What You Can Learn from a Software Developer

Voice of the Customer

What You Can Learn from a Software Developer

By Elaine Cascio, Vice President  |  March 06, 2017

How Use Cases are a powerful addition to your contact center bag of tricks

I’ve talked often about customer lifecycles and customer journeys in this column. They help us understand the experience of doing business with an organization from a customer’s perspective. Use cases, on the other hand, shed light on the inner workings of customer service.

Use cases are typically employed in the world of software design, enabling developers to deconstruct a task into processes and steps. For our purposes, use cases help identify, clarify, and organize activities within the contact center. They describe the way people, process, and technologies interact to complete a task or reach a goal. 

As a result, use cases help us understand things like:

  1. process design; 
  2. the role of technology in supporting processes/service; and
  3. the agent experience.

Building Use Cases

Begin by identifying the five to six primary business activities. For an airline, this includes making a reservation, changing a reservation, and refunding a reservation. Then, similar to a customer journey, you’ll walk through each step of the process. But rather than documenting the customer experience, you’ll be documenting the internal processes, systems, and business rules for interactions.

1. Identify the primary use cases for the business.

  • What is the task and goal? In our example above, one use case is making an airline reservation.
  • Who are the actor(s)? The answer is the passenger and the airline agent.
  • What systems are used? This includes systems that provide booking and flight information, payment processing, and CRM and/or frequent flyer application. Identify what’s needed at each step.
  • What key data is required? That’s likely to include origin/destination cities, travel dates, passenger name, address, email, phone, class of travel, preferred travel times, seat preferences, TSA pre-check number, and payment information. Note where each piece of data is entered or retrieved.

2. Define the use case.

  • You’ll also need a use case description (a two- to three-sentence definition). For example, make a domestic reservation for a passenger. (There may be a separate use case for international reservation, but more likely it will be an alternate scenario, following the same process with a few variables within the flow.)
  • Now create basic flow or steps in the use case (best case scenario). Start with what happens in the IVR or ACD, how calls are queued (skills and overflow targets), information passed to the agent, followed by the steps taken by the agent to make the reservation in order of how they occur. The final step includes any follow-up, such as a follow-up email to the passenger.
  • Identify alternate flows (what happens when everything doesn’t go as planned). An alternate flow may be if there are no flights between the city pairs, if the passenger doesn’t have a credit card, or if the passenger wants to redeem points for the reservation.

3. Document the use cases in a standard format, creating a process flow and definition for each use case and compiling a master index.

How do use cases help us provide better service?

Looking at how processes, technology, and business rules combine gives a unique perspective through which we can examine the strengths of each and how well they work together. Through use cases, we see where agents run into roadblocks getting data to help customers, where rigid processes make us less customer-centric, where invoking knowledge management or scripting tools will ease the burden on the agent, and where we add steps or create work that is of little value to the corporation – or to the customer.

I usually recommend that you look from the outside in, but this year, take a look from the inside to see how you can be providing better service for both your agents and your customers.

Elaine Cascio is vice president at Vanguard Communications Corp., a consulting firm specializing in customer experience, self-service, contact center processes, change management, operations, and technology.



Edited by Alicia Young
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