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Offer Better Omnichannel Customer Support with the Help of Multichannel 'Super Agents'
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Offer Better Omnichannel Customer Support with the Help of Multichannel 'Super Agents'

August 11, 2014

By Tracey E. Schelmetic,
TMCnet Contributor

Today, most contact centers are under pressure to become multichannel. Customers expect that they can get service via a variety of channels, whether they are e-mail, in-store kiosk, Web chat, mobile app or text messaging. At the same time, they also expect that the contact center will have a strong live telephone support structure, since it’s still the preferred method for communication.

Many companies believed that adding these channels piecemeal was “good enough,” only to find that customers were using multiple channels for the same transaction, and the resulting silos of knowledge and information were frustrating customers and sinking the quality of the customer experience.

With this in mind, contact centers today are under pressure to become “omnichannel,” meaning multichannel in a way that’s so well integrated a customer can log off one channel and log-in on another with no loss of knowledge and an agent who is aware of all information communicated regardless of the channel.

The problem for managers in planning an omnichannel contact center is…how do I distribute my agents? Do I train them to use all channels – building what’s known as multi-skilled “super agents” -- or do I keep them in the channels they specialize in but make sure they communicate with one another to handle customers? There are pros and cons of both methods, but a Five9 blog post from last week highlights some wisdom from Rhonda Tate, VP of direct response at Positec, who recently presented on the topic at IQPC (News - Alert) Call Center Week.

According to Tate, which path you choose may depend on the demographics you serve and the nature of your business.

“A mature representative with a strong knowledge of a product may not have the typing skills required to perform live chat –or even navigate through your system,” she writes. “Conversely, a younger and more tech savvy agent may not have the phone etiquette required to meet your standards of excellence or may not do well with written communication.”

Tate recommends striving for a combination of skills with new hires that will allow you to strike the right balance. The “super agent” approach works for companies with younger demographics and very omnichannel operations. No matter how highly your agents collaborate internally, they will not be able to offer as unified an experience to customers as a single agent working across multiple channels for the same transaction.

The secret may be to ensure your call center platform is as easy to use as possible, so agents can switch between channels with little difficulty and have all the information they require at their fingertips. Many of today’s hosted contact center solutions can make creating “super agents” much easier. Once trained on these solutions, they can comfortably work across channels on the same transaction without losing any information, duplicating their efforts or irritating the customer with spotty and inconsistent service.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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