Why should we talk about agent desktops? That desktop interface (and its innate user experience) affects your agents, for better or worse. And whatever affects your agents will likely affect your customers… and your cost.
As a contact center outsourcer, we work in an environment of in-house applications and third party applications provided by our clients, catering and customizing to their technical needs. An important component to your outsourced partnership is the decision of what role technology will play on your project or campaign. Will you use your own agent desktop, the call center agent desktop, or a hybrid?
To go deeper into the topic of agent desktops, we called on a couple of seasoned Blue Ocean customer care agents, Jacques and Claude.
Claude has been working in a unified desktop environment supporting a fairly complex warranty claims process. Claude praised the virtual desktop provided by the client, and said, “It’s fantastic. I just login and have one interface that can access all the data I need to manage the interaction. It was simple to learn and didn’t take up much time during training.”
As in the case of Claude, utilizing a virtual desktop can empower agents to assist customers more effectively. “When I’m on the phone with a customer, I can focus on actively listening to their needs. I feel empowered to better assist the customer knowing that I can center my attention on them and not what screen I need to look at next.”
An integrated, unified agent desktop requires that agents learn only one interface. However, it is a fact of contact center life that some programs require multiple systems. Knowing how this reality impacts your frontline agents can help you design an approach that will streamline training and production accordingly.
Jacques has had experience working in a multi-interface desktop environment. He had this to say about learning the systems and applications, “In one campaign, agents had to learn five applications, which meant learning five interfaces and how to use five different applications. That presents a real challenge in training and getting agents’ confidence where it needs to be as they enter production.”
How can you give your agents the most effective training for multiple application programs?
Segment your training modules: Train on the top three most frequently used tools one at a time. Give agents the chance to use the tool in context and gain confidence before moving to the next tool. It may require a total overhaul of your training, but it will be worth it in terms of agent ability and confidence. Segmented, contextual teaching is the best platform for success in adult learning.
Understand that multiple apps on a desktop can affect average handle time. Jacques noted, “It can take longer to find information to help a customer when I have to search through a few applications to get at the data. This can put stress on the customer experience by making them hold while I’m searching.” This is where you can use your experienced agents as experts. Provide opportunity for agents to teach each other short-cuts or use each other as a resource when the answer isn’t obvious.
Your contact management reality may not have consolidated, unified agent interface in the cards. However, if there is an opportunity to minimize the apps on the desktop, you’ll realize the benefits.
We found a recent survey by the market research firm, Aberdeen Group, which noted that call center agents working on fragmented agent desktops access on average five different applications during each customer service call. The agents surveyed were spending 26% their time on a customer call locating data across different systems.
For agents receiving the average hourly wage in our industry, the time they spend navigating applications interfaces would cost around $5.3 K a year per agent.
What’s good for your agents is usually good for your customers too. In the same research study, Aberdeen reported that improving the agent desktop experience can achieve an 89% improvement in customer satisfaction scores each year, verses companies whose agents use multiple application interfaces. We’re pretty confident that’s an outcome worth playing for.
Are you interested in learning more about integrating your agent desktop with an outsourced customer service model? Begin a conversation with us about your customer service outsourcing options.