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Next-Generation Call Center Terminology: Six Must-Know Terms

The contact center landscape is continuously changing. Consumer 2.0 dictates that agents must be more informed than ever before to not only meet, but exceed customer expectations. Traditionally, call center agents were expected to answer the phone, provide courteous customer service and end the call with a hopefully satisfied customer. However, agents are now required to work across multiple channels and essentially become experts.

Today’s agents not only provide customer service, they cross sell, up‐sell, resolve complex issues, reinforce the organization’s brand. And although voice still remains a primary channel for call centers, agents also respond to emails, live chats and other virtual inquiries via social media channels. They’re in and out of multiple systems to process orders, review their knowledge base, read emails or complete e-learning courses. The required off-phone activities to help agents meet the needs of the demanding consumer have increased significantly.

Just as the new role of agents is changing, so does the way call center professionals discuss operations.  Since improving the overall customer experience is now more dependent upon interactions with agents, managing agents’ time becomes even more critical to ensure they have the time to improve skills and stay up to date. Idle time becomes an essential component of this equation, along with six additional terms that you should know.

The following terms reflect the time and tasks involved in building next-generation call centers.

Active Wait Time: Collective increments of idle time (as small as 30 second pockets) from several agents that are aggregated and delivered in larger, more usable blocks of time to a predetermined group(s) of agents to complete tasks, assignments or other shrinkage activities in an Activity Queue.

Activity Queue: A personalized to‐do list for an individual agent created and prioritized by call center management and/or business rules and designated for completion during Active Wait Time. Queues are usually comprised of activities such as coaching, training, e-learning, agent break time, huddle time or one-on-one meetings.

Agent Productivity: A percentage of time agents spend in two categories combined: active contact handling states and in Active Wait Time, completing tasks and assignments. This is the inverse of idle time. Agent Productivity can also be measured per agent/per minute/per hour.

Avoidable shrinkage: Shrinkage that can be controlled by management including training, team meetings, coaching, projects, paperwork, call research, knowledge base, email and call backs. On average, agents spend a third of their day completing these activities.

Primary Loss: Shrinkage that falls beyond management’s control – i.e. absenteeism, vacation, paid holidays, tardiness, breaks and lunch.

Secondary Loss: Shrinkage that can be controlled by management including training, team meetings, coaching, projects, paperwork, call research, knowledge base, email and call backs. On average, agents spend a third of their day on these avoidable shrinkage activities, which can be reduced by leveraging Active Wait technology.

 

About the author

Matt McConnell

Matt is chairman, president and CEO of Intradiem. Matt co-founded Intradiem in 1995 with a vision of helping companies increase the level of customer service they deliver by improving the performance of their agents. Today, Intradiem is a leader in its market with more than 300,000 call center agents around the world using Intradiem every day. Matt is the author of the book Customer Service at a Crossroads and holds 11 software patents. He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in industrial and systems engineering.

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