Designing Digital Signage for Call Centers.

Any successful design must meet two sets of criteria; it must be attractive and functional.  The same goes for creating call center digital signage.  Unlike print design, digital signage incorporates constantly changing data, which means the visual presentation is always changing.

Layout: Designing the layout is of upmost importance for digital signage. When beginning the project, you must create a grid that allows the flexibility to change elements as needed. For instance, you may use a basic grid with some data this month, but next month those elements may need to change. Many signage elements like gauges, LED’s, clocks, images and documents saved as PDF files, can easily fit in a rectangle. Once you’ve decided what your elements will be, assign the largest portion of your layout to the most important data elements. Continue to create elements in your grid, sizing them according to their importance.

Color: The use of color is as important as the layout itself. Keep in mind that the goal of digital signage is not to be the next masterpiece of art, rather an appropriate presentation of important data. Of course, functionally attractive signage will guarantee the attention of your call center personnel, and allow them to get the necessary information “at a glance.” Be careful not make it too busy or colorful because this will cause their eyes to wander around and not focus on the most important data. When designing your digital signage from scratch, choose a monochrome palette or select two to three dominant colors, but no more than that. This will help the important data stand out more. A great example of this is the digital signage created through the Four Winds Interactive software, which has already assigned bright colors to make sure important queues aren’t missed.

Font: The size and type of font you select for digital signage is also very important. The font style should be readable at a glance, and from a distance. Sans Serif fonts, such as Helvetica, Futura and Myriad, usually work best. However, depending on the style and look you’re aiming for, some serif fonts would work as long as they’re large and bold enough to be read at a glance. Use fonts like Times and New York sparingly.

If starting from scratch still makes you nervous, take a look at out-of-the-box templates already designed by Inova Solutions. The variety and styles of these easily customizable templates are sure to fit your call center’s needs.  This will save you time, which means they will save you money!

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The Don’ts of Call Center Digital Signage View Design

Along the lines of my last post about creating winning digital signage views I thought I would also put together a short list of “don’ts” to help you avoid some common mistakes.

  1. Don’t expect your first view to look like the Sistine Chapel: Just like anything, practice, practice and practice some more.  Even though call center digital signage is easy to use, not everyone is a trained designer.  Get a feel for the software by designing a couple signs just for fun before you start your first real view.  (Or select one of our templates if you don’t want to worry with designing!)
  2. Don’t limit yourself: With the plethora of options digital signage provides, think big! Incorporate PowerPoint slides, video, weather, call center data and more.  Include all the possibilities in your design planning.  And don’t limit yourself to just displaying call center data.  Increase engagement and moral by wishing happy birthdays and service anniversaries to those in your center.  Display corporate messaging and recognize agents for a job well done.
  3. Don’t overdo it: Although slightly contradictory to #2 above, it’s all about balance.  Consider all your options and narrow them down to meet your sign’s focus.  And don’t forget— you can rotate multiple views and interchange elements of the sign to include everything you need.  Including too much in your sign could compromise visibility and comprehension.
  4. Don’t use similar colors for fonts and backgrounds: To keep your signs highly visible, use contrasting colors; for example, light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background.  We’ve all suffered through PowerPoint presentations where slides are unreadable because the presenter used a light font on a light background (light blue on white).  Don’t make your agents suffer this same agonizing torture!
  5. Don’t use super tiny text: Using fonts that can’t be seen from a distance negates the purpose of call center digital signage.  Sure you might fit more stuff on the screen, but does it matter if no one can read it?  Agents sitting at various viewing angles and distances need to be able to read what you’re telling them.  Bigger is better, so when in doubt, make it bigger.

What other don’ts are there?

3 reasons why Inova’s new digital signage solution is worth a look

So this week, Inova announced some pretty big news – that we’re phasing out our existing digital signage product and replacing it with a new hybrid digital signage software package. This new solution will use middleware from Inova to collect ACD data and display through digital signage software from Four Winds Interactive (FWi). Is this a good change? You betcha, and here’s why:

1.       Best of both worlds. I’ll spare you the detailed company histories, but suffice it to say that FWi is at the top of the pack of digital signage providers, and Inova has 27 years experience with contact center data reporting. Marry the two, and you’ve got a powerhouse of digital signage and contact center data expertise. Contact center managers can expect a solution tailored to the needs of the contact center industry, not just a generic signage tool that tries to fit a square peg in a round hole.

2.       Multimedia capabilities. One of the main reasons to go with a digital signage solution over a traditional LED wallboard is the ability to display different types of media. FWi’s software has native support for videos, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, images and the integration with Inova’s middleware allows for real-time data grids, gauges and messaging. Check out my colleague Davis’ earlier post that details some great ways to utilize multimedia in the contact center, including security feeds, weather, and traffic information. It can really add value and make your contact center a showcase for guests to the center.

