It’s always tough hunting for enterprise UX research that’s not horribly out of sync with the transformation of the business. On the one hand, you have to take into account the “consumerization” of the enterprise space. On the other, it’s still not the same set of considerations.
So, working from a base of experience* rather than reference, here’s what I can offer.
As you know, agents on the phone interacting with real humans in real time are pushing cognitive load pretty hard. Anything you can do to make the workflow self-evident is a good thing. The trick is to maintain visual order and hierarchy.
Duplicating the error condition for another purpose undermines that hierarchy. So I think it’s safe to say that’s not the right path.
The tricky middle ground
You need to find the visual step between good data and wrong data. Asterisks are easy to miss in a high pressure workflow. An alternate color is a good solution, but it could get noisy in there. The exact solution is going to depend on the rest of the surrounding hierarchy, but there are some simple tactics to use as a starting point.
Keeping standard fields on the “soft sell” side helps the decisions that follow. Stepping up the priority scale, you can:
- Darker field borders. Depending the visual noise of your UI, this might be enough. Unfortunately, it can also interfere with your “focus” solution.
- Bold labels. This is stronger than #1, but it’s downside is possibly interfering with form headings.
- Change field border color. Similar to errors, but not quite so strong.
As you get stronger with your required data (and other things in the UI), you have to go back and reassess your error condition. A simple border color (no matter how loud) may not be sufficient. I like a stronger error highlight, e.g. what I’ve shown here.
* I happen to work on a very similar application on an intermittent basis.