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BPO CALL MANAGEMENT: For Whom the Bell Rings

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VoicenData Bureau
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No call center can hope to manage its calls and set up processes without

having appropriate tools in place. These tools are absolutely critical to the

smooth functioning of call centers. Call management tools help the call center

manager to define the routing of calls, analyze their pattern, and monitor their

progression till the calls are closed. In outbound calls, call management helps

the call center manager to identify the best time to call customers, based on

historical data and intelligent analysis.

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In essence, call management comprises intelligent tools that help in

predictive dialing, routing of calls, and providing detailed call patterns that

can be utilized for performance enhancement.

There are three aspects to a call management tool. The first aspect involves

customer interface tools, wherein there is intelligent routing of calls. This

routing takes place at the ACD level in the case of inbound calls and the dialer

level in the case of outbound calls. The second aspect involves tracking the

progress of calls. This takes place at the IVR level and the re-routing of calls

based on skill sets and availability of idle agents. Finally the integration of

front-end tools with the backend, which takes places at the CTI level, so that

agents are able to draw information and use it intelligently for enhancing

customer experience.

The workforce management tool sits somewhere in between the ACD and CTI, in

order to use the workforce optimally.

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Experts

Panel

AS

Pillai
, head, CIS and IPC solutions unit, Datacraft India 



Kallol Kannungo, VP support and delivery, enterprise solutions, GTL
Rahul Kamalakar, chief technology and planning officer, GTL BPO 



S Madhavan, president and CTO, Servion Global Solutions 


Syed Atiq, manager business development, Network Solutions

The tools capture information that managers need to examine operational

efficiency besides giving managers real-time summary reports on a call center's

operation. Call center managers can analyze calling patterns based on phone

numbers or calling source like hotels, cellular phones, or pay phones; explore

special call treatments (including malicious calls, service-observed calls, and

audio problems), and call abandon patterns. In short, it provides

cradle-to-grave reporting of calls with both local storage and external

archives.

Optimizing Usage



Optimizing the deployment of such tools depend largely on how well the

customization is done. Call routing, queuing, agent talk time, and hold time are

all dependent on business logic.

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For instance, it always makes better sense to route a routine inquiry call to

an IVR system while a call that has been made to place an order can be directed

to an agent. Calls made to register complaints can be queued on a priority line

with very short holding time (assumption being that the customer is agitated).

Since the ultimate aim of any call center is to serve customers, it is

important to configure the thresholds to minimize delays and divert calls to

alternate queues. This would ensure that no caller has to wait for too long.

Similarly it is important to define the time agents can take to solve

customers' problems, after which there should be automatic escalation of calls

to a supervisor or a specialist.

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Since all these are also tools that help in the enhancement of agents'

performance, it is important to set metrics for agent performance.

By having performance information readily available, agents can themselves

see how they are performing. While setting up metrics, it is important to focus

on what to measure rather than how to measure. This takes the focus away from

holding agents accountable for statistics, such as average handle time and

number of calls answered per hour, to focus on the quality of transactions. The

focus shifts to agents' knowledge levels, how they interact with members, and

how well they navigate the existing systems.

However, such shifts in focus would need to be accompanied by a strategic

shift internally wherein the agents' failure would need to be addressed from

the management perspective-addressing questions like whether the agents

require more training, more assistance, or whether a particular tool is slowing

down agent performance.

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Although TDM still rules the roost, the migration towards IP is inevitable

and it shall happen sooner than later. Therefore, it is important to remember

that all ACDs have a smooth migration path to IP systems.

Another often understated issue is the association of CTI with plain voice.

While CTI by itself may be voice, its deployment in a call center environment

can only be effective when it can be properly integrated its data network, i.e.

the IVR has to be able to talk properly with the database at the back-end.

Integrating the CTI with the back-end is a key challenge in successfully

designing a call center architecture. Choosing the right integrator is as much

the key as selecting the right portfolio of products.

Second with the increasing popularity of speech recognition systems, it is

important to ensure that IVRs have that feature when selecting one. Speech based

IVR are easier to use and are therefore increasingly more preferred than

traditional IVRs.

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Finally it is important to restrict the number of punches as much as possible

when the customer is on the IVR. Punching endless number and waiting to hearing

a human voice can be the most frustrating experience. This has been responsible

in bringing a bad name to IVR as a productivity tool with many alleging that it

has been overused and coming in the way of customer satisfaction.

