To Multi-Skill or Not to Multi-Skill: That is the Question…

But what is the answer? Unfortunately, it’s not crystal clear what is best. It seems like the trend towards universal agents in a multi-channel contact center has swung back and forth over the past few years. For a while, it was all the rage – let’s teach everyone to answer every call, and then we’ll need less staff overall.

Well, that didn’t quite work – we found out that not every agent is good at every type of call. For example, agents that were fabulous with customer service calls were maybe not so fabulous at sales calls. And vice versa.

But today, with a huge emphasis on the multi-channel contact center, we are again trying to have our agents work many different types of contacts. Before we get back on this path, it might be helpful to look at some of the pros and cons of universal agents in your multi-channel contact center.


  • Optimal leverage of economies of scale
  • Simpler forecasting and scheduling model
  • Greater agent flexibility
  • Improved First Call Resolution
  • Reduced transfers


  • Agents may take longer on some calls
  • ALL skills must be kept current
  • Turnover can be higher
  • Training time is longer for new hires
  • Existing staff may not have aptitude for all calls
  • No career path for agents

So as you look at this issue, weigh these pros and cons and look at your current agents – are you all ready to try it again?

About the author

Vicki Herrell serves as Executive Director of the Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) and oversees the strategic direction and the day-to-day operations of the association. With over fifteen years of experience in the call center and workforce management industry, she served for many years in the area of client relations and events management for the former TCS Management Group. Vicki is a popular industry speaker, serving as an industry expert on best practices in workforce management. She is the editor of SWPP’s On Target newsletter and the Workforce Management Expert Solutions book.

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