The Power of Data for the Small Contact Center

By Chris Recio, Inflow Communications Director of Contact Center & Advanced Applications
We’ve all heard this phrase: doing more with less. We know that this approach is often about profitability and maximizing resources. In the smaller contact center, the demands for doing more with less is a way of life, and maximizing resources can pay huge dividends for the contact center, the agent experience and the business bottom line.

I’m often asked “when do I know to go enterprise?” My reply is always: “The size of the contact center does not dictate the need for enterprise functionality. It’s not about the size of the contact center. It’s about the need and complexity of the operation.”

It’s been my experience that many smaller contact center operations are just as complex as large enterprise contact centers, and more so, the smaller contact center can be more challenging when considering staffing.

Not every contact center has the benefit of a large staff, with dedicated units for each facet of the business. It would be fantastic to have an unlimited employee pool from which to draw and support every contact center operation. The small contact center operation often must rely upon the same customer service reps to provide support for multiple lines of business, which can complicate and add workload to the end user having the responsibility to triage customer interaction.
This is where data resources can provide a tremendous advantage to the customer, the customer service rep and the business.


Let’s take a look at the following scenario.

XYZ Company is a small operation with eight customer service reps. XYZ has three business lines and offers both customer service and tech support for their customers and resellers. Each product line represents a different business and requires the interaction to be handled in a specific way.

Based on the above scenario, many contact centers would divide the reps across two groups and the temptation to also split the groups into three working units. However, in a small organization such as this, dividing the effort into groups can have a negative impact on overall performance. Ultimately this configuration scenario could have an adverse effect on ACD availability, routing algorithms and exaggerated reporting metrics once we begin to factor in overflow, interflow, average wait time, average handle time, etc.

I’ve seen this type of scenario often. After all, on the surface, it makes sense. However, strategically putting technology to work can save time, operating costs, improve agent efficiency and morale, and of course, all of this pays dividends to customer service.

In such scenarios, we will often collapse the groups into one larger functional group. We will add skills to divide the functional unit, and we will add data components to gather data along the way which will be used to share this information with the agent, including: main number dialed, add a business label to the call, add a choice option to the call – choice being the selection the customer chose such as: customer service, tech support, etc. We will then use the customer caller ID to pull strategic information about the account, and we may also add other labels to the call to help the agent qualify the customer upon answer – open ticket ID, open order ID, appointment date/time, skill ID, etc.

Upon answering the interaction, the customer service rep sees the data and knows immediately how to greet the customer and can focus on his/her primary goal – servicing the customer. While this may seem appropriate and obvious, there is an underlying benefit not being overtly addressed.

Combining agents into a single group allows the ACD to do what it does best. I have never been a fan of fragmented smaller groups, with complicated overflow configurations. While these are necessary – and usually for reporting purposes, it’s important to consider the overall impact of having multiple smaller groups, not only on the ACD, but also psychologically.

When a smaller contact center is splintered into smaller groups, they tend to compete for time negatively. The demand of each smaller group becomes compounded as the ACD looks for an available agent within the context of the smaller group. However, a single group can better manage the ACD process and likely has a better chance of finding agent availability without moving the call from queue to queue in hopes of finding an available agent. This also creates a sense of teamwork that is psychologically beneficial for all agents within that single group.

The small contact center can benefit just as much, and often more, from integrated systems. Yet due to their size, many smaller organizations look to take advantage of the “enterprise approach” because “we are a small operation.” In my experience with smaller contact centers, leveraging systems strategically is not a luxury, but a requirement.

At Inflow Communications, we understand how contact center technology can be applied to meet the many layers of each contact center, especially the smaller contact center. We place thought and consideration into the day-to-day operation, the needs of the business, the customer experience and often the psychological impact to users. While technology can do great things, it must be applied strategically for many reasons.

Follow the link below to register for our online Contact Center Education Series provided by Inflow Communications.

Want to learn more? Follow the link below to register for our online Contact Center Educational Series:

ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center / Data Integration Admin Training

February 23rd, 10:00 – 11:00 PST


Contact Center Data for Dynamic Results

March 29th, 10:00 – 11:00 PST


About Inflow

Founded in 1997, Inflow is one of the nation’s top Unified Communications and Contact Center consultants in today’s market. Pioneers in cloud unified communications and cloud contact center success, Inflow is the first company to provide contact center consulting and training focused solely on helping you elevate your customer experience.

With over 200,000 endpoints supported under Inflow’s innovative success programs around the world, Inflow built its brand and reputation around providing unrivaled customer support. Inflow is in Mitel/ShoreTel’s top 2% in global customer satisfaction, and quickly acquiring a top spot with RingCentral, Genesys PureCloud and NICE inContact.

By partnering with Inflow, you can expect the highest level of strategic consultation, execution, and optimization available in the industry.