In a Contact Center environment, internal and external pressures are building up. Their company mandates the Contact Center agent not only answer customer inquiries and resolve their issues but also they expect the agent to be able to up sell and cross sell products and services to their existing customers. While customers expect Contact Center agents in front of a computer screen with access to everything to do their job and answer the customer's question.
Ideally the agent can aggregate several types of information, usually from multitude of sources ranging from the customer's profile, Case Profile, Knowledge Base, and Back Office data such as transaction history, billing information, etc. This is a long standing goal of integration. Integration is a delicate topic that no one would like to touch because when they’ve done that, they've burned their fingers and still never reach the nirvana of “single customer view”.
So we have a challenge here where technology driven change might come in handy by providing a contact center an information aggregator that will render decomposed customer information brought by organizational, functional and/or product silos. The strategy is not simple but the approach might relatively is as we are going to be “user-centric” here. Understanding the Contact Center Agent needs, apart from the Telephony interface together with ANI (Automatic Number Identification) and scripting capabilities with a much richer customer profile that can be provided by a CRM application like Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
An agent also needs to have an immediate access to back office information like Billing, Transaction History, and oh maybe, some product promotions alerts from their marketing department. All these should be available without opening up and logging on to multiple applications. This is because one of the performance measures for an agent is the Average Handling Time.
There should also be a workflow engine that should trigger actions from different events during the course of call engagement e.g., in a Telco space, probably provisioning of a new subscriber service or Waiving of a credit card charge in a Credit Card company.
There is a lot to do and maybe a CRM application can't fulfill all those requirements, especially on this very fast and remote customer engagement. However a new technology platform called the Customer Care Framework or CCF might be the answer.
The intent is not to provide great details of CCF (you can find more of those here but this blog article is intended to provide you some basic knowledge on how you can build Contact Center Agent desktop via CCF and expose rich customer profile from Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Figure 1. CCF High Level Architecture
As described from the high level architecture diagram, we will be doing some work in the bottom layer where Operational Support System (OSS)/Basic Service Set (BSS) systems resides. And to give you some motivation, Figure 2 is the example of a Contact Center Agent desktop which will attempt to achieve at the end.
Figure 2: Microsoft CRM inside CCF
First make sure you have installed and configured a running CCF system (for this article we will be using Microsoft® Customer Care Framework 2005 .NET 2.0 Edition). You can get the bits if you are a subscriber of MSDN from its distributed media or download it via MSDN downloads.
Some pre-requisite software and services for CCF are:
- Domain Controller
- SQL Server
- IIS Server
- SQL Report Server
- Client Desktops
You will also be needing Visual Studio 2005 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 which by the way can be placed on one single machine or a Virtual PC image.
(to be continued)…