Many customer service representatives (CSRs) are finding their jobs shifting underfoot, as products and services grow in both number and complexity. Not only are agents expected to solve issues, but now many are being tasked with cross-selling and upselling duties. In a move to streamline operations for agents juggling multiple applications on their desktops, Atlanta-based contact center solution provider Jacada has announced its latest release, Workspace 5.0; the update is also intended to improve the overall agent experience.
David Holmes, senior vice president of global marketing for Jacada, explains that when his company decided to wholly focus on the contact center four years ago, it wanted to select a specific vertical to target and an application server on which to build the original Workspace solution. "At the time, we were very focused on the needs of the telecommunications market to address the complexity of contact centers," he recalls. "Most of our [industry] customers have 15 to 20 different applications on agents' desktops. So it was very obvious to us that it was the right market to enter to help companies improve customer service and reduce [the] cost of operations."
Consequently, Holmes says, Jacada chose the BEA WebLogic application server because it was used by many in the telecommunications space. (BEA Systems has since been acquired by Oracle.) Now that Jacada wants to delve deeper into other verticals, such as financial services, insurance, retail, and (to a lesser extent) hospitality, Holmes says the company will also be available on IBM's WebSphere software platform, including:
- IBM WebSphere ESB and WebSphere Message Broker;
- IBM WebSphere Integration Developer; and
- IBM WebSphere Process Server.
"As BEA is in the telco space, IBM is the dominant application server platform for the financial services market," Holmes says. "It just makes it a lot more palatable for [information technology] organizations of large companies if we run on their dominant server environment." (Holmes stresses that Workspace 5.0 will also still run on BEA WebLogic.)
Additional features in Jacada's latest offering include:
- multichannel and vendor support for voice, fax, chat, and email channels for one or more contact center sites;
- support for Genesys Open Media and Avaya Application Enablement Services;
- globalization support for universal agent implementations, as views and scripts can be individually configured for agent- and customer-level language preferences;
- multithreaded support for desktop automation of tabbed applications, which can now be navigated and controlled simultaneously using Jacada Fusion;
- new application programming interface set to facilitate customization by service delivery partners; and
- enhanced auditing infrastructure and supervisor-to-agent messaging.
Holmes says the biggest competitive differentiator of these is the multichannel support. "Our customers are large enough that we oftentimes run into scenarios [in which] they have different service providers for voice, email, and chat," he says. "So we're providing multivendor support for multiple-site operations, which can be aggregated and integrated with our unified desktop."
Bruce Temkin, vice president and principal analyst of customer experience for Boston-based analyst and consulting firm Forrester Research, says that Jacada is going after a major pain point for many contact center agents today. "[CSRs] oftentimes have to go into multiple systems that don't talk to each other," he says. "The customer on the other end of the line doesn't care or know that they have [to navigate different applications], which puts the agent in an awkward position. What Jacada is doing...is creating an environment where agents can do more things effectively across back-end systems so they can spend more time establishing a true dialogue with the customer."
Temkin explains further that by streamlining these operations for agents, Jacada can not only make their jobs easier but also improve customer experience and a company's bottom line. "At the end of the day you have to address some of the specifics in complex industries and, quite frankly, that's not even good enough," he declares. "You actually have to provide a tool set where it can be catered to the specific back-end systems and processes of the individual companies. There are certainly efficiency gains, but the bigger [benefit] may actually come from the revenue side of the opportunity if you can implement a better desktop for your reps."
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