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Increasing agent concurrency without overwhelming agents

By Cosima Travis
Director of Product Management, ASAPP

ASAPP—Increasing Agent Concurrency without Overwhelming Agents

The platform we’ve built is centered around making agents highly effective and efficient while still empowering them to elevate the customer experience. All too often we see companies making painful tradeoffs between efficiency and quality. One of the most common ways this happens with digital / messaging interaction: The number of conversations agents handle at a time (concurrency) gets increased, but the agents aren’t given tools to handle those additional conversations.

In an effort to increase agent output, a relatively ‘easy’ lever to pull is raising the agent’s max concurrency from 2-3 chats to 5+ concurrent chats. However, in practice, making such a drastic change without the right safeguards in place can be counter productive. While agent productivity overall may be higher, it often comes at the expense of customer satisfaction and agent burnout, both of which can lead to churn over time.

This is largely explained by the volatility problem of handling concurrent customers. While there are definitely moments in time where handling 5+ chats concurrently can be manageable and even comfortable for the agent (e.g. because several customers are idle/ slow to respond) at other moments, all 5+ customers may demand attention for high-complexity concerns at exactly the same time. These spikes in demand overwhelm the agent and inevitably leave the customers frustrated by slower responses and resolution.

The ASAPP approach to increasing concurrency addresses volatility in several ways.

Partial automation to minimize agent effort

The ASAPP Customer Experience Performance (CXP) platform blunts the burden of demand spikes that can occur at higher concurrencies by layering in partial automation. Agents can launch auto-pilot functionality at numerous points in the conversation, engaging the system to manage repetitive tasks—such as updating a customer’s billing address and scheduling a technician visit—for the agent.

ASAPP—You can layer in multiple conversations without overwhelming agents—if you do it with intelligence that takes into account things like intent, complexity, and responsiveness from the customer on the other end.
You can layer in multiple conversations without overwhelming agents—if you do it with intelligence that takes into account things like intent, complexity, and responsiveness from the customer on the other end.

With a growing number of partial automation opportunities, the system can balance the agents workload by ensuring that at any given time, at least one or two of the agent’s assigned chats require little to no attention. In a recent case study, the introduction of a single partial automation use case increased the agent’s speed on concurrent chats by more than 20 seconds.

Cosima Travis

Considering factors like agent experience, complexity and urgency of issues they’re already handling, and customer responsiveness, the CXP platform can dynamically set concurrency levels.

Real time ranking to help focus the agent

Taking into account numerous factors, including customer wait time, sentiment, issue severity, and lifetime value, the platform can help rank the urgency level of each task on the agent’s plate and this alleviates the burden of trying to decide what to focus on next when agents are juggling a higher number of concurrent conversations.

Dynamic complexity calculator to balance agent workload

We reject the idea of a fixed ‘max slot’ number per agent. Instead, we’re building a more dynamic system that doesn’t treat all chats as equal occupancy. It constantly evaluates how much of an agent’s attention each chat requires, and dynamically adjusts concurrency level for that agent. That helps ensure that customers are well-attended while the agent is not overworked.

At certain points, five chats might feel overwhelming while at others, it can feel quite manageable. Many factors play a role, including the customer’s intent, the complexity of that intent, the agent’s experience, the customer’s sentiment, the types of tools required to resolve the issue, how close the issue is to resolution. These all get fed into a real-time occupancy model which dynamically manages the appropriate level of concurrency for each agent at any given time. This flexibility enables companies to drive efficiency in a way that keeps both customers and agents much happier.

While our team takes an experimental, research-driven approach by testing new features frequently, we are uncompromising in our effort to preserve the highest quality interaction for the customer and agent. In our experience, the only way to maintain this quality while increasing agent throughput is with the help of AI-driven automation and adaptive UX features.

Cosima Travis is a Director of Product Management at ASAPP. She has worked in product development in various technology sectors with a focus on integrating AI solutions into user-friendly software.

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