What Is A ‘Universal Queue’? (And Is It A Good Thing?)

September, 2012

There are many definitions out there for the term 'universal queue'. They all sound great but are very agent-centric. Here we call for an alternative that can actually deliver satisfaction for the customer.

So it is with the term ‘universal queue’! There are many definitions out there. Typically most of them read a bit like this…

All call sessions and media channels are managed in a universal queue and on a single agent desktop interface.

What this usually means is that an agent has access to all media channels, from their desktop. And there is the idea that all contact actions taken by customers – voice, email, web chat, social media, etc. – are stacked up in a queue, waiting for an agent – any agent – to address them, subject to agent skills.

This all sounds great but it is very agent-centric, as if managing the productivity of the agent is or should be the main goal of the call center. Nothing wrong with that as an objective. Focusing on agent productivity is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

The role of a multi-channel contact center should be to serve and delight its audience, usually existing customers, but new ones as well.

And the way it does that is by encouraging them to communicate with the call center in the way that best suits them, not the call center. So for example a consumer calls into an IVR system, submits some details and then gets transferred quickly to an agent, at their request. The agent fulfils their request and sends a follow-up email. The consumer then asks to speak to someone else about another issue. The transfer is made with the consumer’s details so that the second agent knows who is calling. The email from the first agent is sent immediately and the customer responds with further questions, preferring this method of contact this time, rather than IVR – and so on.

So the approach a call center really needs to take in order to serve its customers properly is not single/ universal queue but actually multi-queue, allowing customers to be serviced using the media that best suits them, communicating with an agent properly skilled in that media channel.

If you are a user who is looking for a product that manages a universal queue, think beyond whatever definition you are being given. By all means have a great agent desktop, but remember that the primary job of a call center is to serve its customers.

We are happy to give a bottle of champagne prize to anyone who can suggest a catchy name to reflect the customer-centric view of things described here.

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