Expertise Location and Contact Centers White Paper

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					Expertise Location and the Contact Center

Executive Summary
Rarely does a new information technology emerge that can change the competitive landscape for businesses. Expert location applications are an opportunity for contact centers to bring new value to the businesses they support, to improve customer satisfaction, to reduce costs, and to enable new business models. Those businesses that adopt expert location early and widely can gain long-term competitive advantage. The challenge, of course, is to match technologies to business objectives. During the last several decades there has been a steady progression in objectives, approach, and technology in contact centers. Contact centers were originally viewed as a telemarketing channel and as a means to provide customer and technical support. Their management focused on cost effective delivery of pre-packaged information and/or answers through a phone call or perhaps email or chat. They used simple call routing techniques and technologies. Over time, self-help systems greatly reduced the need to support basic help functions, but contact centers took on more complex functions like loan processing or insurance claims handling, and assumed responsibility for portions of relationship management (e.g., center-based 'personal bankers' displaced activities in branch offices). With the growing popularity of the Internet, centers began to use multiple channels (voice, chat, email) to provide more convenient and sophisticated help and advice. At the same time, contact centers also came to be viewed as revenue generators via cross-sell, up-sell, and retention activities. Call handling technology progressed through skills based routing (e.g., routing based on caller identification, language spoken, or some other relevant criterion) to intelligent routing (where profile information about a client is used to determine the best agent to address a client's needs). Today, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and knowledge repositories allow agents to provide more sophisticated help, but there are still limits to the expertise offered. Today’s contact centers are constrained by the inability to find and apply needed expertise from outside the center in a timely fashion and in a way that facilitates resolving a complex issue without a long back and forth process. Existing processes were shaped to a large degree by the available call distribution, telephony, network, and software technologies. But the availability of expert location technology raises two questions: How well do these processes support the growing demands of business? And, how can expert location assist contact centers in meeting these business challenges? XpertSHARE is an advanced expert location application that makes it possible for experts anywhere in an organization to assist with critical problems and for their knowledge to be captured and integrated into repositories for reuse. XpertSHARE makes finding the right expert precise, timely and convenient for the customer while relieving the workload of the contact center. These capabilities enable new customer interaction, management and CRM strategies beyond what is supported by traditional queue-based routing. Through XpertSHARE complex or mission critical issues can be addressed quickly and accurately, enabling the contact center to meet its business objectives and impact the bottom line. This white paper illustrates how XpertSHARE can be used to adapt and extend contact center processes to support new business objectives, reduce costs, and create new business models. The paper is organized into sections covering three progressively advanced uses of expert location, descriptions of the collaboration, business intelligence, and knowledge management functions of XpertSHARE, and illustrations of two new business models made possible by XpertSHARE.
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Introduction
Increasingly, contact centers are being asked to support broader business objectives and to sustain dynamic and complex business processes: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Customer satisfaction and retention Revenue generation, up-selling, and cross-selling Improved customer information Increasingly complex products and business processes Contact center operating efficiency

Traditional contact centers typically employ processes built around multiple tiers of dedicated agents and broadly defined subject matter queues. Special-purpose telephony platforms and information systems are used to distribute calls and manage customer and incident information. A typical process, and issues with the process, is shown in the diagram below.

Existing processes were shaped to a large degree by the available call distribution, telephony, network, and software technologies. The processes that have evolved are robust, well understood, and supported by a great many software and hardware tools. But the availability of expert location technology raises two questions: How well do these processes support the growing demands of business? And, how can expert location assist contact centers in meeting these business challenges? XpertSHARE is an expert location application that eliminates many of the technological constraints placed on contact center processes by enabling companies to systematically and precisely deliver live human expertise to employees, customers and partners. By providing the technical capability to combine expert location, on-line collaboration and
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business intelligence management XpertSHARE helps companies achieve their business objectives by: 1. Directing callers to the right expert the first time, no matter where in the organization they reside – inside the contact center or outside; 2. Widening the circle of expertise available to clients, employees, partners, and contact center agents by making any expert anywhere in the organization available in a controlled and measurable manner; 3. Bringing suppliers and partners into the problem resolution process; 4. Providing real-time on-line collaboration tools to make problem solving more accurate and less time-consuming; 5. Building insight into business process performance, the value of expertise, and customer satisfaction by creating and analyzing business intelligence; and, 6. Capturing and indexing expertise and turning it into a manageable and reusable asset. XpertSHARE cost-effectively integrates live human expertise into business processes in context, in real time and at the exact moment when the knowledge, experience and judgment of an actual human being are critically needed. This white paper illustrates how expert location using XpertSHARE can be employed to adapt and extend contact center processes to support new business objectives, reduce costs, and create new business models. The paper is organized into sections covering three progressively advanced uses of expert location, descriptions of the collaboration, business intelligence, and knowledge management functions of XpertSHARE, and illustrations of two new business models made possible by XpertSHARE. Specifically, the first section addresses improving center operations by exploiting more precise call routing within a center. The second section discusses widening the circle of expertise available to customers and agents by integrating the center more tightly into the knowledge resources of a larger enterprise. The third section describes new business models centered around on-demand delivery of expertise to clients and partners. The fourth describes XpertSHARE’s collaboration and business intelligence features. The final section provides illustrations of these new business models. Throughout the paper the term “caller” is used to describe an individual making an inquiry. The term should be understood to refer to an individual placing a call through a rich (generally a web-based) interface. The medium of the call itself may be voice, chat, collaboration tools, or any combination of these.

