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Multi-Tasking Ability Essential for Contact Center Agents

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June 23, 2008

Multi-Tasking Ability Essential for Contact Center Agents

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor


There is a common belief that women are multi-taskers, while men tend to focus on one task at a time. While this ability could be gender based, it is more likely to vary by the individual. In the contact center industry, the ability to multi-task is essential to agent performance and ultimately success. In fact, it can even help to reduce turnover and improve job performance.

Without the ability to multi-task, new hires to the position of contact center agent can quickly find their jobs to be overwhelming. It can cause struggles in training and performance, leading to frustration and possibly even agent churn. The contact center’s ability to measure whether or not a job candidate can effectively multi-task can help to drive efficiency, reduce turnover and improve hew hire job performance. 

Multi-tasking in the contact center is the ability of the agent to process information quickly and manage several tasks simultaneously. Such ability is important in the contact center as agents work on a number of tasks at the same time and face a greater frequency of task switching. Complex CRM systems also require multi-tasking in order to effectively manage customer information during and after the interaction.

Multi-tasking is directly related to the contact center’s performance as it directly influences first call resolution, sales performance and call control metrics. It is considered a foundation competency as it influences the ability of the front line representative to incorporate other critical abilities and behaviors during a call.
Given the importance of multi-tasking within the contact center, it is imperative that it be properly measured. When hiring for the contact center, the hiring manager must be able to confirm that the candidate has the right amount of multi-tasking ability to meet the job requirements.

To do so, the hiring manager should conduct a test that evaluates many tasks at the same time. This test should consider the number of tasks, the time interval of the tasks and the frequency of task switching.
Research and experience has shown that adding the evaluation of a job candidate’s multi-tasking ability during the hiring process can help to increase early stage retention and improve overall new hire job performance. This reduces agent churn and significantly reduces hiring costs within the contact center.
To help consider multi-tasking as a critical competency in the successful performance of the contact center agent, improved technology can simulate actually working in a center enabling hiring managers to successfully measure the multi-tasking ability of job candidates. Such processes will identify strong candidates that can help the contact center drive success.
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