The Multi-Channel Mess

How effective would you be if you had four or five buckets of work on your desk and you were expected to complete the work before the end of the day?  But wait, there’s more!  The phone rings every minute or so with an important call from one of several hundred people you support and these calls require your full attention.  When the call ends, you attempt to select the best job from one of your buckets.  These buckets of work are not highly prioritized and there is no value correlation between buckets.

Should I select a social media message, or an email, or a trouble ticket from the Web, or a web form?  And the phone keeps ringing. Seems like a pretty tough environment.  Wouldn’t you be ineffective and frustrated?  This is the environment that multi-channel employees face each day.

According to Ovum, agents are the focal point

Keith Dawson, an Ovum analyst recently wrote in his blog, “… social media and mobility have created a generation of customers that have multiple contact channels available in the palm of their hand, wherever they might be.”  He continued, “We are still in the early days of what will clearly be a years-long revolution in how companies and customers communicate. But what’s clear is that agents are still going to be the focal point for the highest complexity (and highest value) interactions.” 

I agree, except that something needs to be done to straighten out this multi-channel mess tormenting employee and call center agents.  What’s the impact of all of this multi-channel mess on productivity and enterprise customer service?

28% of an employee’s time is wasted in the task selection process

Research has shown that 28% of an employee’s time can be wasted by the decision process of self selecting the next task. Additionally, customers and organizations both suffer because if tasks are not selected based on business prioritization or promises on service fulfillment made to customers, or critical compliance needs…, well, it’s a mess!

Example: Huk-Coburg, largest insurer in Germany

For example, a large German insurance company, Huk-Coburg receives ten million pieces of paper correspondence, two million faxes and emails, and around ten million telephone calls each year.  Employees were cherry picking their assignments – seeking to only work on tasks from the work caseload that really wished to handle – and not necessarily focusing on the right task at the right time.

Changing workload peaks also swamped employees.  For example, in the fall, car owners have a short window of time to change policies.  Huge backlogs of work built up during these seasonal peaks and because departments were siloed, some departments worked incredibly hard while others had light workloads.

How can we clean up the multi-channel mess?

There does appear to be an answer emerging that offers a solution to the multi-channel mess.  A new type of application called workload management seems to be the right thing at the right time.  It manages the workload, but doesn’t want to be the workflow engine. The workload management solution operates as an intelligent or smart ‘overlay’ to all the channels that are the sources for customer service work tasks.  The work sources include workflow systems such as BPM and CRM and channels such as email, fax, social media, web forms and more.

How does workload management work?

When an employee is required as part of a workflow process or to handle off-queue work like email, the workload management solution is notified through an API and manages both the task prioritization process as well as the selection of the most appropriate resource.  Task priorities are managed through business rules by business people and are based on elements such as service level agreements, company strategy and compliance rules.  Resources are selected based on skills, experience, presence and availability for new work.  Workload management solutions even operate with real time channels like voice.  How?  Phone calls along with non-real-time work like email or cases can all be prioritized together.  For example, if an insurance employee is working on a claims case with an extremely high priority, phone calls are routed to other resources leaving the person undisturbed.

In the case of the German insurer, Huk-Coburg, they wanted a solution that managed both telephony and all other off-queue channels. They implemented a workload management solution and reported the following results:

With the solution in place, enquiries via all access paths – letter, fax, telephone, and email – were integrated and distributed equitably, and, at the same time, employee accessibility remained high, even during peak workloads.  Dr. Hofer of Huk Coburg explained one of the key benefits, “If the solution capacities were oriented only toward telephony, an optimal workload would never be possible.”  With work distribution now across departments and bridging silos, case resolution and accessibility has soared.  “A customer who calls in response to an offer is worth his or her weight in gold. We respond immediately to these inquiries and today have achieved an accessibility rate of 99%.    And, we have a successful first call resolution rate of 80% for all cases,” according to Dr Hofer.

To learn more about workload management solutions, access our infographic.

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