Why is Multi-tasking a Vital Skill to Look for in Agent Candidates When Hiring for Contact Centers?

Increasingly, working as a contact center representative requires working on a number of tasks at the same time with greater frequency of task-switching. While each contact center organization controls the amount of task-switching to some degree (based on their call-routing strategies), multi-tasking ability has become more important over the last five to ten years.

For example, the introduction of complex Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems into the call center environment during the late 1990’s changed the front line representative’s job. Our client experience has shown that in many cases the hiring model did not change to reflect the need for greater multi-tasking ability to meet the demands of these new CRM environments. The challenges many organizations faced in adopting CRM systems and the reduced payback they experienced may possibly be the consequence of the organizations’ inability to adapt to hiring employees with better multi-tasking ability – employees who could more efficiently and effectively function within the new CRM environment.

As was discussed earlier, best practices in developing hiring solutions call for conducting a job analysis prior to implementing selection systems. The subject matter experts interviewed in those analyses tell us that multi-tasking is important to job performance. In our client experience, multi-tasking is always highly ranked as a critical competency. The following example highlights the top ten competencies for a customer service representative and an inside sales representative:

While multi-tasking may not be ranked number one, in our view, multi-tasking is a foundation competency because it influences the ability of the front line representative to incorporate other critical abilities and behaviors during the call. For example, if the front line agent is struggling to manage two tasks at the same time, he or she most likely won’t be able to focus on the problem-resolution or listening factors that are important to call quality and first call resolution.

In short, multi-tasking competence is essential to the contact center environment because a representative’s ability to multi-task directly influences critical performance outcomes like first call resolution, sales performance, and call-control metrics.