Using Agent Idle Time to Improve Enterprise Performance and Profitability
By Donna Fluss
After more than 25 years of doing things pretty much the same way in contact centers, new technology and applications are enabling dramatic improvements in service delivery at the same time as they are reducing agent downtime. From a productivity and efficiency perspective, it makes sense to have a team of people dedicated to handling customer inquiries – the contact center staff. But, just because they are highly trained contact center agents does not mean that they shouldn’t be used to handle other work activities when call volume is low. Agents are often outstanding at handling a variety of operational tasks that are related to the very broad base of knowledge required in many contact centers. And agents are often quick on the uptake because they are already somewhat familiar with many of the processes, as their primary job is to answer questions related to them. Even in the busiest and most efficiently staffed contact centers there will always be downtime due to variability in the arrival rate of calls. This downtime is a costly waste of highly trained and valuable resources for enterprises, and annoying for agents, who prefer to be kept busy.
A growing number of leading contact centers are putting their agents to work during idle time. They are using an emerging set of workflow-enabled applications to identify agent downtime and deliver work items and tasks to fill those idle periods. These emerging solutions are helping to speed up and reduce the cost of processing. Additionally, for a contact center that uses predominantly full-time agents, real-time work allocation solutions allow managers to make better use of these resources.