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Hospitality Call Center Software

Streamlining a robust customer service platform

The Challenge

Call centers are fast-paced environments where customer service is key to every interaction. When a global hotel brand decided to revamp their call center software, LookThink got the call to help shape the employee experience.

When people interact with an interface, they usually do so on their own behalf. The individual is in control of where to navigate and what to click and read. However, interfaces for call centers are unique. Agents need to respond to another human being calling the shots and leverage the system to react and respond accordingly. This unique interaction pattern was top of mind for this engagement, as well as the following key principles:

 

People are creatures of habit

Many agents had been using the current system for years. They knew it inside and out, and adapted to its shortcomings with reliable, but not necessarily efficient, workarounds. Change for these agents would be difficult (and possibly unwelcomed) so we needed their buy-in early to be successful.

No two phone calls are ever the same

The new system had to be flexible enough to adapt to any conversational path callers may take. Agents need to seamlessly handle the flow of calls without the person on the other end noticing any hiccups.

Ramping up staff is expensive

The previous system required weeks of training on several programs for staff to be effective. The company was hiring hundreds of new agents soon so the system needed to be easy to learn with little or no training.

The need for speed is real

Agents use keyboard shortcuts for many tasks. Any switching between the mouse and keyboard slows an agent down and can make a call feel uncomfortable. Special attention needed to be paid to the tabbing order and number of clicks, so agents could move at the pace of the call.

Problem-solving is easier with a unified system

The call center handles phone calls from guests, as well as emails, chats, and social media inquiries. The new system had to unify guest accounts to allow agents to resolve inquiries or problems through any and all methods of communication.

Traditionally, this job isn’t for everyone

But it can and should be. The system had to account for accessibility issues for hard of sight and physically disabled individuals. Every person using the system should be able to succeed and thrive in their work environment. This meant paying special attention to 508 compliance along the way to ensure all agents could do just that.

 

The Solution

Before designing anything, our first step was to spend time shadowing agents at a call center to fully understand their environment and daily experience. We observed their calls and asked questions to uncover pain points as well as common tasks and requests. The information we collected helped us build empathy with the agents and callers alike — and became the basis for our human-centered approach for the platform.

One of our key goals was to make the language human and easy to understand so agents knew what to expect from each click. It was important that an agent could follow a task from start to finish without getting lost in the system. We also needed to make sure agents could exit a flow if the customer request changed — so we identified auxiliary information that should accompany the main flow.

One of our key goals was to make the language human and easy to understand so agents knew what to expect from each click.

We then used a combination of rapid prototyping and user testing to move in an agile manner through the design and build process. Workshops and user research were done on a weekly basis to discover new features and enhancements. We worked with product owners to prioritize and groom those stories several sprints ahead so that all stakeholders had a clear roadmap, which was particularly beneficial for getting buy-in from the development team. Before each sprint, prototypes were created to demonstrate functionality to stakeholders and agents. We received feedback and continually adjusted our prototypes to match agent needs.
Different modules for the new website, including actions, a point grid, mapping features, hotel selection, and a utility bar.
A series of call center screens, focused on a call logging tool on a laptop screen.

The Results

The amount of time it takes to train a new agent dropped by nearly 80%. What used to be a six to eight week training period, decreased to only one and a half weeks. New agents report that the interface is clean, easy to read, and intuitive to use, allowing them to tackle all the basic tasks expected of a new agent almost immediately.

The amount of time it takes to train a new agent dropped by nearly 80%.

With the plan to onboard two-hundred additional new agents soon, this global hotel brand is looking at thousands of hours saved, just for this round of hires. In an industry with a turnover rate of 30-45%, saving training time means saving real money.

A small group of existing beta-testing agents are now championing the product and acting as power users who bring fresh ideas to the development team. Because of these users and the continuous feedback and testing loop we implemented, the brand has confidence that the platform will be well received and readily adopted when released to a wider audience.  

The brand went from several disparate systems with meager satisfaction, to one holistic platform that empowers agents to do their jobs more efficiently. Best of all, the brand feels that the platform sets the stage for reducing their turnover rate and increasing customer service across the board.

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