I.

Finding the Right Expert

Customer satisfaction and retention are driven by the quality of answers provided to customers and the amount of time and effort required of the customer to get those answers. Typically, a customer’s initial encounter at a contact center is with a first-tier agent focused on collecting information about the customer and the problem. The firsttier agent determines whether the call is a new or an old case, assigns it a priority, and responds to the caller either by referencing common problems in a knowledge repository or by escalating the call to second-line support. This process offers little direct value to customers beyond what they can find using a good self-help system. Customers are often first frustrated by speaking with someone who cannot help them and then again frustrated by being redirected to another individual who may collect the same information and ask the same questions.

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XpertSHARE creates value and reduces costs by asking the caller to provide specific information about his problem which is then used to precisely and automatically direct the call to the best available expert. This reduces the time necessary to obtain an answer and eliminates repetitive manual information collection and re-direction of calls. The matched caller and expert are provided with real-time collaboration tools to help resolve the problem quickly and accurately.

XpertSHARE includes configurable subject matter categories and, through a web-based user interface, allows a caller to quickly and easily categorize his own inquiries. Experts are categorized and ranked using the same categories and their availability tracked by XpertSHARE. Once the inquiry is categorized, the platform routes the call to the best available expert. The diagram below shows an example categorization and partial expert mapping taken from the banking industry.

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While the categories themselves may become quite complex, they are presented to the user as a series of simple drop down menus as shown below.

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With XpertSHARE, customers are automatically directed to experts in any tier of the support structure, including experts outside the formal center, based on the nature of the inquiry and individual and corporate profiles. Selling opportunities may also be created by bringing product specialists into the conversation as early as possible. Companies can better exploit existing knowledge resources to support clients and partners – bringing the best resources to bear on the most pressing problems, immediately. Experts and callers are provided with a browser-based user interface that includes all voice and data functions necessary to handle a call. All inquiries and collaboration sessions are delivered either across the Internet using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and a browser-based application, or through integration with an existing telephone system and an Automated Call Distributor (ACD). Callers and experts may reside anywhere on the Internet. Experts outside the contact center control their own availability to ensure a balance with other job functions. Any call not accepted by an expert will be re-routed to another expert. All activity is tracked and analyzed to provide data for improving routing and performance. XpertSHARE collects critical problem, activity, quality and content data before, during and after each call. This data is then aggregated and analyzed to identify business process trends, gaps and opportunities. The power of the web user interface, the ubiquity of Internet access, and XpertSHARE’s categorization and profiling system make it possible for callers to simply and straightforwardly provide comprehensive information about their inquires. XpertSHARE makes finding the right expert precise, timely and convenient for the customer while relieving the workload of the contact center. These capabilities enable new customer interaction, management and CRM strategies beyond what is supported by traditional queue-based routing. Using XpertSHARE, support services become highly personalized and more responsive. Problems are closed more quickly, detailed problem and customer information is captured with less effort and expense, and existing organizational expertise is put to wider use with little additional cost. Finally, customer satisfaction and retention are improved because customers are immediately directed to the best expert(s) without intervening agents and escalation processes that add little value and frustrate the customer. At the same time, operating efficiencies are enhanced by reduced manual information collection, call redirection, and follow-up calls.

II.

