Contact Center incident Management

What is Contact Center Incident Management?

Everyone, no matter the area of employment in which they operate, and regardless of their practices and processes, will experience failure. It’s a fact of life. What defines the winners from the losers is what they do afterward.

An incident, in short, is the experience of failure. It’s something going wrong. In the contact center, an incident means something going wrong with your Customer Experience (CX). Incident management refers to any measures taken to respond to those issues.

Contact center incidents can involve:

  • Downtime; anytime that your channels of contact are unavailable to customers for any reason, be that technical or otherwise.

  • Lost customers; those customers who are routed to the wrong outcome, whether that’s a human agent not suited to respond to their queries, or a chatbot not cut out for high-level challenges.

  • Over-long queues; customers forced to wait in queues for hours before speaking to an agent represent a serious failure of your customer experience. Any queue longer than ten minutes should be a source of serious concern.

  • Disasters; sometimes disaster is unavoidable. Perhaps the fire alarm goes off, and you have to evacuate your contact center. Perhaps a storm knocks out your power. In these worst-case scenarios, how do you keep your customers up-to-date?

  • Failure to resolve a customer question; above all, your contact center exists to support customers. If you can’t help a customer reach a solution, you’ve failed. Any customer that has to call up more than once, or be passed between multiple agents to find a solution, is an incident that needs to be taken seriously.

Customers don’t call up your business unless something’s gone wrong. In a sense, the contact center is all about incident management. Perfecting your approach to contact center incident management is essential to supporting this mission

Preparing for Contact Center Incident Management

To put in place a successful contact center incident management plan, you have to be prepared. That means putting a plan in place, and ensuring that all staff are trained to follow it. This plan should cover every possible incident; whether that’s a backlog of calls, a disappointed customer, or a natural disaster that knocks out your contact center entirely.

In each case, a complete contact center incident management plan is required:

  • In the event of a disappointed customer, your agents need to know precisely how that contact should be escalated and to where. They need the security of knowing that their supervisors are monitoring interactions and that if an interaction turns sour, they can intervene at a moment’s notice to get the interaction back on track. Clear escalation procedures are a must-have here.

  • In the event of a massive surge in demand that drives queues sky-high, you need mechanisms for scalability. How can you scale your contact center solution to make space for these new contacts? How can you bring new agents on board to answer every customer inquiry? How can you pre-empt surges in demand to counter customer confusion? There’s no excuse to neglect contact center scalability.

  • Should disaster strike, you need clear Disaster Recovery (DR) procedures. When the contact center goes offline, what do customers hear? Do you have a recorded message prepared to explain your absence? Do you have alternate points of contact your customers can look to? Do you have a distributed contact center workforce that can continue to answer contacts even with one location online? A codified Disaster Recovery plan is essential.

In each of these cases, contact center incident management looks very different. The basics of contact center incident management should cover every possible instance of failure, to ensure that when disaster strikes, you’re ready to meet it.

Small-Scale Contact Center Incident Management

In the contact center, every customer counts. That means that a dissatisfied customer should be treated as a serious incident; a failure of the contact center to achieve its mission. The first step to efficient contact center incident management is learning to handle these small-scale incidents with speed and grace.

So, what do you do when a customer gets frustrated or fails to find a solution to their query?

  • Intervene there and then – Through Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Sentiment Analysis, it is possible to monitor customer sentiment in real time. When you see sentiment dip, you can intervene, either joining the interaction directly or offering script suggestions to the agent via a unified agent interface.

  • Provide comprehensive agent feedback – Make sure that the agent learns from the experience. Use a negative interaction to deliver personalized agent feedback that supports them in their next interaction. Work to develop your talent through an improved Agent Experience (AX)

  • Send follow-up interactions – If a customer’s query hasn’t been resolved during an interaction, it’s up to you to ensure that it gets resolved as quickly as possible. That might involve sending follow-up contacts over the customer’s preferred channel of contact or flagging the customer as high priority to ensure they reach a solution without having to wait in a queue.

Contact Center Incident Management through Scalability

In the contact center, scalability is the cardinal virtue. You need to be able to handle fluctuating levels of contact demand throughout the day, and surges in demand that surpass what you’re prepared for, with little or no warning. Scalability has to be at the heart of your contact center incident management strategy.

Here are three steps you can take immediately to boost scalability:

  • Adopt a private cloud solution – The majority of cloud contact center (CCaaS) solutions leverage the public cloud. This means that they’re limited in the flexibility they offer, as they don’t own the cloud services they use. In the event of a surge in demand, they can’t always offer you the additional compute resource you’d need to meet it. A private cloud provider, on the other hand, can deploy new resource as and when it’s required.

  • Leverage predictive demand – We can’t perfectly predict the future. For instance, a natural disaster might strike out of the blue, leading to a surge of calls to a utilities or power company. This is something we simply can’t predict in advance, but there are things we can predict. A Workforce Management solution that leverages AI-powered demand prediction to schedule agents according to past demand levels helps you plan for those out-of-the-blue moments.

  • Perfect flexibility – We don’t know when and why demand might surge, but we can say for certain that if your contact center masters flexibility, you’ll be ready for the challenge. That means giving your agents the ability to work from wherever, via any internet-enabled device, so that new agents can be brought online at a moment’s notice. It means the contractual flexibility to expand and contract your seat numbers as and when necessary. It means having access to the compute resource to support expansions and contractions. It means the ability to route customers to other parts of your contact center ecosystem, to absorb the increased demand.

Lack of scalability is the most common cause of incidents in the contact center. Whether it’s disappointed customers or excessive queue times, being able to flexibly meet demand will make contact center incident management easier than ever.

Disaster Recovery with Contact Center Incident Management

The final category of contact center incident management is Disaster Recovery. This is useful in those circumstances that can’t easily be worked around; anything from a fire alarm forcing an evacuation of the contact center, to natural disaster or foreign invasion knocking out critical infrastructure, you need to be prepared for the worst.

That means putting the basics of Disaster Recovery in place:

  • A Disaster Recovery solution that lets you switch into DR mode at the press of a button - This solution should be accessible from any location, and capable of being activated by SMS or email if you can’t reach your desk. Since the solution can be accessed from any device or location—even a mobile phone—proactive messaging can be enabled in the event of a disaster, informing customers that your contact lines will be out of action for the foreseeable future.

  • A basic Disaster Recovery message for customers - Your customers, in general, are not unreasonable people. If you’re forced to evacuate, they’ll understand. A simple message stating that ‘Due to a disaster, we are unable to take your call at this time’ will be enough to convince customers to call back later. You can even direct customers to self-service channels in the meantime, to ensure that some are still able to get the support they need.

  • A comprehensive business continuity plan – A business continuity plan that lays out next steps in the event of a disaster is a must-have. This plan should be available to agents through a comprehensive training plan, so that everyone knows what to do in the event of a disaster.

From here, all that remains is to continually strengthen your self-service channels and flexible working capabilities. The more distributed your workforce, the less likely it is that your contact center will be knocked out in a single blow. With these measures, the final category of contact center incident management is covered.

Contact Center Incident Management with storm®

Investing in your contact center incident management is an absolute must, and Content Guru stands ready to help. Content Guru’s cloud-based contact center solution, storm®, provides scalable, reliable, contact center incident management functionality to cover incidents of every scale.

storm® is used by over 1000 enterprise-scale public and private organizations in over 50 countries, and is trusted by leading global brands to meet all their contact center incident management needs.

Contact us for more information