A Blended Agent is typically used to define a call centre agent that can handle more than one customer interaction type or channel.
Or you may have heard the term ‘Blended’ as the name of the rom-com movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore that was released in 2014…
I’d happily give you my review for the movie but I guess you are more likely to be interested in what ‘blended’ means in the context for call centres though?
OK for you dear reader, I will put my movie review career on hold…
What does blended agent mean in a call centre?
Blended used to be quite easy to explain however with the increase in channels and technology it’s now a bit more complex to explain what blended refers to in a call centre.
In fact, it can really mean multiple scenarios.
Blended Agent call centre examples:
- Inbound and outbound
- Sales and service
- Phones and email
- Multiple channels like Live Chat, SMS etc as phones
- Different levels of call complexity e.g. Level 1 and Level 2 calls
- Office/Retail counter and phones
Benefits of Blended Agents
The primary benefit is flexibility.
Being able to shift agents to the channels or areas that need resources provides an enormous benefit in managing service levels.
There is also evidence that it can improve staff retention by enabling staff to alternate between tasks or functions to prevent boredom and providing them with new challenges.
However, there are also some agents who don’t like blending at all so, like anything, it pays to know the preferences of your individual employees.
Risks of Blended Agents
Sure you will get some increased flexibility by using blended agents in your call centre however it is not without some risks.
It can be tempting to throw eager staff into different queues, skills or channels but each, of course, come with their own specific skill requirements.
To ensure its a positive experience for your employees and customers, you need to ensure the staff are trained effectively.
For example, handling inbound calls and making outbound telemarketing calls are two very different types of skills.
And moving from the phone (verbal skills) to Live Chat or Emails (written skills).
In some centres having the capability to handle more than one interaction type is directly linked to remuneration whereas for other businesses, having multi-skilled staff are the ‘norm’.
If you are yet to introduce a blended agent model, you need to ensure you work with your employees on the implementation to avoid push-back.
It may seem counterintuitive, but there is some concern that blended agents are actually less productive, not more.
Having to juggle multiple chats, flicking between systems etc can reduce capacity as opposed to just focussing on the one task.
Read our article on Why Multi-Tasking is not productive.
So whilst the temptation for businesses can be to load more interaction types onto agents, time should be spent in ensuring the agents are adequately trained and prepared.