Few organisations are afforded the luxury of single media interactions, with customers increasingly expecting the choice of phone, email, chat, smartphone apps, and web forms to pursue their line of enquiry. And while the range of contact centre media channels has expanded to accommodate demand, the benefit to customer, Agent, and organisation often remains unclear.
The following configuration models explore the key multimedia decision managers’ face in design of their Customer Interaction Strategy. Should we pursue multimedia customers, Agents, or both?
Model 1: Single Media Customer / Single Media Agent
For many organisations, their multimedia strategy emerged from creation of alternative interaction channels. But even though customers could use multimedia, Agents would often view customers as unique to the media within which they served.
An Agent answering a customer call would fail to realise that customer had earlier sent an email. Manual interrogation of CRM systems might reveal previous media interactions, but not with certainty. Although multimedia was available to customers, their experience with the contact centre was that of a single media customer.
This model offers a benefit of convenience to customers with a preference for a favoured channel. However, the single media customer view from an Agent’s perspective creates frustration for those customers utilising multiple media for resolution of a single line of enquiry. Customer frustration leads to Agent frustration, and Agent frustration erodes productivity.
As an example, a customer calls to check on the progress of a home loan application they emailed earlier. The answering Agent only realises the email was sent once the customer informs them, and even with this information they certainly have no visibility of the email’s location or status.
Likewise, once a second Agent opens the original email they only discover the home loan application was actioned over the phone by another Agent once they begin processing a duplicate home loan. Unfortunately, this multimedia strategy is all too common!
Model 2: Multimedia Customer / Multimedia Agent
Deployment of multimedia routing platforms, without CRM system integration, has led to the emergence of this multimedia model. From a single user interface, Agents can respond to customer enquiries from multiple channels; free from the need to select the work media or item of work to tackle next. However, in the absence of comprehensive CRM integration, the Agent maintains a single media view of the customer.
A multimedia queue of work can increase Agent occupancy under some circumstances, but the reaction by many Agents to randomly varying media types can be far from welcome! Heralded as a solution to the boredom of repetitive contact centre work, constant media switching has become more of a distraction than a motivator in many centres. This model also fails to capitalise on the tendency for Agents to be more proficient in one media than others. In conjunction with the challenges posed by single media customers (Model 1), the multimedia Agent can be far less productive than their single media counterparts!
Model 3: Multimedia Customer / Single Media Agent
When tight integration is achieved between CRM systems and multimedia routing platforms, a multimedia customer model can finally be implemented. Within this configuration, the Agent is aware of all other interactions a customer has made with the contact centre, even if that interaction has not yet been completed.
Model 3 offers dramatic improvement over previous models for customers utilising multiple media to pursue a single line of enquiry. Consider the earlier example where a customer called to check on the progress of an emailed application. The Agent can now see the previous email, and where it lies within the email queue. The Agent could even retrieve the email and process it immediately – if you want to promote queue jumping!
The benefits of a multimedia customer are immense, although this model retains the challenges posed by multimedia Agents as discussed within Model 2.
Model 4: Multimedia Customer / Single Media Agent
This model once again relies on tight integration between a multimedia routing platform and the contact centre’s CRM system. However, Agents remain dedicated to the service of a single media work stream.
Assuming Agents are more productive when engaged in a single media work stream, this model delivers all of the benefits customers expect from multimedia service without the challenge of reduced multimedia Agent productivity and engagement.
Choice of model
Just because your customers and routing technology are ready for multimedia doesn’t mean your Agents are! As with all Customer Interaction Strategy decisions, the needs of the customer are paramount, and from this perspective a Multimedia Customer strategy (Model 3 or Model 4) offer significant advantage over Single Media Customer strategies. But your decision to engage Single Media Agents or Multimedia Agents (or a mixture of both) should be based on Agent productivity and engagement alone.
I would love to hear your thoughts on multimedia contact centres. Have you discovered an approach that delivers the results you need, or are you still searching for an answer? And remember, while your contact centre must own its Customer Interaction Strategy; it certainly doesn’t have to create it alone!
Jason Metcalfe, QPC Solutions Manager