Widening the Circle of Expertise

Increasingly complex products and business processes lead to increased demand for sophisticated contact center services. Complex products are characterized by the richness of their interaction with other products, the large number of configuration options, the amount of contextual knowledge necessary to properly use the product, the difficulty of diagnosing problems, and the rate at which the product features may change. Firms are well rewarded for their ability to deliver complex products and services. But the ability to create revenue with these products and services may be limited by a company’s ability to support them with the proper expertise at the right scale. Similarly, complex business processes have many branches spanning multiple organizations and companies and require access to specialized information for continued robust operation and performance. These processes are critical to business performance and require expert knowledge to resolve problems and handle unforeseen situations. The problem is compounded by the sheer size of modern organizations, alliances formed to expand product portfolios, the speed at which products are introduced, and the need for
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business processes to adapt to rapidly changing business conditions. Business process outsourcing and the use of independent consultants or agents for many business functions also drive demand for expertise. As products and processes become more complex, a growing proportion of the total number of inquiries may be unique or may occur infrequently. Taken individually these inquires may be a small proportion of all calls but in aggregate they may be critical to meeting customer satisfaction goals and supporting sales. Clearly, supporting such a wide variety of subject matter is a challenge. Problems of this type often require expertise from multiple subject matter experts, particularly deep expertise in one or more subject areas, or expertise held by only a few individuals.

To support complex products and services, agents frequently need to reach across contact center areas of expertise, deeper into the (non-contact center) organization, or even to partners or suppliers to develop a solution. The experts may themselves require assistance from other experts within the contact center or outside the contact center to resolve difficult problems. In general, existing processes and tools for reaching across or beyond the contact center are not responsive, not performed in real-time, informally managed, and difficult to measure and therefore difficult to improve. With today’s contact center processes the more expertise necessary to resolve the problem, the more time it takes to find that expertise. Reducing the time to find and deliver the expertise necessary to support complex products and services will enable contact centers to deliver new value and assure competitive advantage for the enterprise. XpertSHARE makes this possible.

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For complex products the contact center agents themselves may be users of XpertSHARE. The platform permits agents, either while engaged in a session with a customer or in support of a customer call-back, to submit an inquiry and to be quickly routed to an expert. The expert may be another contact center agent or may be from another part of the organization outside of the center. XpertSHARE systematizes and broadens the ability of center agents or select customers to reach across, into, and out of the organization as well as make it measurable and subject to systematic improvement.

In addition to having access to the full range of XpertSHARE collaboration tools, the expert initiating the call may converse with the second expert privately, can transfer the call to the second expert, or may bring the second expert into the on-line conversation with the customer, creating a three-way dialogue. Multiple experts and the customer may collaborate in real-time to solve problems involving one or more products, modules, or vendors. Making business processes more productive and flexible often means unshackling them from rote workflows and making the expertise, skills, and judgment necessary to run the
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business directly available to those who need it. Using XpertSHARE to widen the circle of expertise available to clients and contact center agents improves problem solving, enhances customer satisfaction, and makes it possible to more quickly scale support for complex products and services.

III. Leveraging Suppliers and Partners
The advent of business process outsourcing and products with deep and complex supply chains have created the need to draw upon expertise across organizations. Supporting such complex products and processes is both a challenge and an opportunity for contact centers. Contact centers have an opportunity to create new business models by turning themselves into knowledge and information hubs. To realize this opportunity they will need resources beyond their walls and tools that span inter-company networks and information systems. XpertSHARE’s ability to route calls anywhere on the Internet based on the nature of the inquiry and the profile of the caller, and the ability to collect detailed intelligence on these calls, gives clients the unique capacity to create and mediate powerful networks of expertise that span customers, divisions within the company, suppliers, and partners. These mediated networks may be used to create new business models based on the idea of an extended service bureau. Expertise that may have been available to only a relatively few individuals or expertise that could not formerly be delivered in real-time can, with XpertSHARE, now be made available to anyone with an Internet connection and in real-time – at the critical moment of need.

Driving customer satisfaction and productivity across organizations is an emerging challenge requiring innovative tools like XpertSHARE. XpertSHARE improves customer service by enabling companies to draw upon a larger and deeper pool of internal and external experts to resolve client problems quickly or to create innovative and comprehensive proposals. Those companies that can learn to share and apply their expertise on-demand will develop new business models and competitive advantages that will be difficult for competitors to surpass.

