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Using 'chat' in call centers -- Part I

What is more efficient for handling chats -- having dedicated call center agents that take only chats (possibly multiple chats at a time) but no other interactions or having agents taking different types of interactions?

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Your questions about chats are tricky. It is definitely more efficient to blend agents across media, and to handle multiple chat sessions. However, that might not be a good business decision! Whether or not you should do it depends on many factors. The challenge is that different contact centers have different characteristics of their transactions and how they handle them. The variations are things like: call volume; talk/chat times; traffic pattern (peaky vs. flat); frequent or infrequent queues; complex or easy transactions; and continuous interactions or situations with some downtime between questions, answers, and actions. All of these variations create different situations for the variety of media, and how best to handle them and set up "skills" for the agents. The other challenge is that not a lot of call centers have done chat (and few of those successfully), so there is not a huge base of knowledge to go on. So deciding if you should blend agents across media, and whether one chat or more is the right number, takes some careful analysis...

Click here for Lori's list of questions to consider when implementing chat capabilities

This was first published in April 2003

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