I have a large pool of telephone agents using a custom built piece of software to track the calls. Due to the high pressure of having a caller on the line agents often rely on old methods for completing tasks and it can greatly increase the length of the call.
Our new piece of software includes one key search tool based on about 6 different fields. They will often populate 2 to 4 of these fields, hit search, and get no results. Instead of manipulating the fields to do things like a partial name search etc they jump to an older terminal system where they worked for years. Ironically when there they do the same partial search I just described. In fact, they will try many search combos until they find one that works.
When on a call with a client the agent may misspell complicated names, or type in an incorrect birth date etc. The whole human to human to computer interaction is prone to data entry errors. As such mistakes are common and this situation occurs frequently.
Question How might the interface coach users into trying partial searches. Most people want to blame the users but I feel the interface should better guide their behavior. Ideas I have include:
- Provide a message describing what to do such as: "Try searching without a birth date"
- Have the system automatically do partial searches and provide a list of "possible matches" if no exact match was found
- Retrain the users demonstrating how to "best" use the tool
I prefer #2 but it is by far the most technically complex.
So how can one encourage users to manipulate their search input to find matching records?
Edit The more I have considered this I came up with two additional options:
- Have the search be real time as they enter search criteria. This would enable the user to stop when it is visible that their search is successful.
- Have the system automatically perform alternate searches based on portions of the data in an effort to find matches. Display them as "possible matches".
I am now leaning towards option 4 as it improves performance time beyond simply stopping users from jumping systems. It would enable them to stop entering data when the match is found.