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The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring and Training for Multi-Channel Support

Hiring and training for multi-channel support requires a robust understanding of the skills, knowledge, and attributes that lead to successful employee performance and customer experiences in each channel, and overall. Pinpointing the drivers of positive outcomes, and replicating them through smart hiring, training, and coaching practices is key. ICMI has provided a few pointers to get you started in the summary below:

Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Support

Do: Look Inside

If you already have staff handling multiple channels, analyze the results! Who are your star performers – and what makes them stars? You’ll find both patterns and individual traits related to knowledge and behavior that have a direct impact on results delivered. If you haven’t implemented any additional channels, you can still evaluate who would fit for roles such as those that require the exceptional multitasking skills necessary to handle a blended environment or multiple chat sessions or even the more advanced command of written language required to handle email, social and chat.

Simple assessments, designed properly, can give you key insight into who would be suited for what type of work. Find the candidates, deliver the appropriate training, and measure the results. Using this method, you should be able to identify the skills, knowledge and attributes required to succeed in terms of employee performance and customer satisfaction. From that insight, you can create blueprints for hiring and employee development, ensuring the right training and coaching are delivered to continuously meet and exceed goals.

Some key attributes to identify when hiring and when looking inside for talent include:

• A strong service oriented personality – whatever the channel
• A good command of written language – necessary for email, SMS, chat, social media
• A natural ability to improvise
• An ability to create personalized experiences and build empathy

Regardless of the channel, today’s customer service personnel must simply be able to think on their feet, because as self-service matures, so too does the role of the human. Without a doubt, in most cases the customer has tried to get the simple answer on his own. Identify talent that has the ability to think critically and understand nuance and make sure that you invest in training and coaching for this as specific knowledge and behaviors are critical.

Do: Manage What Matters

Make sure you continuously evaluate, train, coach and reward your people and be prepared to adapt with agility. Ensure you are training and coaching on areas that are directly aligned with your goals. This sounds obvious, but if you are not measuring the right metrics, you risk rewarding or punishing staff for inconsequential reasons – a waste of time and money.

Don’t: Assume Youth = Social Media Aptitude

The use of social tools is one thing; appropriate use is another. It seems like every week there is another viral story about a major mistake made in handling a request or complaint submitted online, especially on Twitter. While responses provided on Twitter do not need to be as conservative as those provided in email, they need to be professional. If you have not created oversight for your social media responses, please stop reading this and begin working on that process.

Don’t: Assume One Channel Will Replace Another

Voice calls are still the #1 method of customer contact. Despite the proliferation of other channels, customers will still talk to live agents and, when they do, it’s likely their issue is complex and urgent. Continue to invest in performance improvement for your employees who answer the calls, and ensure that they are ready for the escalated level of service that they are now expected to deliver.

Don’t: “Over-Occupy”

Limit the number of multiple chats, and implement realistic service level goals for chat support, and don’t have agents handle multiple chats and a call simultaneously.

Don’t: Train Behavior and Coach Knowledge

Find the root cause of performance issues and gaps, and resolve with the right actions – actions with a proven track record of improving performance.

Analysis of success is every bit as important as analysis of failure.

Find what skills, behaviors and attributes are most needed to achieve and overachieve, and replicate them through targeted coaching, training, and hiring practices.


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