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IV. Collaboration and Archiving
This paper has so far discussed the expert location aspects of XpertSHARE in the context of a contact center, e.g. the ability to immediately directs a call to the best available expert in real-time. In addition to providing expert location services, XpertSHARE includes tools and capabilities which speed problem solving, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive contact center productivity: 1. On-line collaboration tools that speed the problem solving process once the proper expert has been located; 2. Business intelligence collection and analysis tools that may be used to collect, aggregate, and analyze data about XpertSHARE transactions to better understand the use and value of expertise within the organization; and, 3. Knowledge archiving tools that capture and index the actual knowledge exchanged during XpertSHARE sessions so that it can be incorporated into contact center knowledge repositories and processes. Collaboration XpertSHARE provides on-line collaboration capabilities that enhance the ability to solve problems remotely. XpertSHARE’s on-line collaboration capabilities include voice and video communications, web page sharing, application sharing, white-boarding, and text chat. XpertSHARE also includes embedded call management tools that ensure that the expert has up-to-date information about the caller and the problem. The call management system records the detailed description of each inquiry submitted, session time and length, as well as the responses from the feedback forms that both caller and agent submit after the session completes. These collaboration features, illustrated below, speed problem resolution and allow more complex products to be supported by improving communication with the customer and by reducing the time it takes to find and communicate solutions. Contact center operations costs are controlled by reducing actual problem resolution time and by systematically converting previously undocumented expertise into reusable tools information.

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Business Intelligence XpertSHARE impacts customer satisfaction, center productivity, and overall organizational productivity by directing calls more intelligently, widening the circle of expertise available to callers and support agents, and by providing more productive collaboration tools. XpertSHARE impacts these metrics, as well as improves its own performance, by collecting and managing business intelligence data. This information is used to ensure ever more accurate call routing, improved context and problem information for the expert, and deep business intelligence for the organization. XpertSHARE provides the means to aggregate and deliver to management previously inaccessible or uncollectible information about the business from the point of view of expertise exchange. XpertSHARE can do this through structured feedback, reports, and archives – both at a summary level as well as at a granular individual session level. XpertSHARE collects four types of information: 1) Precise and comprehensive problem descriptions; 2) Activity data regarding the number and type of inquiries, the callers, the experts, and time of occurrence and session length; 3) Structured feedback from callers and experts; and, 4) Verbatim recordings of all collaboration media streams. These four types of data may be aggregated, organized, and analyzed to provide clients with a robust understanding of the demand for, the use, and value of expertise within their organization and to their clients. For instance, XpertSHARE provides data driven insight on: • The demand for expertise across processes and categories of expertise; • The ability of a company to meet this demand and the impact upon business processes; • Expertise exchanges most important to the business or to critical clients; • The experts providing business or client critical knowledge; • The cost to the business of delivering (or being unable to deliver) specified expertise; and, • Where individual clients are experiencing problems, allowing these problems to be proactively addressed and additional sales opportunities created. Two example reports are included below. The first illustrates overall activity and the second describes activity by subject area and answer quality. Additional reports as well as an ad-hoc reporting facility are also available.

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Most importantly, information may also be collected from the caller and the expert at the end of the collaboration session, allowing the customer to provide candid feedback regarding the business impact or quality of the service received and allowing the expert to provide feedback that might assist the company in improving processes, problem resolution, workforce management, and knowledge management practices.
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Feedback questionnaires are used to probe key areas of business interest that align with the business problem or opportunity being addressed. There may be any number of questions depending on the nature of the problem and the roles of the caller and the expert. The feedback questionnaires feed the reporting system and are designed to draw management attention to “good” or “bad” sessions as well as to business information or trends identified as a result of single or accumulated session feedback. The area of management interest may be the concerns of a particular customer or the performance of an expert or a line of business. It might be a specific problem type or opportunity area. The goal is to provide information to management to drive improved performance. Reports help management understand what expertise is in demand, what is available, what expertise is in short supply and what expertise is not available at all. This information could be transformative for a business. The information consolidated and filtered by XpertSHARE may be used to better understand the use and value of expertise within the organization, the nature of the expertise exchanged, and to transform critical knowledge from a personal asset held by one or a few employees into a company asset. Overall, the organization gets better insight into its customers, processes, and inquiries.

Turning Expertise into a Reusable Asset Identifying, capturing, and distributing knowledge and expertise related to changing processes and products is a challenge for any organization but is especially challenging for contact centers as they are on the frontline servicing clients. XpertSHARE provides a complete knowledge management methodology and tool set for ensuring that organizations build a detailed understanding of expertise usage within their organization and processes. The tool set also ensures that expertise exchanged through XpertSHARE can be found, searched, and packaged for reuse. This helps reduce future demand for live expertise and costs associated with live expertise by making the knowledge available in structured searchable formats. XpertSHARE captures the complete media stream of all sessions including the voice, video, application sharing, white-boarding, and chat streams. These are archived and can be played back through a utility provided by XpertSHARE. The archived sessions are themselves indexed by the business intelligence data described above, allowing them to be sorted and searched by their value to the organization or to clients. Once selected, they can be reviewed and the expertise extracted and distributed through existing knowledge management channels including self-help systems, knowledge bases, contact center scripts, manuals and documentation, and product specifications. The diagram below illustrates how XpertSHARE integrates problem resolution and collaboration with business intelligence, session archiving, reporting, and feedback to contact center support systems to create a powerful knowledge management solution.

