Why Support Teams Should Consider Intelligent Swarming

We chatted about Intelligent Swarming at a recent session with the Customer Support & Success Executive Brain Trust Network. It was an enthusiastic group and a great setting to highlight the benefits of Intelligent Swarming!

We received some excellent questions from attendees during the event, answered below, and enjoyed sparking discussion with the group.

Intelligent Swarming Overview

Support Teams adopt Intelligent Swarming to increase skills development, improve issue resolution, and provide customers with a better support experience. 

Developed within the high tech support industry, Intelligent Swarming challenges 30 years of accepted practice and has gained attention as the most efficient way to solve problems in complex environments.

Similar approaches are sometimes called Agile Support or Collaborative Support. Intelligent Swarming shifts away from many traditional case management techniques to better match work with the right people as fast as possible and makes it easier to collaborate when people need help.

Consortium for Service Innovation Members have collaborated on the Intelligent Swarming Practices Guide to capture the best of what we know to date for how organizations have been successful with Intelligent Swarming.

Q&A About Intelligent Swarming

Where and how does an organization start? -Darcy Strong
Consortium Members have captured their recommendations for a phased approach in Intelligent Swarming Adoption & Roll Out.

How do you balance this with a technically complex product? When there’s too much to know and master, even if you can reach out to everyone? -Andrea Bishop
A: Intelligent Swarming was developed as a response to better handle new issues in complex environments. Read more in Why Intelligent Swarming?

Would you advise adopting KCS and KM processes before trying to adopt Intelligent Swarming? -Darcy Strong
A robust KCS program in tandem with Intelligent Swarming can improve speed and consistency of answers in complex environments.

How can this work when there are tools and systems that are restricted in terms of security/compliance? – Matti Price
When you design your Visibility Engine, to make work visible to the right resources as close to first touch as possible, account for who has access to support any dependent tools or systems.

Would love to know more about the ‘no escalations’. Retaining first contact ownership makes sense, but often that agent may not have the tools, knowledge, skills or ability to effectively progress or resolve the issue at hand in the most timely manner. Whether it’s considered an escalation within Intelligent Swarming, does it still make sense to get the issue to the best possible resource? -Robert Armstrong
From How Does Intelligent Swarming Work?: “In a swarming environment, the person who takes ownership of the issue owns the issue until it is resolved. They may engage others in the process of solving the issue, but they don’t lose touch with how the issue is resolved. This is how collaboration enables skill development.”

How successful is Intelligent Swarming in supporting an application that is so complex that there are not many experts who can take tickets from start to finish because of the lack of skill sets/knowledge of the product  -Marge R 
From Is Intelligent Swarming Right for You?: “As a general rule, Intelligent Swarming creates the most value when the complexity and/or severity of the work is moderate to high. Intelligent Swarming greatly improves an organization’s ability to solve new issues.”

Do you find you need more or less employees with this? -Janelle Zahner
Intelligent Swarming was developed to help make teams more efficient. Read more in Why Intelligent Swarming?

What systems do you use to support these changes? It seems like some traditional ticket systems might making supporting this model a bit of a challenge. -Justin Michaud
Consortium Members have captured their experience in Tool Considerations.

If we’re focusing on giving tickets/cases to the people who can handle it, how does that encourage growth and learning of the other individuals who haven’t mastered those skills yet? -Samantha O’Neil
From People Profiles: “In the Interest part of the profile, a knowledge worker indicates those skill areas that they would like to develop.” From Skills Development & Utilization: “An Intelligent Swarming system creates T-shaped people by inviting faster and easier knowledge transfer between people. Generalists learn specialist knowledge and specialists gain generalist skills. Time to proficiency is reduced for folks who are expanding their skills.”

Positive Experiences with Intelligent Swarming

We were also pleased to see attendees share their positive experiences!

“I moved our Technical Support team to adopt some of these principles, primarily the team opting in to take on tickets. It’s been a huge success! Team members feel challenged and have the opportunity to stretch themselves.”

Mo Bhimji

“It sure helps my team and speeds up the onboarding process”

Gary W

“My company does a good job of this and continues to expand it out, we didn’t have a name for it though. Anytime you are able to utilize individual team members’ strengths it’s a WIN/WIN!”

Tracey D

We also have several case studies of successful Intelligent Swarming programs from Consortium Members.

If you have any additional questions about Intelligent Swarming, please add them to the comments so we can help! To learn more, we encourage you to read the Intelligent Swarming Practices Guide or check out our Intelligent Swarming Training & Certification offerings.

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