Call Centre Technology Tips

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IVR Tips

Many IVR solutions are limited by poor implementation and are difficult to change as business processes evolve. The most common complaints encountered are poor menu structures and difficulties in getting through to a ‘real’ person when needed.

  • Reduce caller frustration by always having the ability to break-out to an agent.
  • Includes logic to catch errors such as menus where a non allocated key is pressed, or where a no key press is detected.
  • Do not have more than 2 levels of IVR to get to any required point in the business.
  • Create a generic script for use in emergencies and set the ability to remotely call in and activate in case of emergencies.
  • Make sure you can easily change between standard IVR scripts to respond to changing business requirements.

Numerous surveys have been conducted regarding the success rates of contacting people within an organisation. The record shows that about 20% of calls reach their intended destination and, therefore, result in a live conversation between two people. The abandoned call rate varies, but is consistently in the region of 13% of calls. By adopting a high quality call handling strategy and intelligent use of IVR abandon rates can be reduced.
Contributed by Lesley Hansen, Group Marketing Director at TeleWare plc

Use the correct headsets
Make sure that your agents have the right headsets. Remember that the European Acoustic Shock Regulations have become law and all headset equipment must comply. Also all electrical items must conform to ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances).
Contributed by Jane Guetling, Sales Office Manager, JPL Communications

Virtual ‘Contact Centre’
Agents can be distributed to form a ‘virtual’ contact centre, be that at contact centre site, branch office, at home or overseas. A single converged voice and data network is less expensive to purchase and operate and business rules can be configured and managed centrally. Multiple contact channels such as voice, web, text-chat, email or video can be completely integrated.
Contributed by Ian Sherring, Market Manager, IP Communications, Cisco Systems UK & Ireland

Choosing the right Supplier
Supplier choice is critical to success. History has shown that getting customer management right is difficult and requires persistence. If it’s going to take time to get a solution bedded in your company then you will need a supplier that’s not going to disappear overnight. Proving the ROI of CRM can be difficult, especially if you have limited experience of its impact. A supplier that’s not tied to a single solution can help ensure what you get is better tuned to the needs of your specific business.
Contributed by Greg Duffy, ICT Solutions, BT Business

Technology and vision
Only a clear vision for the technology allows management of the project requirements. Local ‘Christmas wish lists’ increase complexity.
Contributed by Gerhard Kress, Siemens

Steps to implementing speech services

  • Determine success measures at the outset.

  • These will be a balance of financial advantage and improved customer satisfaction. The assumption in the past has been that customers will always prefer to talk to an agent and that any form of automation is a compromise motivated by cost savings. That’s no longer true; increasingly customers will judge your customer service performance by the channel choices you offer them.Know what you’re trying to achieve.

  • If you’re switching a service from live agent to automated speech, examine how your call processes work today and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Listen to calls and map how customers behave; what they ask, when and how. Then build your speech automated call structure to accommodate that. Call structures must be simple, intuitive and dictated by the way your customers want to work, not the way your processes prescribe.Speech alone or a hybrid approach?

  • Ask whether speech is the best solution for the service you’re trying to provide, or whether a combination of speech and touch tone interactive voice response (IVR) would serve customers better. Touchtone is the preferred option for entering numerical information such as credit card details, and the option to revert to fingertip contact may be valuable if the service is likely to be used in very noisy outdoor environments where mobile phone reception is poor.Take a customer-centric approach.

  • If a service works, people will use it. If it doesn’t they’ll find ways of circumventing it or will defect to a supplier that gives them better options. Use conversational specialists and psychologists to help you design services that mirror human thought processes and conversational idioms.Take a holistic approach.

  • Your speech solution and the language it uses must harmonise with other communication channels. For example, if your direct mail refers to a ‘customer brochure’, your speech service mustn’t refer to a ‘product catalogue’. And, as speech is added to your multi-channel strategy, make sure you can capture information and measure customer satisfaction across them all.Test, learn and refine.

  • Test all speech applications in focus groups and small-scale pilots before rolling them out in industrial strength deployments. Remember, too, that once a solution is deployed the learning doesn’t stop. Careful monitoring, especially in the early weeks, is essential if service glitches are to be avoided. And don’t be afraid to ask customers what they think of the service, taking their comments into account as you refine its operation. Think twice before going it alone.

  • Designing a good speech service demands a rare combination of technological capability, advanced dialogue design skills and linguistics expertise that your organisation is unlikely to possess. Find a partner that can offer both technology and the expertise to design and build services. Remember, too, that speech technologies and the standards that govern them aren’t standing still. Beware the technology trap that will leave you isolated as technology moves on. A hosted solution that removes technology upgrade and capacity expansion headaches may be the best way forward.

Contributed by Jim Hennigan, Managing Director of Eckoh (

If you have any other ideas, why not drop us an email and we will see if we can add them in. There is a prize of a bottle of champagne for the best idea each month.

Author: Jonty Pearce

Published On: 8th Jan 2007 - Last modified: 13th Nov 2018
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