Category Archives: Omnichannel Desktop

How To Organize Support For Your Contact Center Applications

As contact centers become more complex and expand to support more channels like web chat and social, it’s important to organize support for contact center applications in a way that allows teams to design consistent customer experiences.

Most contact centers organize support around siloed applications, having one team that supports the voice channel and a separate team that supports social channels, like Facebook. But when support is organized this way and spread across multiple application-specific teams, gaps in support are created and must be fixed as they can affect both the efficiency and effectiveness of the contact center.

Organizing support by functional skills not by application silos

Instead of organizing support by contact center application silos and having multiple application specific teams, contact centers should try the approach of organizing support around functional skill sets.

Seen in Figure 2 below from the Forrester report “Mind the Gap When Organizing to Support Contact Center Applications”, by looking at functional skill sets like agent desktop that can span a group of applications, contact centers can gain leverage.

contact-center-applications

One team to support queuing-and-routing

Companies that don’t have one complete solution for their contact center, are supporting queuing and routing for digital channels like web chat and social through their website teams and ACD, IVR, and CTI support for the voice channel usually has its own team. Having this legacy telecom silo, creates a gap in support and makes it difficult for both teams to design consistent customer experiences.

Merging these teams to support queuing and routing contact center applications, means they will be working on the same customer experience design goals and requirements, which results in more consistent experiences across all channels.

Another reason why it’s important to do this now is there are emerging trends like AI matched routing that will likely force this organizational shift eventually (Future-Proof Your Customer Service: Build An AI-Infused Cognitive Contact Center, Forrester Research, February 2018). This new way of routing is different from skills-based routing in that through AI, agent matching is done in real-time and based more on attributes such as:

  • Agent performance histories
  • Skill development priorities
  • Customer histories

AI matched routing needs to look at the experience customers have on all channels so to implement this and other emerging trends, it’s essential for queuing and routing to be one team.

One team to support the agent desktop

[easy-tweet tweet=”Agents can have 10 to 30 applications open simultaneously.” template=”light”]But to reduce employee and customer frustration, improve handle time, and lower training expenses, agents need the right tools and an agent desktop that shows them a 360˚ view of the customer on one screen, should that be the goal.

In order to not add to the list of agent applications, contact centers should be selective about what ends up on the agent desktop, and they should monitor agent use to further refine the user interface (Design Your Contact Center To Be Customer-Centric, Forrester Research, August 2017). The best way to do this is to have one team that supports the agent desktop, instead of a bunch of separate teams supporting different contact center applications agents use.

Organizing support for the agent desktop in this way will focus efforts on usability and developing a more in-depth knowledge of all applications appearing on the agent desktop. Making it easier for agents to engage with customers has many benefits for the contact center, including:

  • Reducing agent turnover and increase efficiency
  • Increase customer satisfaction scores
  • Increase revenue

[easy-tweet tweet=”Companies with agent desktop optimization programs enjoy 44% greater customer retention rates. ” template=”light”]The first step to driving these results is to have one team that supports the agent desktop to optimize the user interface and help improve customer engagement (Design Your Contact Center To Be Customer-Centric, Forrester Research, August 2017).

Contact center operations to support CC data analysis

Business analysts in contact centers are faced with the challenge of navigating through many reporting systems. Having data stored in disparate systems is a major pain point for contact center managers too – as they need manually consolidate reports to be able to forecast and schedule.

Since expertise of data structures and databases frequently resides within business technology rather than in the contact center itself, this causes a gap in the effectiveness that analytics can bring to the contact center. To remedy this, organizations should move contact center data analysis from the business technology to the contact center business unit itself.

Contact centers are awash with data, but there is still a struggle to integrate it and drive process management (Design Your Contact Center To Be Customer-Centric, Forrester Research, August 2017). Having contact center operations support data analysis for the contact center can help the organization understand the data analysis needs of the contact center, resolve any data visibility pain points that contact center operations managers experience, and help run the contact center more effectively and efficiently.

