Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events

Posts Tagged :

Call Centre

How AI could change your contact centre

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Thomas Rødseth, VP of marketing and product at Oslo cloud-based contact centre Puzzel explains how AI could change contact centres in the future…

The roar has become louder over the last 12 months. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming and it will change everything. It’s been a gift to editors, bloggers, Ted talk speakers and conference organisers – especially for the easy headlines it generates amongst an audience which wants to know if bots are really ready to take jobs or whether technology will just help make form-filling slightly less boring.

Everyone is at it. Amazon and Google are racing to fill consumer homes with devices that offer voice access to get stuff done. The billion+ user sized messaging platforms are touting the promise of solutions using real people blended with bot power when times are busy or needs are simple enough to fulfil using automation.

Meanwhile virtual assistants sit on websites helping users find answers and avoid live voice queues, by offering a better user experience than the average on-site search box. Some have been at it for over a decade. Way before it became fashionable to get excited about bots.

How does AI work?

Underneath the bonnet of AI is a pretty impressive set of technologies. Machine learning looks for patterns. These can be in the questions asked by customers, or in the outcomes generated by individual advisors. The use of machine learning will play an increasingly important role in helping to spot knowledge gaps and act as a useful tool in self service knowledge collection.

Natural language processing is another relevant technology that helps identify a customer’s intent and steer the process of matching questions with answers. Of course natural language has been used for some time to transform the way customers engage with IVRs by removing the often complex menu based interface that can frustrate customers. That same technology is now being used to steer self service conversations within defined topic boundaries with the same level of success.

Why do we need AI?

Automation using AI plays well into the ever rising expectations of customers. Always on access has become a core experience of the mobile consumer who instinctively wants to self manage on their own terms. That said, it has to be easy, which means it needs to be fast, well designed and navigate the user to their desired outcome in the least possible number of steps. AI, via intelligent assistance, plugs the gap between this level of expectation and previous generations of self service in which discoverability and answer quality undermined to desire to self serve.

As a benchmark for this type of functionality, Google transformed access to the vast repository of services we call the internet with an incredibly simple yet satisfyingly smart interface. Simple because it is just a search box, smart because it learns your behaviour and applies behavioural insight from the billions of other times users have requested a service similar to the one you currently need. The net result is a fast, relevant outcome.

This level of service is how it should be in terms of functionality for any form of intelligent assistant. As consumer confidence and habit grows, your intelligent assistance will need to appear on all platforms, devices and modalities to meet expectations.

Where to start?

However, all that is in the future. At least in terms of where most organisations currently find themselves. So where is the right place to start? What is an appropriate level of ambition?

AI is here to stay and it will change customer service. This is certain. Therefore it matters that you are successful and develop a firm foundation upon which to evolve your AI customer service strategy. It also matters that you win the agreement of colleagues and budget owners that the benefits for ongoing investment are clear and compelling.

Therefore start with an easy win. If you are in a high volume, voice based service business then maybe it is time to look at refreshing the IVR experience with a natural language interface. If you provide services that impact people’s lives like travel or utilities, then maybe extending your alert system to include a home assistant such as Google Assistant or Alexa makes increasing sense as they become part of smart home lifestyles for certain customer segments.

Alternatively start with a safer option and look at your online service portal and the current value offered by your FAQs. This is where many organisations are starting their AI journey and building out from there.

What’s next?

We have written a whitepaper on AI and contact centres which can be downloaded here. Meanwhile keep listening to the roar to discover how AI could change your contact centre – these are exciting times.


BT hints at more call centre jobs heading to Wales

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The director of BT Wales has hinted that more customer service jobs could be returning from India to Wales, as the telecoms giant continues to review its customer service strategy.

The news comes in the wake of 100 new call centre jobs created by the company in Swansea earlier in the year.

Alwen Williams, director of BT Wales said: “Customer service is absolutely critical for BT and improving that customer service experience for our customers; so we are bringing all customer service calls back from India to the UK.

“Swansea is an extremely important site for us strategically; we have found that we can recruit really good people in Swansea who will stay with us.

“The training they get is well used and it’s good for the organisation.

“It’s not just about the call centre either.

“The site that we have here in Swansea is much more strategically important for BT because it’s where we test our customer-based products.”

The Welsh government has supported the move.

Discussing the move after visiting the BT tower in Swansea, economy secretary Ke Skates said: “It’s great to be able to draw back to Wales employment that in previous years was lost.

“There are 30,000 people employed in contact centres across Wales and it’s a highly valued part of the economy now.

“This particular BT facility is employing a lot of the brightest and best people in the area and it’s great to see them having superb career prospects.”

“BT are talking very positively about their future prospects here. I think we need to watch this space.”

Tories warned over Neath call centre election use

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned the Conservative party over the use of scripts during the general election campaign.

