Anthony McKay discusses 10 ways that enable you to face any emergency or routine incident with confidence, without draining call centre agent time and resources, using a rapid and scalable automated interactive outbound messaging solution.
Delivering your message every time, on time!
We live in a world where every second counts. Organisations often need to exchange information to different groups of people in a variety of situations, as easily and quickly as possible. The most effective way to swiftly co-ordinate contacting people, and gain their response using all possible contact methods – email, SMS, pager and touch-tone-based phone interactions – is to use an automated interactive outbound messaging solution.
Scenario One: Appointment reminders
The old saying ‘Time is money’ is particularly true for non-attendance to appointments. Each year, the NHS estimates a loss of over £600 million for Do Not Attends (DNAs), at an average cost of £130 per missed appointment. This problem is not only confined to the health sector, it is a common issue for both public and private organisations too. Finding ways to remind someone that they have an appointment or an upcoming event where non-attendance results in either high cost or major inconvenience – or possibly both – is a challenge that has been around for many years. Notably it is usually the person attending who either fails to turn up, or does not advise they will not be there, rather than the service provider wishing to cancel or amend the appointment. Using an automated interactive outbound messaging solution to provide reminders greatly increases attendance rates, thus reducing wasted time and money.
Scenario Two: Delivery reminders
When an event is important to you, there is less likelihood of forgetting it. If it is not top of your agenda or is booked in advance and you simply forget, you may well need reminding closer to the event, for example, when taking delivery of a product. It’s all in the timing. With manual calling, this timing can be difficult – will staff work late/early to make the calls? Can you afford the overtime? Do you have enough staff to make the calls and still operate effectively? When getting to the end of a calling list what is morale like – are the interactions consistent? Automated outbound interactive messaging is available 24/7 enabling you to make contact about the reminder at a time that suits your target audience, without having to worry about resourcing issues.
Scenario Three: Payment reminders
We all know that the staff in our contact centre are the key to its success and image. Keeping staff happy is essential to retaining them. Making repeated calls with a similar message is tedious. This can be particularly true for payment reminders such as rent, credit card, catalogue account or even council tax payments. Removing these calls and allowing agents to concentrate on higher-value tasks not only improves job satisfaction but also allows the organisation to get the maximum value from the team.
Scenario Four: Managing staff resource during unexpected events
Delivering the messaging is just one part of the job to be done; what happens when the person cannot make it to the appointment/event? Knowing that they are not coming is useful and saves wasted resource. However, being able to see a wider picture would be a great benefit. In the case of an emergency this ‘closing the loop’ is essential. For example, in an emergency situation where medical assistance is required, automated outbound interactive messaging not only notifies key staff that they are required but can also record confirmation that the person can attend, thus ensuring adequate resource is available but removing any possible duplication of skills that might otherwise be called to site ‘just in case’ someone else does not attend.
Scenario Five: Sending out emergency or evacuation notices
In an emergency, such as a fire at one of your sites, you need to get your message out fast, and every second counts. It may be that you need to evacuate staff from the building, or advise staff at another location that an incident has taken place and not to come to the site. Automated outbound interactive messaging sends accurate and consistent information (unaffected by human emotion), to selected groups far quicker than any human using ‘call trees’ or dialling by hand. Try, try and try again! – the solution will also try every contact until a confirmation has been received.
Scenario Six: Distributing notifications
When you need to advise people quickly and efficiently of information which might be of interest to them automated outbound interactive messaging is the solution. For example, many residential areas now have Neighbourhood Watch Schemes to notify residents of criminal activities within their area. By automating this notification process messages are quickly and efficiently delivered to residents each time, every time, on time.
Scenario Seven: Customer surveys
Ideal for customer surveys, automated interactive outbound messaging will try the customer until they are reached; and collect the required information regarding your organisation, products or services. The intended recipient will always be presented with an excellent level of service and brand image with a consistent message, providing a positive customer experience. The interaction also has the added advantage of being anonymous, allowing an independent survey to take place.
Scenario Eight: Notification of change in travel information
When there is an airline emergency, railway crisis or even a change in travel plans for package holidays it is important that anyone due to travel is notified as quickly as possible. Sometimes that person may be out and about already. How do you go about ensuring they are contacted no matter where they are? Automated interactive outbound messaging solutions store multiple numbers for contacts and if they can not be reached on one number, the solution will try another. There is no limit to how many times a contact will be tried – in fact the solution can continue to try the contact until they are reached.
Scenario Nine: Coping with the Christmas rush
The quantity of messages to be distributed often changes over time. For example seasonal variations in call traffic during periods such as Christmas, school holidays or even an unexpected event can place a strain on your resources. By using automated outbound interactive messaging you are able to scale or shrink the resource you need to deliver messages much more easily than if using human counterparts. This is also true when expanding or downsizing an organisation.
Scenario Ten: Confirming hospital appointments and medical test results
Automated outbound interactive messaging can interact with database information to provide a personalised communication to individual recipients, such as details about a hospital appointment or even delivering medical test results and the follow-up course of action required. Such personalisation not only improves the effectiveness of the communication but it also reduces the need for the recipient to have to make a follow-up call to the organisation to check specific details. For sensitive calls the service could verify the identity of the recipient by requesting a piece of security information, such as a PIN or date of birth.
For fast, responsive and accurate communications, automated interactive outbound messaging is the ideal solution to co-ordinate contacting people and gathering their responses using all possible contact methods – fixed line phone, pager, email or mobile. It provides a fast, efficient and comprehensive communication in the many situations where speed, time, accuracy and two-way communications are paramount.
1The Information Centre, HES, estimated that in 2004-2005 10% of the approximately 45 million appointments that were set were not attended, resulting in an estimated annual loss of over £600 million to the NHS. This is an average cost of £130 per missed appointment.
Anthony McKay is the Chief executive Officer of Telephonetics VIP
Anthony co-founded Telephonetics plc in 1993 with Bill Burgar. He has nearly 20 years’ experience in the telecoms industry, having previously worked for Northern Telecoms (now Nortel), Octel (now Avaya), British Telecom and Symbionics. Anthony is a graduate of Durham University, where he read Computing and Electronics.