UI/UX changes in your WFO software may be painful in the short term, but there’s a long-term payoff
Has this ever happened to you? You arrive at work in the morning and log on to the business application you’ve depended on for years to do your job well and efficiently and you find a screen that looks and acts entirely differently than the one you logged off from the night before. What was intuitive yesterday is now a puzzle you’ve got to piece together.
For years, this specialized software tool has been part of your comfort zone; you’ve built daily routines around it, and it likely structures how you think about your job. Now, a change to the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) disrupts all of that. Frankly, it’s hard to see past the short-term pain to the longer-term gain.
Historically, most Workforce Optimization (WFO) software providers have employed a 'best-of-breed' model for building their tool suites - a combination of internal development, the acquisition of outside products, and the integration of 3rd party provider products.
The resulting product feels to the user like a disconnected, discrete collection of tools with little UX or UI commonality. Supervisors, managers, and agents have different interfaces and experiences. Integration is compromised. Barriers to collaboration emerge. The WFO solution's value to the organization is reduced.
For those reasons and others, there’s a sound business rationale driving software providers to dedicate significant financial and human resources to ongoing UI and UX development. Specific to contact centers, WFO software providers are (or should be) driven by the need to unify experiences across their customers' organizations as users navigate their workforce management, quality management, compliance, and analytics tools.
After all, a unified UI/UX, one where everything looks and behaves in the same way:
The UI/UX development process begins with understanding use cases. Each category of users within the contact center interacts with their organization's WFO software differently. Their job responsibilities determine which tools and features/functions within those tools they use. That said, there is no reason for every module within a WFO solution to have its own dashboards, reports, notifications, audit logs, etc.; those capabilities should be shared.
A WFO provider’s UI/UX team should consider three different categories of users: supervisors, managers, and agents. They work at different levels of the organization, their technological sophistication varies, and they deal with data and KPIs distinctive to their roles. What does that mean for the provider? It means that while all user groups’ UX should be very similar, the data sets they interact with (including the amount of data they’re exposed to) should be tuned to each user group individually.
Here are a few examples of role-based use cases in the contact center:
There’s a joke about lawyers: Ask two lawyers for their opinions, and they’ll give you three. It’s the same with UX/UI designers and the users they work to satisfy. So, visibility into and an objective assessment of user needs, preferences and behaviors are absolutely essential for building a foundation upon which a successful UI and UX can be developed.
It is best practice for software providers to collect data about how users behave and which parts of their application are or are not used. They can also identify where end users may be struggling. That information informs the science of technical UX design on the back end. It’s as critical to the solution’s overall effectiveness as the art of designing visual touchpoints and the user-facing features - the cosmetics - of the UI.
UX/UI design and deployment is an iterative process. It typically starts with discussions with internal stakeholders – executive leadership, sales, pre-sales, and support personnel – to build out the business case. It then moves to a customer consultation phase, identifying role-based use cases within the contact center and each user group’s priorities. From there, UX developers and UI designers will build/mockup a prototype and gather feedback. The development and feedback cycle continues until the provider can be confident that they’ve finalized the application’s optimal look, feel, and behavior.
Of course, no two contact centers are identical, so the goal is deploying a UI/UX that delivers the most value for the broadest range of customers – a high level of application utilization and engagement, a reduction in time needed to complete tasks and the ability to complete all tasks within the application, etc.
Change is a fact of life and work, but there’s an old axiom that describes the prevailing attitude about change: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” To varying degrees, we resist change - even resent it. The cynics among us might even think the UX/UI changes are entirely unnecessary, just an attempt by a group of developers to justify their existence.
The fact is, though, no WFO software provider is going to dedicate the time and resources required to revamp their UI and UX on a whim. There’s a solid customer-driven business case behind that decision, and, if it’s done correctly, both the provider and its customers will share its long-term benefits.
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