Let’s take a walk down memory lane…

If you’re old enough, try to remember what the world was like when contact centres were new and shiny back in the 80’s. Often overlooked was the relationship between the customer and the business and how one could benefit the other. The call centre required a level of management and planning unknown in the world of normal, everyday offices and they soon earned a reputation for being terrible places, both to work and to deal with, becoming synonymous with words such as ‘attrition’, ‘burnout’, ‘queues’ and ‘dissatisfaction’. Oh those were the days….

It’s fair to say that a lot of things have changed in the world of contact centres since then. From a planning perspective, WFM systems are in most contact centres now and a whole science developed around understanding demand and planning resources. CRM systems have been developed and continually refined to provide the agent with more details about the customer and the company’s products, all aimed at making it easier for agents to service the customer’s needs as quickly and efficiently as possible. More recently a huge focus on the customer experience has emerged, with dedicated teams of professionals using sophisticated tools to record and assess the output from agents, improving accuracy, quality and customer service.  

Contact centres have opened up a number of different channels for customers to contact them with.  No longer do customers have to sit in phone queues, listening to appalling hold “muzac” and messages telling us our call is ‘important’.  They now can use a company’s website to query or order or complain.  Social Media has boomed, with increasing numbers of customers using various platforms to air their views.  And the webchat channel has developed to such a point that chatbots are utilising AI technology to provide automatic responses to customers.

It’s fair to say that a lot of the aspects of contact centre life have been improved beyond recognition. Compared with the slow progress from the 80s to the early 2000s, Omnichannel and Webchat are just two examples of the rapid development in the contact centre world.

Except one thing.  

The management of the processes on the day are predominately still filled with ad hoc, manual procedures, designed to address the ‘gap’ between the scope of the WFM solution and the reality of customer contact.  Whether it is dealing with late arrival or absence, booking offline activity, responding to higher or lower levels of demand on different channels or keeping the operation up-to-date on service level and call abandonment performance on the day, the Intraday team are often hindered by the lack of technology.  Manual workarounds are slow, complicated processes, work can build into queues and backlogs. Eventually the whole system begins to creak under its own weight.  And that becomes a fail for everyone.

As Donna Fluss of DMG Consulting says, “Intraday Automation provides the next step up in contact centre performance. This evolution benefits customers, the workforce and the company.” True Intraday Automation will identify and recommend the changes that are needed, matching the demand with resources available. All this is done whilst communicating with agents and supervisors and on top of that creating all the reports automatically within seconds. Fully-integrated Intraday Automation solutions like QStory’s ARTI, are here now and they are the next technology to step-up contact centre performance.