Patients-Count®.

Ambs Call Center Wins Customer Service Awards for 12 Years Running


Ambs Call Center is an award-winning call center that has been in business since 1932. It is a mission-driven company that has stuck to its values through decades of fluctuating market conditions, only to emerge as a frontrunner in high-tech business communication.

For the twelfth year in a row, Ambs Call Center has won customer service awards for excellence from CAM-X and ATSI, two trade organizations that recognize outstanding operations in the industry.

Ambs Call Center CEO Aaron Boatin is proud of his company’s consistently high performance. He explains, “The core of what we do is help our clients communicate better with their customers. Customers are fed up with the frustration that offshore call centers create with language barriers. Our team solves this with friendly voices on every call which makes our clients’ customers happy. That’s what makes this independent recognition so gratifying.”

Now in its fourth generation of family ownership and operation, the leaders at Ambs Call Center have created a business model that supplies a distinct experience for people, elevating the importance of the customer experience, call success, and the lost art of courteousness. These priorities are baked into operations, staff training, and performance evaluations.

Ambs Call Center offers a full suite of telephonic answering services for businesses in all industries, including healthcare, IT, property management, and more. Services include virtual receptionists, secure text messaging, call centers, and automated attendants.

Case Study: MD Anderson Cancer Center

1Call

The Technical Side of Operators Working from Home

By Nicole Limpert

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is named after Monroe Dunaway Anderson, a banker, and businessman born on June 29, 1873, in Jackson, Tennessee. His family began buying and selling cotton in 1904 and in 1907 MD Anderson moved to Houston, Texas to grow the family business. Monroe established the MD Anderson Foundation in 1936 before his death in 1939. When the Texas Legislature authorized The University of Texas to establish a hospital for cancer research and treatment, the MD Anderson Foundation matched the $500,000 that was appropriated for the hospital which was then named for its benefactor.

MD Anderson is the largest cancer treatment center in the United States and ranks number one in cancer care by U.S. News & World Report. MD Anderson is also a degree-granting academic institution and research center. MD Anderson employs more than 22,000 people, including 1,788 faculty members, has more than 680 inpatient beds, several research buildings and outpatient clinic buildings, two faculty office buildings, a patient- family hotel, and other off-site facilities for clinical and research use, making it one of the largest cancer centers in the world.

The Road to Remote Operators

The askMDAnderson service, formerly known as the Welcome Center, was established to provide answers, resources, and expertise to people with a cancer diagnosis. According to MDAnderson’s website, askMDAnderson (askMDA) can help people:

  • Make an appointment
  • Understand treatment options
  • Learn about research studies
  • Navigate the MDAnderson website
  • Find out about patient amenities (such as travel and support resources)
  • Access prevention and screening services
  • Find accurate cancer information
  • Locate community cancer resources

When a pandemic was declared in March 2020, MD Anderson required non-direct patient care personnel to work remotely. This included the operators for the askMDA line. “Before April 2020, our operators had never worked remotely,” says Ninette Thomas, askMDA Operator Manager. “We began to look at the resources we already had to develop a hybrid remote call center and realized we were not harnessing the full capability of the technology available to us. That lead to a collaboration with a lot of other departments at our organization to establish our hybrid remote call center.”

IT Mobilization

“The very first step was to determine the feasibility of allowing our operators to work from home. Luckily, we were already investigating the prospect of working from home, but the pandemic fast-tracked all our ideas and testing for how operators could work from home. We knew it was a possibility and we needed to figure out a way to make it happen,” says Jeffrey Cain, Applications System Analyst.

Once the IT team determined it was technically feasible for the operators to work from home, they began preliminary testing. That was followed by a new hardware roll out, new software installation, technical testing, and regression testing. Jeffrey says, “We had a mixture of technical and regression testing. We simulated a remote workflow in our testing environment and included our regression testings and scripts to determine if we needed to change anything in our ANI (automatic number identification) screening table.”

Custom call center agent scripting guides operators through each call no matter where they are located. Remote operators are provided with the exact information they need to provide the best patient experience and reduce call center error rates.

Michael Wolf, Principal Applications System Analyst and Technical and Support Lead for the IT team that supports the operators adds, “As IT support we had been working remotely one or two days a week for years. So, for our ongoing support, we were already working remotely using our call center software for regression testing, developing new call scripts, and modifying call scripts. We were able to go through the entire workflow for a couple of years which helped us transition after COVID-19 hit.”

