On its website Panviva describes itself as providing “business process guidance,” which is a phrase I was notfamiliar with. As I searched the site, I found messages such as”it’s all about customer experience,” “the right information for the right person at the right time” and “navigating complexity.” All of these describe issues contact center agents face on a daily basis, and I concluded that Panviva competes in a space I track. My benchmark research into the agent desktop and its impact on customer servicefinds that agents play a significant role in the customer experience, but many have to work with a desktop that impedes them in accessing systems and information, and some of the interactions they handle are complex.It was this perspective I brought to a briefing with Steve Pappas, Panviva’s SVP for North America.
The company was founded in Australia in 1996 to provide content and knowledge management consulting. It launched its product, SupportPoint, in 2000 and has been growing geographically and financially ever since. Its stated mission is to “provide the world’s best software solution for simplifying operational complexity for call center and back-office staff”;that is a tall order given the complexity of many companies’ processes and the competitive nature of the market. SupportPoint is an intriguing combination of business process management, content and knowledge management, enterprise search and CRM. It is available in the cloud or on premises, and Panviva says can be configured, deployed and in production in a matter of weeks using its extensive business process expertise and training and support services.
On the surface SupportPoint looks like a smart scripting tool. A window on the user’s desktop contains a script that tells users what to do, what data to collect, which systemsto access or update, and, if they are contact center agents, what to say next. This window can be displayed next to another application and guide users through the application. Alternatively the applications can be hidden and users see or enter data into a field within the script;any data collected is automatically loaded into the correct application(s). Scripts are created using the SupportPoint WYSIWYG content editor, a process similar to writing a Microsoft Word document with logic built into it. Once the document is finished and saved it becomes available as another script for authorized users.
The editing tools help editors build documents that can identify the user (and thus the user’s authorization level), the application being used and the data to be accessed or entered; the tools also apply user- or data-sensitive branching (moving within the script depending on the user’s level of skill and the data entered into an application or collected in the document). Documents can be created to guide users through easy or complex processes, and they are equally applicable to front-office tasks such as handling different types of calls or back-office tasks such as reviewing an insurance claim.
Tackling tasks this way can deliver several benefits:
- Tasks are handled in a consistent manner.
- Documents can be tailored to match the skills of the users, and so reduce training times.
- Companies can adjust documents to match best practices as they emerge.
- Handling tasks can be completed more efficiently, thus saving costs.
- Data entry errors are less common.
- Documents don’t replace apps or require integration, making implementation easier.
- Employees handling customer interactions can concentrate more on the customer than the systems, and thus are more likely to deliver better customer experiences.
My agent desktop benchmark research finds that companies have a variety of goals for improving customer service agents’ performance, which include improving agent retention and satisfaction, up-skilling agents to handle multiple types of interactions and setting more tangible operational goals such as reducing average call-handling times and increasing use of best practices. The research shows that the desktops most agents currently use do not help achieve these goals. In contrast, companies that make it easier to access systems and information for those handling customer-related tasks can more often improve performance for customer-related metrics. From my perspective SupportPoint provides all the capabilities of what I call a smart desktop. It enforces consistent processes, can guide users in applications or substitute easier ways of accessing and inputting data, provides context for information and suggests next steps.Additionally it can support tasks in both front and backoffices. Furthermore it can run on mobile devices, opening up the opportunity for it to be configured to support self-service. Indeed some of the examples I saw began with a click on an icon that represents a task, and then guided the user through that task to successful completion. Organizations that want to empower their customer service agents and help them achieve business goals should consider Panviva’s product.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director