Blog Post

It’s Time for Change in the Contact Center

I need it faster. Work smarter. Do this cheaper.

The amount of pressure placed on contact centers to operate faster, smarter and cheaper has increased significantly within the past few years. “Do more with less” has ultimately become the contact center’s new mantra despite unyielding service level objectives. And as tougher goals seem unwavering, the demands don’t stop with the enterprise.

Well-informed consumers are now more empowered than ever to demand speed and accuracy. With the explosion of social, mobile and other online resources, long waits and less than satisfactory service are no longer an option. But once again, the demands don’t stop there. Contact centers have yet another group of stakeholders to consider. Because agents play a major role in the success (or failure) of a center’s customer satisfaction program, finding time for training and coaching are a must.

When considering all of these demands, everyone could be served by keeping one thing in mind – “Don’t Waste My Time.” As a scare resource, the effective use of time can make or break a center’s ability to meet the needs of all its stakeholders to positively impact performance. Contact center professionals may think meeting all of these demands is near impossible. Undoubtedly, the amount of time necessary to fulfill all these wants is a challenge. But one thing is clear. Until someone invents a time machine, we have to view this resource differently to get different results.

Overcoming Challenges to Meet Demands

In a recent study, the top three pressures of contact center workforce managers were reported as unpredictable customer traffic, increased customer demand for service and high turnover of top-tier agents. Keeping in mind the impact all three of these challenges have on contact center performance and productivity, the inherent connection between customer satisfaction and agent utilization is evident.

In the face of these challenges, many centers are beginning to reconsider the static approach to the agent workday, with time for handling calls, time for shrinkage, and varying amounts of available or wait time throughout the day. Many centers already perform some intraday scheduling manually, but are unable to respond dynamically to unpredictable call volume. High-performing centers understand the linkage between productive, knowledgeable agents and satisfied customers, and they’re taking a different approach to better utilize the time available. One high impact approach is delivering off-phone activities such as training and coaching to agents during idle time.

In fact, the same research findings show significantly better results across several key performance indicators, including customer satisfaction and first call resolution, among contact centers adopting this approach to workforce management.

Finding the Time

Research shows that the aggregated time that agents spend sitting idle at their desk waiting for the next call is on average 49 minutes a day. This is the consolidated time (on average 2-3 minutes per occurrence) that agents spend waiting between calls. However, how can contact centers tap into this idle time and put it to good use?

New technologies called intraday management solutions are transforming agent idle time into active wait time. Intraday management technology collects some of the 2-3 minute increments of time that agents are usually idle while waiting for calls and creates larger more usable blocks of time. Prioritized activities like training sessions are dynamically pushed to a group of agents to complete while other agents handle calls.

These activities can include anything that can be completed at the agent desktop such as online training sessions, coaching, knowledge base reviews or administrative and back-office work. When blocks of idle time become available, agents are prompted to begin work on the highest priority activity in their queue. When call volume spikes, they are directed to return to answering calls.

Getting It Done

The ability to find and efficiently utilize time could mean the difference between meeting the needs and wants of customers, agents and enterprises and wasting their time. Intraday management technology not only helps contact centers find previously unproductive time, but also deliver off-phone activities essential to improving performance and productivity. When considering whether or not intraday management could benefit your contact center, simply ask yourself “how could I use an additional 49 minutes per agent every day.”

 

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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Comments (1)

  • Intraday management is an important thing to put on the improve workforce efficiency list. There are also other items like call flow and process analysis. This is not the traditional quality monitoring that I am referring to but forensic analysis into the entire process and interaction flow.

    If the results from a recent case study is (generally) true than all contact centers are over-staffed. Some by as much as 30%. That can be a big opportunity for getting things done and utilizing agent resource more effectively. Not to mention the cost savings are HUGE.

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