Improving Agent Productivity with Blended Contact Centers
Trends in the Contact Center
There's always talk in the industry about the future of contact centers. With the emergence of multichannel or even omni-channel customer care, many call centers have evolved into full-fledged contact centers. Modern consumers can choose from a variety of communication methods and want engage with companies on their own terms, using their preferred channel.
Use of live chat has increased over the years, along with social channels like Twitter and Facebook. While email is often derided, it’s still a popular communication method for some consumers and shouldn’t be overlooked. The questions these channels raise in traditional call centers are:
- How do we manage the complexities of the multichannel?
- How do we ensure we have the right staff levels?
- How do minimize idle time for our agents?
- And how do we manage peaks and troughs?
Managing the multichannel customer experience within the call center has been a challenge. But if the phones are quiet, integrating social, email, and web chat channels will help you say goodbye to idle time.
Increasing Agent Productivity in the Social Age
Boosting productivity is as much about having the right tools as it is about better engagement with your workforce. Contact centers that have flexibility in their staffing and operations and who have invested in some smart tools have a clear advantage.
While “multi-skilling” is helpful, different businesses require different setups. But if you can get agents trained up to manage more than one channel, it will definitely bring significant productivity gains. Think about the different skill sets required. Do you have agents who can handle outbound or cold calling as well as more customer-centric inbound calls? Do you have some brand advocates and social media-savvy agents? Start getting these agents involved in your social channels.
You could also consider cross-training two or three specialist groups to make a larger group with a broader skillset. Productivity benefits can be significant when bringing small groups together. And wherever possible, aim to switch to larger workgroups with more flexible agents. If agents are skilled in more than one area and can take both inbound and outbound calls – and even jump from channel to channel – then you're sure to see some huge performance and productivity gains.
Improving Contact Center Staff Performance
Boosting agent productivity is a key theme in contact centers. Chances are your call center has tried some of the following:
- Better staff engagement
- Tracking specific KPIs and providing goals
- Agent incentives
- Technology investments
- Integrating more channels
- Improving call routing
The list can go on and on, but let's look at how you can improve agent performance with smart technology: the blended contact center.
Seamless Call Blending in Contact Centers
Contact center software may still conjure up the vision of the outbound predictive dialer for some, but technological advances have resulted in enormous productivity enhancements, whether inbound, outbound or blended. The hosted call center solutions of today can facilitate the process of agent blending and drive real efficiency improvements.
With automatic blending of inbound and outbound calls, companies can deliver greater customer service with guaranteed agent call backs and inbound call prioritization. Combine these with good agent coaching, advanced agent scripting tools, and other staff development tools, and you’ll enhance the customer experience even more.
Blended Call Center Metrics
Metrics you'll want to keep in mind include:
- Who is making the calls
- How many have they made
- How long did each call take
- After-call administration costs
- Are outbound calls are affecting inbound service levels
Good contact center software will provide full visibility on all your key metrics and KPIs. And with a blended contact center you won't need to analyze call queues and campaign performance stats because it will automatically give priority to inbound call while keeping your agents fully utilized for optimal performance.
Making Good Use of Agent Idle Time
Agents can use quiet times to:
- Proactively follow up on abandoned calls
- Keep customers notified of progress or changes to their order or query
- Follow up with customers who have provided negative feedback on surveys entered the system
The productivity advances of joining inbound and outbound operations are immense, leading to gains in productivity and improved KPIs, as well as increased customer satisfaction. The ability to respond proactively to customers and to blend inbound with outbound campaigns creates a truly differentiated customer experience, while ensuring your agents’ time is always spent productively. Combined with multichannel integration, workforce management, and quality monitoring tools, companies are sure to see agent productivity skyrocket!