When I last wrote about Panviva I likened its product SupportPoint to a smart agent desktop – a system that helps contact center agents access the information they need to handle customer interactions, guides them through the process of handling interactions and offers advice on what to say next (for example, which product to upsell). Several trends have emerged since then. Two of our recent benchmark research projects, next-generation customer engagement and next-generation customer analytics, confirm that handling interactions is now an enterprise issue – every business unit except IT now handles interactions. This change creates challenges. More kinds of employees need access to information relevant to the type of interactions they handle. Yet each business unit typically has its own processes and systems to support the way it handles interactions. A third issue is that more employees handle interactions away from their desks and need access to information on mobile devices. The situation is further complicated because, as our research projects also show, customers now interact with organizations through more channels, and companies must provide easy access to those channels.
All together these issues make it hard for companies to provide consistent information and experiences no matter who customers interact with or which channel they use. Our benchmark research into agent desktop systems shows that the desktops most employees use hinder them in handling interactions: 65 percent of organizations said it increases average handling times, 49 percent said it degrades the customer experience, 39 percent said it results in data entry errors and 31 percent said it negatively impacts agent satisfaction. Despite this, the research shows only 29 percent of companies provide agents with a smart desktop.
Panviva SupportPoint provides capabilities similar to a smart desktop but in a different way to most other desktop products I cover. I outlined many of its key functional capabilities in my previous perspective. Panviva continues to refine and add capabilities, but the key fact is that it doesn’t disrupt current practices by replacing existing systems: Users create “smart scripts” that work along with their existing systems to guide users in carrying out their tasks, and data is automatically pushed and pulled between systems so ll users see the same information and all systems are updated simultaneously. To increase the adoption of its product, in July 2014 Panviva made a bold move by withdrawing its on-premises version of the product and moving to cloud-only deployment. This changes not only delivers the usual benefits of cloud systems such as lower upfront and ongoing costs but also makes the system more easily accessible to distributed sites and users, and to mobile workers.
At about the same time as it moved to the cloud, Panviva created what it calls a customer experience team, which is much the same as a professional services team. The team helps customer companies set up and operate the product and demonstrates how to use its innovative features. Our benchmark research into next-generation customer engagement shows that many companies struggle to manage the customer experience: Only 14 percent reach the highest Innovative level for this area, and even fewer (8%) are Innovative in process management. Panviva’s customer experience teams shows users how to improve processes by using the system, and more efficient processes typically help employees become more effective in their work.
During a recent update, I learned that the combination of added capabilities, being cloud-based, having more partners and deploying the customer experience team is paying off for the company. Executives said that Panviva’s customer base has grown 13 percent; the new customers are cloud-based. One of its customers, Health Alliance Medical Plans, won our 2014 Leadership Award for contact and call center management by demonstrating how by using Panviva in conjunction with saleforce.com it has achieved improved business success. This example of success confirms findings of our agent desktop research, which shows that organizations that adopt such systems enable more employees to handle interactions (which 57% said), improve collaboration across business units (49%) and reduce average handling times (48%).
I recently wrote that a smart desktop can help organizations overcome issues in providing superior customer experiences, particularly as relates to providing consistent, personalized experiences, regardless of which business unit the customer deals with. Cloud-based systems facilitate organizations making it easier for a wider, more distributed set of employees to access the system, meaning SupportPoint can be used to improve back-office tasks such as completing a customer insurance claim. It includes reporting and analysis tools so managers can assess how well processes are working, decide which paths produce the best outcomes and spot potential improvements.
Early business process management systems typically allowed users to visualize processes, but being static, they relied on manual effort to spot improvements. Newer systems include capabilities to capture events (data) which allows users to monitor how processes flow, including timings, and this analysis can be used to spot improvements. SupportPoint supports both these capabilities and goes beyond them. Processes can be visualized as smart scripts which proactively guide users through a process, potential changing the flow depending on data entered or retrieved from systems. So look beyond the branding as I believe it can be used very effectively to improve handing on customer interactions, and thus the customer experience. To that end, I recommend companies working to improve the customer experience evaluate how Panviva can help them achieve both operational efficiency and effectiveness.
Richard J. Snow
VP & Research Director