3.       Easy-to-use interface for the creative, templates for the rest of us. Excited to channel your inner-designer? Great! Then go for it…the user interface is pretty intuitive (I should know, I’ve designed several views so far). Or if your talents lie elsewhere, then just select a pre-designed view from Inova’s template library. Easy peasy.

So, although I am usually resistant to change, I know that this change is for the better. The new solution offers more features and advanced digital signage functionality, without losing the real-time data reporting, messaging and thresholding that call center managers have come to count on from Inova.

What’s the best way to display call center metrics?

Call center managers know the importance of real-time ACD data. It gives invaluable insight into the center’s day-to-day operations and allows managers and agents to adjust to changing conditions. But what is the best way to display the data? I’ll discuss a few common options.

1. LED readerboards – The display method of choice from the early days of the call center is still a popular choice. These electronic signs use light emitting diodes in up to three colors to display metrics and messages.

Pros: Visibility and energy-efficiency are excellent with readerboards, and they’re known to last a long time. Cons: The signs look old-fashioned and limit the type of content that may be displayed.

2.  LCD digital signage – Recently, LCD and plasma screens and digital signage software have threatened to replace tried-and-true LED readerboards for call center data reporting. Digital signage offers a sleek and modern way to present multimedia content, such as data, messages, video, PowerPoint, news, images and more. Some digital signage even has touch-screen capability (wow factor!).

Pros: Modern look and feel shows very well when visitors come to your center, and the ability to display many media types adds value to the solution. Cons: Poor visibility from long distances and wide viewing angles may limit utility.

3. Computer desktops – Sometimes, the layout of call centers doesn’t provide a good central location for a wallboard or digital sign. In these cases, as well as with at-home agents, you’re better off utilizing desktop applications to bring real-time call center metrics directly to your agents and managers’ computer desktops.
Pros: Agents can access all their important call information on their computer screen, without having to keep track of stats posted elsewhere. Cons: Computer screen real-estate is precious, and agent screens may already be filled with other CRM programs.

4. Web-based dashboards – Similar to desktop metrics applications, many call center managers are utilizing dashboards built on their intranet to display and share call center data with key stakeholders. You can even access this data on a smartphone, which keeps you informed even when you’re walking the floor.

Pros: Access data from any computer with an internet connection. Drill down to areas of interest to learn more. Cons: Like any reporting solution, you’ll need to make sure you’re measuring the right KPIs and have the right processes in place to take action when needed.

5. Email alerts –Email alerts are great for contact center managers who don’t have time to monitor every real-time metric that comes through the phone system. With email alerts, managers can be automatically notified of red flags when they are not in viewing distance of an LED or LCD reporting screen.

Pros: Email alerts offer a great threshold-based reminder when certain conditions fall outside your acceptable range. Cons: Not a complete solution; it is better used as a supplement to a more comprehensive reporting platform.

So what’s the verdict…the best way to display real-time call center data? Ultimately, it all comes down to the needs of your team, your space limitations, and budget. Feel free to send me an email if you’d like more information about any of these solutions.

3 Steps to Creating a Winning Digital Signage View

One of the projects I’ve been working on lately is creating views, or “signs” as we call them, for our new call center digital signage software product, Content Manager from Four Winds Interactive.  In addition to the custom digital signage design services we offer, Inova also offers various templates customers can use if they want an out-of-the-box solution.  Part of my job over the last few weeks has been to create some of these templates so I thought I’d share some advice on how to create beautiful and effective digital signage views.

Step 1: Know what you’re trying to communicate

I love the quote, “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” and it certainly rings true with creating digital signs.  So, if you don’t know what you’re trying to communicate, how will you know if your digital signage is effective?  Before you start creating a digital signage view, it’s important to decide exactly what it is you want people to know.  In a breakroom or lobby area, a live television feed might make sense along with some corporate messaging or a map of the building.  In the call center, metrics are usually of vital importance.  Think about what metrics your agents need to know and then decide if those metrics are best understood through a chart or a gauge or some other tool.

Step 2: Decide what format makes sense

Say you’ve decided your agents need to know the length of the oldest call waiting (OCW), the number of agents available (AA), and the number of calls waiting (CW) for your Sales, Catalog and Tech Support queues.  A grid like the one below probably makes the most sense:

call center digital signage grid

Stick to just a few key concepts on one view.  If you try to show too many things viewers are likely to miss what you’re telling them.  You can always show multiple, rotating views so you cover everything without overwhelming agents with data.  Think of it like a highway billboard: when you’re driving by at 80mph you can only read about seven to ten words in the few seconds you’re within viewing distance; when your agents have a few seconds between calls they need to see and comprehend your most important message quickly and easily.

