Monthly Archives: March 2011

Universal Queue – Contact Centers

A universal queue permits the delivery of interactions from different channels to the same set of agents. It allows you to blend these interactions which could mean an agent would service an inbound call, outbound call, email, chat, fax, etc. There are both technical and operational considerations when considering the use of a universal queue.

A couple of points from a technology standpoint to give you an idea of the complexity. The technology solutions being used to service each channel has to understand the state of the agent and the rules around the interactions that each agent can handle. For example, you may want an agent to be able to handle inbound calls, emails, and chats.

The operations team should establish a rule that agents handled only one interaction at a time. Therefore, if the agent is servicing an email interaction, an inbound call nor a chat should be delivered to that agent. One can get more complex with these scenarios to include allowing the agent to service multiple interactions simultaneously, e.g., 3 chats/email. Establishing these rules and ensuring the agent state is understood across multiple technology providers can be challenging.

One  also need to consider the reporting implications and ensure your reporting solution will provide accurate data for all the rule scenarios being considered. For example, if an agent is permitted to service an email and an inbound call, will handle time for an email be reported per your requirements if an inbound call is serviced in the middle of servicing the email.

A couple of points from an operational standpoint. First, are the agents skilled to handle interactions being delivered from multiple channels? Agents that can handle inbound service calls well cannot always do well with outbound sales calls. This same point is bigger with other channels. Some agents can communicate well through typing which would support email and chat but do not do well verbally which would provide limitations for supporting calls. Also, will your workforce management process/procedures support forecasting staff for multiple channels?

The use of universal queues can provide advantages in the operations and management of a contact center. However, you have to incorporate the use of a universal queue into your overall customer interaction and operational strategy.

 In a market where the cost of FTE is ever-increasing, organization should look at enhancing their operations capability beyond the single-window delivery, through a multi-channel model, make sure their FTE are multi-skilled, which enhances operations/productivity and clearly differentiates them from the rest of the crowd in the marketplace.

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