The IVR should configure a threshold number of punches as well be able to

recognize the urgency of a customer query based on the number of punches or

dial-ins. At the same time it is important to ensure that IVR is intelligent

enough to recognize the required input with minimal customer prompts otherwise

it frustrates the customer.

SOME FAQs



While deploying call management tools it is important to ensure that the

product is compatible with existing infrastructure and to size the server

correctly in order to get the optimum performance from applications.

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It is a good idea to run through the a list of FAQs when deciding to buy any

call management tool. Some FAQs are listed below.

- How will the solution lower cost of ownership,

supportability, and administrative burden associated with technology

infrastructure and applications?



- How will the solution allow to minimize hold time,
resulting in a lower cost per call?



- How can the business overhead be reduced by
consolidating contact centers?



- What would be the recommended hardware configuration
for running the applications?



- Ask for a description of the call control methodology
used by the system that analyzes, routes, and queues calls based on each of the

following criteria:



-ANI/DNIS



-Call volumes


-Performance criteria


-Priority queuing

- Can skillsets be networked

across multiple call center locations?



-
 Does the solution provide call control based on the following

criteria?

-Agent skills



-Customer preference


-Inbound and outbound call levels


-Multi-media

- Ask for a description of the

capabilities for the system to reprioritize a contact (that has already been

queued) and modify its routing (e.g., re-queue the contact to an alternate

skillset).



- Ask for a description of the call routing
scripting capability.

MARKET INFORMATION



The leading players are Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, Alcatel, Concerto, Siemens and

Ericsson. Cisco is clearly the leader in IP-based contact center solutions while

others are playing catch-up. Almost every vendor worth his name has an

IP-offering and is gearing up for aggressive action.

There is hardly any player with offering the complete suite

of call management tools. Concerto offers ACD (Rockwell) and dailer (Ensemble

Pro) although it does not have pre-routing tool. Some of Concerto's SI

partners in India include GTL, 3D, Network Solutions, Wipro, Bay TalkiTech,

Ramco, Datacraft.

Avaya Global Connect has ACD, CTI and dialer with their

acquisition of Mosaic. It is the exclusive integrator and does not have

partnership with other SIs.

Cisco offers the ACD on its IPCC platform and pre-routing

tool (GeoTel) and its integrators include Datacraft (Advanced Technology

Partner), and Network Solutions.

Alcatel offers a pre and post routing tool (Genesys), ACD and

dialer. GTL and ABSI are the two integrators of Alcatel.

Nortel offers CTI, ACD, pre-routing and post-routing and IVR.

It does not have a dailer. Nortel's partners include GTL, 3D, Wipro, Ramco and

Spanco.

Siemens offers ACD and CTI and the integration is done by

SISL. Ericsson offers ACD and it is represented in India by HCL Infosystems.

Servion and Parsec are smaller players, popular in the sub-100 seat space.

Where Fiber Wins over Copper...



Customer interaction today has become multi-channel and a customer can reach an organization through various touch points-phone, fax, email, Web.
Customers, as a rule, contact organizations only for 3 reasons - to seek information, to conduct a transaction or to lodge a complaint.
Depending on the type of interaction, a set of business rules, workflows and process definitions come into play to satisfy that requirement.
These rules and processes are integrated to a data layer for information retrieval, updates or notification.

In a multimedia environment, the customer touch points to an

organization are many. It is important that the customer is served not just

appropriately but in a manner that will make it memorable. For this it is

important that the backend of the varios systems are integrated seamlessly and

talk to each other in order to provide the desired experience. Many vendors

offer specific program to enhance the customer experience memorably. One such

program is offered by Servion under the title customer optimization model.

Ask yourself is your customer a person or just another

statistic?

Customer interaction today has become multi-channel and a

customer can reach an organization through various touch points: phone, fax,

email, or the Web.

We can begin by asking ourselves this simple question: how

would we like to be treated if we were customers? This gives us a nice

perspective. Every time a customer gets in touch with an organization, it has a

unique opportunity to bond with the customer and deliver a great experience.

Delivering great customer experience through customer interaction management

technology and processes lies at the heart of the organization's CRM practice.

In fact, over 70 percent of customers in a recent survey stated that they rated

the experience they had when they called the organization, as the key

determinant of brand perception.

The customer experiences the organization either through the

usage of the product/service, or word of mouth, or just a phone call. According

to a recent article in a popular speech technology magazine, 92 percent of

customers base their opinion of an organization on their contact center

experience. customer contact management is the key to brand building and has to

be leveraged to deliver complete value to the enterprise.

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