Agents Anywhere: Avaya and Google Collaboration Brings New Flexibility to the Contact Center

Every day, hundreds of thousands of customer service agents get in their cars and drive to one of the estimated 66,000 contact centers in America.

For years, the contact center was largely a static entity—as an agent, you took calls at your desk, which were routed through expensive, physical hardware located onsite. Contact centers required significant investments in people, resources, hardware and software. Adding new agents took days, and opening up new contact centers took months.

The words “flexibility” and “contact centers” didn’t often appear in the same sentence.

Today, Avaya and Google are proud to announce Avaya Agent for Chrome, a Chromebook application designed for flexible contact centers.

How it Works

Avaya Agent for Chrome is a WebRTC-enabled interface that allows customer service agents to access Avaya’s leading contact center agent desktop through Chrome devices.

There’s no native software to download. Getting a new agent provisioned takes minutes, not days. The application connects to Avaya systems securely–either on premise or in the cloud–meaning customer service agents don’t have to physically sit in the same building anymore, nor do they have to install applications on home computers when working remotely.

Read: MeadWestvaco executive Barry Toole describes his experience with Avaya Agent for Chrome on the Google for Work blog.

Conceivably, a company using Avaya Agent for Chrome could mail a preconfigured Chromebook to a new contact center agent working anywhere in the world, and have that person taking calls later that day.

Avaya Agent for Chrome is currently available in three major configurations:

  • For customer service agents working in a contact center, with an Avaya phone
  • For customer service agents working remotely, using their own landline phone
  • For customer service agents working remotely who want to take calls directly through their Chromebook

All three configurations are effortlessly interchangeable.

For example, a company might deploy Chromebooks to everyone working in a physical contact center, where customer service agents take calls using Avaya phones. An agent could take their Chromebook home, where they’d make Internet-enabled calls through the computer itself. If their Internet connection got slow, or otherwise unreliable, they could switch over to taking calls using their landline at home.

With agents moving effortlessly between locations, customer information follows. Contextual data—the customer’s name, account information and previous history—gets pushed to the agent through either a dedicated app, or Web browser window. Intelligent routing and other call controls are handled by Avaya hardware sitting in the middle, either on premise, or in the cloud.

These benefits are made possible because Open APIs and new, flexible programming kits—such as the Avaya Engagement Development Platform—make it easier to offer contextual data to customer service agents working remotely. Companies can roll out these new, open, flexible solutions without giving up important tools like call recording and analysis, performance metrics and automated alerts.

Agents Anywhere Engage Better

Flexible contact centers make good business sense. If a physical contact center goes down due to a natural disaster or storm, customer service agents can get back up-and-running from home.

Until now, flexibility in the contact center meant either sending agents home with laptops that replicated the enterprise IT environment in the home, or asking agents to install enterprise software on home computers.

Agents accessed the enterprise by using a combination of VPN access and special software. When issues arose, companies had to remotely troubleshoot VPN- or home computer problems on the fly.

It is difficult to establish enterprise-level controls over the types of software the employees could download and install on at-home systems, while providing agents with corporate-owned laptops can be expensive. Worse, laptops used at home return to the contact center riddled with viruses, adding cost and complexity to the equation.

In our minds, that’s one of the Chromebook’s most compelling enterprise differentiators—low cost, ease of management, all inside a secure environment.

Google’s Chrome Management Console allows IT departments to remotely set rules on which apps employees can download onto the computer.

With Avaya Agent for Chrome, there’s no native application software to download, no VPN exposure, and strict IT controls designed to improve enterprise security.

We’re excited about this collaboration with Google, not only for what it represents technically—Avaya’s first entirely virtual solution for the contact center—but for what it means for our customers: Flexible, extensible and manageable remote contact centers.

Val Matula is the Senior Director and Head of Emerging Products and Technology at Avaya. His team is responsible for delivering first-of-its-kind customer deployments of emerging technology solutions. He currently holds more than 40 patents