How to Use Kustomer Data to Help Forecast Headcount

How to Use Kustomer Data to Help Forecast Headcount TW

As COVID-19 cases began to spike in February and March of 2020, the economy slowed. Many companies were faced with the difficult decision to layoff or furlough a percentage of their workforce to stay afloat. As we move into the summer months, there have been modest gains in economic activity and employment growth. Reuters reports that approximately 25% of private-sector jobs have since been recovered out of those lost in March and April. Still, recovery has been slow as many contemplate future waves of the virus.

Considering the uneven terrain of our current economy, workforce management has become even more critical to maintaining profitability. It also promotes the health of your customer service team. If you’re running a skeleton crew and looking for ways to justify an increase in headcount for your team, read on.

How Kustomer Data Can Help

There are a handful of important metrics within the Kustomer platform that can help you understand whether your team is over- or under-staffed: inbound messages, average handle time, and agent capacity. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll focus primarily on a single channel: chat.

Here is the major question to consider: what does the data tell us about staffing needs and restrictions? Additionally, how many agents do we need to staff so that all chat customers are served immediately?

Let’s say that you’re an up-and-coming retailer in the Atlanta area. You currently have a 10-person team that handles all of the incoming chat conversations on your website. Each of these agents is trained to handle five chat conversations at a time. Collectively, their average handle time is five minutes.

Every agent works an eight-hour shift. They take multiple breaks throughout the day that add up to approximately one hour; they work for approximately seven hours per day. Thus, every agent is capable of performing approximately 420 minutes per shift (seven hours is equal to 420 minutes). Sixty minutes divided by an average handle time of five minutes means that each agent could theoretically complete 12 conversations per hour (if not multitasking). If we multiply that number by agent capacity (five, in this case), we can speculate that an agent can handle 60 conversations per hour.

If an agent can resolve 60 conversations per hour, and each of those conversations has a collective average handle time of five minutes, then an agent is capable of performing 300 minutes of work in an hour (in the eyes of our reporting). Finally, when thinking through the amount of work an agent can handle in a shift, that number is 2,100 minutes of chat work (300 minutes multiplied by seven hours).

As the lead of this team, you begin by pulling the average inbound messages per hour within the Conversations tab of your Standard Reports. Break up the data by day of the week. You notice that Mondays, on average, see a typical volume of 6,000 inbound chat messages. Again, if we multiply the total number of messages by our average handle time (five), this represents 30,000 minutes of chat work that needs to be completed on each Monday. If we divide those 30,000 minutes of chat work by the 2,100 minutes that an agent is capable of completing each shift, we can guess that we need approximately 14 agents working on Mondays to serve all of the chat customers as they arrive.

You can replicate this process across all days of the week, or certain seasonal spikes, and even apply this method to other channels. With further calculation, you could provide an hourly view of necessary coverage for inbound chats as well.

One final disclaimer: the important thing to remember here is that we are using past performance to forecast the future. Thus, it will not always be a perfect predictor of future staffing needs. It’s important to regularly monitor the ebb and flow of inbound messages to ensure that your team is adequately staffed.
 

Kustomer + Michael Pace: Is Agent Empowerment Today All Wrong?

How do you empower your customer service agents to deliver a great experience and delight customers? How do you hand down your company’s vision and purpose, so that they can bring that to all of your stakeholders? Well, we thought we’d speak with Michael Pace to find out.

Michael is the Principal and founder of the consultancy The Pace of Service, which helps organizations to realize the full benefit of Customer Service, Social Business, Business Process Management, and People Leadership. There he’s worked with some amazing brands like Tory Burch, David Yurman, and Rue La La among many others. He’s also the President of the Northeast Contact Center Forum, which puts on quarterly events for contact center and customer experience professionals.

In this episode, we go deep into the world of agent empowerment, covering what empowerment means, how to build trust between manager and agents, how to build trust, and how to set guidelines for responsible freedom. Listen to the podcast to get all that great knowledge, and check out this related post from Michael’s blog below:

Leaders: You Are Doing Empowerment All Wrong

Every management book will tell you that you need to empower your associates. In many ways, it does make perfect sense; the more your associates can do the right thing for customers on their own, everyone wins.

  • Customers get their issue resolved or the product they want with limited hassle.
  • Your associates are more fulfilled and their overall engagement and morale increases.
  • And you, as the leader, get the opportunity cost of focusing on more strategic priorities
    But you are doing it wrong (maybe).

Somehow the word empowerment turned into something that you can give to another person, like a magical gift. Or I can bop you on your head, like a holy man, and now you are empowered (dusts hands off in a proud manner of achievement). Or you have been hypnotized by my mystical words of leadership.

Empowerment is like energy, I cannot physically give you mine; it already resides in your associates. If you believe you can actually pass it along, you may be essentially passing over nothing. However, if we believe empowerment is something that I (your manager) can help unlock within you (associate), we can take the appropriate steps to unleash it. So instead of talking about empowerment, I talk with my reports about how I can help them exercise their responsible freedom, and how they can help their reports exercise theirs.

I discovered the phrase in a book by Chip R. Bell & Ron Zemke called Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service. It’s a great book for the Customer Service Leader who looking for direction that spans both strategic and tactical, combined with real life stories. Exercising Responsible Freedom is simply knowing the right thing to do, understanding the risk, recognizing your proverbial guardrails, having solid rationale, and most importantly doing something. Sounds a lot like empowerment, but with some real power.

How do you do it?

