Posts Tagged ‘agent workplace’

Skillgroups, Agent Workplace, Resources — All is interconnected

Are contact center agents generally skilled people? I guess so, that’s why you assign them to skill groups. Ideally, agents are multi-skilled so they can handle several skill-groups. The contact center technology they’re using should reflect this. So when an incoming call hits a skill group, the call goes to an available agent who must be signed in to this group. This is the first point: it must be possible for an agent to sign in to several skill groups simultaneously.

Next, these groups have to be aligned, i.e. an agent who is on the phone with a caller to one skill group has to be busy and unavailable to the other groups he’s signed in.
Of course the tasks for each skill group have different demands. The Agent Workplace should reflect this. Only the features the agent needs should be displayed. Is it a skill group for non-voice activities? Then the e-mail client or the social media channels should be open. Is this a skill group where payments are done over the phone? Then the agent should have the button to send the caller to the mid-call subroutine where he/ she can enter the payment card details without the agent listening.
All these properties have to be managed somewhere. Our effECTive® Network-Based Contact Center suite has one central web portal over which gives access to all parts of the contact center depending on user rights.
There the manager assigns agents to skill groups, activates certain features in the Agent Workplace and also manages all the resources like the prompts. Thus, the central web portal is the basis of the contact center at least in terms of user interfaces. Agents use it to sign in to the workplace. To a certain extend you can even use it to administer third party applications like a CRM.
All you need to access this web portal and all the functionalities it offers is a browser and internet access. It’s the right technology that makes the lives of contact center staff easier. If you’d like to see how it works, please feel free to contact me.

We integrate Salesforce with the Agent Workplace

For some time now, we have an integration of our Agent Workplace with Salesforce, the leading cloud-based CRM system.

As a fully cloud-based customer relationship management service, Salesforce fits our network-based contact center suite perfectly. It runs in any leading browser, so both products are well positioned to match each other. On top of that, Salesforce is a powerful CRM module with all its features and I’m not surprised that it became such a huge success.
For the integration, we’re using their API, which allows us to pull up a separate tab, which is presented in the same browser session as the workplace. So when an incoming call reaches the platform, after the IVR service logic, the call eventually hits the skill group. When that happens, our system sends a variable e.g. the caller’s CLI to Salesforce via the API. Salesforce returns with a page in the browser showing the respective customer information in case the person was found. If the caller was not found, the agent gets to see a page that allows him to create an account for that particular number.
Joining two powerful products in this way entails an easy to use, feature rich, quick to market solution for managing a contact center solution completely in the cloud.
The good news for our customers: this CRM plug-in is a standard connector, so we can offer the integration to all our customers who are offering the NBCC product.

Why a single-sign on for agents enhances the customer experience

A couple of weeks ago I attended a very nice webinar from the Call Centre Helper. It was dealing, among other things, with the question, how many applications a contact center agent needs to handle a customer’s enquiry. The whole idea that an agent might need several applications on his workplace struck me. How inconvenient; no wonder so many customers are unhappy with service over the phone and contact center agents describe their work as often frustrating.

The more I think of it, the more I like the single-sign on for our effECTive® Web Portal over which you access the agent workplace with just one mouse click. Over the same web portal you do not only access the workplace but all other contact center functionalities.

In the Agent Workplace you have all the modules like e-mail, phonebook, chat function, social media and CRM. That’s why we also call it “Unified Agent Workplace”. The advantage is obvious: the agent has all functionalities he needs available and does not have to open various windows and multiple applications, each with a different log-in. For the agent it’s easier to do his work and customer enquiries can be answered much faster and more efficiently. Also, the interaction with other agents is much easier when you have the chatbox and e.g. the CRM on the same screen. Of course contact centers also save money when they manage to reduce the time an agent needs for answering an enquiry.

There are two reasons why you have these shortcomings on many agent desktops. First: Applications come from multiple vendors. You may have a social media module from one company, the e-mail client from another one and the CRM is of course a third-party application as well. There are other companies who do nothing else than developing software for workforce management. Bottom line: agents end up with a plethora of different applications and log-ins on their desktops.

