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Customer Inter@ction Solutions
March 2007 - Volume 25 / Number 10
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With Tim Passios, Director of Product Management
Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert)


Q: As we consider adding additional media types such as e-mail and Web chat to our contact center,
are there certain things we should consider in order to improve our success rate?

A: One of the first things to consider is if and how you will segment your agents to handle the new media types. Even when contact centers integrate multiple media types on the customer end, they don’t always connect the dots at the agent end. Some agents are tasked with e-mail, some handle Web chats, others are relegated to the telephone and some are simply segmented into workgroups to manage each specific type of interaction. Depending on a contact center’s operational framework and process flows, such agent arrangements present risk and a significant downside.

Agents who work across channels to handle all media types — non real-time as well as real-time — are better suited to provide service continuity and upsell or cross-sell services to a customer who, for example, sends an e-mail (non real-time) and then calls afterward with a follow-up question (real-time). With collaborative software and knowledge management tools at their fingertips, such as pre-authored response statements for Web chats and e-mails, agents can speed interaction times significantly. Doing so multiplies a contact center’s opportunities to handle more interactions and, in turn, generate more revenue.

Some of the things to consider as part of a successful multimedia contact center implementation include:

• Don’t get caught implementing “islands of technology.” As I introduced above, what this means is that some contact centers simply aren’t able to optimize agent talent in a multimedia environment because the technology they use forces them to segregate e-mail agents from Web site agents from phone service agents. Be sure your contact center platform allows the agents and the technologies to be blended, as required by you.

• Implement appropriate service levels across all media types. This does not mean the response rate to an e-mail needs to be as fast as the response to a live call. However, the perceived service level expected by the customer must be consistent. As an example, a request for a Web chat cannot be effectively queued for a call back. However, a reasonable delay in response to an e-mail is most likely acceptable. Just be sure the service levels meet or exceed the customers’ expectations.

• Measure and monitor additional media types the same way you do phone calls. The importance of an e-mail from a customer is just as high as an incoming customer phone call. Often, contact centers will take these new media types and view them as less critical. In reality, the agents need to handle all media interactions with excellence. Monitoring and measuring critical key performance indicators can help ensure customer satisfaction.

• Link interactions from a single customer. If a customer sends an e-mail and then initiates a follow-up telephone call later, it is important that the agent has access to the information about all previous interactions, regardless of the media type. Doing this will alleviate customer frustration. Good contact center platforms with strong back-end database integration will handle this without a problem.

A multimedia contact center can be a tremendous advantage for companies. It’s important to let customers interact with you in a manner of their choosing. Done correctly, their satisfaction levels increase, your costs are reduced and your agents’ performance levels are improved, which translates into a win for everyone involved. CIS

Tim Passios is the Director of Product Management for Interactive Intelligence, Inc., a leading provider of business communications software for the contact center and enterprise with over 2,500 installations in more than 60 countries. For more information, contact [email protected] or 317-872-3000.

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