Unified Service Desk

What is Unified Service Desk?

Let’s imagine a software platform that:

  • Unifies all the data that the call center agent needs in order to help out the customers efficiently.
  • Helps to minimize agents’ manual data entry, improve data quality and allows the agent to focus on answering the customers as quickly as possible.
  • Improves productivity by helping out the agents while they are multi-tasking or handling multiple customers at the same time.
  • Automates some of the business processes, hence reducing the training cost.
  • Performs all the above while leveraging the CRM investment of the organization and is included for no additional cost with the Dynamics CRM professional license.

Unified Service Desk (USD) is essentially a platform that enables all the above functionalities.

In order to fully understand the capabilities of USD, we need to first understand the current challenges the call center environment faces:

  • Disparate complex lines of business to handle.
  • Multi-tasking environment, which is error prone.
  • Inconsistent information delivery.
  • Poor data quality due to mistyped data.

All the above challenges ultimately increase the average call handling time which brings down customer or citizen satisfaction and increases costs.

Why USD?

Let’s see how USD helps with the above challenges.

Disparate complex lines of business to handle

When the agent talks to the end users, it is absolutely necessary to keep the call as efficient as possible. This improves customer satisfaction while enabling the agents to assist more customers in the queue. This directly impacts the bottom line of the call center business and ultimately drives down the operating cost of the organization.

In order to be able to keep the call short, the agent needs access to all the applications they might need in order to assist the end users in an integrated and unified way. This is one of the most important aspect of USD. USD provides the unified platform to bring all the corporate applications on a single platform so that the agent does not have to open all the application windows separately in order to answer a single question. USD provides a platform to unify disparate applications that the agent uses regularly and streamlines them in such a way that the agent has a consistent and intuitive user experience when handling the call.

USD supports Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) and provides a framework for the CTI adapters that can be used to handle softphone control, call routing, screen popping and other CTI related functionalities. This opens up a lot of possibilities for the call center agent.

Scenario: A customer calls in to place a product order through a phone call. If it is an existing customer, the corresponding contact record opens up for the agent if the USD is integrated with the Computer Telephony Network. The agent verifies the customer information and creates an order using the relevant application and even can open the postal agency website in order to package the product and provide the shipping information back to the customer all without navigating outside of the USD.

As customers/citizens, we deal with call center agents multiple times a month, if not weeks. How often have we provided all the information to them painstakingly only to get transferred to a different department and repeat all the information to another agent whom we got transferred to?

CTI (Customer Telephony Integration) with USD enables the developers with the necessary tools to solve this problem.

The first agent takes a note of all the information that the customer provides and during the call transfer, and the entire user session/information gets transferred to another agent. This has the potential to dramatically improve the customer experience and decrease the call time for the agent.

Also for some of the call center environments, agents would run USD on a kiosk and that is the only application they’ll have access to. So, it is important to ensure that agent has an integrated experience to all the apps they need to service customers.

Multi-tasking environment, which is error prone

USD is equipped with Session Management capabilities which helps the agents to be on track with the correct customer always even if they are handling multiple customers at the same time.

Each and every call can be associated with the Call Session so that the time spent on the individual calls can be tracked and potentially billed to the appropriate departments.

The call center environment is one of the busiest environments and reduction of few seconds could end up in substantial savings in the long run. Customers reach out to the agents through multiple channels and the agents must be equipped to handle the customers through regular phone calls, social media, chats and review/feedback. Having said this, the agents might have multiple customer interactions at the same time and traditionally this scenario may force the agents to make mistakes by mixing up customer’s information. With USD, this scenario is greatly reduced with the inbuilt Session Management capabilities.


When the agent receives a call from Rene Valdes, the agent opens up Rene’s contact record to verify the information. If the agent wishes to multi task and picks up a call from Susan Burk, all the information related to Susan can be brought up in a new session.

In the above screen shot, Rene Valdes’s Session is highlighted as it is open currently.

You can think of Session as a logical boundary of a particular customer’s information. If the Agent clicks on the Susan Bark’s session, all the Tabs underneath the Session will point to Susan’s information. This way, the agent doesn’t have to bother keeping track and not get confused with the customer’s information when multi-tasking. In other words, the Session Management capability has a potential to help the agent not to type Rene’s information in Susan’s record or vice versa.

Inconsistent information delivery

How many times have we heard of stories where the customers call the contact centers to double check the information they obtained from the agent? This process not only frustrates the customers but also increases the cost per customer ratio for the business.

USD enables all the agents to follow the same approach when handling the customer which significantly helps to enhance the consistency of the information delivered. Thanks to the “Call Scripts” built in USD, a guideline is presented for the agents to drive the call and ensure successful and consistent information delivery.


Poor data quality due to mistyped data

When the agent handles multiple customers at the same time while manually entering all the data, there is a huge possibility of mistyping customer’s data which ultimately results in costly clean up and may have other repercussions while reporting the data.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we prepopulate some of the data to the agent as they deal with the customers so that hand typing all the data is not necessary?

USD ships with components to retrieve the data from the Dynamics CRM application, which alleviates developers from having to write workflows or plugins. This functionality of retrieving the data is just a configuration away, which saves time dramatically while reducing the data related errors.

USD as a platform opens up some more data that is otherwise not visible to improve the efficiency of the call center. As we all know, Dynamics CRM is a data driven platform and all the reports and dashboards only work if proper data is maintained in the system. So, in the ideal world, we would expect the agent to create a phone call record, enter the amount of time spent on the call and what was the call all about as soon as the agent has completed the call with the customer. But wouldn’t it be nice if we remove this effort from the agent so that the agent only focuses on just one thing, which is to make the customer happy by keeping them on the queue as little as possible while the USD does the hard work of creating the phone call record and adding the call time and associate with the correct data?

This has multitude of benefits:

  • Automatic data entry has lesser probability or no probability of errors compared to the manual data entry by the agent.
  • Reduced after-call effort from the agent which enables them to handle the next customer in the queue almost instantaneously. This greatly improves Agent productivity.
  • Who wants to hold on the line in order for the agent to input the data? No one. This improves customer satisfaction.
  • Provides data that is much more consistent and reliable for reporting and dashboarding purposes to gauge the call center efficiency.


Who should use USD?

USD can help your organization with a call center if,

  • Your agents deal with multiple line of business apps on a regular basis to handle the customers.
  • Your agents deal with multiple customers at the same time or multi task heavily.
  • Or both the above scenarios.

USD helps in strengthening the business process by making it consistent for all the agents and tracking the call performance, which is vital for any call center environment. If your organization is facing some of the above challenges, USD will certainly help overcome these problems. 


How is Dynamics CRM related to USD?

Diagram referred from: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn646899.aspx

Unified Service Desk solutions are installed in the CRM along with all the required data for the configuration purposes. Many USD features can directly be configured within the CRM without needing to open Visual Studio to write code.

However, if you intend to extend the out-of-the-box capability, USD provides necessary extensibilities to handle special business needs.


How do you get USD?

USD can be installed on Dynamics CRM 2013 (SP1), Dynamics CRM 2015 (online or on-premise) and Dynamics CRM 2016 (online or on-premise) and is included with the Dynamics CRM Professional license. Adoxio always recommends using the latest version of Dynamics CRM to take advantage of the latest features, product enhancements, and fixes.

For more details on the prerequisites for USD, review this link.

This article was intended to provide an overview of the USD product for Dynamics CRM and how it can be used in a call center environment. If you would like to understand how USD may be able to provide value to your call center, please reach out to us by clicking here.

Check out my follow up article where I dive into the detail of implementing USD (coming soon).