How To Juggle With 4 Balls (And A Chainsaw) – Part 1

December, 2011

To keep the customer happy a contact center must manage voice, email, web chat, video, text (and others) successfully. Here we look at the technological challenges in delivering speed of response in a multi-channel contact center.

Success in the contact center is all about the customer experience. Meet (or exceed!) the customer’s expectations and all is well. Once upon a time, a bank that serviced both in-branch and phone interactions well had happy customers. Rather like juggling with 2 balls, it was relatively easy. These days, to keep the customer happy a contact center must manage voice, email, web chat, video, SMS (and others) successfully. Rather like juggling with 4 balls (and a chainsaw), this can be challenging. (Chainsaw? Read on.)

Customer expectations boil down to a combination of speed and quality of response, and each has its own technological challenges. In this blog, we look at speed of response. In the next, quality. Stay tuned.

Speed of Response – Tick, Tock

Customer expectations in terms of speed of response are quite different for each media type. For instance:

  • web chat, voice, video – the customer expects an almost instant response, i.e. within seconds
  • SMS (text) – not quite instant, but still prompt (say within 1 min)
  • email – not instant (say within 1 hour)

So how do you maximise your chance of meeting these expectations? By automatic assignment of sessions to agents. We could call this ASD (Automatic Session Distribution – the multi-channel equivalent of ACD). For this, the system needs both presence information and centralised and unified queue management.

Presence Information – Are You Free?

In order to assign any session to an agent, the system must know if he is available to receive it. Trouble is, the answer isn’t just a simple yes or no. Each agent may have complex rules about how many of each media type he can handle at once; for example, agent Jim, currently on a voice call, may not be available for an incoming web chat session, but agent Sarah, already dealing with two chat sessions, may be able to handle a third.

This is further complicated by skill level; not all agents who can email effectively are good at video chat, too.

Presence information is also essential for manual transfer; Jim, trying to transfer a web chat session, needs to know if Sarah can handle it, given the other sessions she is currently involved in.

Centralised Management – The Lone Juggler

In order to juggle media sessions between agents, the left hand must know what the right hand is doing. This requires a centralised and unified control center that knows the exact state of every agent and every queue at all times. Disparate systems held together with tape just won’t work.

Now, what happens if the level of activity on any queue exceeds the assigned agents’ ability to respond within the service level agreement (SLA)? Other agents should be automatically drafted in to help, and ideally they should be put back into the original queue when service levels allow.

This could also be done manually by a supervisor, who will need the presence info to determine who can go where. We will be looking at media queue blending in more detail in a future blog.

With all these facilities in place, a multi-media contact center should be able to keep all balls in the air successfully, delivering a fast response well within acceptable service levels.

So, which one is the chainsaw? Video, actually. This needs special handling, as we shall see next time, when we look at how contact center technology can enable quality of response.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC), offering multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment by partners offering CCaaS or enterprise users. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

  • Flexible Contact Center Platform

    Softdial Contact Center™ – tightly integrated modules, designed to deliver at scale

  • Blended Media Desktop

    Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

  • Work Anywhere

    Browser-based tools, no software installation required

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    Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

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    ‘Swap out’ components and integrate with 3rd party apps

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    Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries


Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

  • All Media Types

    Voice, chat, email, social, etc – fully integrated and blended

  • Agent Multi-Tasking

    Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type

  • Dynamic Media Blending

    Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to blend and balance work load across all media types

  • Predictive Dialing

    Best-of-breed performance under compliance

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    Smart rules and ‘best-available’ decisions to drive great customer service

  • Agent Scripts

    Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

  • Voice and Screen Recording

    See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

  • Analytics and Data Feeds

    Measure and evaluate performance at every level

  • IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

    Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

  • Customer Journey Tracking

    Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations


A complete suite of tools, with unique flexibility to extend and swap out modules to deliver a tailored contact center solution for any environment

  • Softdial One™

    Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

  • Softdial Scripter™

    Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

  • Sytel AI Dialer™

    Best-of-breed predictive dialing under any compliance rules

  • Softdial Pathfinder™

    Precise routing rules for ‘best available’ connection

  • Softdial Media Server™

    Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

  • Softdial Reporter™ 5

    Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

  • Softdial Publisher™

    Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

  • Softdial Recording Monitor™

    Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

  • Softdial Campaign Manager™

    Comprehensive configuration and control for outbound campaigns

  • Softdial Repository™

    Central storage and configuration of common resources

  • Sytel Global Compliance™

    Flexible ‘no contact’ rules to protect contact center and consumer


Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

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    Connect quickly to well equipped agents

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    Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app