Google launched ChromeOS Desk Connector in late October 2022
. The feature enhancement, which adds the ability to create a new "desk," or collection of apps/windows/tools for a specific customer interaction, and then close these apps once the customer interaction ends, is only available to contact centers running on ChromeOS.
It builds on Google's announcement in September 2021
that it was integrating ChromeOS Enterprise with cloud-first contact center players such as 8x8, RingCentral, Five9, Vonage, Genesys, and Edify.
No Jitter interviewed Matthew Clare
, ChromeOS product lead, Google contact center solutions, to learn what inspired his team to create the ChromeOS Desk Connect as part of its contact center offering. Clare also explained how this feature helps improve agent productivity and performance; and shared a detailed example of how ChromeOS Desk Connector protects contact center environments from a security standpoint.
Responses have been edited for conciseness and clarity.
What prompted the team to develop the ChromeOS Desk Connector as part of its contact center offering? What need did you perceive that led to its development?
The ChromeOS Desk Connector feature enhancement came from user experience (UX) research on Google’s side.
We’ve seen customers have up to 17 different apps on Windows being open at any point during the interaction, and there’s a productivity burden that comes with having your desktop cluttered with Windows applications. Let’s say I was a contact center agent constantly on calls with little time in between calls. I handle the call, I open 17 different windows, and if I don’t close them, when the next call rings, I’m going to get screen-pops, more windows will open, and my desktop gets cluttered. This problem is exponential—my desktop is getting confused. If I need to find a specific tab or window related to customer interaction, I’m looking for a needle in a haystack.
Over the last few years, with omnichannel becoming more popular, you could have an agent handling two or three chats simultaneously, multiplied by 17 applications and windows. So you can see how those problems grew and expanded. Contact center providers have tried to bring all these communications together in a single pane of glass, but the reality is customers don’t work with disparate tools that way.
That was the eureka moment for us. We realized within the market that we had a unique ability to take virtual desktop capabilities, put some application programming interfaces (APIs) behind those and extend them so the contact center providers could programmatically control the desktop experience.
When you announced ChromeOS Desk Connector, you mentioned it will improve agent productivity and performance. How does it do that when creating one desk instance per customer?
As an agent, I answer a phone call, and I could create a new desk for that interaction, but clicks are involved. I’m now spending my productivity time managing Windows and desks.
Much of this [product development] revolved around seeing how much we can automate that experience and reduce the number of clicks, so if I open 17 apps on Windows during an interaction, ChromeOS creates that desk automatically. Everything’s contained within that contact center application, a customer relationship management (CRM) application, a billing portal, and a knowledge base platform.
That means everything related to the specific interaction is self-contained within a desk, and extending those APIs to the contact center partners, so when a call ends, a single click can take the agent back to their optimal starting point. It all boils down to this manual burden of managing the desktop, apps, and tabs.
There’s a link between security and having all those applications and windows open. How does ChromeOS Desk Connector enhance contact center security?
To give an example of what ChromeOS Desk Connector does in-depth, specifically for contact center environments from a security perspective. Imagine a use-case scenario where an agent has three tabs and windows open. The agent is in a billing portal, but in the world where the agent is handling multiple interactions simultaneously, it can be easy to click the wrong window and copy/paste a customer's account number or email address to another window. Containing all of the apps and tabs related to the specific interaction within an isolated desk reduces the possibility of accidentally transferring private customer data or business information from one interaction to another.
A little over a year ago, Google announced the ChromeOS Enterprise with major contact-center players. What are some of the adoption wins you've seen after a year?
We’ve had a couple of public wins this year worth noting without getting into territory. The first company to mention is U.S.-based Ocwen
, which offers residential and commercial mortgage loan services in the U.S. that transitioned 3500 employees seamlessly into ChromeOS and moved them to remote work. It saw immediate benefits and turned ChromeOS into a core productivity tool within its organization.
The company has also seen agent productivity increase and knows the platform is secure—protecting customer and business data. From a remote management perspective, everything’s based on ChromeOS, managers don’t need their hands on the devices, and they don’t need staff at the office.
Swiss Automotive Group moved to ChromeOS because it was looking to keep its contact center agents and customers connected—communicating seamlessly—but focused on reducing cost and controlling IT management time. Security was also high on the company’s list to keep data safe. It also wanted a modern cloud computing platform that would digitally transform with the rest of its cloud services and applications. The company has seen employees working as efficiently as they did on all devices, while eliminating operational management licensing costs.
What do you think are the three most imperative challenges impeding contact center productivity right now?
I feel this conversation predates being alive—back when old-school contact centers weren’t using computers but talked about productivity. Imagine [back then] the invention of the computer or laptop appearing in the contact center environment. People would say this is changing everything. But we have come a long way—and screen pop, workflow, automation—tools like these have made leaps and bounds regarding productivity.
I bucket [the challenges] in three categories. One would be the availability of data, like the contact center providers trying to become the single pane of glass. The reality is your device or your monitor is the single pane of glass, because customers still have disparate data—some available in-app, in the web, documents, knowledge-based articles, or your CRM. This plethora of portals and knowledge management systems with an organization continues to be a challenge and struggle. I think that’s something ChromeOS Desk Connector has targeted or addressing, and uniquely positioned to help solve.
Agent training and readiness continues to be a productivity hurdle in many contact center environments. AI is helping [this area]. Chatbots, voicebots, interactive voice response (IVR) are well-suited to handle replicable interactions through self-service. Now the expectation is, if I’m a customer and going to talk to somebody on the phone, they better be a specialist.
Anybody who knows the contact center market knows there’s always been an employee retention challenge within contact centers. It’s a high-turnover environment—keeping agents in seats and keeping specialists around is challenging. Many times, employees who start in a contact center move into quality assurance, engineering, or customer service success management roles.
Career-wise, it’s a starting point for many people who aren’t paid a ton of money. As a result, you now have people who aren’t necessarily subject matter experts handling problematic, complex calls. Contact Center artificial intelligence (AI) helps automate those routine interactions—i.e., whisper coaching agents in real-time, which lets supervisors spend time and efforts on more complex coaching engagements, etc. [These tools] get agents through the day-to-day calls and interactions, but aren’t widely adopted.
Lastly, I would say [a challenge is] agent motivation and appreciation, which builds on the headcount challenge—keeping agents employed, from turning over, etc. It’s easy for agents in contact center environments to only hear from leadership when things have gone wrong—that’s reality. Many mangers are focused on improving areas that need improving as opposed to lifting up the staff underneath them.
A great customer experience is always going to be delivered by a great agent. Ultimately, that agent must be motivated, appreciated, and throwing in gamified challenges between your agents and your groups—so they feel like they’re making a difference—can go a long way.