There are two types of fundamental problems involving information: 1) not having enough of it and 2) having too much of it. Of course, you could probably add numerous other type of issues with information such as irrelevant information, untimely information, information delivered in the wrong format, and so on. Information is especially critical in a call center (contact center) environment. Contact center agents need enough information to do their jobs, without being overloaded with too unnecessary or superfluous information. In addition, the information has to be timely, comprehendible, and pertinent to the task at hand. And of course, no matter how great the information is, it is not of any value if the agent can find and comprehend it.
The SAP CRM Interaction Center offers an elegant solution to the challenge of providing agents with real-time, relevant, easy-to-locate information that helps the Interaction Center agent perform their job. In the Interaction Center, real-time text-based messages are pushed to the agent via one of three different tools, depending on the type of information. These three tools are: alerts, system messages, and broadcast messages. All three of these tools are similar in that they allow the system to push real-time information to agents; however, each of the tools seve a slightly different purpose and deliver different types of information to the agent (in different parts of the screen). Alerts display important information about the current customer. System messages display error messages and other information relating the current business transaction or screen. And broadcast messages provide personal information to the agent sent from the supervisor, generally in regard to administrative issues not related to the current customer or screen/transaction. Let’s look at each tool in detail.
Alerts can be used to provide the agent with critical information about the current customer. For example, if the agent receives a service-related call from an gold customer the system might instruct the agent to be especially courteous and to exceed the typical average talk time if necessary. Similarly, if a call is received from a customer who already has a couple of open service issues and whose service contract is expiring in a few days, the agent could receive two alerts indicating that the customer has two open service tickets and that the customer’s warranty or service contract is expiring within the next 30 days. Alerts appear as short text messages in the Context Area at the top of the Interaction Center screen. Alerts are generally triggered in response to a specific action executed by the agent. For example, the alert might be triggered when the agent confirms the customer accout, or when the agent logs a service ticket on behalf of the customer. Although alerts are delivered to the agent in real-time, the alerts are first created beforehand with tool called the Alert Editor and then modeled and triggered via another tool called the Rule Modeler. Using the same tool, alerts can also be removed from the screen (terminated) via business rules. If more than one alert is present at a time, the second alert will appear above the first alert. If more than two alerts are triggered, a small back arrow will appear allowing the agent to page down through the list of current alerts. Alerts can also contain navigational hyperlinks causing the agent to navigate to a predefined screen when the alert is clicked.
System Messages look similar, yet work quite differently than alerts. Unlike alerts which are often used to provide important information about the current customer, system messages provide information, warnings, and error messages related to the specific business transaction or screen in which the agent is currently working. For example, if the Interaction Center agent forgets to confirm the customer record, a system message will appear reminding the agent to confirm the account. Similarly, several system messages could be raised to notify the agent of each error or omission in a business transaction. System messages appear at the top of the main Interaction Center application area or workspace where the agents do most of their work. The system messages area is located just beneath the workspace title. System messages are raised by the application components of the Interaction Center and contain quite technical information. There are actually three types of system messages: informational messages (with a green checkmark icon), warning messages (with a yellow triangle with exclamation point), and error messages (with a red circle with exclamation point). For example, a warning message might be presented if multiple (alternative) organizational units are available for one particular business partner, while an error message might be raised if no organization unit is selected at all.
Broadcast Messages are quite different than alerts and system messages. While alerts and system messages provide the agent with information relating to the current customer interaction or screen, broadcast messages usually contain information unrelated to any customer or interaction. Rather, broadcast messages usually provide announcements, updates, and instructions of an administrative nature — sent (broadcasted) by a supervisor to one or more agents. For example, a broadcast message might inform the agents that the company is currently experiencing a spike in call volumes and to keep calls as short as possible. Or, a broadacast message might instruct a single agent to go on break after wrapping up the current customer interaction. Broadcast messages appear at the bottom of the screen in a scrolling ticker. Each alert will continously scroll across the bottom of the agent’s Interaction Center screen until the alert expires (supervisors can set a validity period for each alert of e.g., 30 minutes) or until the agent manually marks the alert as read. Alerts can be sent as either normal priority or high priority. Messages that are marked as high priority will appear in bold font, while normal priority messages appear in regular font.