A few things organizations need to do is:

  • Understand how subtle changes in historical data can affect WFM

WFM teams depend on historical data but they also need to know of any anomalies or shifts in that data over time. Business Intelligence (BI) teams should assist WFM teams in analyzing these shifts and helping them determine if system upgrades or database changes in a certain timeframe caused any anomalies.

  • Understand that queuing and routing changes affect reports

Changing real-time business rules can affect how data flows into analytics systems so the team that supports queuing and routing must work with the BI team so both teams understand what reports will be affected from routing changes.

  • Map and manage the many sources of truth

BI professionals should work with contact center business analysts to map existing systems and determine which reports should come from which system. For example, in scenarios were customer feedback is captured in an IVR then integrated with quality monitoring data, which system is best suited to show customer satisfaction trends? This needs to be determined for the contact center to get the right insights and make better decisions.

Configuring contact center applications drives not only the customer experience but the agent and management experience as well. How contact centers organize support results in the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the contact center.

To learn more about how to optimize operational performance of the contact center by picking the right contact center organizational model and developing a “living” RACI model, download this complimentary Forrester report https://aria2019.wpengine.com/forrester-report-support-contact-center/ 

 

Your Agents are Not Superheroes! Increase Efficiency by Connecting Data Silos

I am sure you’ve come across several resources that talked about digital channels now dominating over traditional ones.

Even though your contact center might still be in the process of deploying or optimizing these channels, customers don’t care. They want their issue addressed now, and they expect you to know everything about their journey, no matter what communication channel they use.

These new demands add a lot of pressure into what is already a hectic agent experience. Now agents need to know all about the customer’s journey, which means all interactions across multiple channels, as soon as the interaction comes in. This is a tough thing to do if systems and data are siloed.

Agent efficiency in the world of multichannel

Most agents are dealing with several disconnected systems, such as CRM, siloed voice and digital systems, and knowledge repositories, in an attempt to access customer interaction data. They need to know the history of what has been done and communicated to this customer throughout multiple channels. Finding, reading, assimilating and using information within a call or chat is very difficult and is rarely done seamlessly.

On top of having to do it efficiently, agents need to make sure they don’t deliver conflicting messages. As the hosts in a Westworld storyline might mistakenly say: “I’m only human”. Keep in mind – even if you really want your agents to be superheroes, they just aren’t.

The longer the agents look for information, the longer it takes to address customer needs, which results in agent and customer frustrations. Asking them to repeat information already provided elsewhere only adds to customer dissatisfaction.

It’s about costs too. On average, 15% of agent time is spent shifting between systems and applications. Extrapolating that over the course of a full year means significant cost to your business. Can you afford to let that continue?

Accessing customer data through one platform

Top contact center performers understand the importance of reducing the agent’s struggle, by empowering agents with easy access to all customer data on one platform.

This is primarily a technology struggle that can be addressed with unified agent technology. When telephony and other channels are integrated into CRM for omnichannel capabilities, agents can pull customer data and complete work without opening another window.

If an agent can quickly see that a customer has already reached out about a certain request via a different channel, this customer doesn’t have to repeat everything all over again, while the agent can go ahead and complete the task.

By seeing customer purchase history, agents get an opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell, or ask for feedback on product satisfaction and try to improve their experience.

From implementing projects for our clients, we saw a strong need to enable agents with such integration. So, we built a softphone capable of integrating multiple systems in a seamless way. It lets contact center professionals leverage the value of CRM, by making it the focus of their agent interactions as well as minimizing the need to leave the system to accomplish tasks.

When businesses discover a need for connecting CRM with a contact center platform, some of them start building a custom solution. A pre-built, flexible API-based integration saves a lot of time and money, compared to custom development.

Ultimately, the key to a great customer experience lies with a team of successful agents. Successful agents depend on merging of technology with people and processes, combined with training, and molded into a complete solution.