IT Challenges and Departmental Collaboration

One of the biggest challenges the team faced was that all their operators worked on-site and used desktops. The IT team replaced all the desktops with laptops for each operator for a total of twenty-two new laptops. Each laptop required:

  • A docking station
  • The hardware operators needed to use the laptops in their homes
  • Installation of all the relevant call center software used by operators and managers
  • USB headset, wireless keyboard and mouse, and a mouse pad

New hardware and applications had to be used and integrated to ensure the system ran smoothly, “The introduction of the other applications meant we had to familiarize ourselves with these applications that interface with our call center platform because they had become an integral part of the operator’s workflow,” says Jeffrey.

Testing, planning, and coordinating how to work from home wasn’t just for the askMDA operators. All of IT had to go remote in April 2020. This meant deploying thousands of laptops to people across MD Anderson’s institution to give them the ability to work remotely.

Michael says, “It was a huge undertaking with a lot of coordination between IT groups. A command center was set up in our main administrative building for people to come in and get any equipment they would need to work remotely. This took some work and collaboration between our colleges on the Voice Engineering Team and us on the Applications Support Team. We had to work out all the kinks, but it did work thanks to a lot of cooperation and collaboration.”

Remote Operator Setup, Training, and Support

Working remotely meant new workflows and procedures would be introduced. Operators had to be trained on using VPN access, two-factor authentication or Velo-Cloud, and establishing audio just to log in. Ninette comments, “We wanted to make sure our operators had the exact same setup they had at home as they did on-site. They also got a pager so when we have a situation like a code blue, they know it went through successfully even though they are at home.”

“The operators were using physical desk phones and their extensions are tied to the ANI screening table and the call center software. We needed to be sure that they could now transition seamlessly back and forth from their desk phone when they’re on-site to working from home,” says Jeffery.

Additional procedures were also established such as:

  • Following a specific login order to ensure nothing disrupted the system and it remained operable
  • Steps to be done when returning to campus
  • Using RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) so IT can access the remote machines and make administrative changes

“Our training is 100 precent on-site because we want operators to be comfortable using all the applications before they go home. They are required to work 100 precent on-site for the first thirty days so they can ask questions,” says Ninette.

Remote Challenges

Web-based communication is fast, secure, improves communication times, adds efficiencies through remote access, and reduces the number of potential errors caused by miscommunication and absences. Yet, challenges still exist but they can be overcome with solid procedures and backup solutions.

Outages: Houston, Texas experienced a winter storm in February 2021 that essentially shut down the entire city. This demonstrated how important it was for MD Anderson to have remote procedures in place because some employees were unable to leave their homes. During and after the storm, many team members were without power which can be a downfall of working remotely. However, this organization has backup systems and procedures so communications could continue.

“We have backup procedures in case of a server or phone outage. There is a phone line that isn’t connected to our server so we can use that line for Code Blue and other emergency communications. If the phone system is down, we have landline phones that are hardwired into the building that are designed to work for codes,” says Ninette.

Staff management: Ninette comments, “We’ve been utilizing the reporting functionality of our call center software a lot more now that operators are remote. When we’re in the office and working together, I can hear my staff and know that they are working on calls. Now I’m using the reports a lot more than in the past to monitor productivity and availability. What was surprising to me was that I anticipated having a problem with performance when they went home, but what I found was that our productivity actually went up.”

Remote Benefits

MD Anderson had a separate “ride out” location in another building that was specifically designated as the location all the operators should go to in case of a disaster. The operators would relocate to this command center, which was outfitted with two desktop workstations and multiple open phone ports, where they could resume their normal workflows.

“We are now more prepared for hurricane season. We have less staff required for ride out because we have more people who are available to work remotely—provided they have power and internet. All we need is a power source to continue to work. We can literally work from anywhere,” states Ninette.

Michael adds, “Now that the operators have the ability to work remotely, the IT department has experienced benefits such as decreased overhead to maintain the equipment or perform quarterly tests and reduces our support time.”

Another benefit that came about with the operator’s ability to work remotely was schedule flexibility. After the thirty-day on-campus training, operators were able to go to a four-days-a-week/ten-hours-a-day schedule. The department originally offered only three shifts to cover their 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week operation, but that has increased to seven shifts for more flexibility.

The team rotates the schedule so each operator is located on-site for only two days per week. This results in more flexibility for the operators, easier commutes, and they can limit the number of people on staff in compliance with their institution’s response to keep their employees safer during the pandemic.

Patient and employee safety are paramount. Even though between 82 to 91 percent of the operator staff work remotely per shift, there are still at least two operators in the building at all times in case there is a communication outage. Having a redundancy of operators on-site ensures normal operations without any interruptions.

“As a team, we have the difficult task of balancing patient safety, employee safety, and employee satisfaction. We have made every effort to make sure we are not putting anyone in harm’s way by taking unnecessary risks. Implementing a hybrid remote call center in the middle of a pandemic was challenging. However, the collaboration between the different IT groups and the askMDA operator team have made this a successful transition,” says Ninette.

