What to Look for When Buying an Agent Desktop


Our panel highlights the ‘must have’ features you should be looking for when buying an agent desktop solution.

Integration of all back-office systems and multi-channel communication

Agents can spend up to 40% of their time searching through multiple back-office systems in order to answer a customer enquiry. This can cause the customer to spend long periods of time on hold and result in a bad reputation for your business.

An agent desktop that integrates all the disconnected CRM, back-office systems and multi-channel communication into a single user interface can enable the agent to view all relevant customer data including contact details, contact history and outstanding payments, as well as all customer communications, be they email, chat, calls, social or mobile.

Providing the agent with a 360° view of the customer also means agents no longer have to waste time logging in and out of multiple systems.

Let agents create their own desktops

A desktop editor feature can provide organisations with a tool to build and optimise their own intelligent agent desktops.

This level of flexibility allows businesses to tailor their solution around their processes instead of changing their processes around their solution, which can lead to high performance and more productive agents.

Visibility of all customer interactions on a single interface

As customers start using more and more multi-channel communication, agents are finding they are wasting time duplicating responses due to the lack of visibility across channels.

Paul White

It is therefore important for contact centres to implement a desktop solution that allows agents to have visibility of all customer interactions on one single interface.

Multi-channel blending and grouping provides the agent with visibility of multiple live and historic interactions for a single customer on the desktop, enabling the agent to respond to the last contact and clear any queues to avoid duplication and repeat responses.

With thanks to Paul White at mplsystems

Agents should be able to use the interface without training

Your agent desktop solution should be genuinely intuitive to use, with a modern and familiar interface that an agent can pick up and use with little to no training.

This is because any system that requires hours of training is inherently counterintuitive, particularly in an industry where employee turnover can be high.

It is also essential that all the pertinent information should be readily available for the agents within as few clicks as possible.

Include scanned documents and email attachments

The unified experience should be retained regardless of the channel that the customer is communicating from.

Stephen Wright

It should also be extended to include direct access to all of the additional business applications that may be required to handle the customer’s request.

This functionality should not only include the communication itself, but extend to include all supplementary communications content, such as scanned documents and email attachments.

With thanks to Stephen Wright at Azzurri Communications

Help your agents to manage their time by setting daily targets

Richard McCrossan

A useful feature of some agent desktops is the ability to track the progress of your agents and set them daily targets. This can help the agent prioritise their workload and manage their time better.

Operational managers can also have the same view of agent productivity – enabling them to move agents from one channel to another depending on demand, as well as to identify where extra training may be required to build on agent experience.

With thanks to Richard McCrossan at Genesys

The cloud can enable remote agents to work at any time

An agent desktop based in the cloud can enable remote agents to work any time, anywhere.

This gives brands added flexibility to dial their workforce up and down, and tap into a distributed workforce to meet today’s 24/7 customer demand.

Other key benefits of using a cloud-based agent desktop include cost effectiveness, redundancy and availability, ease of management, security and agent productivity.

Contextual routing can help identify frustrated customers

Richard Pinnington

Real-time contextual routing makes customer data actionable instantly by picking up on patterns in behaviours as they happen, placing them in context, and automatically recommending a course of best follow-up actions to an agent.

This capability offers brands the ability to engage in real time across communications channels with a high degree of context and customer understanding.

This allows companies to correct an issue before it becomes an issue or, at the very least, before a customer is lost.

With thanks to Richard Pinnington at LiveOps

Your agents shouldn’t be forced to navigate multiple screens

Agents shouldn’t have to navigate multiple screens within multiple applications to access critical customer information.

If an agent has to go through many applications to answer a customer’s request, it will become time consuming, your average handling time will shoot up, and valued customers will be waiting longer than necessary for a resolution to their problem.

Scripting can help reduce errors and inconsistencies

Mike Donohue

If scripting is done well it can be a great help to agents, guiding them through potentially complex interactions and ensuring that customer communications are confident and consistent. It can also enhance customer satisfaction.

In addition, sophisticated data integration means everything is in one place, removing stress for the agents and ensuring each step is logical based on the previous answers given (conditional logic).

By ensuring this is part of the agent desktop, errors and inconsistencies can be greatly reduced.

With thanks to Mike Donohue at Magnetic North

Navigation should be simple

In order to maximise employee productivity and deliver higher sales numbers, it is important that the agent desktop interface is simple to navigate.

This will allow your agents to access relevant and timely information quickly and easily.

The interface should also be flexible to each agent, as it is important that individual agents are able to personalise their own desktop preferences.

Administration in terms of adaptable workflows and process changes is also important for management, who will benefit from the ability to configure these with minimal technical effort.

Back-office integration can allow agents to gain faster access to records

Gareth Bray

Integrating the agent desktop with the back office can allow service agents faster access to previous records and customer history – and gain a holistic view of the customer.

