A long time ago I worked in a call center that had two gymnasium sized sections divided by file cabinets and a few modular walls. On one side were the outbound agents; the other side was for inbound agents.
This type of setup always struck me as odd… After all, a phone call is a phone call is a phone call.
Of course back then, there were some technological reasons for this separation – Toll Free numbers had to be routed on certain types of phone lines, PBX’s and ACDs often had middleware that didn’t communicate with each other; databases were separate, and so on.
Technology has come a long way in the past 20 years, allowing more streamlined call center operations. However, many call centers, often collections call centers, don’t seem to take full advantage of their dialer/IVR’s blending capabilities.
Blending is simply having all types of calls – predictive dialing, IVR and inbound calls –routed through and handled by one system.
There are 3 primary reasons for a fully blended system:
1 – Call centers can stay more productive throughout the day with fewer agents. During lower inbound times, the dialer will increase the number of outbound calls being made, keeping agents on calls more consistently. In a segregated call center, inbound departments often staff for the peak calling periods; when the incoming calls slow down, agents and phone lines sit idle, which lead to…
2 – A fully blended predictive dialer system can reduce the physical resources needed to service calls; costly resources like phone lines can be shared and dynamically allocated based on volume.
3 – Call centers can spend less on payroll by having a “universal agent” handle both inbound and outbound calls.
Other benefits can include unified reporting/analytics, a more consistent service level to customers, staffing level planning and less friction between agents.
Most call centers will still need some level of dedicated agents for specific call types; a blended system makes it easier to transition agents. Using skills-based routing and agent skill groups can make management of even the most complex call center environment simple to manage.
This article was written by Dave C