Do you need a SWAT team in your contact centre?!

Are thinking of multi-skilling some of your agents or you have different peaks and troughs in demand for your different types of contacts then the answer could be YES!

If you are thinking of multi-skilling some of your agents or you have different peaks and troughs in demand for your different types of contacts then the answer could be YES! This blog will show you a tried and tested way of setting up, managing and reviewing your multi-skilled area.

So what is a SWAT team?

Firstly SWAT stands for Switch Work According to Targets. The team will consist of a multi-skilled and experienced group of agents and an experienced Team Manager. Their mission is to work on all contact types and all skills at any time to meet fluctuating demands. The ethics of the team is that they’re super flexible and you can give them late notice changes to both their shifts and the type of work that they do.

So let’s say you’ve got a sudden influx of calls coming in of a certain skill, or you’ve got a big backlog on emails, or there’s a lot of marketing activity that’s driving webchat, then with a SWAT team, you can quickly and effectively deal with these fluctuations in requirement.

What are the benefits of setting up a SWAT team?

For the SWAT agents – being on this team means an interesting variety of work, they’re able to use their experience and feel valued. It could be a bit of prestige if it’s seen as a ‘super team’ and something to aspire to, and you can offer them rewards for being in on the team (more on that later).

There are also benefits for the other agents within the business as they should receive a more even workflow because the peaks and troughs are being smoothed out by the SWAT team. So the remaining agents would get more of the work that they are specialized in and they should see fewer changes to their schedules. They can also see a career path for the future if they want to join the SWAT team one day.

For the contact centre as a whole, you should see improved KPIs. This should include your service levels/ASA, cust/employee sat scores and other measures that should improve if you get the best from your SWAT team. As a centre, you are able to quickly respond to fluctuations in requirements and you will be seen as it innovative by setting up your SWAT team.

Finally benefits for the WFM team! Just imagine how great it is to have a group of people whose role is to quickly switch their work according to the targets that you have for that day. You will have picked people with a positive approach, it’s not easy for everybody to do this, so in this team, these agents are quick responders and a no-nonsense attitude to making those changes to both their shifts and work types.

Who would join a SWAT team?

Do you ever hear your agents saying they would like to do something a bit different every day? Maybe they’ve got lots of experience and want to use it. They want the prestige and to be noticed for future opportunities in the centre (including WFM of course!)

So should YOU have a SWAT team?

Do you have times where you’ve got agents waiting in one department and agents are really busy in another department? This could be throughout the day, within a week or even seasonally. Have you got different work types that have different peaks and troughs, so e.g. you may have a centre with the classic calls profile for the week with more calls during the beginning of the week, but more social media contacts towards the end of the week and the weekend?

This would show good potential for multi-skilling and might be something that you’re already doing or working on. The concept of the SWAT team will add extra flexibility to your multiskilled environment.

If you’ve got the luxury of having a really good WFM tool such as Calabrio Teleopti WFM, it is really easy to model the SWAT team, this will enable you to see very quickly whether or not overall your KPIs for your different skills and different work types would improve. It will also show you the sorts of shifts the teams would be the best working on and the mix of different work types that they would do.

The Schedules for the SWAT team

This is one of the main things that’s different about this team. Their start times would be super flexible, so they’re not team-based. Everyone on the SWAT team could potentially have a different start each day. You would initially give them a week’s notice of their shifts with an understanding you could potentially change their shifts the day before.

But we do need to consider the work/life balance. What can work well are rules where you can only make a day before changes up to 3 times a month, and also the agent can set a preference for a fixed start time 3 times a month.

Breaks and lunches also need to be super flexible, not team-based and you would optimize these the day before.

The activities on the schedules would similarly be planned maybe a week in advance with the possibility the day before the change and sometimes on the day changes. If you have really experienced agents then they could be doing a mixture of service/billing calls for an hour, emails for 2, webchat in the afternoon, finishing off with calls again before home time! So they should be able to deal with a mix of skills and media types.

The team manager would ideally do a core hours schedule as their team will potentially be doing a variety of shifts, and they do need to have multi-skill experience, so they’re really understanding what drives the different work types that the agents are doing and be able to coach them on all of those different types.

Setting up the SWAT team

Let’s look at this in 5 stages

  1. Measure of success! These would usually be service level or ASA primarily, and needs to be across all of your different work types, not just those worked by the SWAT team. Your schedule efficiency and productivity should also improve across the board, so as well as the SWAT team it should also improve in your non SWAT agents because they’re able to focus on their specialist work types and have less schedule changes. Adherence is an interesting one, this should improve or maintain for non SWAT teams as they should have less schedules changes. For the SWAT team it can be quite difficult to improve on because after all their schedules are changing more often, but it certainly should be maintained.
  2. What rewards could we offer? An example I’ve seen work really well are 2 days annual leave, the cost of the 2 days should be far outweighed by the benefits and having 2 days leave is really attractive to agents. Another option could be to offer SWAT agents schedules with fewer weekends, this is cost free but again really attractive.
  3. Recruitment is really important, setting the right scene for the team so that both the agents and the team manager are really clear how this is going to work. There’s going to be short notice changes, this will be quite a reactive type of team to work on and if they thrive on that type of environment and they’re really adaptable and happy to go from one work type to another regularly and with short notice, then great get them on board!
  4. Communication channels may be different for this team, so if you don’t already have them, a daily huddle is really important for this team so they have an understanding what the priorities are for the day and potential areas that they might need to change. Also they will need to have really close links with the WFM team as they will be driving what pieces of work they do each minute of the day. Have a specific line of communication, whether it’s chat, emails, phone calls etc. this is particular important as many of us are remote working.
  5. Trial it for 3 months. So rather than committing people to do it forever, I would recommend having a 3 month trial period which will allow you to set up and test the new processes, both from the WFM side, your team manager and your agents’ point of view. You can assess the business impact as well as checking in on how are the agents and team manager getting on with this new way of working?

More SWAT teams?

So you have reviewed the success of your first SWAT team, SLs/ASAs have improved, CSat and ESat all good, Schedule Adherence and Efficiency are on the up! The rewards you have offered to the SWAT agents are paying for themselves with the benefits realised. It’s time to see if you were to set up a second-team would you continue to see more benefits to your centre? This will depend on many factors including how high and low your peaks and troughs are against your different work types. You may or may not benefit from more or larger SWAT teams. With a best of breed WFM tool such as Calabrio Teleopti WFM, this is easy to answer, adjust your SWAT team scenario to model more SWAT agents!

I hope that’s given you some food for thought on potentially setting up a SWAT team in your contact centre. And if you do, best of luck!


Jo Kirman

Jo Kirman


QPC are your Contact Centre experts delivering bespoke solutions and best in breed technology to ensure your success

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