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Happitu Improves Agent Enablement with Guidance and Flexible Workflows


Presented By: Happitu

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 In the contact center world, companies often develop their own proprietary internal technology to improve operational efficiency. In some instances, these homegrown solutions prove so effective and versatile that they evolve into marketable products that can be successfully deployed by external organizations. Such is the case with St. Louis-based Happitu, which is a division spun out of the BPO Customer Direct, that characterizes itself as a specialist in “agent enablement” and whose solution can be seamlessly integrated into a business’s CRM or omnichannel environment. It supports agents by guiding them through every interaction with custom workflows, responsive scripting, and dynamic help topics.  

CrmXchange caught up with Rob Dwyer, VP of Customer Engagement and Robert Nolan, Creator and Product Architect at Happitu to learn more about their offering.

“Some may see what we offer as a kind of help desk, which is best known for its use in tech support,” said Dwyer. “This type of product usually deals with asset management and ‘tickets’ to get in line to be resolved. Now there’s a new breed of software that may or may not support those functions, but may support interaction history, provide knowledge base functionality, provide business process workflows, deliver reporting on interaction details, and/or provide actual scripting to give agents words that work in specific situations.”

Nolan was inspired by his own customer service experience as a 16-year-old agent at Customer Direct providing hotels tech support for their often shaky and unreliable Wi-Fi.  “I thought I knew a lot about computers, but really didn’t know anywhere near as much as I believed I did.”

“My first call came in, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, but my supervisor said not to worry. I answered the call, punched in the ID and up came a script that told me how to greet the customer, and provided a step-by-step guide that gave me the important, and often overlooked, troubleshooting questions to ask. It also provided really rich reporting on why people were calling, the steps that had been taken and the ultimate resolution. As a millennial who previously hated talking on the phone, this made it a lot easier, especially if there was a follow up contact necessary. Even if you weren’t the original agent, the next rep had access to all the documentation clearly laid out, making it easy to pick up the conversation.” 

Nolan was amazed by the product and in between phone calls found himself making design and product recommendations. “Ultimately, they saw the value in what I was doing and gave me the opportunity to become a part of the development team. About four or five years ago, we decided to move forward with this strategic initiative, sparked by several of our own clients asking if they could use the system in their own contact centers. So, we drew a line in the sand with the existing product and decided to create an entirely new one, taking all that we had learned in the past 15 years, and crafted something cloud-based, scalable, and intuitive for anyone in the contact center space to use.”

“The solution has now gone beyond just being used by our client base and is available to any company,” he continued. “Businesses can sign up on our website and start building out their own agent guides. We can even extend the system to pull information from existing systems because we believe it’s important to provide agents with as much context about the customer as possible.”

“We can go even further with omnichannel platforms, such as NICE CXone, where we can put in triggers and data capture points throughout the IVR. This enables us to know who is calling and [potentially] the call reason before the call even hits the agent,” continued Nolan.

“From here, we present the agent with a workflow that is configured to reflect the ideal customer journey. While our platform has dynamic agent scripts, we don’t want to over script and add more work for the agent than is necessary. So, we encourage our users to design a process that focuses on capturing enough data to understand what happened and, instead, utilize our contextual knowledge base. Based on the path the agent selects, our platform will suggest helpful tips, alerts, and sometimes whole workflows—these are readily accessible for an agent in the event they need the aid.”

Dwyer also pointed out the solution’s value in controlled situations where the agent must stick to making statements that conform to verbatim scripts. “Since GDPR has become a factor, some very specific disclosures are required. In the sales process, there are some very advantageous phrases that should be used at specific times. Some companies will want to be very granular, providing words that work for an agent while others will prefer to give the agent freedom, offering context and information, not necessarily scripting. How Happitu is used is based on the needs of the individual business, but companies are free to mix and match – scripting for instances where specific language is best while still leaving room for the agent to operate independently with guidance in other areas of interactions.”

Dwyer started in the training world and considered it amazing how scared people get when they’re preparing to take that first call. “When I was at Convergys, there was a four-week training class. Inevitably, when new agents get on the phone for the first time, they seem to forget everything, up to, and including, how to answer the call.  We can tell agents at every level of experience how to answer the phone and what question to ask next.  It’s going to guide them as to what system to access or what the next question is going to be. Even the people who are tenured (who will know how to handle most of the calls they get) don’t always know how to handle the small slice of calls they rarely receive. The system gives them a process to follow without having to raise their hand for help. This is particularly important in work-at-home situations where it might take them a long time to have anyone even see their hand figuratively waving in the air.”

There is no AI involved in the platform, but based on reporting and feedback from agents, one of the key design features of Happitu versus its predecessor was for people in operations to make necessary changes on the back end. No developer is needed to adjust it to changing priorities. “An agent can tell a supervisor when a certain branch isn’t going to the right place or information is out of date or this path used to work properly this way but isn’t any more. The person in operations, whether a front-line supervisor or systems manager can go in and change the information and roll it out within five or 10 minutes to be reflected across the organization for that workflow,” said Dwyer.  “Even in cases where the agents don’t communicate problems, the operational people will be able to see all the paths they are taking via reporting. The reporting is exceptionally robust and easy to customize to the needs of a specific company. They can see the steps that the agents are taking. We have also implemented a tagging system allowing organizations to automatically apply tags to different steps. Along with reporting use, tags can be used to drive post-interaction automation. If given a certain set of criteria, a company wants to escalate an issue, such as moving a ticket into Tier 2 bin, submitting it for peer review, or firing off an email to a pre-defined address, all of that can happen in the background based on the presence of specific tags without the agent having to initiate anything.”

While Happitu acknowledges the effectiveness of such directed automation triggers, they still firmly believe that human agents offer superior support to totally automated agents. “Of the many things we’ve learned from the pandemic, the need for human connection and touch was definitely one,” said Dwyer. “People don’t put their trust in bots or systems, but in another person. They want answers, assurance, and connection. No automated bot will ever have a great answer to a customer asking, ‘Where are you from?’ nor will a bot be able to effectively empathize with joy, frustration, or pain. How will a bot respond to someone saying they need that item tomorrow because it’s for their new job and they’ve been out of work for 8 weeks?”

The flexibility of the Happitu solution arose from parent company Customer Direct’s history of serving a variety of verticals. It can be used in a tech support environment, which is a very consistent step-by-step process involving workflow, or hotel central reservations, which follows a sales process but can often be very non-linear.  The system can provide answers to random questions which fall outside the process. It also involves a significant coaching aspect. “One of the things we were able to do in the NICE CXone integration is embed the call within the ticket, giving the supervisor the opportunity to listen to the call and making it simple to offer coaching,” said Dwyer. Nolan also pointed out the solution has a peer review capability which includes a trigger to alert a team lead to check if the agent has done everything necessary in the interaction, leading to real-time coaching when appropriate.

The name “Happitu” came from a marketing agency. “We had a couple of absolutely horrible names and to be truthful, I laughed at this one when it was initially suggested with a slightly different spelling,” said Nolan.  “But when I thought about it for a while, I then realized it perfectly embodied the persona we were trying to get across: that we were willing, able, and yes, happy to help.”