Lenovo + Citrix
After experiencing a period of substantial growth, Lenovo’s call center needed to expand its workforce and improve employee retention. Rather than converting office space or establishing sub-centers, they chose to virtualize. With virtual agents, Lenovo was able to expand its call center capabilities without additional facilities. This helped the company reduce operating and management costs, create a virtual workforce and provide more flexible schedules for employees.
Lenovo is the world’s second largest PC maker. They operate in more than 60 countries worldwide and provide PCs, notebook computers and servers to customers in more than 160 countries. Like other PC manufacturers, Lenovo operates a major customer service support center with many employees. Lenovo’s call center, which provides pre-sale and after-sale technical support services to Lenovo PC users in China, has experienced a period of substantial growth along with the rapid development of the company’s businesses.
In the face of rapid growth, Lenovo’s traditional call center infrastructure faced recruiting and training challenges. The first was customer demand for extended service hours into the late evening. This meant increased labor costs and changes in staff working hours, requiring some employees to work the night shift. Another issue was ensuring retention and stability of call center staff that faced a number of real-life challenges related to transportation, rent and living expenses in larger cities.
To expand their call center, Lenovo had two traditional options: Convert general office space or establish sub-centers. For Lenovo, space was very limited and establishing sub-centers would involve time and investment. To accommodate expansion needs while minimizing costs, Lenovo’s call center needed a more innovative way to solve the problem of adding staff.
Zheng Hao, director of Lenovo’s customer contact center, said, “Lenovo was committed to technological innovation – to not only meet customers’ actual needs but also improve employee satisfaction and enthusiasm on the job, as well as support the increasing expansion of the call center.” In the end, Lenovo set its sights on “virtual agents.” Virtual agents work in small offices or home offices (SOHO), providing customer service online.
Whether the consideration is cost, safety or flexibility in system deployment and management, the SOHO virtual agent solution supported by XenApp is a powerful way for Lenovo to move towards the new generation of call centers.
After discussions with a technical team from Citrix Systems, a call center remote virtual agent solution based on Citrix Virtual Apps was implemented. Citrix Virtual Apps virtualizes and delivers the customer relationship management and IP softphone applications over the network, using Citrix Access Gateway, to the thin-client desktops used by virtual agents.
Wang Yueyuan, manager of the SOHO virtual agent project and director of Lenovo’s CCC Innovation Center, says: “The call center’s customer service staff can connect to the Internet with bandwidth of at least 1M using the thin client uniformly distributed by the company, then access the Lenovo network through Citrix Access Gateway and can begin working just like a local agent after the soft phone and virtualized application desktop are activated. This is very flexible and convenient. In this project, Lenovo’s call center will gradually establish 100 virtual agents.”
The virtual agent initiative powered by Citrix virtual computing solutions is enabling Lenovo to expand its call center without the need for additional facilities. There is full flexibility to set up virtual agents according to increases or decreases in business volume to reduce operating and management costs at the call center, and simultaneously provide employment opportunities with flexible schedules. In addition, it is more convenient to provide service support in the evening or late at night, thus resolving the problem of providing service to regions outside China with time zone differences.
According to Wang Yueyuan, “Whether the consideration is cost, safety or flexibility in system deployment and management, the SOHO virtual agent solution supported by Citrix Virtual Apps is a powerful way for Lenovo to move towards the new generation of call centers.”
The Citrix solution enables IT service staff to remotely administer and support virtual agents and even the terminals used in the call center itself, which are located on different floors. Previously, if a terminal failed, IT service staff had to provide on-site support, which was very inconvenient. Also, any large-scale system upgrade had to be carried out for each station individually. Citrix virtualization technology centralizes maintenance and upgrades for all applications, and any software issue can be fixed remotely through the network. Furthermore, by using the session shadowing function of Citrix Virtual Apps, the director of the call center can conduct real-time remote monitoring and management on the virtual desktop to ensure service quality and to lower monitoring costs.
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