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From the customer’s perspective, however, there should be no complexity. An interaction with a contact center agent should go something like this:

1. The start of the interaction entails quickly identifying the customer, finding relevant information and demonstrating that you know who the customer is.
2. The middle stage is the actual process, the journey, and what the customer wants to do or needs help with.
3. The last part (wrap-up and after-call work) is about ensuring that actions are executed, completing any downstream processes and hand-offs, and recording appropriate information for business management. 

All customers want is for you to quickly and effectively “know me," "help me" and make sure you "remember me.” While this sounds simple, we all know that managing this capability within a contact center in a cost-effective manner presents a significant challenge. However, by applying the following three tactics you can transform your call center from a cost center into a profit center, without sacrificing a quality customer experience. 

1. Provide call guidance through dynamic scripting: 
As companies work to ensure a consistent and positive customer experience, they are turning more and more toward scripting technologies to guide their contact center agents through calls. This guidance can come in the form of an actual verbal “script,” as well as the steps necessary to progress through the call — in essence, the best next action to take. By providing agent call guidance, you ensure a consistent and improved customer experience. And better still, you start to convert agent knowledge into best practice methodology for your call center; in effect, replicating your best agents.

2.  Simplify the agent’s desktop:
Agents struggle with complicated desktops. Myriad web, Windows and host applications all provide different functionality needed to service a customer call, yet none of them is integrated. The result is customer calls that take longer to resolve and frustrated agents who struggle to toggle between multiple applications. Unified Agent Desktop technology, however, changes the agent interaction from systems-driven to one that is customer-driven. By refocusing on the customer and optimizing a contact center’s call process and agent tools, Average Handle Time (AHT) is reduced and First Call Resolution (FCR) is increased—all of which add up to more effective agents who deliver a better customer service experience. 

3. Automate routine tasks:
Your ability to create efficient customer service processes is often constrained by redundant data entry, which results in cumbersome process flows and data-entry errors. In fact, a typical customer service process may need to span multiple Windows and web applications, all of which require an agent to re-key customer information across several systems. Conversely, if routine, complex or lengthy tasks are automated, data can be automatically copied from one application to another and new business rules can be enforced, all without requiring modification to the applications. The result is faster implementation cycles and significantly reduced risk. 

Two of the biggest obstacles to reducing AHT and increasing customer satisfaction are the complexity of the agent desktop and the lack of process guidance. Yet, with the right technology in place, your call center can overcome these challenges, effectively reducing AHT by 20 to 30 percent, improving FCR, increasing sales revenue and raising overall customer satisfaction.

This article was featured on Contact Professional May 8th, 2012.