Can you believe it’s been almost 25 years since instant messaging sprung into our lives?
When the first instant messenger went mainstream in 1996, it was a boon for early internet users who were eager to connect and chat with friends and family in real-time. Now more than 2.5 billion people use messaging apps across the globe, with more than 41 million messages sent every minute, according to global data firm Statista [1, 2].
But instant messaging hasn’t just changed the way we socialise, it’s also revolutionised how we work and do business. In just the last five years, instant messaging has exploded into offices and proven itself to be a powerful tool for internal business communications. Companies are now using apps such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom and Google Hangouts to help connect their staff, improve flexibility, encourage collaboration, and boost efficiency.
Here’s how you can do the same in your contact centre.
1) Connect your agents
Contact centres are busy (and often loud!) hives of activity where it’s not always easy for agents to hear and chat with one another. With most of their work either phone or computer-based, it can also be difficult for agents to leave their desks during peak periods. An instant messaging app can help keep agents connected by enabling them to chat, share information and exchange advice in real-time via their computers. Puzzel’s integration with Microsoft Teams, for example, enables agents to make calls, send messages and transfer contacts all within their own Agent Application. Using an instant messenger for minor communications can also help keep clutter out of email inboxes.
2) Set your status
Another useful feature of instant messaging apps is the ability to set your online status. Online statuses can signal to your colleagues when you are available to chat or when you are too busy, in a meeting, or away from your desk. For example, a contact centre agent due to head on their lunch break may set their status to ‘away’, while agents on complicated calls may set themselves to ‘do not disturb’.
This functionality is built in to Puzzel’s Contact Centre solution. We refer to it as the agent’s pause status, with enquiries only able to be routed to those who are set to ‘ready’. But agents using less intuitive software may find an instant messenger useful.
3) Improve flexibility
The rising cost of office space, advances in cloud computing and changes to customer expectations have seen many contact centres transition to remote work in recent years. Remote work gives agents more freedom to choose where they work, when they work and for how long, which can be especially useful for those with small children or other family commitments. But working from home and managing a remote workforce requires having a robust communications channel in place. This is where instant messenger apps have really come into their own – helping agents stay connected with their colleagues even when they’re working from home.
4) Forge stronger team ties
Instant messenger apps that also offer video conferencing proved especially useful for contact centres during the coronavirus lockdown. Recent research conducted by the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA) in partnership with Puzzel found while many agents flourished after the initial transition to remote working, others reported feeling isolated and missed the camaraderie of sitting with their colleagues.
Jonathan Cowie, the Chief Operating Officer of VIVID Homes, said instant messaging helped keep their agents close, while video chats provided some much-needed face-to-face interaction for those missing their peers. “People on (Microsoft) Teams have got to know their colleagues better. (It’s) the personalisation of watching their cat wander behind them,” he told the CCMA . You can read the full report on The Evolution of the Contact Centre and how customer service teams responded to the COVID-19 health crisis here.
Providing agents with a quick and simple way to chat to their colleagues, to collaborate and exchange advice while keeping clutter out of their inboxes, allows them more time to focus on delivering great customer service.
You can find out more about Puzzel’s integration with Microsoft Teams here.