 

Enable Orchestrated Routing for Customer Journeys, Mobile and More!

Although voice is still the primary channel customers use to interact with contact centers, representing 54% of all interactions handled, according to Dimension Data, digital is on track to overtake phone by end of 2016.  Your business needs to keep up with this trend of customer preferred channels by developing an awareness of each customer journey. To do so, you’ll need to migrate to automated, or orchestration-ready, routing.

If you are an on-premise Genesys customer and still on Interaction Routing Designer (IRD) driven routing strategies, but looking to enable capabilities like customer journeys, mobile, and Virtual IVR through your routing strategies—first things first—you need to move to Composer routing.

The transition to a new routing platform can be onerous. It’s important to understand whether your contact center requires the transition. If it does, consider these factors before making the move.

How Do You Know if this Transition is Right for You?

  • You and your team find it increasingly hard to alter the existing solution in a timely, effective manner. Your current system may be unable to support the requested changes or has gotten to a point where it is no longer maintainable.[su_spacer size=”10″]
  • Your team has been tasked with implementing a mobile customer service initiative. Tying customer service more closely to mobile use is a smart strategy for companies but older platforms may not support this or other modern functionality.[su_spacer size=”10″]
  • You want to integrate self and assisted service interactions. To do this, you need the convenience of a common development platform, which is not available in IRD.

Challenges with Typical Transition Approach

If we were to explore the typical transition approach, truth is, it’s easier said than done.

The transition from Genesys IRD to Composer and Orchestration Server is a platform change that requires the new application to be designed and developed from the ground up. This presents challenges:

  • Documentation on your current IRD routing is often limited or non-existent.
  • Features in place for years may work, but may not be well-understood.
  • As enhancements were added over the years, the code has become more complex.
  • Reverse engineering existing strategies is time-consuming.

[su_spacer]Ultimately, the main concern with this approach is that it’s risky and can take many months to implement. The longer the project takes, the higher the cost.

Best Practices and Considerations  for Planning a Routing Migration

Routing is the center of the universe for contact centers.  It drives most of your agent-assisted customer experience, ensures the use of agent resources are optimized and enables reporting and analytics.

Making the transition to orchestration should be planned carefully.  Here are some considerations for a successful implementation that ensures you are meeting your business needs well into the future:

  • Keep the initial Orchestration routing implementation basic and plan for enhancement phases. A routing assessment from an experienced Genesys Systems Integrator can help in developing a project roadmap.[su_spacer size=”10″]
  • Evaluate skillsets and tools available to your routing developers and administrators.
    • Do they have the open source development skills or Composer development experience from other Genesys platforms like IVR?
    • Is there adequate tools and processes in place to manage version control when changes are required to the routing solution?[su_spacer size=”10″]
  • Consider implementing a pre-built routing solution vs. a customized solution. Knowledge of new Genesys Orchestration routing components is a key input into the design of the new routing solution.

Include the Upgrade to Orchestration as Part of a Different Project

Transitioning to orchestrated or automated routing doesn’t mean you have to obtain funding for a routing upgrade project. Likely there are other initiatives you’re already planning where you might include an upgrade to orchestration, such as:

  • A Genesys Upgrade: Upgrading your Genesys Customer Experience Platform to 8.5 or changing the hardware platform requires a full regression test. Why not upgrade routing at the same time?[su_spacer size=”10″]
  • VOIP/SIP transition or PBX Replacement: This kind of initiative requires changes to routing anyway, so consider including Genesys Orchestration and Composer Routing too.[su_spacer size=”10″]
  • Deploying new channels (email, chat, text, and others): Deploy them on Orchestration instead of IRD and only Universal Routing Server.[su_spacer size=”10″]
  • Enabling customer journeys and personalization: Deploy this solution on a platform that will best enable this customer experience initiative by including Genesys Orchestration.[su_spacer size=”10″]

Routing is a key component to delivering omnichannel customer experience. If you are planning any of these projects, consider adding the routing component and transition to Genesys Orchestration to enable modern Genesys capabilities for delivering the consistent and personalized customer experience.

