• April 1, 2016
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Unified Agent Desktops Connect Reps to Essential Apps

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According to experts, the unified agent desktop has great potential to reduce call handling times and increase first call resolutions. Companies can reduce average call handling time by eliminating annoying idle time when customers are placed on hold while agents log into various back-office systems trying to find the information they need.

That time savings alone can generate huge returns. "If you can shave off even just 10 to 15 seconds per call, you could see significant savings," Kothari says.

Amdocs reported recently that a large North American contact center operator using its Smart Agent Desktop solution shaved 17 seconds off its average handle time, leading to $12 million in savings annually.

When Telefonica's O2, a U.K. telecom services provider, implemented the Jacada Workspace unified agent desktop, average handle times (AHT) across its pay-as-you-go call center dropped 43 seconds, representing a 12 percent reduction in time and costs. Additionally, customers' data services can now be fixed during the first call, eliminating approximately 15,000 outbound call-backs a month, a reduction of 30 percent.

A unified agent desktop gives agents all the information they need at their fingertips, enabling them to respond to customers more consistently every time. Also, no matter how customers choose to interact, whether by phone, email, or any other channel, agents will have the same visibility into all of their interactions, whether they come in through voice calls, Web chat, email, social media, or text message.

Leary says that organizations can get "a more cohesive understanding of what’s driving customer needs and expectations, with a greater ability to efficiently turn that knowledge into the kinds of experiences that create better opportunities for long-lasting, valuable relationships with more demanding customers."

And the truth of the matter is that customers today are omnichannel, so contact centers need to be as well. Omnichannel agents need to work on multiple channels, often simultaneously. With a unified agent desktop, omnichannel queues can now feed into a single desktop application so that the agent can accept voice, chat, or email interactions without missing a beat. The application could also enable them to switch seamlessly between channels.

Because an agent can be spared from retyping data during and after the call, she can have more of "an effortless experience, and for the customer contacting her, it’s also an effortless experience," Kresch says. Indeed, a unified desktop application "holds a lot of promise to make agents' lives easier, as well as to reduce customer frustration from disjointed experiences," Jacobs adds.

The reduced effort brought by unified systems extends to contact center supervisors as well, according to the experts. Because all agents are using the exact same systems, it’s a lot easier for managers to measure and log each customer interaction and compare how individual agents and the entire contact center are performing on different types of interactions.

Managers can more easily move agents from one campaign, product line, or interaction channel to another because the system remains the same no matter what they’re working on.

And the reporting that comes with the unified agent desktop reflects equally across every agent and interaction, so measuring performance is much more uniform. Every click, keystroke, or disposition by agents can be tracked and made visible to management with uniformity.

These tools also give greater insight into agent behavior and the ways in which they use applications to answer customer queries. Managers can then use that information to further improve efficiency and automate repetitive tasks and workflows.

Finally, unified systems reduce agent "on-boarding" and training time. New agents only have to become familiar with one system, and once they learn how to use that single unified desktop, it doesn’t matter if new products, systems, or channels are added because the underlying technology remains the same.

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