At NICE we work with our clients to solve their customer experience goals. These businesses often face high volume or high complexity engagement models that involve the configuration and routing of contacts to agents.
What is a “contact”, really?
The traditional example is an inbound phone call. But in today’s digital first world, that definition also includes combinations of Chat, SMS, Email, and various digital engagement channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. In addition, companies frequently need to intelligently route other interaction points such as web form submissions, CRM case objects, tech support tickets, etc. For optimal customer experiences and operational efficiency, businesses need all these contact methods available in a single engagement.
What is interesting about the latest contact types is that they rely heavily on the system of record. This is typically some type of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), i.e. a ticketing or case system. Essentially, we point the agent to the proper record in that system. Why do businesses ask us to do this? The reason can be summed up like this:
- Happy agents are better agents. Businesses need to provide the best possible experience for agents which includes blending contact types seamlessly with others (voice, chat, SMS, etc.) and providing easy access to the right tools and information.
- Happy customers are better customers. Businesses need to enable sophisticated, sometimes quite complex, routing because the system of record typically treats contacts in a simple fashion such as “first in, first out” lists which typically doesn’t meet the needs of most contact centers that strive for excellence in customer experience.
- They need visibility to the contact center and customer journey through real-time dashboards, reporting, and standard metrics
- They rely on workforce optimization tools (Workforce & Quality Management for example) to run an efficient contact center and need all contact types to be included.
Trifecta of Service Excellence
Let me dig into that 1st bullet. Depending on what you do for a living you may have never thought about a contact center agents’ day to day experience. There are many factors involved but I will focus this time on the software they use to accomplish their objectives (i.e. do their job).
A typical agent is using some combination of a Unified Communication (UC) platform (think the phone but can be much more), an omnichannel contact center product (what we do), and a system of record (your source for customer information – most commonly a CRM).
These three systems make up the “Trifecta of Service Excellence” for voice communication. Our experience shows that not having some form of these three systems impacts their ability to deliver positive customer experiences.
Methods for handling the CRM – Omnichannel Agent Experience
For this conversation let’s narrow our scope to non-voice contacts which means at a minimum we need an omnichannel platform and the CRM. Digital-based engagement changes the dynamic of how a customer gets to your service team, but it also drastically changes the way your agents work.
We provide three methods for solving the agent experience challenge of using these two systems.
- Side by Side – This method allows systems that cannot integrate directly to work with each other on the agent desktop. We get these systems to work together through things like “CTI” and “Screen Pop”.
- Embedded – This method requires us to design CRM specific user experiences and is heavily dependent on how extensible the CRM is. A great example of this method is our CXone Agent for Salesforce. I recently did an interview/demo for Salesforce AppExchange Mavericks. You can check out the video.
- Single Pane of Glass – This method requires a dedicated application for the agent that combines CRM data with Omnichannel (and usually Unified Communications). The key to this type of agent experience is that all the integrations are happening behind the scenes to the agent. It’s like magic. The agent works in one tailored experience allowing them to focus on the customer rather than switching between applications. This is quite common if the business requires the use of multiple systems of record (CRM, ERP, Ticketing, etc.)
Years of working with businesses across the globe has taught me that there is no single best way to solve the complexity of the agent experience. It is entirely dependent on the reality of your agent’s environment and how you have designed your customer experience journey.
We have learned over time that we can solve most of the agent experience challenges you will face with any of these methods. If you work in a larger organization, it is not uncommon that you will find that you need to use a combination of these across different teams.