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Optimising contact centre productivity with a blended environment

Inbound contact centres can be inefficient places. Not because agents drag the chain but because there’s not a lot for them to do if the calls don’t come in thick and fast. 

Roster optimisation is one way to keep costs down. But even after you’ve determined the minimum number of agents you need to meet service levels, you can still end up with large amounts of downtime each day.

That’s expensive, especially if you’re based onshore. Agents’ wages in Australia start at around $23.50 an hour and comprise more than three-quarters of the annual contact centre budget.

This inefficiency cost was part and parcel of running an inbound contact centre until recently. But, for businesses that also operate an outbound dialling operation, it no longer has to be.

That’s because it’s now possible to implement a ‘blended environment’ – one in which agents can both make and receive calls. Being able to do so means they can be kept busy for a much greater proportion of the working day.

This wasn’t an option technologically in the past but modern, user-friendly contact centre software has made it so. Platforms like MaxContact’s now allow agents to switch between outbound and inbound modes and alert them as to which type of call is coming down the line next.

As well as cutting down on time spent waiting for calls to come through, working in a blended environment can improve job satisfaction for agents. It’s a high churn industry – the average length of tenure for an agent in Australia is just 22 months – and getting people to stick around is a perennial challenge for many organisations. Mixing it up by having agents make as well as take calls can help to address the boredom factor which, together with burnout, is a major reason why individuals call time on their time in the sector.

Hanging onto experienced agents for a few extra months, or even years, is good for customer service and even better for your bottom line, given the high cost of recruiting and training replacements.

The COVID experience has reminded many businesses that the contact centre is the heart of the organisation; essential for attracting new customers and retaining old ones, in all sorts of times. A blended environment allows your agents to be hard at it on both fronts.

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