My recent benchmark into the unified customer service agent desktop shows how critical the agent desktop is to improving agent satisfaction, meeting key customer-related metrics and enhancing the customer experience. The typical agent desktop contains multiple systems that allow agents access to multiple communication channels, business applications, messages and performance dashboards. The result is that the desktop is cluttered with systems, frustrating agents, driving up average interaction handling times, and impacting the customer experience as agents search for the information to resolve interactions. The research shows a direct correlation between implementing a unified or smart agent desktop and agent satisfaction, with the direct result that more satisfied agents are twice as likely to meet key metrics such as customer satisfaction, net promoter and customer effort.
Cisco is best known in the contact center space for its systems that manage multiple channels of communication, routing of interactions to agents, and unified communications (presence and collaboration). It offered a basic agent desktop system that focused mainly on telephony, but the latest version of its Cisco Finesse adds a new level of innovative capabilities that allow companies to build broader-based, smarter agent desktops. Cisco describes Finesse as a web gadget container. The simplest way I can describe it is a development toolkit that allows companies to build a customized desktop that includes mini web windows into different systems and information. It allows developers to build gadgets that can access multiple communication channels, business applications, collaboration tools and dashboards and bring these together in a single agent desktop. The gadgets can be developed to access any system, and display any data in a format suitable for the user, and the environment makes them work together. Agents or supervisors or other users can thus be given a desktop that meets their needs and has a look and feel that suits them. Cisco aims to provide its partners, other vendors and end users with the tools to build diverse gadgets and to create a market place for them, thereby allowing other users to benefit from prebuilt gadgets. For example, Upstream Works, a provider of multichannel contact systems, has announced a version of its product that utilizes Finesse as the desktop.
Desktops developed using Finesses are 100-percent browser-based and are implemented through a so-called Web 2.0 interface. The toolkit includes a software development kit (SDK) to make it easy for developers to access and create gadgets. It provides APIs that allow developers to build gadgets that access most systems. This adds up to an easy–to-use development environment and final desktop systems that are available through a web browser on any machine, and thus at any location. This is important, as my research into the contact center in the cloud shows organizations now distribute the handling of interactions to more sites, home agents, knowledge workers in other business units and mobile workers, making location independence key.
Early in my career I realized that the agent desktop has a major impact on agent performance, and thus overall contact center performance. My research into the unified agent desktop shows that organizations are slowly latching onto the benefits a unified or smart desktop can deliver. As interactions become ever more complex, I recommend organizations evaluate how Finesse can make their agents’ lives easier, and the impact this can have on key metrics.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director