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Don�t Allow Technology to Dictate Staffing Strategy
April 18, 2006
The multi-channel customer is a modern business reality. Customers expect to reach a company through any means of communication that suits them, and they expect each inquiry, regardless of the medium, to be handled with the same degree of competence and professionalism. Businesses then are pressured to field all channels of inquiry equally well, and with equally well-trained staff.
Unfortunately, the very nature of offering multi-channel service has contributed to the unwieldy growth of multiple agent desktop applications. As new channels are added, best-of-breed solutions have been the first out of the gate to address the unique challenges of dealing with the particular challenges of those contacts. This expansion quickly puts companies in a position where they must either add yet more tools to each agent’s arsenal (and invest the necessary time and resources on training for the new application), or split the agent staff into dedicated channel teams, which is not a realistic option for many companies where resources are constrained and multi-channel agents are a necessity.
Rather than allow technology to dictate staffing strategy, technology can be used to take the channel conundrum out of the staffing equation. A coordinated, single-desktop view enables agents to handle multiple contact channels with the same proficiency, because customer data and resolution tools are presented in the same, familiar interface. The unified view makes it much easier to integrate agents into a universal queue that manages incoming and outbound contacts through multiple contact channels. Agents no longer need to manually change applications or nominate themselves for a particular contact queue. All contacts are presented through the same interface and allow the agent to focus on developing customer-service skills, rather than technical proficiency with a dedicated chat client or e-mail tool.
At the same time, in some businesses, it does make sense to have specialized agents who handle a specific channel exclusively, such as phone or e-mail. But even though a telephony-based agent may only talk to a customer on the phone, it is critical for that agent to have a complete view into the transcripts of e-mail and chat – all of which are compiled and accessed on the unified desktop.
A Consistent Interface Provides Consistent Service
So whether you’re employing universal agents or specialized agents, a unified agent desktop provides knowledge and consistency across all channels. Every channel is displayed to the user desktop in the same manner and follows identical clickstream processing. Additionally, all workflow rules, queuing, event logging and reporting are integrated in the application’s structure to provide a unified process for consistent management and analysis of the interactions occurring in the various channels. The result is fast and consistent service, and comprehensive business intelligence for better decision-making.
Regardless of Channels – Great Service Is What Customers Care About
For a contact center to execute forward-thinking, revenue-generating strategies, it must first exhibit mastery of the very basic elements of customer service – acknowledging, processing, and reacting to customer needs – across any channel. And it must do so with ease, rather than perpetuating a system of redundant questions and spluttered apologies for long wait times during a service session.
Customer patience is not infinite, and the amount of time a customer will allow for an interaction can be impacted by any number of factors – responsiveness being one of them. Every second wasted while agents flip between applications or terminal screens is a second not spent building customer value. Every repeated request for information is one less opportunity to ask the customer questions that could have a positive impact on the depth and longevity of the customer relationship. Few customers have the patience to sit through a long-winded cross-sell pitch after giving out their account number for the sixth time, or repeating the history of their service issue that should have been tracked and made visible to the agent in the first place.
A unified agent desktop that pulls together all of the channels as well as presenting all of the relevant systems and applications an agent needs to deliver great service has tremendous value in the contact center. Presenting the best information and tools to agents through a coordinated interface guides them to the ideal resources without having to engage in guesswork or blind hope that they will choose the most relevant back-end system to resolve the customer’s problem. In the end, speed and accuracy are what customers care about. Armed with the right information at the right time, your agents are equipped to consistently and repeatedly deliver great service.
This article is an excerpt from the Cincom white paper “Grow Your Business: The Value of Knowledge in the Contact Center.”
Randy Saunders is the marketing director for Cincom’s Customer Experience Management products. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For nearly 40 years, Cincom’s software and services have helped thousands of clients worldwide simplify the management of complex business processes. Cincom specializes in the five areas of business where simplification brings the greatest value to managers who want to grow revenue, control costs, minimize risk, and achieve rapid ROI better than their competitors: Data Management; Marketing, Sales and Customer Service; Application Development; Manufacturing Business; and Outsourcing. For more information about Cincom, call 1-800-2CINCOM (USA only), send an e-mail to email@example.com, or visit the company’s website at www.cincom.com.
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