My research into customer experience management shows that the customer’s experience is equally important in creating customer loyalty and in getting customers to recommend a company to others. It also found that the main channels of communication remain phone calls to the contact center and visits to the company’s Web site. This combination means it is vital that companies support their contact center agents as fully as possible by providing them with tools that not only make their actions more efficient but also make them more effective at resolving customer issues. As I have written several times, the most important tool companies should provide for agents is a “smart desktop.”
A smart desktop goes beyond a unified desktop, which brings all the applications the agent requires into a single desktop space and then makes it easier to access them, by means of single-click tabs or a user interface that hides all the applications behind a new front end. This type of tool make the agent’s job easier and can result in significant reductions to average interaction-handling times. A smart desktop includes these capabilities and also employs rules that are driven by the profile of the caller and the context of the call – determined by data collected by an interactive voice response (IVR) system or entered during the conversation. It pops up recommendations onto the desktop that guide the agent in what to do next, what replies to give or even what type of sale to attempt. This assistance makes the agent more effective in that the outcome is likely to be more in line with the customer’s and the company’s expectations, and will create a better experience for the customer.
Cincom was one of the first vendors to offer a smart desktop. Founded in 1968, it has a long history of helping companies provide better customer service by using its Synchrony product. This is now being marketed under the slogan “Guiding Winning Conversations,” and the latest version of the product does just that – it guides agents through calls with the goal of delivering better customer and agent experiences and achieving the desired outcome for the customer and the company. The product includes real-time guidance that pops up choices relevant to the call and guides agents on what to do next. The agent also receives relevant information, both about the customer and his or her own performance, which also helps guide the conversation toward the desired outcomes. These features can be used while handling interactions from other channels such as e-mail, chat and self-service, thus ensuring consistency across channels. Cincom has also integrated other technology into the suite so that if the outcome requires a written form of response, it can be created, personalized and delivered with minimal effort.
While the adoption of a smart desktop seems obvious, my research into the use of technology in contact centers shows that only mature companies have adopted such technology. In an effort to gain wider adoption, Cincom has decided to partner more closely with IBM. Benefiting from IBM’s brand reputation, global coverage and professional services, the partners have been achieving good success and raising awareness of the business benefits a smart desktop can bring. Contact centers are always under pressure to become more efficient, but the recent state of the economy and the fight to retain more customers add pressure as well. My research into customer experience management and agent performance management shows that it is more important than ever to empower agents to deliver good experiences and make the most of every interaction with a customer. A smart desktop that mirrors improved interaction-handling processes, combined with more closely focused agent training, is the best way to do this. I recommend that you evaluate what Cincom’s Synchrony product can do to help you provide better customer experiences that lead to achieving your expected business goals.
Richard Snow – VP & Global Research Director