The ICO has said that small parts of the script used crossed the line into unlawful direct marketing.

However, the ICO have stopped short of taking any further action, and are waiting for the Conservative party to comment.

A blog on the ICO’s website confirmed the findings, stating: “We’ve found that two small sections of the written scripts used by those making the calls crossed the line from legitimate market research to unlawful direct marketing,” before adding: “We’ve warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time.”

The blog also goes on to say: “We’ve stopped short of formal regulatory action because the overall campaign was genuine market research.

“The two sections we had concerns about were not enough to trigger formal enforcement action when considered along with the campaign as a whole.

“In addition, the results of the survey were not saved against any individual so they could not be targeted for future marketing.”

The Conservative Party initially denied it broke electoral law by using the Blue Telecoms call centre, after an undercover Channel 4 News report claimed workers may have been carrying out paid canvassing.

Police are still carrying out investigations into the claims.

Ascensos opens Isle of White call centre

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Motherwell-based Ascensos has opened a new call centre in the Isle of White, creating over 600 new jobs.

Based in Cowes, the centre will initially focus on customer service enquiries for Ascensos’ long-serving client JD Sports, before opening up to a range of blue chip retailers – including Argos and GAME – as the company takes on more staff.

Following the first two weeks of training at the new centre, enthusiastic new staff celebrated by dressing up as sports men and women while taking calls.

Commenting on the new centre in the Isle of White, Ascensos’ operations director Lyle McLean said: “This is a significant day for our new Isle of Wight operation and we were delighted that the first members of our new team decided to enter into the spirit by adopting a sporting theme for the day.

“This is our first intake of team members and at full strength, we plan to have created 600 jobs on the Isle of Wight.”

Ascensos was founded in 2013 and employs over 1,200 staff. It has locations in Motherwell, Clydebank, the Netherlands and Romania.

‘One moment, caller’ – Top 10 worst call centre phrases

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

London office property specialists has compiled a top 10 list of the phrases used by call centre workers that are most likely to cause a customer meltdown, while urging the public to remain calm when feeling frustrated.

And it comes as no surprise that hitting the top ten come dreaded phrases such as ‘bear with me’, ‘would you like to leave a voice mail’ and the classic ‘she’s tied up’.

“Everyone has to occasionally call a customer service centre, and although the staff we speak to are calm and polite it doesn’t stop us from getting frustrated by how tedious the call can be”, said Chris Meredith, CEO,

“It doesn’t matter how well your day is going, the moment you hear an automated message telling you how important your call is, only moments later to say that you’re still 30 minutes away from speaking to someone, you can’t help but burst a fuse.

“Even if the staff on the end of the line are helpful and friendly, if you are left on hold for half an hour listening to how you’re still eighth in the queue you’re certain to end up seeing red.

“Phrases like ‘can you please repeat that?’ or ‘sorry about the wait’ can be said as sincerely as possible, and yet somehow the process of having to wait for an eternity on the phone turns them into phrases that border on feeling mocking.

“Just remember that call centre staff understand your frustrations, and no matter how many times you get passed over to another department or put on hold that you should always try to remain patient and polite with them.”

The top 10 worst call centre phrases

Bear with me
She’s tied up
Would you like to leave a voicemail?
Our calls are recorded for training and monitoring purposes
You are 5th in queue. Sorry we are experiencing high volumes of callers at this time
Excuse me whilst I put you on hold
I’m sorry, could you please repeat that?
Your call is important to us
Sorry about the wait
That’s not something I can do

EE brings 1,000 jobs to UK & Ireland

1024 582 Jack Wynn

100% of EE customer service calls will now be answered within the UK and Ireland as the company has created over 1,000 jobs in the last year.

The announcement follows parent company BT’s announcement of introducing 500 more positions to tackle increased customer demand.

Unlike its parent company, EE is among the least complained about mobile companies in the UK according to OFCOM, having received just five complaints in every 100,000 last quarter compared to BT’s 36.

The mobile giant has made a lot of progress since 2014, when the operator was receiving 12 complaints per 100,000, although its second quarter 2016 was the lowest record according to OFCOM, with just four.

EE was beaten to the top spot by O2, Three and Tesco Mobile, with Tesco receiving on average just a single complaint in every 100,000.

“2016 was a landmark year in the service that we provided to our customers,” said EE CEO Marc Allera, “We’re passionate about making our service the best in the industry, so you can expect more to come soon.”

On the horizon for EE is expanding its 4G coverage. By 2020 the company is hoping to have covered 95% of the UK’s landmass.


Contact Centres Need to ‘Communicate With Customers’

840 299 Jack Wynn

A survey has revealed that an overwhelming majority of Brits have a negative perception of call centres.