1Call, a division of Amtelco

Nicole Limpert is the marketing content writer for 1Call, specializing in offering enterprise-wide communication solutions for healthcare organizations.

The November 2022 Issue of Medical Call Center News



Read the November 2022 issue of Medical Call Center News.

Medical Call Center News is an e-newsletter published by Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc, in conjunction with AnswerStat magazine.

Please tell your coworkers about Medical Call Center News.

Thank you!

[Medical Call Center News is published by Peter DeHaan Publishing IncPeter Lyle DeHaan, editor.]

TriageLogic Publishes E-book on How to Create a Successful RPM Program

TriageLogic

While healthcare providers acknowledge the value of remote patient monitoring (RPM), many have found it difficult to set up a successful program. TriageLogic recently published an RPM e-book that outlines the common reasons why providers may experience setbacks with implementation, along with the steps they can take to overcome them.

These solutions have been shown to reduce medical expenses, offer income to providers in the form of reimbursements, and greatly improve patient health outcomes.

What Is RPM?

Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is part of a new era of remote medical services and technology. Most remote patient care takes place over the phone or a two-way video. RPM goes one step further by helping doctors regularly collect and evaluate patient data using electronic medical devices. 

These RPM tools track patients’ vitals like blood pressure, glucose, and pulse ox, and relay this data back to their providers for review. At minimum, a successful RPM program depends on having the right amount of reliable RPM devices, as well as enough staff to monitor recorded data, identify when devices are being used improperly, and notify patients when symptoms indicate possible medical concerns.

The Case for Implementing RPM Technology

The main reason for developing remote patient monitoring was to improve a provider’s ability to catch changing vitals in chronically ill patients.

Some changes may be sudden or happen between normal patient follow-up appointments. Others may simply be undetectable until it’s too late to respond. RPM serves as an early warning symptom that enables providers to intervene even before patients experience troubling symptoms. 

Considering how much money is required cumulatively to treat patients with chronic disease, and the fact that six in ten Americans suffer from at least one type, it should come as no surprise that a successful RPM program can offer substantial benefits to patients and the healthcare system.

For providers, this means insurance companies are now open to reimburse them for remote patient care. 

Challenges for a Successful RPM Program

While this technology offers greater visibility over the changing health of chronically ill patients, RPM isn’t without its own challenges. These can range from RPM vendor selection to properly billing for RPM. One of the biggest issues is the ability to manage and respond to the regular influx of health data.

That’s why TriageLogic expanded their nurse telephone and telehealth triage services to include data review for remote patient monitoring. When healthcare providers want to outsource this service, TriageLogic will put them in touch with an established RPM partner.

That partner will supply the number of needed devices for the provider to administer, while TriageLogic will review health data from those devices through their call center of registered nurses.

Their RNs go through a strict hiring process to verify their knowledge and capabilities when it comes to patient symptom evaluation, allowing them to identify when RPM readings are enough of a concern to warrant notifying the provider and the patient. Nurses also use device-specific and disease-specific protocols to evaluate patients. 

The Future of RPM

As more healthcare providers adopt this technology, their patients will experience greater health outcomes. Charu Raheja, CEO of TriageLogic, understands firsthand what a powerful effect this can have: “When my father passed away from a massive heart attack in 2009 because he did not call a healthcare provider to evaluate his symptoms, our mission became that much more important to me. I could see … how providing remote health care … to address [patients’] symptoms could save lives.”

Implement Your RPM Solution

Providers who are interested in creating a successful RPM program can download TriageLogic’s e-book. Those who wish to partner with TriageLogic’s outsourced RPM data review can contact them directly at 800-723-4290 or through their contact form.

TriageLogic

Founded in 2007, TriageLogic is a URAC accredited, physician-lead provider of high-quality telehealth services, remote patient monitoring, nurse triage, triage education, and software for telephone medicine. Their comprehensive solutions include integrated mobile access and two-way video capability. The TriageLogic group serves over 9,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide.

October 2022 Issue of AnswerStat

Read the October issue of AnswerStat, the information hub for healthcare contact centers.



