Lengthy lunch breaks and water-cooler chats may impact contact-center agent productivity, but they can't compare to the time agents waste having to switch between desktop applications. These days, contact-center agents must routinely flip between disparately located enterprise applications and repeatedly enter the same data into separate systems. In fact, routine customer-service interactions may require agents to deal with 5, 10 or even 15 systems. Much of the time, these systems are independent of one another, requiring agents to log on with a new password each time they access a separate system. The result: agent frustration, compromised productivity levels and unhappy customers who must sit through multiple screen changes. What's worse, agents lack a 360-degree view of customer interactions across all channels.
"Switching between applications is a productivity drain," said Keith Dawson, a senior analyst with Frost & Sullivan. "The more an agent has to switch and divert his attention, the more time it takes for him to get his bearings while the customer sits and waits for him to refocus."
But that's not all. Juggling desktop applications and constantly rekeying the same information often leads to human errors, "thereby reducing the quality of the customer interaction" for months or years to come, warned Dawson.
Fortunately, a unified-desktop solution can help. This tool serves as a single point of access to all of the mission-critical applications that an agent needs to effectively complete a customer interaction.
Cincom Systems' Synchrony is among the unified-desktop solutions available today. It works by uniting an intelligent agent desktop with multichannel interaction management for accurate and consistent interactions. For example, Synchrony tracks, manages and defines relationships between and within organizations. An "e-address" such as a customer's phone number, email address, account number or Social Security number triggers a lookup of a complete, detailed customer history. Another feature: Synchrony's agent desktop organizes and leverages existing content and resources such as Web sites, intranets and other knowledge sources into decision trees or access lists. Agents see only those information resources that are relevant to the interaction. And VoIP support in both hosted and on-site Synchrony environments means lower cost and more telephony options.
Another unified-desktop solution is Jacada's WorkSpace. It provides an integrated, automated and intelligent view of customer data and customer-service processes. Special features include single sign-on to all applications and tools, real-time alerts and desktop customization. WorkSpace also offers VoIP support.
Though a unified-desktop solution eases the burden placed on today's multitasking agents, it also "forces companies to come to grips with the many workflows and business processes that are going on behind the scenes," said Dawson. By reassessing the use of certain applications and the work processes surrounding them, companies are afforded the opportunity "to make valid judgments about priorities and to weigh productivity against agent morale and other aspects of the customer experience," said Dawson.
The flip side is discovering that the processes involved in CRM activities, such as gathering customer data or assessing customer need,s are simply not up to par. Said Dawson: "When you evaluate your processes, you're bound to find things that are uncomfortable and unwieldy … when you turn over a rock, sometimes ugly things crawl out. So introducing a unified-desktop solution forces you to deal with some of the unpleasant realities that are inherent in running a contact center."
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