90% surveyed by Aquarium Software admitted they expect to be sold something when answering a call from a centre even though that makes up just one quarter of calls made in the industry.

“These results are worrying,” according to managing director of Aquarium Software, Ed Shropshire, who believes a large factor in positively changing public opinion is adapting to modern technology.

“Only the right software can allow contact centres to interact with customers in a way they find acceptable,” added Mr Shropshire, explaining that “if a customer is asking you a question via Twitter, a reply via phone call is unlikely to be appreciated.”

Making use of these ‘omnichannel systems’ lets consumers contact on their terms, giving companies a stronger reputation.

“There are always going to be a small minority who do engage in unsolicited selling,” but says that the future of the industry will be led by those who are willing to offer more ways to communicate, which will help “show the public that contact centres are a valuable and worthwhile resource.”

New App to ‘Aggressively’ Change Workforce

1024 683 Jack Wynn

A mobile call centre app is aiming to remove the need of computer terminals for employees without risking data security.

The Verint Mobile Work View looks to allow employees constant access to workplace information regardless of time or location.

With a main goal of removing the reliance on computers and web browsers, the app will also allow employees to access work schedules and request time off through their mobile devices.

The app allows for enhanced security capabilities to ensure information isn’t stored on devices, and “enables companies to confidently extend mobile capabilities to employees without compromising data security,” says Verint SVP and general manager in strategic operations, Nancy Treaster, adding “we are aggressively and proactively adding apps and other solutions that help address the evolving requirements of today’s changing workforce.”

The changes integrate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, which can have large financial benefits and increase workforce optimisation in employees.

The convenience of instantly using your own devices, according to Ms Treaster, will allow workers to “experience the benefits of further engagement and empowerment that comes with delivering on-demand, actionable information.”

Noble’s RTSA endorsed by permanent tsb to improve contact centre performance…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Noble Systems’ Real-Time Speech Analytics (RTSA) has been adopted by the Irish banking chain, permanent tsb, in a bid to enhance all contact centre controls and further improve its customer service offering.

Noble’s Composer RTSA claims to ‘listen’ to all agent interactions and assigns an individual virtual coaching partner to provide agent feedback when needed.

Using a library of ‘user-defined phrases’, the system monitors all calls and triggers an alert when a phrase is detected or not detected on both sides of the conversation, based on the conditions defined for the campaign.

Alerts can be sent to managers via the Noble Harmony web manager interface, as well as agents using the Noble Composer agent desktop.

Alan Murphy, head of Collections at permanent tsb said: “At permanent tsb, we take customer service very seriously and we have invested heavily in technology that will support our agents to provide exceptional service and support to our clients.

“One of the key reasons we purchased Composer RTSA from Noble Systems was to complement our existing Noble technology, allowing us to identify areas of the scripted conversation not going to plan for our agents  and to proactively notify them during the call. With Composer RTSA, we can listen out for key phrases to ensure that 100 per cent of calls are in compliance and that any customer or agent issues are flagged in real time, rather than after the event”.

Colin Chave, general manager at Noble Systems EMEA added: “We are delighted that permanent tsb have invested in Composer RTSA, and we are looking forward to seeing them quickly realise their return on investment and at the same time improve their customer journey and increase agent satisfaction.

Learn more about Composer RTSA here

Senior business leaders holding back on adopting new technology…

800 450 Jack Wynn

New research carried out by 8×8 and the Institute of Directors (IoD) has exposed a rift between attitudes of company directors and IT managers when it comes to embracing new technology.

Comparing the views of mid-level ‘hands-on’ IT managers with senior directors across more than 260 UK businesses, the research found 45 per cent of IT managers say their senior business leaders are holding back technology for reasons of ‘self-preservation’, whereby they are reluctant to embrace new techology that will disrupt their own position within their organisations.

In addition, IT managers were found to be far less optimistic than senior directors when asked if their organisation makes full use of the latest technology, with just 34 per cent believing they do, compared with 49 per cent of C-suite respondents.

Kevin Scott-Cowell, UK managing director at 8×8 said: “We frequently hear anecdotal evidence that IT managers face significant opposition from senior leaders when it comes to adopting new technologies such as cloud communications – this research suggests this is something which is widely felt.”

62 per cent of IT managers say UK businesses are too wary when it comes to adopting new technology, such as cloud communications, and only 56 per cent believe senior members invest sufficient resources to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.

An insufficient budget is also a significant factor felt by IT managers when it comes to new technology implementation (35 per cent), compared to just 20 per cent of senior business leaders.

Scott-Cowell added: “Certainly, many senior leaders fear replacing expensive legacy IT systems that they have invested in. Their reluctance to do so in order to preserve the status quo can be damaging to businesses who are losing out on the many benefits to staff productivity and, ultimately, the potential for business growth.”

To read the full report, click here