Kana, the customer service software company acquired earlier this year by Verint, claims it is making that job a little easier by adding an internal social network into the2014 version of its flagship contact center software, Kana Enterprise, which rolled out today.
The social network, called Activity Streams, isn't the only improvement. Thecompany also enhanced ways to direct known callers to specificagents, to monitor call queues, to conduct multiparty chats and to sharescreens with customers, according to Kelly Koelliker, director of productmarketing.
"We've spent some time focusing on employee collaboration," Koelliker said in an interview with CMSWire. "We see that each agent is working as an island at times. So there's no good way for agents to pose questions to one another or get feedback on what else is going on within the organization."
Activity Streams allows call center agents to subscribe to topics of interests, particular types of customers cases and articles to help them do a better job.
"As updates are made, you'll see them in your feed and you can add comments just as you would after somebody's Facebook post," said Koelliker. "Supervisors can also push messages into that feed. So if there is something that certain sets of agents need to know about, you can push alerts or notifications."
That last factor is particularly helpful when inviting agents to a training or lettingthem know about a sudden change in business processes.
For many customers, frustration begins when they're handed off from one agentto another, forcing them to repeat their question over and over. Kana's new versionaddresses that with a new routing engine called Smarter Engagement that tries tomatch an incoming request by phone, chat or social media with the an agentwho has the tools and knowledge to answer the question effectively.
"There's a really sophisticated way to determine when a request comes in-- regardless of the channel -- where we should route it to," saidKoelliker. The agent is selected based on a number of pre-configured attributessuch as who the customer is, how urgent the question is, the type of requestand, perhaps, what language it's in.
Kana's customers cover a wide variety of industries including healthcare,utilities, retail, telecommunications and finance. The client list includes Sears,Sprint, Xerox, Priceline and many cities stretching from San Francisco toBoston. So it's difficult to predict which attributes would be most importantforeach customer. Instead, the new version allows each company to set its own rules, using asmany attributes as it likes to sort the customers out.
Banter and Browse
Group chat and screen-sharing, aka co-browsing, have been around for a longtime, but Kana has upgraded both in the new version.
"We did a lot of work making sure those were really enterprise-class,ready to scale up to large contact centers where you need to have thousands ofchat and co-browse agents. It's ready to handle that," she said. "Allthese digital channels are becoming a lot more popular. Live chat andco-browse are having a resurgence in the past year or so, so we wanted to makesure that's really staying where it needs to be."
For the first time, co-browsing is also possible on mobile devices, whichwas a limitation in past versions due to the many differences between browsersfor phones,tablets and other mobile gear.
The co-browsing feature also includes stronger security tools, such as the ability toprevent an agent from placing an order through a customer's computer. Companiescan set their own rules to limit what agents can do.
Kana's lastest also has some productivity enhancements. For example, managers who oftenoversee agents in far-flung locales can now see which agents have the longestqueues. They can redirect traffic to other agents or, if there is a particularlypopular type of call on a given day, they can add more agents to deal with that issue.
The agents themselves are also better informed about incoming calls becausemanagers can flag factors for discussion, such as an expiring service levelagreement (SLA). "So one thing we've done is to make some visual changes to theagent's desktop to draw the agent's attention to what is likely to be the mostimportant things," said Koelliker. "As soon as they see the customer,they'll know the SLA is coming up for renewal or that they have an unusuallyhigh bill."
It's doubtful that many of these incremental changes will make the job of acall center agent more enjoyable and they may be nearly invisible to frustrated callers. But Kana claims the changes will result in fewer transfers, shorter call times and, inthe end, better customer service.
Title Image by Vadim Petrokov / Shutterstock