When first launching your Zendesk, it’s important to take into account your different staffing requirements across all products. This article will discuss some practices you can implement to help plan staffing for the Support Suite.
For an overview of Chat specific staffing, see Determine your staffing requirements. For an overview of Talk specific staffing, see Determining your Zendesk Talk staffing requirements
Deciding on a staffing model
When initially scheduling your agents, you should consider the type of staffing model you would like to implement. There are two methodologies for staffing across multiple channels:
Dedicated staffing model
In general if your organization has more than 10 agents, it is recommended to use the dedicated model. In this format, agents focus their attention on customers from one channel. For example, Talk agents would offer phone support during the duration of their shift. This model enables agents to develop a solid understanding of one channel and find the most effective methods of helping customers. Further, a dedicated model enables your team to scale more effectively.
The downside of this model is that agents often don’t get a deeper understanding of a customer’s problems as they end up escalating complex queries.
Shared staffing model
In a shared model, agents are expected to work on channels that require the most attention and then switch over to other channels as they become busier. For example, a shared agent might start their day working on email support, but then switch over to answering phone calls as more start coming in. The advantage of this model is that agents maximize their time and are always solving customer queries. However, an agent would have to be trained more thoroughly to be able to effectively switch between multiple channels with little notice.
Planning your staffing schedule
This section will provide you with an overview structure and some general tips for creating your schedule.
Using a blocked schedule model
When planning scheduling and staffing across multiple channels, one option we recommend is a blocked schedule . A blocked schedule strategy acts similar to a dedicated staffing model, in which agents are assigned one channel per time slot. The agent will monitor the associated channel for their shift before switching to another channel.
The following are a few recommendations to consider when creating and staffing a blocked schedule strategy:
- Distribute your channel shifts evenly. If agents are placed on the same channel throughout the entire day, they might experience channel overload.
- Schedule your Support channel shifts after your live channels. In general, it is a good practice to schedule your agents Support shift after their Talk and Chat channel shifts, so they have the opportunity to follow-up quickly on any open tickets created from those shifts.
- Prepare for transitions. Transitions between timezones and agent shifts can be one of the most frequent opportunities for support request to be missed.
- Consider all of your channels. While this article primarily discusses your primary product channels, it is important to evaluate all of the areas customers might request your support. For example, it is a good idea to have an agent monitor your social media throughout the day.
- Track your metrics. To accurately evaluate your staffing and scheduling methods, you will need to track your request volume. See Using reports to evaluate staffing for examples of the reports you could use.
The most important recommendation is to communicate with your agents both throughout the day and after their shifts are complete. While we recommend breaking up channel blocks to prevent channel overload, sometimes agents might be focused on their channel and require more time to finish up their current tasks before switching. At the end of the day, you will want to gather feedback from your agents to evaluate how you can make adjustments on staffing and scheduling.
Making staffing adjustments
The most critical aspect of staffing is making adjustments according to your agents feedback. You should continue to communicate with your agents to evaluate how their experiences with each channel and adjust the number of agents for each shift accordingly. Your agents’ feedback and your support request volume metrics will be critical factors in determining your staffing.
While you are still collecting agent feedback, it might be good to implement an override agent. An override agent is an agent currently scheduled for the Support channel, but their primary responsibility is to transfer into another channel when extra assistance is needed. This could be when your call wait time becomes too high, your chats increase unusually, or an agent cannot transition to their following channel. An override agent can provide back-up assistance whenever necessary.
You can read more about the adjustments you might need to make for each product in Determine your Chat staffing requirements and Determining your Zendesk Talk staffing requirements.
Using reports to evaluate staffing
After launching your staffing, it’s important to monitor your request volumes and adjust your volumes accordingly. This section discusses some valuable reports you can use to evaluate your staffing.
Below are the following reports that can help you analyze your overall ticket volume. For more information on these reports, see Using the Reporting Overview and Overview of Insights pre-built dashboards.
- Ticket Stats:The Ticket Stats report at the top of the native Reporting Overview dashboard can help you evaluate a variety of statistics such as new tickets, solved tickets, and first reply time by date. This report can help you analyze general ticket volume.
- Tickets by Channel: The Tickets by Channel report on the native Reporting Overview dashboard provides more granular detail about your new tickets. You can use the report to view the percentage of tickets created by each channel and determine your most popular channel to distribute your staffing.
- First reply time: The First reply time report on the native Reporting Overview dashboard can help you analyze how quickly your agents are replying to customer requests. If your first reply time is too high, then you might want to evaluate your staffing.
To analyze your Chat and Talk volume, you can use the reports on the Chat Analytics dashboard (see Monitoring chat activity with Analytics) and the Talk Professional and Team analytics dashboards (see Analyzing call activity with the Talk Professional dashboard and Analyzing call activity with the Talk Team dashboard).