The benefits of intelligent swarming

13th Oct 2022

Our editors sat down with Coveo Vice President, Patrick Martin, to understand the benefits of Intelligent Swarming. Here is what we learned. 

  1. What is intelligent swarming?
    1. The Consortium for Service Innovation defines the Intelligent Swarming model as, “collaboration on steroids.” It’s a framework that enables a support organization to draw on the collective intelligence of the company. It allows agents to collaborate within their departments or with others to resolve cases and workshop solutions by matching the case to the person most likely to resolve it, often using a collaboration tool (for example, Slack).
  2. What are some of the benefits of Intelligent Swarming?
    1. The Intelligent Swarming model has four objectives:
      1. Perform skill assessment and utilization
      2. Optimize people’s ability to contribute (create value)
      3. Increase engagement and loyalty for your customers and your employees
      4. Improve customer success and realized value through improved problem solving
    2. Intelligent Swarming creates a community for agents by developing a collaborative environment. A core principle of the Intelligent Swarming model is developing an ‘opt-in’ mentality, in which workers share their expertise and other important knowledge they are passionate about or learn more about what their teammates are interested in. This is done by creating profiles that describe a participant’s expertise and interests, allowing other agents in the “swarm” to pinpoint who they need to speak with to find a customer resolution on the first touch.
  3. How can companies adopt Intelligent Swarming?
    1. Companies should consider the following when adopting Intelligent Swarming into their support model:
      1. Develop a collaborative culture: Changing an organization's culture takes time and effort. Create a collaborative environment where workers can share their knowledge and expertise.
      2. Align brand purpose and company values:  Increase worker engagement by encouraging direct communication among employees.
      3. Establish new indicators of organization health and value: Incorporate employee performance and sentiment indicators that go beyond traditional metrics.
      4. Transform management’s role: Let managers mentor their teams by breaking down traditional hierarchies.
      5. Transition to a single-level support model: Anyone looking to adopt intelligent swarming needs to transition from a tiered-support model to a single-level model. One key benefit of swarming on the customer experience is that the case owner will not change through various tiers. The case owner owns it from creation to resolution and will leverage swarming when required.
  4. What kinds of costs etc are associated with adoption?
    1. This is a hard question to answer as there are many variables. The first costs that should be considered are the technology and implementation costs.  These will vary based on what the customer already has in terms of tech stack.  If they already have the right tools, then their costs will be implementation only.  However, if you have to go through a support model transformation, then other costs will need to be considered:
      1. Training for Level 1 agents to reduce the gap between agents as all agents should now be case owners
      2. Intelligent case routing and classification tools to ensure that cases get routed to the most qualified agents at case submission (thus the need for accurate case classification)
      3. Efficient self-service offering to ensure that recurring/known issues are resolved via self-service, leveraging your agents for new and more technical issues.
    2. In the end, if your agents truly adopt the swarming model and develop a collaborative culture, the ROI for all these investments will pay out.  Shorter resolution times, greater team expertise and knowledge, shorter agent ramp-up times, higher CSAT are all KPIs that can positively be impacted by the implementation of a swarming model.  However, swarming alone will not get you there.
  5. How do companies know if the Intelligent Swarming methodology is right for them?
    1. Customer service companies want their knowledge workers to spend their time solving new issues, not ones that have already been solved. In general, the time it takes to resolve a customer's problem is a good indicator of both the complexity and the new vs. known nature of the problem.

      Intelligent Swarming is usually associated with a single-level support model but it could also be used in a tiered model. For example, if your customer service center solves most issues in a short amount of time (say, three to five minutes), it would imply that a high percentage of issues are known and the complexity is low. Overall complexity of issues is one determining factor, but you should also consider the number of cases escalated to other tiers as well.  KCS and swarming are complementary. While implementing Intelligent Swarming will make it easy for workers to collaborate, consider a knowledge-centered service (KCS) program to improve the efficiency of finding answers in this kind of environment.

      If your customer service center is facing a high rate of new and complex issues, and it takes them longer to solve customer issues (15 minutes or more), then consider implementing Intelligent Swarming into your business model to see measurable benefits.

      If your agents already leverage a collaboration tool for inter-team or cross-team communication, then you might be ready to put into place a swarming process that leverages this platform in a more structured and efficient way to solve cases.

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