Using process optimization to increase efficiency

I am worried that the agent desktop we use is keeping us from being as efficient as we can be with contact handling processes. Our agents must have several applications open at once to respond to customer questions. It is extremely difficult to navigate among these applications, and each step creates the potential for errors. How do we tackle these issues?

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Most centers struggle with cumbersome desktop processes. You are right to be concerned about it! A complex, cumbersome desktop can cause low first call resolution (FCR), long hold times, frequent escalations, etc.

Start by understanding the problem. Document applications and note when and why they are used. Define the current integration among the applications for data transfer from one to the other. Define the end-state vision for a simpler desktop environment. You can use technology to help understand the current desktop situation and target improvement efforts. Knoa and OpenSpan are two such examples.

Next, create a process optimization project for improving the desktop. Focus on two aspects of quality improvement – integrating applications and automating tasks. Work with IT to develop a solution. You might be able to solve your problems using current applications (e.g., CRM, KM, etc.) or you might need to explore other applications. Vendors such as OpenSpan, Jacada and Cicero offer desktop automation/integration solutions. Traditional contact center vendors offer solutions for automating certain tasks such as information and communication flow (e.g., Avaya, Cisco, etc.) and end-to-end workflow automation tools that could help (e.g., Interactive Intelligence, Genesys, etc.).

The bottom line: centers have accepted complex, inefficient desktops as a necessary evil. Focusing on improving the desktop processes can reduce costs while improving service, breaking the traditional cost/service tradeoff. There is some very low-hanging fruit on the desktop so it is a good place for any contact center manager to focus improvement initiatives.

Submit your business process optimization question to Lori Bocklund

This was first published in January 2010

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