Wi-Fi is an Answer for Africa: Across Africa demands are changing, access models are changing and consumers are blurring the lines between corporate
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Wednesday, 30 January 2013 12:40

Still acting on instinct?

Still acting on instinct?

The value of business intelligence in contact centres


Opportunity costs and inefficiencies are the certain lot of contact centres that do not have an integrated, real-time interrogative view of customers and business flows, and cannot trace the link of these variables to sales, service and, ultimately, profitability.

Published in CRM & Direct Marketing
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 12:36

Why you (still) don’t know what your customers are saying

Why you (still) don’t know what your customers are saying

You may have numerous assessment tools in place to measure your contact centre efficiency. But unless you personally listen to every call received, you probably don't know what your customers are really saying.

You certainly don't know what department they like best, what their gripes are with your company, and what they plan to do about it.

This is because the average contact centre measures its efficiency with cold, hard numbers: call volumes, call duration, speed of resolution, number of escalations and automated satisfaction ratings.

This, many may feel, gives them a pretty good idea of their levels of customer satisfaction – right? Wrong.

You may have an excellent view of call volumes and duration, but you still don't know exactly what your customers are saying, in what context, and what that means for your business. Service isn't about numbers. You need to know - are your customers delighted?

Even contact centres using traditional speech analytics primed to seek out certain keywords don't deliver the subtle nuances of human conversation. Some contact centres more geared to understand what their customers are saying actually employ staff whose job is solely to listen to recorded conversations to assess the sentiment behind the words. In a large call centre, this means a handful of staff are trying to assess thousands of calls. This is not only impractical and expensive, it also delivers feedback on a mere fraction of the total available information.

What is needed is context-aware speech analytics that not only spots keywords, but also key phrases, which are easier to detect. Statements such as "I want to close my account" or "I want to terminate my account" should trigger an instant alert via pop-up, SMS or email to a supervisor or relevant department, who can immediately step in to avert a problem.

There's a desperate need to not only understand what lies behind customer complaints, but to also integrate this knowledge into every facet of your business. Because if you know what your customer is really saying every time they call, you will be able to adapt your business strategy and processes accordingly.

What if a customer has regular cash flow, so he looks like a good credit risk on paper, but in reality, he frequently calls a contact centre to make late payment arrangements? The credit department should be aware of this, in order to make a more considered decision the next time that customer applies for more credit. With an intelligent speech analytics tool, this information would be gathered and integrated into all enterprise systems in real time, allowing all relevant departments to view a complete picture of a customer's interaction with your company.

The scene is set for truly intelligent interaction analysis, to close the loop in customer service.

Our customers have been waiting a long time for a tool like this, which is why we are delighted to be bringing to market Interaction Analyzer™, a revolutionary real-time speech analytics tool for customer interaction centre systems. The Interaction Analyzer application is part of the Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC) all-in-one suite of products, which makes it quick and easy to deploy by leveraging the CIC architecture. It intelligently logs unlimited chosen keywords or key phrases, triggering alerts in any number of ways, and integrating into enterprise systems to deliver real-time, complete records and analysis of customer interaction. Built from the ground up using a new breed of intelligent speech analytics tools, Interaction Analyzer™ helps complete the picture to deliver a revolutionary overview of everything you need to know about your customer.

Published in Customer Service
Tuesday, 10 July 2012 10:57

Is your on-demand call centre the real deal?

On-Demand Call Centre

Insist on “elastic” scalability and responsive provisioning at low cost

One of the most topical issues in call centres currently is the “on-demand call centre”. It implies being able to grow and shrink your agent pool in line with the ebb and flow of demand, without being concerned with details like being under- or over-provisioned with resources (bandwidth and scale of application support).

In short resourcing mustn’t be a worry and it must happen seamlessly. Required changes must happen at the speed of business, and you most certainly don’t want to be charged for excess capacity or ever be left under-resourced.

The efficiency of this model promises significant savings. Nevertheless, buyers should carefully scrutinise the offer on the table: does it give you all the possible benefits of an on-demand call centre, and at what cost and compromise?

Identifying true ODCCs

The example of TAKEALOT.co.za, an online retailer, serves to illustrate what a true on-demand call centre entails:


TAKEALOT’s promise to customers is to deliver any orders placed before 1pm on the same day. To handle the spike in demand, the company has to sharply increase its normal capacity before 1pm and back down again shortly afterwards. This must happen quickly and seamlessly – an infrastructural delivery capability best described as “elastic”.

Several things work in concert to make elasticity possible. The seamlessness of the variation is firstly the result of delivering bandwidth and application resources as a managed service – that is, in the background.

Virtualisation of the computing infrastructure is another contributing factor. As an architectural design feature that separates the customer’s requirement for capacity from physical infrastructural resources, virtualisation makes it easier to deliver just enough capacity.

By contrast, non-virtualised call centres are by their very nature over-provisioned to cater for times of peak performance. They are therefore routinely underutilised, as their spare capacity cannot be divorced from the underlying infrastructure to be put to better use elsewhere. All this happens at immense upfront capital expenditure and on-going operations and maintenance cost over multiple years.


TAKEALOT’s other non-negotiable requirement was speed of provisioning, as it needed to be up and running in six weeks.

The way to achieve this is through a standards-based hosted call centre platform that can easily and quickly be made to slot into the customer’s call environment. With a standards-based platform, all the customer needs is an Internet Protocol-based broadband connection to be up and running in no time.

Non-standard platforms, on the other hand, cannot claim to be on-demand, as they require an immense upfront integration effort, leaving the provider powerless to deliver much this side of six months.


ODCCs are also typically not as expensive as their proprietary counterparts. Such systems are notorious for requiring that customers buy the entire spectrum of functionality of the platform, including some it will never use.

By contrast, a true ODCC based on an open-source software-based system offers core functionality at per-extension pricing that is close to a normal telephony service. At a reasonable additional cost, extras like dialling campaigns, agent queues and reporting can be included.

In the example of TAKEALOT, for instance, call centre management was provided with reports of peak-time call distribution across agents to enable it to ramp up resources when necessary. Caller ID functionality revealed missed-call numbers, allowing the service-obsessed company to phone back customers it missed.

However, should a call centre not have use for this functionality, it need not procure it.

Built for purpose

In short, an ODCC can rapidly meet the core functionality and capacity needs of the average call centre, by virtue of being hosted, virtualised and standards-based. This can greatly shorten the time to market for new call centres and decrease their cost, provided the buyer carefully scrutinises the contract.

Published in Networking

The SA Leader Magazine


In the September issue

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Interview with one of SA’s Young Achievers

While you’re speaking, what’s your body saying?



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