Less than 10% of contact centers have agents collaborating on support
While 80 per cent of contact center agents agree that having quick access to information has an impact on their metrics, only nine per cent work in organizations with a “case swarming” model, according to research from Coveo.
The Quebec City-based provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions surveyed approximately 250 U.S. contact center agents at organizations with more than 100 employees to produce its 2023 Customer Service Agent Relevance Report.
While the research found many agents are continuing to work in relative isolation, 14 per cent said their organization is researching or considering a collaborative support model, and 16 per cent said their firm is transitioning to one.
A shift to case swarming doesn’t necessarily simplify agents’ lives from a technology perspective, however. Among those who are working in a collaborative model, 35 per cent said they access up to five different applications regularly.
Meanwhile, 36 per cent said the struggle to find information was leaving them feeling burnt out or overwhelmed. Coveo said those working remotely were more likely to express these sentiments. Overall, 43 per cent of those surveyed are working entirely remotely, while 45 per cent have hybrid work options.
“Champion knowledge sharing to encourage agents to be contact collaborators rather than collectors,” the report’s authors advised. “Make the team as a whole accountable — this rewards a collective nature that will help drive your service teams and your business forward.”
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Reading this report, it almost feels like Coveo was expecting a bigger uptake in “case swaming” than the survey captured. There are many other findings about the benefits of collaborative work, but extrapolating the stats from less than a tenth of organizations doesn’t seem very convincing.
What might be more helpful is some details on how case swarming could work in practice. Though there resources on this from the Consortium for Service Innovation, it would be interesting to see how Coveo envisions contact center processes adopting this model based on the artificial intelligence (AI) technology it provides.
This kind of education is more critical than ever as more customer service teams become decentralized through hybrid work policies. There’s some good pieces in the report that reinforce the importance of ongoing training, especially if organizations promote collaborative work among their agents.
It’s also worth questioning the definition of collaboration in this context. Many contact center leaders would probably say it already happens to some extent, such as when managers coach an agent, or when agents escalate a case to a more experienced colleague.
Finally, business leaders may need to see a deeper connection between case swarming and the potential upside on the metrics they care about, like customer satisfaction (CSAT) or Net Promoter Score (NPS) before they make a more formal commitment to collaborative work.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.