Overworked and Overwhelmed: Overcoming Software Fatigue in the Contact Center

22 Mar 2024

Happy agents lead to happy customers. Frustrated agents lead to frustrated customers. This is common-sense - but the striking reality is that most contact center agents are not happy. They are too busy navigating and switching from one app to another, getting distracted, ignoring key information, and missing key performance metrics. They don’t have the time or the tools to be happy.

Meanwhile, customers are forced to deal with longer handle times, longer queues, and inconsistent responses and results.

And, ultimately, businesses pay the heaviest toll: declining accuracy rates, high employee turnover, and unsatisfied customers.

It should come as no surprise, then, that one of the biggest changes in the contact center world has been the increased focus on customer experience (CX), and with that, an increased focus on the agent or employee experience (EX).

The challenge facing all call centers is providing agents with the right tools to effectively do their jobs - most critically, a unified, customizable agent desktop.

This vision of a single experience that brings together the right applications and right information together in a seamless way has been dreamed of for years, with many broken promises along the way, but new technologies are set to make that dream a reality for the very first time.

Tackling the Toggle Tax

The key to a positive agent experience is having engaged and empowered agents. One of the key factors causing agent frustration and disengagement is the need to switch from one screen and app to another. 

Agents generally need to access seven applications on average during a customer service interaction, including specific vertical apps, knowledge bases, workforce engagement management (WEM), and more. These applications may or may not be integrated with the CCaaS platform, making it a challenge to navigate while interacting with a customer. App switching wastes agent and customer time, leading to longer interactions, and creating the dreaded “toggle tax.”

According to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, when a user toggles from one application to another, it not only takes time to press the keys to switch screens, it takes time to adjust to the application, its layout, etc., causing users to constantly refocus, creating distraction while impacting their attention spans. According to the HBR findings, workers spend 9% of their time toggling, and up to 4 hours a week reorienting themselves after toggling. According to Forrester Research, in a typical contact center, 35% of an agent’s time is spent searching for information, while 15% is spent re-keying data across apps and 10% is spent getting in touch with experts. This all adds up to wasted time and lost productivity each day.

Based on the Forrester and HBR research, a 1,000-person contact center loses 24% of their workday toggling and re-keying data across apps. What if there was a better way? For a 1,000-agent team, gaining back those lost hours and improving efficiency can result in annual savings of approximately $9,600,000 based on annual salary costs of $40,000,000. That’s huge!

According to the HBR article’s authors, one way to overcome the toggle tax productivity loss is to “lead with user centricity and user experience. Ideal applications are designed to be seamless, encourage users to focus, and minimize the toggling tax and digital distractions.” 

The Broken Single Pane of Glass Promise 

For years, call centers have been promised a “single pane of glass” (SPOG) - aggregating various different data points into an intelligible dashboard, pulling together information, so that agents don’t waste time switching between apps and screens.

The harsh reality is that this vision of providing a more seamless experience has not been realized yet. Oftentimes the integration process itself may be complex, reducing the context of each system, while leading to over-reliance on the CCaaS, CRM, or other vendor’s ecosystem.

Most single pane of glass dashboards are heavy, expensive, and very dependent on the vendor. Many contact centers have homegrown or legacy apps or CRMs on the desktop, making it difficult to actually have a single pane of glass or a truly unified desktop. Despite the promise of a SPOG experience, customer hold times are still high, workflows are fragmented and siloed, and the experience is anything but unified. Agents get overwhelmed with multiple notifications from various applications, making it hard to respond in a timely manner.

While many CCaaS vendors claim to offer unified desktops, most organizations haven’t deployed them. According to “The Inner Circle Guide to Agent Engagement & Empowerment”, only 7% of survey respondents use a single agent desktop, with 88% requiring their agents to navigate multiple screens and applications within the call, and 29% needing agents to handle four or more screens. A graph of numbers and percentagesDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

Source: Contact Babel

The single pane of glass solutions never lived up to their promise, but now there are new systems emerging to address their limitations. 

Until recently, unified desktop solutions were unable to fulfill the promise of a single pane of glass. Newer and better alternatives are needed to provide the flexibility, scalability, and ease of app integration that contact centers require.

Enter OpenFin - A Better Way to Fulfill the SPOG Promise

Recognizing the limitations of traditional SPOG solutions, OpenFin set out to create a new approach that meets the needs of contact centers to connect all of the apps agents use, with additional functionality such as search, notification capabilities, and more. OpenFin introduced what it calls a “Seamless Single Pane of Glass,” a customizable platform providing secure connections between apps and content to unify an organization’s disparate systems into a single interface. It unifies the agents’ tools without changing how they work, while allowing the existing tools to work better together.

Most so-called unified desktops rely on interfaces with multiple tabs or tiled formats that agents need to click or scroll through, which takes time and focus away from the task at hand. 

OpenFin’s unified workspace uses a widget-based format that federates information from the various apps, providing the information the agent needs, when they need it. 

OpenFin’s approach is superior to traditional SPOGs by::

  • Providing better usage of existing apps, leveraging CCaaS, CRM, and other application investments 

  • Improving efficiency by reducing the number of clicks needed to complete a task

  • Decreasing the amount of time the customer has to be on hold waiting for the agent to get the information needed or complete a task 

  • Improving the bottom by making agents more productive, shortening call times, and increasing customer loyalty by enhancing the customer experience

OpenFin unifies the agents’ tools without changing how they work, resulting in a more seamless experience for agents and customers. The platform offers a customizable user interface, enabling contact centers to tailor the desktop environment to their agents' specific needs, providing a true unified experience.

OpenFin layers on top of CCaaS platforms, integrating multiple CCaaS, CRM, and proprietary custom apps without requiring any changes to the agent’s processes or technology. As opposed to unified desktops that integrate the backend, OpenFin’s frontend integration is simpler, takes less time to implement, and is less disruptive. 

OpenFin’s dashboards can be customized with various “widgets” to meet agents’ needs, presenting views of the relevant applications, information, and notifications. By simply dragging and dropping different web pages and apps into their desktop window, agents can create personalized workflows and stay on top of notifications in one centralized place without worrying about missing important internal communications and notifications from applications. 

Agents often have to spend several minutes searching for the information they need while trying to solve a customer’s issue. OpenFin provides a unified search experience, with information proactively delivered when appropriate, allowing agents to locate and access information across various integrated platforms and applications from one common interface, saving time and reducing frustration. 

This approach enables:

  • Scalability

  • Vendor versatility without vendor lock-in and dependency

  • Technology flexibility and the ability to use best-of-breed apps and tools

  • Faster access to innovation as new tools and technologies can be added and integrated without having to reimagine the agent desktop

A modern, widget-based unified agent desktop that brings together notifications, search, and more reduces the amount of time it takes to find the necessary information and resources to assist customers, improving both the agent and customer experience. Reducing or eliminating the “toggle tax” leads to more satisfied customers and empowered agents, and as we know - Happy agents and happy customers lead to improved business results.


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