Isn’t it time we gave our employees the same technology we provide our customers?

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Inside many businesses, especially at enterprise scale, sales teams are often referred to as “customers” by marketing and support personnel who provide services or “products” such as collateral, training, etc. to create a deliverable for an external customer. phone-875488_960_720

Aspect’s customers are companies who operate contact centers that provide customer service applications (live chat, interactive self-service bots, IVR) over a variety of channels (voice, Facebook Messenger) on multiple platforms. These new technologies must be intuitive so customers can easily and frictionlessly shift between interaction methods in order to reach their goal. What Aspect has found is that the technologies enabling these seamless interactions is not only desirable for customer engagement, but desirable for the employee engagement inside of companies as well. And much of this interaction is made by the smartphone.

As smartphones proliferated, users embraced their dynamic nature, incrementally changing their own lives around the phone’s ability to let them interact and communicate in new ways. And because of how deeply smartphones integrated into lives, the Enterprise had to adapt to a device that now existed alongside employees, but did not come from an Enterprise initiative. This resulted in technology leaders such as CIOs and IT departments who didn’t readily embrace BYOD or develop user-centric apps.

What they did create in the contact center were portal apps which were either developed by a third party or in-house to facilitate day to day agent scheduling. These efforts were weak, and usually cumbersome. So while it may seem like a simple thing to request a specific schedule, call out for that day or trade schedules with another employee, doing so in a proprietary native application (or often a very slow mobile web page) wasn’t always so simple. Applications need to be updated, they change from version to version and are often built from a designer’s perspective, as they may not have any insight into how a call center agent would be use it. The effect that we’ve seen since is that a smart business will look to see if the next iteration of a particular process can be improved by using the dynamic, user-centric concepts which make smartphone apps so enjoyable.

It makes the most sense to offer agents the ability to perform these tasks with the least amount of steps and via interaction methods they’re already accustomed to. Aspect is leading the contact center chatbot space with Mila, allowing both agents and supervisors to more easily accomplish the most common workforce tasks over text and voice channels using Natural Language Understanding for self-service. You can read more about it here and start thinking about what tasks should be simpler, more intuitive and less encumbered by traditional desktop or even mobile applications that can’t keep up or are overbuilt. Using channels like SMS more quickly allows you to deploy the latest version of an application because there’s nothing for the user to update.

Treating employees the way that we should treat customers, it’s easier conceive how tools should be improved to better support self-service, make onboarding smoother and recognize that the most important facet is facilitating goals, which can be varied or even outside of what we would normally think a product is used for. This is part of a larger shift that companies must add to their mix of changes as they evaluate how to evolve to meet the needs of the modern consumer, both inside and outside of their organization.

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