I recently wrote how Enghouse Interactive is building a portfolio of products to support contact center in the cloud. The foundation of all its products is the handling of interactions through a comprehensive set of communication channels. My research into the contact center in the cloud shows that after the adoption of CRM in the cloud, companies are most likely to adopt contact centers in the cloud because they support consumers that want to interact through more channels, and because of the increasing need to support distributed contact centers and the diverse location of employees handling interactions.
The most recent release of Enghouse Interactive products to support the enterprise is now available through a variety of channels: on-premises, through a private cloud, through a public cloud, or customers can mix and match by having some systems on-premises and others off. The public cloud leverages Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud infrastructure as a service, which removes the need for companies to purchase any on-premises infrastructure. Moving to the cloud in this way also reduces up-front costs and time to deploy, and reduces the need for skilled deployment and operations staff. The service can be scaled up or down to meet fluctuating business requirements.
Along with these deployment options, Enghouse Interactive also recently announced a new agent desktop, iAgent. The first release of this product addresses a critical issue for contact center managers. My research into the agent desktop shows that agents are now expected to handle interactions arriving through multiple channels and the silos is the top customer service challenge. They therefore need systems on their desktops that let them view and the handle different types of interactions, which makes the agent desktop cluttered and difficult to use. iAgent addresses this in a quite novel way, which, having seen a demonstration, I think will appeal to agents. The most striking feature is what Enghouse Interactive calls the shelf, which look just like a shelf and displays icons that represent the different channels an agent is able to support: phone, email, text, social media, and so forth. By clicking on an icon an agent can immediately see the interactions available in the queue for that channel. By clicking on an interaction the agent can handle that interaction. To assist with handling the interaction, the agent is also presented with key information about the customer and previous interactions, and companies can build preprepared templates to assist in creating the response. Once the interaction is closed, the agent can move on to an interaction in the same or an alternative queue. The system can also be configured to interrupt agents with inbound calls that need to be handled, allow them to complete the call, then go back to the interaction they were handling.
iAgent is a thin-client web application that can be accessed by anyone handling interactions on a device and browser of their choice. It is easy to set up and maintain, with all users automatically gaining the benefit of new features. It is digitally signed so companies are assured of the security, origin and integrity of the software.
My practical experience when building contact centers and my research into their use show that in many organizations the agent desktop can only be described as a mess. It contains several business applications, systems to access communication channels, message boards and various performance dashboards. This makes agents’ lives frustrating and inefficient, leading to less than optimal customer experiences. As the number of channels grows, the desktop only gets worse. iAgent addresses this critical part of handling interactions, and Enghouse Interactions has plans to make accessing applications even easier. It is therefore a product I recommend companies evaluate as they look to improve agent performance and the customer experience.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director