The link from agent desktop to back office can also offer personalised and educated solutions, improve employee performance and provide a more integrated approach to the customer experience.

With thanks to Gareth Bray at Moxie Software

The solution should prompt the agent according to requirement

The agent desktop should prompt the agent according to the business and customer requirements, ensuring the right questions are asked at the right time and streamlining the whole engagement experience for both agent and customer.

Data integration allows critical information to be shared

Comprehensive data integration functionality can allow the agent desktop to read from, and write to, existing legacy systems in real time.

With effective data integration, agents have access to all customer-related information instantly, allowing the sharing of business-critical information across the organisation and enabling agents to deliver a more informed and responsive customer experience.

Richard Farrell

Deploy your solution to mobile devices to extend reach to mobile workers

As well as agent desktops, the solution should also be able to be deployed to mobile and tablet devices via browsers – extending the reach of the contact centre to remote workers.

Ideally, all these features should be delivered without additional coding, and as part of the same comprehensive solution.

With thanks to Richard Farrell at Netcall

Intelligent routing can enable a high-quality customer experience

Jonathan Gale

Intelligent routing that reviews previous caller experiences, delivers answers and serves up-sell messages is a ‘must-have’.

The value at the agent level is that more information about the caller can be presented, enabling them to manage, synchronise and coordinate customer service and sales interactions – and overall ensure a high-quality experience.

With thanks to Jonathan Gale at NewVoiceMedia

Voice recognition technology can save time for the agent

Using voice recognition technology, Real-time Authentication provides a way to automatically verify the identity of a caller without agent intervention.

The agent receives the call and during the initial exchange of greetings the system will notify the agent on-screen that the caller has passed or failed verification – their details can then be automatically presented to the agent.

This process saves huge amounts of time for the agent and the caller.

Real-Time Service Optimisation can automate desktop processes

Real-Time Service Optimisation can automate time-consuming desktop processes.

This empowers agents to keep handle time to a minimum, comply with changing policies and regulations, make a relevant up-sell, all while listening to a customer attentively and solving their issues in a timely manner.

Having a real-time guidance system that is ‘listening’ to every step of every interaction and pushes next-best action recommendations to your agents can also help to provide essential support.

Craig Pumfrey

The agent desktop should benchmark an agent against the rest of their team

When an agent is not in interaction mode, the desktop should become the portal through which the agent can monitor their performance and make sure they are on target, benchmark against the results of the wider team, and learn what they can do right now to improve their score.

It should also act as their gateway to gamified training and coaching packages, helping them to further improve and refine their skills.

With thanks to Craig Pumfrey at NICE Systems

Useful additional features like appointment setting

Make sure your desktop has additional features to help streamline agent processes and enrich the customer’s experience.

These could include: account ownership, payment processing, appointment setting, call transfers, soft phone features, IVR menus, personalised messaging and software integration.

Browser-based environments reduce reliance on hardware

When choosing an agent desktop, consider a solution which supports browser-based environments, as these reduce reliance on hardware and limitations on software.

This can help to support the ‘contact centre without boundaries’ and allow agents to work from virtually anywhere via an internet connection.

You should be able to customise workflows without programming knowledge

Choose an agent desktop that enables your contact centre managers to develop sophisticated applications, screens and scripts as needed with intuitive desktop design tools and a point-and-click environment.

This should allow managers to build customised workflows without advanced programming knowledge or expensive technical assistance.

Check your solution includes a Graphical Desktop Design Toolset

Sian Ciabattoni

Ensure that the supplier provides a Graphical Desktop Design Toolset.

Look for mouse-driven navigation tools for building screens with flexibility for screen pops; text boxes, radio buttons, check boxes, and list views; selectable colours, graphics and messages by campaign; online help windows, built-in maths functions, data validation; and multi-level logical branching.

With thanks to Sian Ciabattoni at Noble Systems

Agent performance should be visible across the business

With real-time and historical information displays, desktop apps can make activity and performance visible at the individual, team and corporate level.

This can help to improve information capture, analysis, consistency and compliance.

The ability to alter scripts easily can help maintain compliance

Ken Reid

Context-sensitive scripts – based upon telephony data and contact details like email address and business information – can guide the team through every step of a call.

Calls can then be routed to specific advisors and wording can be personalised according to individual campaigns and skill sets.

The ability to alter scripts easily enables businesses to keep up with changes in regulations and compliance issues.

Management information can also be generated to check how scripts are being received and they can then be modified as necessary.

With thanks to Ken Reid at Rostrvm Solutions

What do you think are the ‘must have’ features of an agent desktop solution?

Published On: 8th Oct 2014 - Last modified: 12th Feb 2019
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