The second reason has to do with integration. Many desktops are just not open enough to integrate third party applications very deep. It works both ways – many applications are just not open enough to be integrated into an agent desktop, plus, vendors don’t want their products to be integrated into another application so they are no longer distinguishable.

Here at ECT, we have all these various types of applications, including those from third parties, on our platform and then integrated into our agent workplace. This means they are easier to integrate and easier to access for the agent. From a security standpoint there is another advantage: all applications and all the databases are secured on the carrier-side. This means they are easy to access but you cannot hack the system.

Of course, we at ECT are partnering with other companies to improve our products continuously. We’re also doing our homework: our agent and manager workplace is designed to be so open that you can integrate all kinds of third party applications. Contact me if you wish to find out more!

How influential are your customers?

In customer relationship management and in contact centers in general, it’s not unusual to cluster your customers into groups such as platinum, gold or bronze. Depending on their status, they get connected to agents faster or get agents with better skills. The criteria for the selection might be customer loyalty, reliability when it comes to making payments or simply the type of service/product they have. Another very important aspect is a customer’s social media influence.

With social media, there is a lot of communication about your company and services which happens out of your immediate reach. With customers interacting with one another over channels like Twitter, Facebook or blogs, it becomes very difficult to survey all the channels manually. Specialized social media search engines can help your contact center to filter out certain keywords related to you and your products. But how do you know how influential a customer is on the social web? Does a customer who openly complains about your company and your services really influence others? This person may not only be an avid user of Facebook and Twitter but may also be a blogger with a large readership. To cut a long story short, you have to quantify a customer’s influence and rank them on a scale such as 1-10. The more likely it is that a customer has influence on others and may be an opinion leader, the more priority you should give to their posts.

This person’s social media rank should be visible in the social media module of the Agent Workplace and should also interface with the CRM. Online activity is important customer information and should therefore be part of the customer data.

When you react to a complaint from a customer who is active on the social web, it is better to use the same channels the person uses themselves. If someone complains on their Facebook wall, reply directly and offer a solution. That way you meet the customer at eye level and you show that you’re taking their concern seriously. You also show their peers that you interact with customers over these channels and deal with their concerns professionally.

To rank the social influence someone has, you can use a service like Klout which has an open API. There are also other proprietary solutions and the integrated social media dashboard in our Agent and Manager Workplace will also enable you to see how influential your customers are on the social web. Do you want to know more? Please get in touch.

Working from Home

All this happened more or less…

Dominic works in the contact center of a large international bank, so naturally he has a high stress level. People who call him with questions and enquiries are not always friendly. Sometimes he doesn’t even have as much as two minutes between impatient customers who want answers to their questions, right now.

Then there is his boss, who everybody calls Little Nick, and depending on his own stress level, he can be fairly unpleasant too. He has the tendency to let it out on his staff.

To reduce the amount of stress, Dominic had the idea of a home working program. He wants to discuss it with Nick. It would allow agents to work in an environment they do not associate with contact center work. Dominic could then work from home or any other place, like a hotel room, for example, the only thing he would need is a computer with internet access.

Thanks to the web-based agent workplace, Dominic already has all the functionalities he needs available. He can receive phone calls, send SMS and e-mails and access the CRM database to view customer information. With the manager module, Nick can see when each agent is logged on and how long, if the agent is busy and get statistics on each agent, regardless of the agent’s location. He likes having everything under control.

The more Nick thinks about it, the more he sees the benefits. His contact center has to deal with high agent churn. If agents could work off-site this would reduce their stress level significantly. It would also reduce their sick time. After all, contact center agents tend to have a disproportionately large number of sick days compared to other professions. Additionally, the quality of customer service would improve and agent retention increase. To Nick, this is a crucial cost factor because recruiting and training new agents is expensive.

He likes Dominic’s idea so much that he decides to implement it. But it wouldn’t be Little Nick if he didn’t tell everybody that the home-working agent project was his idea.