Imagine you work in a contact center where your supervisor strolls the floor with an electronic tablet outstretched in her arms, like some hi-tech sleep walker.
Uncannily, she appears over your shoulder every time you encounter an especially difficult customer. With her help you resolve the problem.
Meet Simon Wright’s vision for how virtual and augmented reality devices can provide “observational and analytical superpowers” to the supervisor of the future.
The technology executive of Daly City, Calif.-based Genesys showed off a prototype of such a system in Indianapolis in May. The customer experience and contact center software company bought Indianapolis competitor Interactive Intelligence last December for $1.4 billion.
Genesys’ new Indianapolis team will help refine the software, known internally as Project Starwalker. Wright said Genesys was looking for customers to beta test the product, with one of the first users potentially an Indianapolis company.
“We’re at the start of the biggest technology disruption since the smart phone,” said Wright, who is based in the United Kingdom. “Virtual and augmented reality is going to change everything.”
For real this time
That may seem a bold claim to those whose only exposure to virtual reality is for entertainment or gaming purposes. Many a promising VR product has fizzled because the immersive experience viewed through enclosed headgear can cause dizziness and nausea.
But so-called augmented reality, or AR, is less-immersive – providing a mix of ordinary vision with three-dimensional features of VR.
Genesys’ software, now in Android form, will be ramped up to run on any device, whether a tablet, eye gear or any number of VR/AR devices likely to hit the market in the next few years.
During the conference in Indianapolis last month, Genesys demonstrated the software loaded onto a tablet with which the supervisor can use to pan across the call center. Three-dimensional icons of call center agents at their desks pop up on the screen, depending on where it’s aimed.
The device simultaneously displays real-time data, via an information bubble appearing over each agent’s head. The supervisor sees such data as the agent’s name, whether he’s using email, and if he’s on a customer call and for how long.
“It really opens up a whole new load of possibilities in terms of how we can monitor performance levels and identify coaching opportunities in the customer service environment,” Wright said.
With a swipe of the screen, a supervisor can also pull from the menu any number of metrics about the employee, such as his customer satisfaction scores.
That data can also be displayed in any number of three-dimensional formats, as well, such as 3-D fever charts or butterfly graphics that give supervisors an even more vivid graphical summary of agent metrics.
Added dimension to data
Indeed, VR and AR can be a particularly good way to present in visual context data that’s hard to comprehend at first glance in 2-D, said Zeb Wood, a lecturer in human-centered computing at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, in Indianapolis. After all, Wood added, “we live in a world that’s three-dimensional.”
That’s in contrast to the two-dimensional presentation today of data one gets from a computer dashboard or from a paper report.
Besides being able to view performance of particular call center agents, Genesys’ software may also help supervisors improve overall performance of a center.
Wright said AR can provide better understanding of how a cluster of employees is doing.
“This is really interesting to us because we’re starting to explore how people can help other people in the call center. And AR can give use more of a visual (idea) on groups – friends together – because quite often people will help each other.
“That could be relevant in terms of planning, in terms of workforce (development).”
Genesys also has been testing an AR solution that customer service agents could use to virtually place hands on a customer’s device.
Say the customer is having trouble figuring out how to connect a router his computer. The agent could ask the customer to turn on the video camera on his tablet and point it at the troublesome router so the agent can view it.
Using video telestration, the agent’s own, ghostly hands can be seen on the customer’s tablet pointing to the port the customer needs to access. Or the agent could even draw an arrow to the spot.
These examples are only a small sample of VR/AR applications companies such as Genesys are likely to introduce down the road, particularly when integrated with other technologies.
During his presentation in Indianapolis in May, Wright put up on a large video screen an image of about a dozen people sitting in the audience. He pretended that he tapped into each person’s bar tab at the hotel, accessed closed-circuit TV feeds and that he’d also tapped their social media feeds and had run their images through facial recognition software.
Suddenly, information bubbles popped up over the audience members with captions such as “up for 36 hours and “spent $2,000 at the hotel bar last night.”
It sparked some laughter from the audience – nervous laughter.