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Intelligent Swarming: The Buzziest New Support Model

With the wide variety of tools aimed at helping users and driving self-service with uneven and mitigated results,  customer patience is running thin. According to our Service Relevance Report, 76% of customers said they would abandon a brand after three negative service experiences.

Customers tend to take out their frustrations on customer service agents, especially when they aren’t receiving the right information.  Unfortunately, those agents aren’t equipped to deliver the right information in a timely manner. The average agent reports that 41% of the information they receive each day is irrelevant to their job—meaning almost half of the time they can’t find the answer they need.

However, a new methodology called intelligent swarming may be the key to getting agents the right information faster—and keeping customers happy.

The Problem With Tiered Service

Intelligent swarming is a potential replacement for the outdated tiered support model. Traditionally, customer service agents are organized by level. Level 1 agents interact with customers first and attempt to close the request. If they cannot answer the question, the request is escalated to Level 2 and so on, until the case is closed.

In this model, contact center agents get the brunt of consumer questions—and frustration. Not only is this an ineffective model for answering questions, but it’s also a missed educational opportunity for call center agents that inhibits their career growth because they won’t know how to answer the same question next time.

Agents need better employee experiences, especially in an industry with high turnover.

What’s Intelligent Swarming?

Imagine a customer support agent who could tap into the hive mind whenever they ran into a question they couldn’t answer — like phoning a friend on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” but exponentially bigger. 

That’s the basic premise of intelligent swarming — a framework that enables a support organization to easily draw on the collective intelligence of the company. 

This method improves the employee experience by creating a collaborative environment where employees help each other learn and grow. Additionally, the customer experience is improved by getting them the right answers quicker,

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A Change In Culture

So, why haven’t all organizations adopted intelligent swarming?

The biggest hurdle is actually changing the workplace culture. Hierarchical cultures are ingrained in most workplaces, as lower-ranked employees defer to higher-ranked ones automatically.  However, this leaves little room for discussion or collaboration—two key elements of the intelligent swarming methodology.

In order for intelligent swarming to thrive, managers need to break down barriers between themselves and their subordinates. Only by reducing these barriers will information be able to flow freely throughout an organization.

 Encourage employees to speak up and share feedback, even when it’s for their boss.

Once employees feel comfortable sharing, they can effectively collaborate together. A bonus: an open culture will also improve employee retention, always a problem in the customer service industry. 

Collaborating In the Virtual Office

Another hurdle is simply: how does this work logistically? Especially with so many agents working remotely, employees can’t simply ask the office a question. Nowadays, communication platforms like Slack are virtual offices. 

Luckily, intelligent swarming can pull from your Slack conversations, as well as emails and other existing documents. That way, an employee is only one search away from the correct answer.

There are benefits for support leaders and managers too. Intelligent swarming provides better insight into top agents and what they’re doing right, which can be leveraged to help other agents. Other insights include most looked-up documentation, most frequent questions, and more.

Intelligent swarming has the capacity to improve both the customer and employee experience for millions of people. Organizations need to embrace this new era of work  with a new method of knowledge management.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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