Step 3: Create a design that works

Once you’ve decided what items you need to communicate (in this example, metrics) and how you need to communicate them (a grid) it’s time to decide how to layout and design your view.  Keep in mind how far away agents are because agents that are 30-40 feet away may have a difficult time reading digital signage (see our new visibility white paper for more info).  If you have agents that will be viewing the sign from a distance be sure to use large font sizes and a legible font (sans serif fonts like Arial work great and are highly readable).  Most importantly, don’t cram too much into one view.  Keep things looking clean and simple to maximize visibility and comprehension.  After adding in a few additional queues and metrics, some gauges, an RSS feed, clock and corporate logo this sign is ready for display:

digital signage view

As always, stay tuned for more tips on creating winning call center digital signage views.

Evaluating LED wallboards and LCD displays for the call center

Real-time data display white paper

Just a couple days ago we released our 12th free white paper! “A guide to evaluating LED wallboards & LCD displays in the call center” helps call center managers evaluate real-time data displays and decide how to select display options that meet their messaging and metrics needs.

The new white paper gives an overview of three key considerations call center managers must acknowledge including:

 

  • Visibility- Call center wallboards provide excellent visibility from long distances and wide viewing angles.
  • Content flexibility- The options are virtually endless with call center digital signage; incorporate everything from PowerPoint® presentations to PDF files to live video along with your call center metrics and messages.
  • Cost- There are a few items to consider regarding costs of LED wallboards and LCD displays such as warranty, expected lifetime and energy efficiency.

These three considerations play a large part in a call center’s decision to implement real-time data displays because all three are vital to the success of the reporting project.  Many contact centers find that a mix of LED wallboards and LCD displays accomplishes the goals of the project.

Read more about the three keys to selecting real-time data displays by downloading the free white paper at http://www.inovasolutions.com/call-center-reporting/resources/call-center-data-displays.html.

And keep a look out for more great call center resources.  With 27 years of call center business under our belts and many employees who have been with Inova for more than 10 years, we have a lot of industry knowledge to share!

What to do with real-time call center data?

You finally have access to real-time operational data in your contact center. Great! Now comes the tough question…how exactly do you use that information to improve your center’s efficiency?

At Inova Solutions, many of our call center customers find themselves in the same boat. They know how valuable it can be to have instant visibility into ACD queue statistics, internal databases, and other data sources – but only if they use that information to make smart operational adjustments. After all, if you can see all your real-time ACD stats on a stunning large-format LCD screen, but you go about business as usual, then you’re really not getting much return on your investment.

While every center is different, I thought I’d share some ways our customers have put their real-time data to use:

1.       Automate with threshold messaging. Let’s say you’ve noticed that after wait times exceed a certain threshold in your center, callers start to abandon. To avoid this, you can set a threshold message to automatically appear on your real-time digital signs or agent computers when average wait times exceed your pre-defined threshold. The message could instruct agents to shorten their talk times and postpone after call work in order to accommodate more callers. As a result, abandon rate goes down and you avoid losing those potential customers.

2.       Reassign agents to overloaded queues. If you’re monitoring the number of calls in queue in a real-time grid on your computer screen, set that metric to automatically change colors or play an audible alert when it exceeds the number of calls your team can handle. Time to call in reinforcements! Route the excess calls to another skill group who may have a low number of calls in queue at that time.

3.       Take advantage of downtime. Of course there are busy times in call centers, and depending on the industry, there may also be times when the phones just aren’t ringing. If the number of calls waiting drops below a certain threshold number (that you defined), you can set your LCD digital signage system to start playing a training video, so that agents can get caught up on professional development when they’re not overloaded with calls.

As you can see, a lot of what makes a real-time data system useful is the automation of processes that were previously manual. Why watch the stats all day when you can go about your business and be alerted as red flags pop up? And of course, any form of real-time data reporting and monitoring is far more effective than the “flying blind” alternative of just relying on historical reports at the end of the day. By then, the problems that could have been resolved by smart action have already occurred and may negatively impact your bottom line.

What are some other ways your center uses real-time data?

Are contact centers ready for interactive digital signage?

For quite some time, LED displays were the media of choice to display data and messages in call centers. They were functional, inexpensive, and they got the job done. While LED displays are still utilized in contact centers around the globe, more and more, people are turning to LCD-based digital signage to accomplish this task. Why? Digital signage offers much more sophistication, allowing you to communicate data and messages along with multimedia content, such as videos, websites, and PowerPoint presentations. And, of course, digital signage allows you to unleash those graphic design skills you’ve been hiding your whole career. The right use of color and high res images can make your digital sign a very attractive addition to your center.

