Most organisations are now trying to make the mind-set shift to “outside-in”. They are thinking from the customer’s perspective about the outcomes that customers are trying to achieve, then working backwards to ensure the effective delivery of that outcome. This simple principle goes against the way most first generation CRM systems were designed and deployed. Despite CRM being sold as a customer-centric transformation, many first generation CRM initiatives ended up being more about internal command and control, rather than about the customer. Nowhere was this felt more than in the contact centre where compliance and measurement were the order of the day. First generation CRM thinking and systems forced agents to read rigid scripts and be subject to ruthless measurement of operational KPIs like average call handle time. CRM 2.0 has put the customer back at the rightful heart of CRM thinking and Capgemini has been at the forefront of this trend, embracing topics like Social CRM. In all our renewed focus on the customer, however, let’s not forget about the agent. One thing that the early failures of CRM taught us is that software doesn’t build relationships; people do. Last week we launched a new proposition for contact centres with Sword Ciboodle called “Love your Agents”. The aim of the proposition is to recognise that it is the agent that makes the biggest difference to the customer experience in the contact centre. In most contact centres agent costs dwarf the operational run costs, in some cases representing around 70% of total operational costs. This cost is felt the hardest in contact centres where agent churn is a problem; training costs run sky high, and it is very difficult to redeploy agents quickly to react to peaks and troughs and new business requirements. Most contact centres adopt a one size fits all approach to agent training and indeed to the agent desktop. However, we know that different people learn and process information in entirely different ways. Some people are visual learners – they learn through pictures and visual graphics. Some are analytical – they need to drill into the detail. Others like to see the big picture – they struggle to go into the nuts and bolts of a problem until they have put an overall framework around it. A final group are verbal learners – they learn through reading and talking. A great deal of research has been done in this area, notably by Riding and Rayner who have developed a cognitive styles model. The Love your Agents Proposition is simple. What if we could align an individual agent’s learning style to the way they were trained AND to their agent desktop? Done correctly we could reduce agent training times, but also allow agents to use their desktop solutions more intuitively. In theory this would allow new processes to be rolled out faster; but more importantly it would allow agents to process customer knowledge much faster and therefore increase their chances of fixing the customer’s problem or spotting an up-sell opportunity. The screenshot below shows an example of an agent desktop aligned to a visual learner who likes to understand the big picture. Riding an Rayner would define this cognitive style as a “Wholist Imager”: The desktop application allows the agent to visually see information relating to the customer: their contact information, their relationships, their policies. This is very different to the traditional CRM contact centre front end, which would display this information in a static list or tabular format. This highly visual approach however, will not be appropriate to all agents. At the other end of the scale is the “Analytic Verbaliser” who learns through words and analysis. In this case, the visual screen above might be over-whelming. Instead, the best way for the user to interact with the same application, might be through a different front-end. In this case we have developed a “Google-style”, search-based solution. The top of the screen has a search bar, where the user can search for a customer, a policy, or a transaction similar to navigating the internet through Google. In both cases above, the underlying application is exactly the same. We are not providing fundamentally different applications to different users. Instead, we are redesigning the way in which users interact with the system, to best reflect their individual learning and cognitive styles. Our thanks to Sword Ciboodle for working with us to build out this concept in their solution. For more information please contact Patrick James or Laurence Buchanan. Laurence Buchanan leads CRM within Capgemini's Technology Services business in the UK. Follow him on Twitter or connect on Linkedin.