Platforms and Tools

Optimizing Call Center Messaging

November 10, 2022
Optimizing Call Center Messaging

A large services corporation recently engaged us to help them with a solution to support multiple call centers. They were in search of a way to enable their call center agents to be alerted whenever an inbound lead was received or a sale was made. The client had internally proposed a flashing light/alarm that could be triggered whenever certain updates were made in their Customer Management System (CMS). The alert would enable sales agents to respond quickly to new opportunities and beat other service providers using the same marketers. It was  important that the solution did not require a dedicated computer, which eliminated more traditional approaches to alerts like slack notifications. Lastly, the client required a quick turnaround as potential sales were lost daily due to slow response times.‍

Understanding the Problem

Considering the request was for a device, the first thing that came to mind was some sort of custom Internet of Things (IOT) alarm built on top of an open source platform like Arduino. Given the overall flexibility of both platforms and a wealth of well documented guides, this approach seemed to give us the broadest range of options. A similar project, showcased here, seemed to tick most of the customer’s boxes in terms of providing an alert that simply could not go unnoticed.

Before making our recommendation however, we leaned into our methodology, took a step back, and reframed the question. Instead of just answering the question 'How do I alert my agents to perform an activity?' We tried to answer a broader question of 'How do I inform my agents about activities that need to be performed and can I do it in a way that scales?'. Once reframed, we recognized that our approach using a simple alarm device did not ultimately solve our client's problem. Why? Well, a siren is great at relaying simple data, which is why they are effective when placed on top of a fire engine or police car. However, they lack context and the ability to relay complex information. In order to provide a scalable platform and deliver actionable information we instead refocused our efforts toward finding a device that could relay information in addition to a simple alert.

With a short timeline we looked at existing hardware options that featured open APIs we could integrate with. By removing the hardware aspect of the build we could instead focus on the challenge of delivering the most relevant information to end users in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Building a Solution

Ultimately, we selected Vestaboard as our hardware of choice after considering two other alternatives which did not provide the elegant and information rich experience of our chosen device. A Vestaboard is a TV sized, 6x22 grid of rotating letters, symbols, and colors similar to an arrivals board at a train station. The add-on Vestaboard+ service offers dozens of content channels but what made it really stand out for us was the open API and digital rendering web application that would enable us to start developing even before a physical device was in place. While there is no alarm bell, the board does make an audible, and almost relaxing, shuffling sound as the tiles cycle through.

Several of IOT integrations already existed within the If This Then That (IFTTT) ecosystem but none that allowed us to connect their CMS to the board. To bridge the gap, we built a custom Retool application to manage the information flow to the Vestaboard. In order to trigger certain actions we used a Zapier integration which was configured to fire anytime certain updates were made in the source CMS.

This solution also utilized one of Retool's newest features, Workflows, which are a lightweight way to trigger background jobs and processes. In our case, the workflow connects to the CMS's database, pulls down the new data, and then runs it through our logic in order to create an update for the Vestaboard. With the data in place we set out to demonstrate the value of our solution by mocking up a few possible use cases.  

Hot Leads - An ever updating list of leads sorted by the time they were received and keyed to their CMS's search functionality.

Hot Leads Board

Kudos Board - Every time an opportunity is won, a shuffle and a congratulatory message is shown to the agent responsible.  This is a form of gamification.

Kudos Board

Custom Messages - A manager portal allows for custom messages and alerts to be created directly from their retool application.

Custom Messages

These are just a few of many ways we can inform and engage call center agents and we did it without a flashing light or an alarm going off every minute. The device requires no ongoing management, our software implementation is fully cloud-based and was actually 99% complete before a single Vestaboard arrived on site. Finally, it can scale quickly and works across multiple devices/locations.  By simply reframing the original problem statement we identified a real opportunity to build an elegant solution to a common call center problem.

What possible use cases can you think of to apply to your business? Reach out to us below if you'd like some help building it.

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