Given that contact centers are trending toward utilization of digital signage, I wondered how the industry might take advantage of the latest digital signage capability – interactivity. By this I mean a “touch screen” capability, in which a person may approach the sign and touch an area of interest to reveal additional information. Hotels, schools, and many other public-facing institutions are already utilizing this capability with great success. Check out this cruise ship’s use of interactive technology to help patrons learn more about activities and schedules. Pretty cool!

Is there a use for such technology in contact centers? Maybe not yet for traditional contact center floors, where agents are seated and immobile; static information displays may still work best in this environment. But I foresee a use for interactive technology in breakrooms and other areas suited for corporate communication. And of course, it can be of great use for other areas of the company, especially public-facing environments.

What do you think? Is interactivity the future of digital signage?

Deciding Between LED Displays and LCD Digital Signage in Call Centers – Things to Consider

In my role as customer advocate at Inova Solutions, I’ve helped many customers implement a reporting solution based on LED displays, LCD digital signage, or a combination of the two. If you’re deciding which display system would be best for your call center, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Expected Life. Inova has been building LED displays for 26 years, and they are quite sturdy devices.  The expected life span is 10 years, and we have found through experience that they can exceed even that estimate.  I have heard many customers say, “I want to get the new model, but this older one just won’t die!” On the other hand, LCD technology has made great strides in the last few years, and if you buy a commercial brand for the call center, you can get a 3 year warranty.
  • Visible Viewing Distance. LED displays can be read from a distance of about 80-100 feet.  Depending on font size, color use, and other design elements, LCDs will likely offer readability from about 30-40 feet.
  • Glare. In sunny spots, you are going to want to go with LED displays as they have a non-glare plex that allows them to be visible in high light.
  • Flexibility. There is nothing more flexible than LCD technology.  LEDs are a great workhorse.  They display your statistics clearly and you can run threshold and scheduled messages.  But when recognition and motivation are your primary goals, LCDs really shine.  A picture is worth a thousand words and you can show those pictures easily on an LCD.  You can use flash and media players to run clips and video files.  You can have several scrolling lines with text, news feeds and corporate messages while also displaying graphical data and corporate Powerpoint briefs.

All that said, a lot of customers do a combination of both LED boards (the workhorse) and LCD screens (motivational).

Real-life applications for Inova’s products, part 2

A couple weeks ago, I shared with you examples of how real call centers are utilizing the Inova Solutions reporting system. By popular request, here are a few more examples.

1. A leading online education company came to us because they want wanted to change the culture of their admissions department to emulate that of a high performance call center. They realized that with the rapid growth of online education comes an equally rapid increase in competition. Every delayed or abandoned call from a prospective student could lead that student to call a competing company.

Our LED and desktop solutions allow 700+ admissions advisers to be aware of queue conditions so that they can manage their time most effectively. The result is a reduction in average speed of answer and therefore abandoned calls, and a corresponding increase in new student enrollment.

2. The payroll department at a major player in the retail industry came to Inova because they wanted to leverage the call statistics captured in their new Avaya phone system. The call center needed a way to optimize productivity without adding headcount. They implemented the Inova LightLink system with an interface to Avaya CMS with statistics and alerts output to OnTrack LED wallboards.

The initial small system was so successful that the company has since more than quadrupled the number of Inova OnTrack displays and expanded the Inova system to optimize the benefits department by enabling “management by exception” and employee empowerment.

3. A health care company came to Inova with two goals. First, to present a professional and proactive image to visiting and prospective clients to demonstrate that the company invests in leading technology in order to provide a high level of service and customer satisfaction. Second, the center hoped to reduce average handle time while maintaining service levels.

These goals were accomplished by providing call center agents and managers with real-time information regarding queue conditions, supporting information, and trigger-based messages that guide optimal work processes.

The company deployed the Inova LightLink and Broadcaster digital signage system in its call center. Our LightLink middleware captures and monitors real-time and historical information from the telecom system. This information is displayed graphically on large screen LCD monitors along with ad-hoc and threshold messages and multimedia content such as graphics, flash presentations, logos, etc.

4. Another health care institution came to us when they were contending for a prestigious industry award which requires visual notification of call center status to agents. Additionally, with the emergence of social networking and internet sites that rate patient experience, the institution wanted to ensure positive reviews by providing excellent customer service for patients calling the appointment and billing centers.

They also hoped to improve resource utilization, and therefore revenue, throughout their system by using visual displays to alert schedulers to the availability of same day appointments in different facilities.

They initially deployed the LightLink system with real-time statistics and alerts on four OnTrack LED displays. After achieving positive results, they added five more LED displays as well as informational RSS feeds.

Curious how Inova’s real-time reporting solutions can help your call center? Send me a note and I’ll be happy to discuss!