Question:

What does an asynchronous contact center channel mean?

Answer:

There are two primary categories of channels:

  1. Synchronous: A communication that has a defined beginning and end, e.g., a phone call, and depends on real-time back-and-forth responses between the participants 
  2. Asynchronous: A communication that does not require an immediate response, e.g., an email, where a response can be delayed indefinitely and can be picked up where the parties left off, since the communication’s history is persistent

There are hundreds of channels that people use to communicate with each other. The vast majority of channels are digital, as opposed to being voice-based. Channels that are digital deliver a text-based conversation to the recipient, instead of spoken words. 

Think about your last interaction with a favorite brand. Perhaps it started on a website, then you asked a few questions via a chatbot, which escalated to a call with a live agent and concluded with an email. In the end, it was one single seamless conversation that got the job done. The definition of “conversation” has changed its meaning from as recently as five years ago, when it referred primarily to a phone discussion. Now a conversation can occur using many modes of communication, which can take place over the web, on a mobile device or even via a traditional phone, if you happen to have one. A unique characteristic of conversations today is they can start, stop and be continued when the customer wants to pick up the discussion. Persistence, which is a core feature of asynchronous channels, enables the conversation to retain context and history even when it changes channels and stops for a period of time. When the discussion is resumed, the company knows who the participants were and what they were asking about, because the history comes along with the conversation. Instead of discrete contacts in different channels, customers can have an ongoing dialog with a company, which builds brand engagement in service and support.