Transition from IRD to Composer with SWIFT™ Routing

The process of migrating doesn’t have to be costly and long. With SWIFT™ Routing, you can complete the transition in fewer than 90 days with a cost reduction of 25% to 75%, depending on the complexity of your requirements.

SWIFT™ Routing is a pre-built and tested solution based on requirements from thousands of projects Aria Solutions has implemented. This means that risks associated with the design, development, testing, and implementation phases are much reduced. See the comparison of risk and effort between SWIFT™ Routing and the typical custom routing approach:

routing-orchestration-project-implementation
The comparison of risk and effort between SWIFT Routing and the typical custom routing approach

SWIFT™ Routing enables quick deployment and allows you to jump right into configuring your routing strategy. All features can be easily configured by any group within the organization. Compared to other solutions on the market, SWIFT™ Routing doesn’t box you in.

SWIFT™ Routing, designed with Genesys-supported capabilities within Composer, uses applications such as Genesys Administrator Extension for configuration. If you decide to add only voice now, you can easily add email and chat later on. If SWIFT™ Routing doesn’t support everything you need, the routing solution can be customized as easily as a routing solution built from scratch.

Currently, SWIFT™ Routing is available in the United States and Canada only. Visit the Genesys AppFoundry to learn more!

Ways to Better Engage Customers Through Agent Blending of Social and Digital Channels

As summer approaches, the idea of a smooth, blended margarita on a patio becomes more of a reality. Ah…the warm sun and a blended drink – very refreshing. Can blending be this satisfying for a contact center? Absolutely.

Blending has been around since the 90’s, so why bringing this up? With more pressure to engage customers combined with the social media revolution, contact centers have an increasing number of channels to support.

Remember, it used to be just a ‘call center’. Now it’s chat, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, forums… the list goes on.

You are probably familiar with the concept, but before we dive into the details – let’s level set on what we mean by ‘blending’. Blending is when a contact center agent handles different types of work in a given shift. Agent blending can take three forms:

  • An agent handles one type of work (chat, SMS, twitter, etc.) for a period of time then switches to the other type of work.
  • An agent handles one type of work at a time but alternates between each type of work – based on what is delivered to them (chat, then twitter, chat).
  • An agent handles multiple types of work at the same time (a chat interrupts work on twitter response).

Why Blend?

It’s been well documented that blending is more efficient if deployed in a strategic way. The more staff that can do various types of work improves the utilization of agents. However, don’t assume that all agents have equal proficiency in verbal and written communication or are great at task switching. Take advantage of those agents that are capable to drive greater efficiencies

What Type of Blending Should You Deploy?

This goes back to management 101. If you cannot measure it, you can’t manage it. And if you cannot manage it then the original benefit of becoming more efficient is lost. Be careful with option three. Often, the constant interruption and complexities of implementation outweigh the benefits.

So, How Do You Obtain the Desired Results From Blending?

Most implementations focus only on the blended routing aspect of the solution. In other words, the technology can route all interaction types to an agent. But the real management and efficiency derived from a blended solution comes from reporting. And this is where the focus should be.

There are three critical needs to focus on in relation to a blended solution and reporting:

  • First by default, the reporting solution may inaccurately report agent performance when an agent is logged in and available to handle more than one type of work within the same day. We have seen deployments where the blended agents are reported as working more than 25 hours per day due to double counting. I wish I had an extra hour each day.
  • Second, changes to the agent desktop may be required to accurately report the agent’s blended work activity. These agent desktop customizations can be costly and complex.
  • Finally, focus on reporting and the needs of the workforce management system (WFM). It’s the WFM system that helps determine the schedules of the agents to be available at the right place and the right time. So, focus on reporting needs effectively manage and obtain the efficiency from your blended contact center solution.