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Making blended contact centres successful

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The risk of having an outsourced contact centre is having agents idle during periods of low demand. Every second that employees are sitting around waiting for a customer to get in touch means the loss of revenue. So how does a contact centre address this challenge in order to keep productivity high and maximise on profitability?
“A blended contact centre which operates as both an inbound and outbound contact centre is the answer,” explains Henry McCracken Regional Sales Director for Aspect Software – a global leader in enterprise cloud contact centre and workforce optimisation solutions. “This enables the dynamic workflow management so that skilled agents are always either making or receiving calls depending on the requirements at any given moment,” he adds.
In order to achieve this, a blended contact centre strategy needs to understand where opportunities lie for creating time and ensuring that employees are always in the right position at the right times. This is essential in creating a positive customer experience. There needs to be a balance to ensure that when there is a large number of agents making outbound calls that there is not a sudden influx of inbound calls.
“Predictive analytics is a solution that can play a major role in reducing the likelihood of an imbalance. It also helps to recognise when the organisation is expected to be at its busiest and when there will be periods of ‘dead time’ that needs to be filled. It is however important to keep in mind that having an effective blended contact centre goes beyond front-line agents. It is therefore essential that monitoring and planning incorporates back-office functionalities, as this is often where bottlenecks arise impacting performance,” he continues.
Wasted time is a major problem for outsourced contact centres. “Customers become frustrated when their issue is not resolved on the first interaction. This frustration grows when they are passed around to a number of agents until they eventually reach the most appropriate person to assist them. This is equally as frustrating for the contact centre as they need to devote and allocate more resources than necessary to a single call,” he says.
A self-service offering and a strong omni-channel is key in addressing time inefficiency. This is not only beneficial for the contact centre but it also appeals to the growing number of younger customers who are dependent on services such as social media, text and mobile. Encouraging the use of self-service reduces the pressure on contact centre agents, freeing them up for other activities.
Intelligent use of planning and workforce management tools is particularly valuable to outsourcers, as this allows contact centres to offer their clients a wider range of value-added services which in turn improves customer satisfaction and boosts productivity. Blending back office activities with front-line activities ensures that agents gain a good insight into the customer’s circumstances and current situation which helps them to resolve queries effectively and faster.
“Whilst this not only increases customer satisfaction, it also develops staff morale as employees that have the right information are likely to be more confident within their roles. In turn this leads to higher productivity and employees that are able to perform a much wider range of activities which is critical if a blended contact centre strategy is going to be successful,” concludes McCracken.