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Ways to Better Engage Customers Through Agent Blending of Social and Digital Channels

As summer approaches, the idea of a smooth, blended margarita on a patio becomes more of a reality. Ah…the warm sun and a blended drink – very refreshing. Can blending be this satisfying for a contact center? Absolutely.

Blending has been around since the 90’s, so why bringing this up? With more pressure to engage customers combined with the social media revolution, contact centers have an increasing number of channels to support.

Remember, it used to be just a ‘call center’. Now it’s chat, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, forums… the list goes on.

You are probably familiar with the concept, but before we dive into the details – let’s level set on what we mean by ‘blending’. Blending is when a contact center agent handles different types of work in a given shift. Agent blending can take three forms:

  • An agent handles one type of work (chat, SMS, twitter, etc.) for a period of time then switches to the other type of work.
  • An agent handles one type of work at a time but alternates between each type of work – based on what is delivered to them (chat, then twitter, chat).
  • An agent handles multiple types of work at the same time (a chat interrupts work on twitter response).

Why Blend?

It’s been well documented that blending is more efficient if deployed in a strategic way. The more staff that can do various types of work improves the utilization of agents. However, don’t assume that all agents have equal proficiency in verbal and written communication or are great at task switching. Take advantage of those agents that are capable to drive greater efficiencies

What Type of Blending Should You Deploy?

This goes back to management 101. If you cannot measure it, you can’t manage it. And if you cannot manage it then the original benefit of becoming more efficient is lost. Be careful with option three. Often, the constant interruption and complexities of implementation outweigh the benefits.

So, How Do You Obtain the Desired Results From Blending?

Most implementations focus only on the blended routing aspect of the solution. In other words, the technology can route all interaction types to an agent. But the real management and efficiency derived from a blended solution comes from reporting. And this is where the focus should be.

There are three critical needs to focus on in relation to a blended solution and reporting:

  • First by default, the reporting solution may inaccurately report agent performance when an agent is logged in and available to handle more than one type of work within the same day. We have seen deployments where the blended agents are reported as working more than 25 hours per day due to double counting. I wish I had an extra hour each day.
  • Second, changes to the agent desktop may be required to accurately report the agent’s blended work activity. These agent desktop customizations can be costly and complex.
  • Finally, focus on reporting and the needs of the workforce management system (WFM). It’s the WFM system that helps determine the schedules of the agents to be available at the right place and the right time. So, focus on reporting needs effectively manage and obtain the efficiency from your blended contact center solution.
Kelly Wilson
About Kelly Wilson

Kelly joined Aria in 2002, and is currently responsible for Aria’s professional services and support areas. Prior to joining Aria, Kelly had various operational and management contact center roles at both – CellularOne McCaw Communications and TELUS Mobility. Then, he joined Aria as a specialist in workforce management (WFM) and was instrumental in developing this practice.

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