Skip to Content

Improve your customer experiences with the latest service insights.

There’s a Better Way to Solve Tough Customer Service Issues — It’s Called Service Swarming

A man speaks on a headset and uses service swarming
Service swarming — also known as Intelligent Swarming — is a collaborative approach to customer service. [Getty Images]

It’s time to stop escalating and start collaborating. Help your service team become more efficient and bring expertise to customers faster with an Intelligent Swarming support model.

When a customer reaches out with a complex problem, it’s a moment of truth. Does the agent escalate or collaborate? If the answer is always to escalate, imagine this scenario instead: a team of experts quickly comes together to support your agent as they work through the resolution. This is service swarming.

The idea is that service agents share resources to solve complicated customer requests faster. It takes the guesswork out of customer service. 

Let’s take a closer look at what service swarming is and the ways it benefits your customers and your agents. 

10 essential skills for your service agents

It takes both hard and soft skills to excel in customer service. Technical expertise, ability to work with AI, great listening, and empathy are all important. Our comprehensive guide identifies the 10 skills agents need to succeed.

What is service swarming? 

Service swarming — also known as Intelligent Swarming — is a collaborative approach to customer service. Your agents bring in a team of skilled experts from across your organization to help solve complex service cases or larger incidents. These can be experts in finance, legal, operations, sales, engineering, development operations (DevOps), security, or other departments, depending on the problem.

This enables the right team members to use their expertise and work together on complicated issues as soon as they emerge. During the service swarming process, experts share background knowledge and resources with agents. Once a resolution emerges, the team documents the steps in a knowledge base article to help other agents with similar issues in the future. Generative AI for customer service makes the whole process faster and more efficient.

Swarming is useful for addressing complex issues affecting a single customer, such as a security breach to a personal account. It can also be scaled to address major incidents that impact many customers, like a power outage. In both cases, a collaborative approach across multiple teams, departments, and even external partners is key to delivering a resolution. For example, if a business customer reaches out to a consumer goods company about missing products that show as delivered, the agent can bring in a third-party fulfillment partner to help. 

The benefits of service swarming in customer support 

In a traditional, tiered customer support model, agents solve complex cases on their own. They search your knowledge base and ask various colleagues for help. As more time passes, the customer’s patience starts to thin. The agent escalates the case to the next-tiered agent or to a different department entirely, which frustrates the customer. 

A swarming support model flips this entire scenario on its head. Agents not only reach a resolution faster because they’re working with a team, they also become more efficient and knowledgeable, all while reaping cost savings for your business. This leads to: 

  • Personalized customer engagement: Our research shows that 83% of customers expect to solve complex problems by talking to one person. Service swarming reduces the complexity because the agent is their single point of contact throughout the case. This allows the agent to become a trusted contact and creates a one-on-one relationship that builds loyalty.
  • Accelerated skills development: In a tiered support model, knowledge isn’t shared as broadly as it could be. If an agent passes off a case because it’s too challenging, they lose out on a valuable learning experience. When agents bring in experts to swarm, they learn new customer service skills on the job. This type of expertise would otherwise take years to build.
  • Scaled automation: We found that 69% of agents say it’s difficult to balance speed and quality support, yet that’s exactly what customers want. Eliminating repetitive tasks through automation saves time and lowers costs while increasing team efficiency at scale. Service teams are then free to focus on strengthening customer relationships.
  • Teams working together: In a well-run service organization, no one is on their own. Agents can instantly identify and gain access to a built-in support network of experts. In fact, agents are incentivized to offer a helping hand because the data shows performance and participation levels. When a case resolves, managers recognize those involved, which encourages future participation.
  • Evolved success metrics: Performance measurements like average handle time and first-contact resolutions are always important. However, those metrics don’t always apply in service swarming scenarios. Instead, lower escalation rates and case handoffs take priority. Using these indicators, contact center managers can track improvements in agent productivity, satisfaction, and retention.

Swarming makes you think differently about your service team. This is because the dynamic changes between your agents, your experts, and your customers. Camaraderie becomes central to customer service; no one is an island. 

A swarming support model requires a unified platform

With a unified platform, you can bring together automation and AI for better productivity and efficiency. And while your teams do more with less, you can focus on the important things — like providing personalized customer service. Ultimately, communicating solutions in real time, across all impacted customers, leads to greater customer trust.

Service, sales, and marketing teams should be able to quickly access relevant case, incident, and customer data. They also need to communicate and make decisions to keep everyone looped. This helps to reduce the number of handoffs to customers. A shared virtual workspace makes this easy and efficient to do.

To implement service swarming in your organization, invest in customer service technology.  Give your agents a unified platform for team success, personalize every customer experience, and effectively scale with automation. Work together from anywhere with productivity tools like chat, video, and collaboration documents.

When the need for service swarming arises, rely on the technology that will help your teams solve cases and incidents seamlessly. With collaboration tools, you can streamline incident resolution by bringing together cross-functional swarm members, easily switch between messaging, voice, or video to increase accessibility, and build customer trust by keeping customers informed in real time.

Once the case or incident resolves, your support team is empowered with new knowledge and they’re ready to move on to the next case — together. 

Collaborate better with service swarming

See how to give your customers an all-digital, end-to-end experience they will love. 

Intelligent Swarming is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation.

Get the latest articles in your inbox.