Jacada pioneered what I call a smart agent desktop when in 1990 it created the tools that allow companies to develop a desktop application that follows the process of handling a call, hides applications behind a simple-to-use interface and automates access and updating of systems. This smart agent desktop enables agents to answer calls more efficiently and effectively and to focus on the customer. The product includes tools that allow developers to map the process of handling different call types, build the user interface to match those processes, interface with applications and report on various aspects of how calls are handled.
The company has now launched a new product, Jacada Mobile Agent (JMA), a menu-driven application for smartphones that allows customers who use it to step through the process of solving their own issues in much the same way as the desktop application guides agents through call-handling processes. In a similar way to the desktop application, the mobile application interfaces directly with an organization’s business systems so it can present or update information without agent involvement. If the user eventually finds it necessary to speak with a live agent, then the data and steps already completed become visible to the agent, so that the process can continue without going back over completed steps. Users can optionally schedule a call-back rather than speak to an agent at that time. The application makes full use of standard smartphone capabilities, thereby making the user experience familiar and speeding up the end-to-end process. On the in-house side of the interaction, developers can build capabilities that take advantage of data entered into the smartphone.
The initial launch of JMA focuses on improving call routings. Our research into the use of technology in contact centers shows that many companies use data collected by IVR systems to route calls to the most appropriate agent to handle a call. However, many IVR systems are badly set up, and this leads to annoying customer experiences. Jacada’s new capabilities allow users to bypass the IVR processes and use data such as customer profile, interaction type and position within the process to route the call. Using this kind of app should improve the experience of both customer and agent, make processes more consistent, provide customers with up-to-date information and help reduce the time it takes to handle calls.
JMA is built on three core components: a visual designer for creating the process maps of how interactions will work; plug-ins, which enable the apps to take advantage of smartphone capabilities and interface with existing business systems; and reporting, which shows how all the different call-handling processes work and pops information into existing agent applications. These components build on already proven smart desktop capabilities.
Many people are skeptical about how consumers react to automated self-service. Indeed, our research into the use of customer interaction technologies shows that in the past IVR and Web-based self-service have had limited success, with many users ending up calling the contact center. However, the popularity of mobile apps could make a difference. I predict that if companies use these tools to design mobile self-service apps with customers in mind, the apps could become popular with consumers and help organizations meet their operational and business goals.
Richard Snow – VP & Research Director