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Capturing complex expertise in this manner improves productivity and lowers costs by shortening the time between when the knowledge or expertise is first needed by someone and when it gets formalized, made into a corporate asset, and distributed to those who need it. The archives may also be used for legal, compliance, and regulatory governance, reporting, and retention. The capabilities of XpertSHARE described above enable new contact center processes, reduced costs, and new business models including multi-partner expertise networks and on-line service bureaus.

V.

Illustrations:

Creating a Multi-Partner Expertise Network An excellent example of how a multi-partner expertise network might be created using XpertSHARE is an aircraft maintenance application known as “Aircraft On the Ground” or AOG. An AOG event occurs when an aircraft in grounded for unexpected maintenance. The challenge is to get the aircraft back in the air quickly with as little disruption to route operations as possible. The problem is that the expertise to diagnose and repair all problems is not available at all facilities. AOG events cost the airline industry hundreds of
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millions of dollars a year in operating expenses and customer good will. experiences similar problems.

The military

Today, aircraft manufacturers maintain AOG help desks to assist local ground personnel. But aircraft manufacturers build only twenty percent of a typical aircraft, outsourcing the balance of the components – and the expertise to diagnose and repair them - to hundreds of first, second, and third tier suppliers. The aircraft manufacturer’s AOG help desk may do little more than request that the caller contact a supplier’s AOG help desk, which may again do the same. Resolving a problem often means first finding the right engineer at the right supplier. Finding the right person in this manner can sometimes take hours or days. XpertSHARE can reduce the time necessary to find the right person and get the aircraft back in the air. It does so by building and mediating a network of experts across the entire supplier base. Field technicians or engineers describe their problem through the web interface, providing detailed information on the aircraft and the problem, and are immediately routed to the right expert anywhere in the established support chain.

Routing rules control the order in which experts are contacted. For instance, airline companies could configure XpertSHARE to first attempt to find an internal expert or an expert from a maintenance partner before calling upon the resources of the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s supply chain. Field technician and experts can use the collaboration features to quickly and accurately exchange technical information and documentation, quickly resolving the problem. While all this is taking place, XpertSHARE is collecting and aggregating data about each call – creating insight into the product and processes. Over time the company will be able to see which AOG events or maintenance problems are costing the airline the most money, which suppliers or partner organizations are providing the most value, and perhaps where processes might be further improved.

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Critical knowledge is retained in the recorded collaboration sessions and indexed so that it can found, valued, reviewed, and incorporated into the company’s processes and documents. All parties benefit. The airline gets its aircraft back in the sky faster. The aircraft manufacturer can scale back the low-value added portion of its AOG help desk operations and focus on providing subject matter assistance rather than directory assistance.

Creating a Service Bureau For centuries service bureaus have existed to assist clients with on-demand access to expertise. Businesses organized as service bureaus range from accounting and legal firms to specialized research groups. One of the defining characteristics of a service bureau is generally the presence of a knowledge broker. In a law or accounting firm this is the partner responsible for a particular account. The client calls the partner whenever he has a need for advice and the partner determines which partners or associates have the right subject matter knowledge and experience and are available to assist the client. Specialized research firms often employ thousands of experts part-time. These experts have industry or technology specific subject matter expertise. The research bureaus have teams dedicated to tracking experts and finding the right expert for a particular client inquiry. Clearly, there is an opportunity to use XpertSHARE to manage and automate these relationships. Clients could be routed directly to an appropriate expert without the intervention of a knowledge broker. Connections can be made more quickly and accurately and at less cost than they could be made manually. XpertSHARE’s collaboration tools can be used to facilitate collaboration between the parties and the business intelligence analysis could help firms better understand the value of their expertise to their clients, their client’s needs, and business opportunities.

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Companies can also build their own virtual service bureaus within the walls of the company or with partners, leveraging internal expertise to better assist employees, partners, and customers.

Conclusion
XpertSHARE can bring immediate benefits to contact centers while also enabling new business models based on existing contact center capabilities and new expert location tools. Using a combination of ubiquitous networks and expert location, organizations can restructure their business processes to be more responsive to customers and to make better use of internal resources. XpertSHARE speeds the introduction of new products, makes processes more responsive to business needs, reduces outsourcing problems, and improves customer satisfaction by providing better answers more quickly. Contact center costs and productivity are enhanced by better utilizing resources within or across contact centers and optimizing the time of second and third-tier experts. Revenue and competitiveness are improved by shortening product launch schedules and enabling the organization to deliver more complex products and services.

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