This week LiveOps announced a new agent desktop as part of its cloud-based contact center solution. I’ve been paying a bit more attention to this market space lately, which for the purposes of this post I’ll call Virtual Contact Center (VCC).
VCCs (including LiveOps) were actually launched around the same time as NetSuite, RightNow, Salesforce.com and other SaaS pioneers. For a variety of reasons, including technology issues and risk-adverse contact center managers, adoption has been steady but hardly explosive. That appears to be changing, with 2013 expected to be a breakout year according to analyst reports.
Getting back to LiveOps, what’s the big deal about the new agent desktop, known as LiveOps Engage? Here are three good reasons to pay attention:
- Agents wasting time “alt-tabbing” between applications.
An October 2012 Aberdeen Agent Desktop Optimization study found that agents use an average of 5 different screens to access the systems needed to serve customers. Add it all up, and Aberdeen estimates that 26% of agent time is spent navigating systems. For a contact center with 400 agents, that’s about $2 million/year in unnecessary spend.
- Happy agents mean happy customers.
All that alt-tabbing between disparate systems wastes agent time, but it also impacts the customer experience. The Aberdeen study found that more than 80% of the participants ranked improving the CX as a top objective. A January 2013 Harris study found that “66% of consumers say their experience with an agent majorly impacts their impression of the overall brand.”
- CRM? We don’t need no stinkin’ CRM!
That’s right, for mid-sized companies, the built-in CRM capabilities in LiveOps Engage may be enough. No need to pay for Salesforce.com or some other CRM solution, although LiveOps does integrate. While CX enthusiasm is on the rise, containing costs continues to be a top priority for most every contact center. If you can get what you need in one integrated system, it’s usually cheaper and easier than cobbling together multiple systems.
LiveOps gave me a demo, and I found the UI nicely designed and intuitive. Of course, I’m not a contact center specialist, and I don’t spend all day using these sorts of applications. But as you can see from the screen shot below, the agent desktop includes voice, chat, mobile and social channels — all easily available from the agent desktop. No Alt-Tab required!
Source: LiveOps [View full size image]
The channel mix can be tuned during the set up process. You probably don’t want agents juggling 8 different channels, and some agents may be better on social than others, for example.
The social integration is lightweight, based on keywords. Other social monitoring systems in the market have more robust text analytics and sentiment analysis. But then, you have to pay for that. For mid-market companies, this level of social support looks pretty good.
Other solutions for Alt-Tab Hell including replacing a kludge of multiple systems with one integrated solution from Oracle, SAP, etc. Or, developing a new agent desktop UI and integrating all the disparate systems behind the scenes. These may be better options for large enterprises that need deep functionality. But for mid-size organizations, I think a VCC with an integrated lightweight CRM will be attractive.
Even for large enterprises, VCCs can make sense. According to LiveOps CMO Ann Sung Ruckstuhl, Symantec used to contract with several BPOs, each with their own platforms. That made it difficult to manage customer information. So two years ago Symantec consolidated to just two: Salesforce.com for CRM, and LiveOps for contact center.
Whether you’re concerned about costs or customer experience, optimizing the agent desktop can pay off, big time. The Aberdeen study found that “best in class” organizations (top 20% of organizations with desktop optimization initiatives) achieved significantly better performance [vs. industry average]
- 72% first contact resolution rate [56%]
- 39.9% average year-over-year improvement in customer satisfaction [6.5%]
- 18.4% average year-over-year decrease in average handle time [3.4%]
- 17.3% average year-over-year improvement in average daily agent closure rate [2.2%]
No word yet on the satisfaction of mid-market CRM vendors, who probably won’t be thrilled to see new competition from the adjacent VCC space. But that’s how it goes in cloud computing!
Disclosure: This post is part on my independent coverage of technology industry developments. No endorsement is implied. LiveOps has not been a CustomerThink sponsor within the past year. Please visit our sponsor page for information on companies that have supported the CustomerThink community.