Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
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Sheila McGee-Smith | March 10, 2015 |


Empowering Mobile Customers… & Agents

Empowering Mobile Customers… & Agents As a USAA executive shares, improving the contact center agent's experience must go hand in hand with mobile engagement strategies for customers.

As a USAA executive shares, improving the contact center agent's experience must go hand in hand with mobile engagement strategies for customers.

In a recent conversation with a Fortune 100 firm about its mobile engagement strategy, I was reminded that for all the talk of improving customer care for mobile consumers, of equal importance is upgrading the agent experience. Why? Because providing users with more streamlined information access and support must balance against empowering agents with the knowledge they need to reduce repetition and ease the customer's journey to a successful conclusion.

One of the worst kinds of repetition in the contact center, for example, is the machinations companies put customers through to authenticate themselves. This is especially, and understandably, true when dealing with financial institutions. For years, biometrics has been talked about as a way to validate identity but mostly it has been limited to personal devices. The fingerprint sign-in now available with iPhones and iPads is a great example. Instead of typing -- and remembering -- a code, "teach" the device one or more fingerprints and a simple press gets you into the device.

Why does authentication matter in the contact center? Because users often resent how much time the process eats up even before they can get to the reason they called into a center at all. Equally, agents dread the amount of time this repetitive process takes and the complaints that customers make about it. Voice biometrics is more suitable for use in the contact center. It authenticates customers by comparing to a previously-recorded voice sample versus some combination of PINs, passwords, and questions.


Facial recognition, made possible by the increasing adoption of smartphones with cameras, is the latest type of authentication for use in the contact center. USAA, a financial services and insurance firm for U.S. military families, is among early adopters. Earlier this year USAA began offering a choice of voice or facial authentication, and reports that 101,000 members already are using face or voice recognition to access mobile banking.

"Four out of five end customers who have experienced the technology prefer it over a PIN or password," Darrius Jones, USAA's executive director of emerging capabilities, told me in a recent phone conversation.

The symbiotic relationship between the agent experience and mobile customer applications is the subject of an Enteprise Connect 2015 session, "Improving the Contact Center Agent Experience," taking place next Wednesday, March 18, in Orlando. To kick off the session, Jones will discuss biometrics as well as some of the other innovative capabilities the company is piloting or has already deployed to its customers. He will conclude by describing the challenges these deployments create for contact center agents:

  • The agent desktop is still crowded, and contextual awareness is not the norm. More than 25% of training goes toward helping agents navigate systems vs. understand the process.
  • Call control is still too difficult to integrate and use. With one platform, coordinating multiple modalities at the desktop is quite a challenge. In environments with more than one platform, it's practically impossible.
  • The agent desktop does not align with the needs of current and future workforce generations. Does this sound familiar? "Why is this not like an iPhone? I have more than 1,000 apps and none of them required training and a help file."
  • Invoking adjacent services is a challenge. This can lead to limited use of capabilities such as biometrics, co-browsing, application sharing, and video.
After Jones' presentation, executives from Aspect Software, Avaya, Cisco, Enghouse Interactive, and inContact will join us for a moderated discussion on how to address USAA's agent experience challenges. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you haven't yet registered for Enterprise Connect 2015, no worries! Register now using code NJSPEAKER and save $300 off the cost of an event pass.

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