Hosted Contact Center Featured Article

The Unified Agent Desktop: An Inside Look

July 27, 2007

By Stefania Viscusi,
Assignment Desk Editor

Empowering contact center agents with a solution that enhances productivity and eases their workload is of great benefit in the contact center.
 
The ultimate tool offering this is the Unified Agent Desktop. This contact center solution makes the desktop more intelligent by bringing together all systems and applications -- empowering agents, improving the customer experience, and helping the contact center to gain dramatic efficiency.
 
To better understand the many benefits of the Unified Agent Desktop, I took some time to speak with Randy Saunders, marketing manager for Cincom System’s Customer Experience Management systems.
 
Can you describe briefly the unified desktop and what it includes?
 
The unified desktop provides connectivity to all your desperate enterprise applications that agents are typically accessing and brings them into one coherent view.   The desktop also offers a 360 degree view of the customer, showing all prior interactions, activities and information related to that customer.
 
 
What are some of the benefits of a unified desktop over disconnected agent applications of the past?
 
Well first off, the agent doesn’t have to ALT-TAB around or even access the other apps like billing, order entry or others. Whatever app they need, it's always available right on their desktop.
 
Also, they don’t have to log in and navigate from screen to screen. The unified desktop automatically drills down, navigates for them and brings up the record or data related to the customer.
 
What are the business advantages of the unified agent desktop?
 
For one, it saves time. The time spent ALT-TAB-ing / navigating is gone. This is an advantage to both the business and the customer as they're not wasting time waiting on hold or waiting for answers.
 
Also, the concept of the universal agent is starting to take hold, where no matter what the customer talks about, that agent should be able to help them. Because the unified desktop is simpler and doesn’t take as much time to learn how to use, agents are able to support a much wider range of services, product lines etc.
 
Another benefit from the business point of view is as so many organizations are struggling to handle the multi channel, the unified desktop provides the same interface to handle every type of interaction. So agents don’t have to be trained on different systems, or go into a different system in order to respond to emails, and then go back into the voice based system to handle phone calls. It’s the same desktop for every customer interaction. It looks the same, it behaves the same, so it's easier to learn, a lot more productive, and a lot more flexible from the business prospective.
 
Is there ROI with the unified agent desktop?
 
Yes, just the time savings alone from training and operations can generate a huge return very quickly.
 
One example is a client who was able to save on average 77 seconds per call because of removing the need to access to 2 or 3 systems per customer interaction, and the time it takes to navigate, log into and tab around etc.  They also were able to reduce training time by 3 weeks per agent. That training reduction saved them about 5 million dollars annually and the drop in 77 seconds per call saved nearly 1 million dollars a month-- almost 12 million a year.
 
And I think it’s important to point out that they didn’t reduce call times by simply reducing “talk time.” They shaved the call time by reducing annoying idle time when customers were holding and agents were logging into various back office systems and searching to find information.
 
 
How can call center managers find benefit in a unified agent desktop?
 
Because all agents are using a single desktop and a single way of conducting calls, it’s a lot easier to measure and log each customer interaction and compare how individuals and the entire contact center are performing on different types of interactions. With different systems and front ends, it's difficult to compare apples and oranges. But when you have a single unified approach, it's much easier to measure that.
 
It's also easier for a manager to move an agent from one campaign, product line or interaction channel because the system remains the same. Since it’s a unified system, the desktop is the same no matter what they're working on
 
The reporting that comes with the unified agent desktop is also being measured uniformly across every agent and interaction and is useful for call center managers.
 
How can the unified agent desktop be utilized for training purposes?
 
The unified agent desktop simplifies training because once agents learn how to use the simple unified desktop, it doesn’t matter if new products, systems or channels are brought on -- additional application training is not needed.
 
In addition to reduced training costs, the training time savings means you’ll get the agent on the phone sooner, and they’ll start contribution to your operation earlier.
 
 
What are some of the ways in which the unified desktop is helping to improve the customer experience?
 
Because the agent has all the information they need at their fingertips,  they’re able to respond to the customer faster and more consistently every time. And all agents across the contact center will now be uniformly consistent. From the customer's perspective, it doesn't matter which agent they reach, they all seem very productive and knowledgeable.
 
Also, no matter how the customer chooses to interact, whether by phone or email, they know that when they communicate with the contact center, the agent will have visibility to all of their interactions. So that 360 view of the customer the agent sees through the unified agent desktop, ultimately benefits the customer.
 
To learn more about unified agent desktops, you can download a complementary whitepaper at  www.cincom.com/unified.
 
 
Cincom provides contact center and agent desktop technology through Synchrony (www.cincom.com/synchrony). The Cincom Synchrony application makes it possible for organizations to deliver to the contact center, "consistent, intentional, differentiated and valuable customer experiences."
 
 
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Stefania Viscusi is an established writer and avid reader. To see more of her articles, please visit Stefania Viscusi’s columnist page.