Challenges within the contact center continue to grow as technology advances and customer expectations increase.

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of visibility of what is happening across all channels.  Your contact solution may be multi-channel, but does this mean that agents and customers have visibility across all channels, or are channel activities siloed?

For example, any time an agent has an active session with a customer, they should be able to view the customer history, no matter what media type was used, be it voice, email chat etc.  And of course, it matters for customers too.  There is nothing more annoying for customers than to find as they get switched between agents, or use different media types to engage with a contact center, that the current agent they are in contact with has no access to their session history.

So the message for contact centers as they go multi-channel is to remember that you can't just install new systems to manage particular media types, e.g. email.   You need to integrate your new systems into a single contact center platform.  And in doing so you need to ensure that agents can dynamically track everything that a customer has been up to.   Otherwise your costs are going to soar and your service fall as you are faced with a lack of consistency, inability to report clearly and management inefficiencies.

Servicing customers properly also means deploying your agents in an optimal manner. Workforce planning helps, but the real challenge is to be able to respond in real time to SLA breach, by moving agents with the relevant skills between queues.  When the Automatic Session Distributor (ASD) has full visibility of all agent and customer activities, then it can meet this challenge.  And it can do so in a much more efficient manner, than the supervisor.  Everyone remembers the term "call blending", where inbound and outbound voice channels got blended. To meet the challenges we are discussing, your ASD needs to do media blending.  And that is a big step up from where we used to be. In practice this means you could be blending a chat queue in the UK, with a live voice queue in the US. 

Keeping agents' knowledge up to date can have a major impact on morale and motivation.  Get it right and you can enjoy a loyal workforce. Get it wrong and you will be constantly recruiting as agents exit through the revolving door.  Having an effective multichannel environment enables agents to handle all media types, providing them with a varied and refreshing work load.  However, if agents work in silos and are unable to move easily between channels then training costs increase as they regularly need to be trained on different systems.

And it is not just a question of joined up systems for agents but devising product and user interfaces that provide the same look and feel, throughout what the agent does, whether he is responding to an email, handling an inbound call, or responding to a chat request.

All these issues come back to great architecture, which is the key.  A solution that can maintain state for all agents and sessions, that can scale easily to handle thousands of agents per tenant and delivers dynamic queue management, blending and session history tracking is fundamental.  With such a system there is no reason for any customer experience to be dis-jointed.  Joined-up systems delivering joined-up journeys – it's what everybody needs.

 

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