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Why UX Needs to be Part of Your Contact Center's IT Strategy

By Special Guest
Beau Wilder, VP of Innovation Waves and New Products, Plantronics
August 19, 2016

Nowadays, most customers will only consider calling for help once they’ve exhausted every online FAQ, video guide and troubleshooting blog.  This means that customer service representatives (CSRs) play a more critical role than ever in turning the most negative brand experiences into a positive interaction.

With every phone call now a “moment of truth,” those who work in contact centers need the tools they use on the job to set them up for success. But these tools may include a diverse range of hardware, communication platforms, software and more – and all need to be managed, maintained and adjusted. And most importantly, each is a potential point of failure during a customer interaction.

IT teams supporting these contact centers are unsung heroes who must tackle issue after issue to keep the center’s technology up and running.

Beau Wilder 

For large contact centers with thousands of pieces of hardware and shifts around the clock, this is no small feat.

In order to ensure that all of the diverse pieces of hardware and software are interacting seamlessly at any given time, IT teams need to take a proactive management approach instead of putting out one fire after another. This means taking the time to understand the end-user experience their equipment provides.

What are the long-standing pain points of CSRs, what about their equipment confuses them and what are their preferred tools and platforms for interacting with customers? By understanding the needs and preferences of the end user, IT can better ensure that their CSRs are always equipped for success – and ultimately, for keeping their customers happy.

One way for IT to achieve a more complete understanding of the CSR experience is to borrow a few fundamentals of user experience (UX) design. These principles are used to design everything from smartphones to websites and software, but can be just as valuable in the IT context. Here are some ideas to consider:

Context awareness refers to a device or service’s ability to “know” what a user wants to do, and behave accordingly. In the contact center, that can mean something as simple as automatic volume controls that amplify quiet speakers and cancel loud background noise. It could be an endpoint that intuitively switches between multiple input streams, or a headset placed on your ears that automatically answers calls. Ultimately, people prefer to think about the task they are trying to perform, not how they have to work around their device to do it.

Ease of use refers to a device or service’s ease of adoption. Can a first-time user intuitively understand the core functionality, and is there an acceptable learning curve to mastering the advanced applications? For IT, that can mean finding a strategy to provide CSRs with regular patches and updates, not asking them to do so themselves. Instead of asking CSRs to climb a wall for each annual update, IT can provide them with stairs.

Simplicity is so fundamental it is often taken for granted: people enjoy experiences they can easily understand. For IT, that means taking the time to understand problems CSRs experience, and providing them with the appropriate hardware and software to simplify the methods and means of doing their job.

By taking a proactive and strategic approach to managing their call center, IT departments can ensure that CSRs will have a more consistent experience with their equipment and customers, fewer emergencies for the IT department, and the most important thing of all:  customer satisfaction.  

Edited by Alicia Young

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