  1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Have the respect for your associates to treat them like adults. Far too often, I encounter people leaders who act more like parents than business leaders. Your associates typically have mortgages, rents, insurance, bills, children, and a whole host of other responsibilities, they can handle more than you think. If they can’t, you probably need to reassess their future and the time you invest in them.
  2. Paint the Vision: You cannot expect people to know and do the right thing if they do not know what direction you are going. Describe to your associates what the realistic future looks like, and have conversations (two way) about what it means to them.
  3. Provide the Flexible Guardrails: Talk about what would be going too far, and talk about what is too safe. Use examples of what is in scope and what should remain out of scope. In regulated industries, providing this detailed information is critical for wary associates.
  4. Discuss Possible Outcomes: Have a discussion about if something did go wrong. Develop operating agreements that provide a safe zone for both you and the associate to review lessons learned. I find myself often saying to people, if you had a good rationale for actions, you will never been in trouble. But if I asked “why”, and their answer is “I don’t know” or “I just did it”, we will need to talk more. And don’t forget to talk about the incredible things that can happen if they take the appropriate leap.
  5. Let them know you TRUST them: Just overtly saying to associates, “I trust you to ….” is amazingly powerful confidence builder. It reaches them on both a professional and personal level. See prior post on Trust for more info.

It is evident that service and relationship building are key differentiators between similar businesses. Customer’s expectations are pacing with the speed of technology and process innovation. If you provide scripted and/or automated responses to customers, they will repay you with the equal amount of passion. If your social support team is tweeting right out of the traditional public relations handbook, you will most likely anger or disenfranchise your customers. Same goes for customer service representatives who must use the caller’s full name 3 times in a call.

We need to hire, develop and foster our associates (and our associates’ associates) to think critically, do what they believe is the right thing for the customer, and not feel they have done something wrong by erring on the side of the customer. When they exercise their responsible freedom, they engage customers on a human level, they build strong relationships, and they have the true opportunity to “WOW” a customer.

Product Updates: New Workforce Management and Chat Capabilities Are Here

Our engineering and product teams have been busy launching new features, adding new channels, and making your top requests a reality. Here are the highlights of what we’ve added in this past quarter, in case you missed any.

Workforce Management

Team Pulse

Admins often spend extra time monitoring and following up with agents to ensure they’re working efficiently. Team Pulse lets admins view and jump to the customers, searches, reports, and conversations that their agents are currently working on, in real-time. Admins are also able to view which members of their team are using Autopilot, as well as how many conversations or customers they’re currently working on in the search.

For example, use Team Pulse to monitor your remote team’s activity during their shift.

Chat

Conversational Assistant

Chat Conversational Assistant is a pre-conversational feature that helps your team collect information from customers automatically, before reaching the agent. Collecting information upfront will speed up response times and the ability to quickly close conversations by cutting down the interactions between agents and customers. Conversational Assistant can also automate team assignment, by asking your customer what team they are trying to reach.

You’re able to create an unlimited number of open ended questions for end-users to respond to. We’ve also provided a few required fields to self-identify customers who may already exist in your Kustomer app such as email and name.

For example, use Chat Conversational Assistant to require the end-user to provide their order number so agents can easily access that information, and not have to wait for it to be provided.

Chat Availability

Chat Availability incorporates Business Hours into the chat experience, allowing admins to determine what the after hours experience will be for chat users.

We’re providing two options to choose from:

  1. Show Available: This will keep your chat available on your website regardless of your Business Hours. The chat window will display your available online greeting and allow end users to create new conversations.
  2. Show Offline: This will keep your chat icon available but display your offline greeting. You’ll be able to add an offline greeting image within the chat window and end-users will be prompted to leave a message.

For example, use Chat Availability to appear offline during holidays like New Years Day, when your team may have limited or no availability.

Chat Deflection

Chat Deflection helps to set proper expectations for your customers with estimated Reply Times. Our Reply Time display is fully customizable, so admins can choose from an automated, template, or custom message. Since Chat is a fast moving channel where your customers expect real-time support, we’ve added additional functionality around deflection and alternative follow-up. Deflection will help divert traffic when your Chat team doesn’t respond, by directing your customers to other channels. Admins can also set a deflection time, with automation around closing a conversation.

For example, use Chat Deflection to give customers the option to reach out via phone, text, or email when an agent doesn’t respond within the allotted two minutes.

Proactive Messenger

Proactive Messenger lets customer experience teams automatically engage website visitors with targeted messages. You can proactively send chat messages to specific target audiences based on a multitude of factors, including session information like time on page, last page visited, the geographical location as well as customer attributes if the user is logged in. Custom customer attributes allow for more powerful campaigns, letting you target customers based on information like VIP status, favorite color, last activity, last CSAT value, and more.

For example, create a campaign that displays a 10% discount offer to customers whose last CSAT value was lower than a 7 and have been on a product page for more than 5 seconds.

Knowledgebase

Multilingual KB

Multilingual Knowledgebase (KB), enables teams to provide help content in the correct language to their customers all over the globe. Multilingual KB lets you create KB articles in multiple languages and serve the correct version to your customers. Snippets, another new feature and component of Multilingual KB, will automatically detect the language of your customers and then adjust a specified block of text to the correct language.

New Channels

Kustomer Chat Android and iOS SDK

Your customers use apps and your support team needs to be able to help your customers where they are. Enter Kustomer Android and iOS SDK. Designed specifically for Android and iOS, it enables customers to interact with your team from within your mobile app. Our Chat Android SDK supports both logged in and anonymous chats. Fully customizable, it’s easy to match our Mobile Chat to your application’s brand.

You can check out our latest product updates here.

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