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Increase agent productivity with our Next Gen Agent

First off, if you don't have the Next Gen agent turned on, here's a simple guide to get you set up.

Change can be tough. Remember New Coke? If you do, you might be trying to forget it. Change can be good too. What about when TVs used to weigh 300 pounds, and you would need a friend to help you move it. Thanks to the flat screen we can lift TVs ourselves now. Why am I rambling on about change? Because our Next Gen Agent is about change, but change that will make you more productive.

When we started building the Next Gen Agent, we knew it would be an “all or nothing” project. We wouldn’t just update the UI; we would completely overhaul the back-end too with open APIs. This API increase means more opportunity for customization and flexibility. It means better and better integrations. It means more choices for 3rd party apps. Most importantly, it means the Next Gen Agent will improve the solutions and processes you’ve already come to know and love.

Last week, Scott Kozinchik, one of our amazing senior product managers, joined me on a webinar all about the Next Gen Agent. We were so excited by the level of interest and all of the great questions asked. If you missed it, you can access the full webinar (including 30 minutes of Q&A) here, but here are answers to some of the most common questions we received:

Why did release the Next Gen Agent?

Long story short, it’s because there is so much more we want to help our customers accomplish through their customer service. The Classic Agent wasn’t originally built to scale and customize the way our customers need it to as they grow, which is why we decided to redesign and rebuild from the ground up so that it can better meet the needs of our fast-growing customers.

The purpose of the Next Gen Agent is to speed up the time it takes to solve a case. Businesses can now support more customers more effectively and turn them into happy customers while agents can maximize their productivity. Speed matters in today’s market, and it’s only going to get more important.

What’s the difference between the Classic and Next Gen Agents?

I’d like to take a step back from the technical details and focus on the agent experience. Let’s start with the similarities. Although we modernized the look and feel of the Next Gen Agent, the ease in functionality of the Classic Agent remains. We rebuilt many of our major features that are the most useful to our customers - intelligent case filters, macros, conversation history with private notes, case forward, and case and conversation attachments, etc. - so that everyone would still feel comfortable using  We are still building valuable features in the Next Gen Agent that are currently available in the Classic Agent so if you don’t immediately see a feature you loved, please hang in there! We are making improvements every day.

Most of the changes we made in the Next Gen Agent might seem small, but make a significant difference in agent productivity. For example, now there is a three-panel case detail view so agents see complete customer and case information in one screen, eliminating the need to switch between tabs. Also, we’ve improved our Gmail-inspired keyboard shortcuts, expanded case preview to include entire case history, and made it easier to create cases with improved agent workflow.

We also significantly improved our Knowledge Base interface. We integrated multi-lingual support directly into the Knowledge Base, so that businesses supporting customers in multiple languages can sort and filter by language, making it much easier to find country-specific articles. We incorporated brands into the Knowledge Base to help keep multiple support centers organized. Agents can now choose to copy an article or a link and then paste either directly into the case.

Can you please explain more about case management in the Next Gen Agent?

We are really excited about the ongoing improvements that are coming to case management in the Next Gen Agent. Over the next few months you’re going to see a lot more functionality, including the ability to merge cases, merge customers (including duplicates), and change customer on a case. We’ve heard your feedback and know you want more flexibility around organizing and viewing cases. We’re going to continue to improve this experience, and hope you’ll continue to give us feedback.

How is the case sorting function different in the Next Gen Agent?

We’ve improved the ability to sort columns, and to add/remove columns in the Next Gen Agent. Now you can simply drag and drop columns to where you’d like them, and select which columns you’d like to see with the click of a button.

You talk about building the Next Gen Agent from the ground up. What does that mean?

We literally started from scratch with new code in new cutting-edge technologies that give us the ability to speed up the app and grow into the future.  We didn’t just do it in the browser, however, but also on the back-end with a fully open RESTful API (see these reference docs).  And we mean fully open. We don’t have any private APIs - you can use them all.  With Canvas (see next question) built into the Next Gen Agent console, you have full control of the entire API right on the page.

What is Canvas?  What is Desk Connect?

Technically, these are two different questions, but I like answering them together because these are both examples of features and functionality that could only exist in the Next Gen Agent.

High-level, here are some definitions:

Canvas: A technology that allows our customers to integrate compatible web applications and expose the application directly within the Next Gen Agent. This is an easy way to expose any pre-existing web applications to your agents, securely.

Desk Connect: A full bi-directional sync with Salesforce standard objects. Update and view important customer information in from Salesforce, including custom fields and contact history, while working on cases. Salesforce users can update and view detailed support information from while managing their leads and opportunities in Salesforce.

How do I export cases?

Go here to see full details about case export.

What’s new with the JIRA integration?

If you use JIRA like we do, you’re as excited as we are for an update. Our dev team is working furiously to completely revamp our current JIRA integration. We promise it will be awesome! Please stay tuned via our blog for more updates down the road.

We’re constantly striving to make better to make your lives easier and more productive. Positive change is something you work toward, especially if you’re serious about it, and we are. In the Next Gen Agent, we are committed to making change awesome.

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