Feature Content:

AS OCT TOC

Addressing Healthcare Workplace Violence with Integrated Contact Center Software and Secure Messaging, by Nicole Limpert
Technology used by a healthcare organization’s contact center should be part of a violence prevention program. As the communication hub, they have the tools and needed contact information . . .  << read more >>

Multichannel Contact Center Scheduling, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
For the best staffing results, develop a multichannel contact center scheduling strategy. Then use a scheduling solution to implement it . . .  << read more >>

Vendor Case Study: LVM Systems Completes 2022 System and Organization Controls (SOC) 2 Type 2 Examination
Caretakers of patient data healthcare organizations need a contact center that meets SOC 2 standards for security, availability, processing integrity, and confidentiality . . . << read more >>

Vendor Spotlight on Patients-Count: Measure to Manage the PX Journey 
Track key performance indicators (KPIs) of your contact center staff to better understand and improve the patient experience (PX) . . . << read more >>

Ten Years Ago: Why Your Nurse Triage Needs to Be Integrated with Your Clients’ Systems, by Dr. Ravi Raheja
With the proper triage and integration technology, the call center can lead the effort to provide coordinated, efficient care and help the community they serve . . . << read more >>

Industry News

Send us your healthcare call center news for consideration in the next issue of AnswerStat.

Marketplace Directory: AnswerStat Directory of leading Healthcare Contact Center vendors:

Call 4 Health
Startel first impressions are everything
Pulsar360
Keona Health
Patients Count: Enterprise patient feedback solution

About AnswerStat
AnswerStat is the information hub for healthcare contact center news and resources, published specifically for hospital and medical contact centers and distributed free to qualified readers, decision -makers, and influencers at hospitals and healthcare contact centers worldwide.

Contact us for more information.

Multichannel Contact Center Scheduling

Staff Your Operation with Agents with the Right Stills to Work at the Time They’re Most Needed


By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

You run a multichannel contact center for the healthcare industry and have staffed it with well-trained agents. Some specialize in one specific channel, others can handle related channels, and some are cross trained on all channels. This is a great start. Now comes implementation; now comes multichannel contact center scheduling.

Schedule Channel-Specific Agents First

Start with the channel that receives the most interaction, and schedule agents for that channel. By way of example, let’s assume the majority of your contacts are via the telephone. Schedule telephone agents, across your hours of operation, to take a percentage of those calls.

If they can cover 50 percent of those calls overall, don’t schedule them to cover 100 percent on some shifts and ignore other shifts. Instead populate your schedule so that your telephone-only specialists can cover 50 percent of those calls throughout your hours of operation.

Repeat this for your next highest used channel.

Continue this process for each channel that has enough traffic in any given time slot to call for scheduling a specialist to handle it. As you work through this, you’ll find a particular time-of-day or day-of-week that doesn’t have enough traffic to keep one agent busy. Don’t schedule a specialist for those time slots. Instead move them to an area with enough work to fill their scheduled hours.

Schedule Partially Cross-Trained Agents Next

With your single-channel specialists scheduled, next fold in those who are trained on more than one channel. Let’s assume you have an agent trained to handle both text and email contacts. Place them on the schedule where there will be enough activity from one channel or the other to keep them busy.

Depending on the dynamics of your traffic, they could spend their shift bouncing between the two channels or primarily receiving contacts on one channel or the other. This is to be expected, and they need to be aware it could happen. The key is to not schedule them for shifts where there isn’t enough potential traffic in either of the channels they’re trained to handle.

Schedule Fully Cross Trained Agents Last

Once you have your channel-specific agents and partially cross-trained agents on the schedule, fill the remaining open slots with agents who are fully cross trained to handle any channel. This is the last step of multichannel contact center scheduling.

At minimum you should have one fully cross-trained agent on every shift throughout the day. They’ll serve as your buffer, able to pick up traffic from whatever channel has the greatest need.

Assuming you have enough staff, the fully cross trained agents will smooth out your schedule. They’ll pick up the slack on the channel where they’re most needed.

You can use these fully cross-trained agents in two ways. And their personality may align with one approach or the other.

Although able to take contacts on any channel, some agents will want to start on one channel and focus on those interactions until you move them to another channel—or until some preset condition exists, signaling them to make the switch themselves.

Other fully cross-trained agents are completely comfortable bouncing between channels from one contact to the next. They thrive on the moment-to-moment variability, which ideally positions them to pick up the moment-to-moment traffic changes that occur within any multichannel contact center.

Scheduling Tools

Knowing the philosophy of multichannel contact center scheduling forms the foundational understanding of what to do. Now comes the challenge of making it happen. For smaller operations with minimal channels, you can do this with some degree of proficiency on a spreadsheet.

A better solution, however, is scheduling software. But don’t try to use a single-channel scheduling package. Instead look for a solution that can take historical inputs from multiple channels and allow you to match agents according to the projected need.

Having a full-featured, robust scheduling solution will make the task of multichannel contact center scheduling much easier—once you’ve mastered the foundational staffing strategy.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time. Read more of his articles or his book, Healthcare Call Center Essentials.

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