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Ventana Executive Interview

Richard Snow, VP & Research Director, Customer and Contact Center Research, Ventana

Q: In your research, what areas are you seeing organizations trying to shore up to prepare employees to engage in more positive interactions with customers across an ever-increasing number of channels?

A: Our research shows us that companies on average support 8 channels of engagement. In addition, interactions are handled by virtually all business groups within an organization. As a result, less than half (48%) claim to provide omnichannel experiences because:
• not all employees handle all types of interactions,
• many are not multi-skilled so only handle certain channels,
• employees have difficulty accessing all the information they need about customers
• few have the ability to collaborate with other more knowledgeable workers in order to resolve interactions.
So we see a trend to adopt more analytics to produce a single view of the customer (including interaction history), deployment of collaboration systems so employees can more easily collaborate resolving issues and eLearning being made more widely available.

Q: Are executives and managers becoming more aware of the need for more sophisticated workforce optimization tools and making a stronger case to upper management to invest in them?

A: This is the biggest area of concern. Most managers work under very tight operational goals and don’t have the time or resources to explore new systems. The research also shows not all vendors have the tools to help potential customers build a business case for new advanced systems so many struggle to build a compelling case.

Q: While the contact center is the front line for customer interactions, have you observed efforts being made to improve the skills of employees in other departments to meet customer expectations?

A: Our research shows two ways organizations are working to improve employees’ ability to handle interactions. The top planned business system investment to improve customer experience is advanced workflow systems. These ensure that the right employee is actioned to address a customer issue, and if they are unable to do so that they can easily find a more skilled employee to take over or with who they can collaborate. The second most popular investment is into advance eLearning systems. These are typically analytics-driven, electronic classes that focus on individual employee strengths and weaknesses so that anyone handling interactions receives focused training. Such systems allow organizations to embed best-practice recordings into the material so that employees can hear how other more skillful employees handle interactions.

Q: What do you see as being the most common technologies that are now being integrated to create effective next-generation workforce optimization solutions?

A: First and foremost, we see more organizations looking for integrated WFO suites. These enable processes that were previously handled independently to transgress system boundaries, they are easier to administer, and tasks can flow across systems e.g. a training requirement can be automatically fitted into an employee’s work schedule. We also see the rise of the use of gamification systems that are used to motivate employees and make learning more fun. We also see organizations seeking suites that have customer feedback integrated in their WFO systems, or have the ability to ingest this data from third party products. This enables organizations to directly link agent performance with customer satisfaction, which can identify training needs and result in rewards more directly associated with customer satisfaction.

Q: Can you tell us anything about some of the best practices in using WFO tools that you have encountered?

A: The top best practice is to gain adoption and ensure use of advanced WFO tools. To achieve this, we have seen a switch from organizations focusing on the functionality of advanced WFO systems to the usability of such products. Systems with a common user interface that match modern use expectations (highly visual, point-and-click, icon-driven) show higher rates of adoption and use, ensuring organizations get the best out of such products and thus improved performance of all employees handling interactions.