Friday, February 19, 2010

State of the Art Technology Driving Call Centres

Today callers want first call resolution. They want answers from one call centre operator in one call - not to be transferred from one department to another. We don’t blame them. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to repeat the reason why you’re calling three times over.

At the heart of this first call resolution vision is technology. It is integral to the calling process and is what drives our call centre. Technology means we have an enormous database of questions and answers, pop up screens, intelligent messaging and search engine and knowledgebase technology (similar to Wikipedia) at our Kiwi operators’ fingertips.

New advances in technology mean our in-house development team is always creating new ways to make the call a better experience for the customer. Recent years have seen a growth in use of alternative contact methods such as Email, Web and TXT (SMS). Our operators will often email or TXT customers’ instructions on how to resolve technical problems, or include links to online resources to help them resolve their query. Incoming emails, faxes, web queries and text messages are handled in just the same way as calls.

Our Kiwi operators now also use text messages to contact staff "in the field" who will help resolve customers’ problems face to face. This is how contact centre communication with Census collectors works (in the 2006 and upcoming 2011 Census) to ensure the right number of forms are dropped off and collected – even when many members of the public use the Internet to fill in their forms.

And when it comes to "avalanche calls", which occur when there is a crisis and many (sometimes hundreds or thousands of) customers call the centre at the same time, our technology systems kicks in so customers are given information and prompts – including self service options to get relevant and up-to-date information throughout, so frustration does not set in. The other key advance is in identifying and resolving those calls that aren’t part of the crisis so that they don’t get lost in the flood of other calls.

Our operators tend to be (or end up!) very IT savvy, and can navigate our multiple systems very skillfully. The basics of a call centre desktop environment include a Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) system (in our case supplied by Kiwi company Zeacom), a contact management tool – used to capture information, manage outbound calling, and direct the operator through the many different call types - Telnet uses its own product - ContactSuite.

Some calls also require access to external systems, such as ‘heavyweight’ customer relationship management tools (like Siebel, SAP,, QueWeb and RightNow). Telnet's operators seamlessly manage these tools along with our own in-house software giving our clients an edge over other providers, our employees better access to customer information and more importantly, the best possible experience for the caller.

First call resolution dramatically reduces escalation problems for our clients. Escalation occurs when a customer is dissatisfied with the call centre experience and is forced to contact the company direct to get answers. Our clients’ notice this indicator falls immediately after we come on board because customer’s problems are resolved the first time around, lifting customer satisfaction.

Steve Hennerley
IT Manager

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