Agent desktops: What vendors forgot to tell you
Getting up and running with a unified agent desktop for your contact center sounds easy according to some vendors. But what's the reality? To find out, you'd better fasten your seat-belts.
One screen to rule them all
In a world where US organizations desperately want to embrace omni-channel customer engagement, the concept of a unified agent desktop is a no-brainer
According to recent research, to complete a customer interaction, 62% of agents have to sign into multiple systems separately and more than 28% have to use more than one computer or laptop . Meanwhile, 50% of agents have to access in excess of 10 systems to do their job.
Few executives could argue against the business case for swapping multiple screens for a single one with important consumer information all brought into one place. Just imagine the better quality service, cross selling and upselling if agents had everything at their fingertips?
With vendors pushing on an open door, it's no wonder that so many products promise to transform the agent desktop and elevate the customer experience. Words such as 'seamless', 'streamlined' and 'effortless' can be cast around like confetti, creating a wondrous sense of magic in the air.
But the reality can be different: Less fairytale, more nightmare.
Unintended chain reactions
Let's just imagine you've digested all the desktop vendor pitches and convinced the board about what's needed. You buy product X and schedule the launch date. What could possibly go wrong?
Unfortunately, it can start badly and then go downhill, fast. Here's an all-too-common deployment scenario when it comes to agent desktops ...
Stage #1: Integration headaches for IT
Imagine the day after your purchase ... and the vendor dumps a toolbox on your desk. Now what? It all looked so easy in the brochure and during the demo. But it quickly becomes clear that deploying this agent desktop requires a mixture of plumbing and knitting. For your IT team, this is another project with tons of work to integrate apps, and for what? It's another system to support, generating more calls from agents trying to figure out the clunky interface, and triggering more complaints about failed integration yet again.
Stage #2: Frustration for agents
Rather than being able to focus more on customers, agents find themselves doing battle with application complexity on top of their normal jobs. Controls, records and recent data do not appear where they expect. Training doesn't help much either. And the regular rounds of patches and fixes cause systems to bug out at the most irritating times. What's more, agents are amazed that OTT (Over The Top) messaging through platforms such as Facebook and Skype doesn't even figure in the new system.
Stage #3: Morale takes a big hit
Cynicism is the order of the day. As far as agents are concerned, your unified desktop has proven to be about as smart as a green-screen dumb terminal. Agents revert to using sticky notes and Windows Notepad, Alt-Tabbing between multiple apps and find a host of other homebrew hacks to simply restore customer service to previous levels.
Stage #4: Customers notice
Problems persist and customer patience gets frayed. Sometimes agents have to direct customers to use other channels instead because critical information isn't readily available. Dispirited agents empathize a little too much with customers and sound off about the new system. Customers then vent their feelings on social media. They wonder why your company is so far behind its competitors, who managed to get the tech right, first time.
Stage #5: Boardroom alarm
Unexpected deployment and support costs, general disappointment and poor customer feedback send shockwaves through to the boardroom. Anticipated extra sales fail to materialize. And it's hard to get any sort of insight into the business, such as agent performance or channel traffic. Execs are unable to get management information on their devices - or anywhere at all.
Want to avoid all this pain?
Installing a sub-standard agent desktop can be avoided. Some companies deliver a toolbox, while others deliver a solution. A great example would be Coral from Eckoh, which is like a breath of fresh air for under-pressure contact centers.
With Coral's unified desktop, agents can navigate customer information easily, the browser-based technology is simpler and cheaper to roll out, and support costs are way lower. It's easy to make changes and improvements too so you don't need to switch systems every few years.
To explore the issues further then download the agent desktop eGuide which explains how to have your cake and eat it with a cloud-based unified desktop that lowers the cost of ownership and delivers amazing customer experiences.
* Ventana Research
** Source: MPL Systems
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