Do you ever struggle to understand the jargon in our business? Well, we are probably all guilty sometimes of using marketing terminology to dress up our offerings, put one over the competition – and confuse our customers in the process. This applies particularly in that space where multimedia and agents collide. At any point in time customers will have a preferred medium of choice, be it voice or email etc. And they also want to be taken seriously, which ideally means communicating with an agent who they know, or who at least is equipped with their session history and able to respond easily to them.

So how does this fit in with what contact centers are trying to do? In simple terms, contact centers just do two things.

Firstly, they manage campaigns for their customers where many agents may be assigned to handle material work volumes. For example, a campaign handling customer service, where customers call in to place orders and may be assigned to any agent depending on agent skill and customer profile. Or, it might be a chat campaign where agents offer help to people browsing a company's website.

Common to these interactions is the fact that there is no direct link between the contact center agent and the customer. Does it matter? Well most times it does. Customers are likely to buy or interact positively when they are talking to someone that they have a relationship with. Perhaps less important, or unlikely in the case of chat, but definitely a big plus in the case of that inbound call.

Secondly, call centers set up work queues for their agents, where contact center interactions are personalised and the agent has the opportunity to build up rapport with customers.

So do call centers have a preference as to what kinds of work they want their agents to handle? Too darn right they do! Without exception they should all be clamouring for agents to manage their own work queues. Or to put it differently, they should all be bringing the personal touch to their communications.

How much time should agents spend on impersonal campaigns as opposed to their own work queues? That's a subject for another day.


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