Success Comes With Its Own Challenges
Suppose you are working for one of the world's leading hardware vendors, producing laptops and printers that customers who love technology love. But recently, more and more people have been calling for customer support. Every day, the contact center receives calls from people who need help getting their computers to work with the software they want to use. They are seeking help for common use cases, like printing documents with their phones, or connecting their 3-D printer to their home Wi-Fi network.
For one of the most prominent hardware vendors in the world, the above scenario was what it faced at the onset of the pandemic. Overnight, its laptops and printers began flying off eCommerce sites as organizations across the globe set up home offices for their employees. Onboarding this many new devices, however, came with an increased demand for customer support.
When customers encountered an issue, one logical place people started their troubleshooting was with the hardware vendor. This translated to thousands upon thousands of daily calls and tickets for the hardware vendor’s support teams. So, to ensure customer satisfaction, particularly during a time of limited in-person interactions, its contact centers became even more business-critical. The challenge with this level of customer support volume is handling it all efficiently while providing the right experience for each customer. The last thing you want is for a customer, who might have been on hold for several minutes, to reach an agent and then have their call dropped.
An employee's experience directly impacts the customer experience by influencing how well they do their jobs. And overall digital experience is crucial to delivering a successful contact center interaction with a customer. The hardware company knew that anything short could trigger a repeat call and prolong the issue. The company chose ThousandEyes to help its IT team ensure apps and networks could meet expectations for call quality, powering agent productivity and overall customer satisfaction.
“Being able to provide monitoring capabilities for contact center agents when they’re working remote has been key.”
— Global Lead for Automation and Monitoring
Contact Center Agents Go Remote and Into the Cloud
When it comes to customer-facing interactions, the contact center is the lifeline of this hardware company. And its agents were, in the past, primarily on-prem in large clusters with in-house monitoring solutions. But over the last two years, most of its agents have become remote, requiring IT to find ways to gain visibility into thousands of new home environments and endpoints.
"Being able to provide monitoring capabilities for contact center agents when they're working remote has been key," said the hardware company's global lead for automation and monitoring.
When agents were centralized, the hardware company used an on-prem deployment of a product called Engage by Genesys. Since then, they have begun their migration to Genesys Cloud. The move will change traffic paths and routing. And IT needs to know whether user experiences will be impacted so they can fix those problems before customers recognize them. This presented an ideal use case to expand the company’s deployment of ThousandEyes.
To service customers, the company's agents also interact with Microsoft Dynamics, which IT needs to monitor to ensure agent productivity. For instance, the CRM (customer relationship management) software that is in the Dynamics suite of apps holds critical customer information, including the date a customer made a laptop or printer purchase and other details that will help an agent service a warranty claim or address an issue.
The path from end users to Microsoft Dynamics and the API calls that connect it to internal databases is complex. It involves a multitude of third-party networks and services, further complicated if the user is working from home. The company thus needed visibility into path changes, latency, loss, jitter, availability, and response times—seeing it as business-critical. With ThousandEyes, the company can support its users across any network with any application by delivering correlated layers from network to application. And with end-to-end path visualization and hop-by-hop metrics, the hardware vendor can monitor the performance of each link between hops.
Dependence Grows in Collaboration Apps and VPN
Traditionally, this hardware company used a mix of in-person and virtual meetings. But during the pandemic, its workers began relying intensely on Zoom for collaboration. Organizations depend on collaboration apps for day-to-day operations and worker output—but only if they can access them. And applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex by Cisco depend heavily on network performance to the employee's home via last-mile ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Any problems in the digital supply chain to that endpoint could result in wasted time, reduced productivity, and frustration for a company's employees.
With its move to hybrid work and increased use of UCaaS apps, this leading hardware company also needed to secure communications for its large remote workforce. It did so by scaling its VPN usage. And that required visibility into VPN concentrators. ThousandEyes provides end-to-end visibility into the VPN tunnel (overlay) and network infrastructure (underlay), so that their IT teams can identify and resolve problems with hop-by-hop, multi-layer precision.
Endpoint Visibility at Scale
Adoption of ThousandEyes visibility scaled organically with the needs of the business. The company's first ThousandEyes use case was in support of executives who sometimes worked remotely. Five years later, its IT team has deployed a mix of Cloud Agents, Enterprise Agents, and Endpoint Agents to monitor VPN connectivity and UCaaS apps.
Moreover, ThousandEyes is helping this hardware company diagnose application experience issues from the perspective of the contact center users. With Enterprise Agents installed in places where the company's contact centers are located—including Costa Rica, Texas, and Idaho—its IT teams can understand what is happening in the network when there is an outage or when an application has degraded service.
Right now, this hardware company is working toward using ThousandEyes to proactively monitor and manage the performance of all of its endpoints at scale. Its goal is to deploy 70,000 Endpoint Agents that could help teams, including its 15,000 contact center workers, address employee experience issues proactively rather than reactively.
"This way, we don't wait until a user complains to get alerts when a particular population is having an issue," said the global automation and networking leader.
Figure 1: The company uses path visualization for valuable insight into connectivity and network outages.
Informed Resolutions, Better Planning
A global executive at the hardware vendor also pointed out that ThousandEyes has helped his company get its employees back to work sooner after an outage or service degradation. ThousandEyes shows his team exactly where problems are with easy-to-understand notifications and alerts they can feed into their ITSM (information technology service management).
"We enable the help desk agents to be more informed and, therefore, close that ticket sooner," he said. "And we get a more productive workforce that way."
Employees benefit because they can get back to work quickly to help customers. Moreover, the company's IT team is now extending beyond troubleshooting to leverage ThousandEyes data for broader network planning decisions with more strategic value to the wider business.
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