Swan Solutions, a leading vendor of computer telephony (CT) solutions for the call and contact centre markets has announced an informative and easy to read ‘Guide to Media Blending’ which is available for free download from their website.
Managing Director of Swan Solutions, Bart Delgado, “We have produced this guide in response to demand from users wishing to further understand and manage the integration of customer interactions – other than phone calls – into their organisation.”
For several years now, call centres have been accustomed to ACD functionality, where callers are queued and evenly distributed between available agents, providing optimum efficiency of the available agents, and minimum wait times for customers.
The term ‘Call Centre’ is however now something of an anachronism in an age where customers are choosing –with increasing frequency – to contact companies via channels other than voice.
“It’s ‘Contact Centre’ now.” Says Delgado, who adds, “While voice remains the predominant channel of customer interaction, according to the annual Merchants Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report, which surveyed 363 contact centres located across 38 countries and five continents, other channels are playing an increasingly important role.”
When contact centres were asked “For all of the channels that you offer to customers within the contact centre, what percentage of total interactions is handled per channel?” the breakdown was as follows:
Contact Type and % Used: Email 10.5%, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) 5.1%, Fax 4.5%, Internet 3.9%, Physical Correspondence 3.1%,
Text Messaging / SMS 0.5%, and Telephone (agent assisted) 72.4%.
Clearly for most businesses today the telephone remains the dominant method of handling customer interactions but the trend towards using other forms of communications is equally obvious.
However, is the contact centre ready for the increasing popularity of these channels? While e-mail accounts for 10.5 per cent of interactions, current average response times are staggeringly slow: it takes 25 hours on average for UK and European contact centres to respond to e-mail queries, whereas making initial contact via telephone with a customer service agent takes 22 seconds on average.
Bart Delgado urges organisations to have a plan to cope with different types of customer contact, “So what happens if a customer e-mails the call centre? Many businesses have no facility to provide ACD like functionality for other forms of contact.
They have several alternatives:
– All agents check the main mailbox (e.g. “firstname.lastname@example.org”) when they have a spare moment.
– The supervisor checks the main mailbox and forwards messages to agents, regardless of whether the agent is currently able to deal with the message.
– Several agents only ever deal with e-mails, while the remainder only ever deal with calls.
Clearly these are not optimal situations. E-mails could queue for hours without being dealt with, while agents are tied up with calls. The important customer’s order could lie unattended, while they look for alternative suppliers.”
Delgado says the Swan Solutions Guide to Media Blending looks at these challenges and suggests ways of overcoming them with practical cost effective solutions.