What's New in In Queue
Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, Paul.Stockford@nationalcallcenters.org
We are beginning our summer campaign to shore up our NACC volunteer
ranks and replace those volunteers who left due to attrition or
turnover during the past year. NACC volunteer members get full
membership in the NACC for a year, including access to the reports on
the NACC website and all the other benefits that go along with NACC
All we ask for in return is volunteer membership participation in the
surveys that we conduct over the course of the year.
Our infrequent surveys generally take only three or four minutes to
complete. Our major summer survey might take up to five or six
minutes. In any case, we promise not to take more than 30 minutes
of your time over the course of your volunteer membership year.
If you’re interested in joining our volunteer membership group, please
send me an e-mail with the word “Volunteer” in the subject line and
I’ll get back to you with details.
FREE PAPERS (that I wrote)! I’ve been
typing my fingers to the bone over the past few weeks, authoring papers
on both workforce optimization and interaction analytics. The
papers are available for you to download. Since they are
sponsored papers you don’t have to be a NACC member to access them and
there is no charge. Here are the details:
First up is a paper I wrote entitled “Workforce Management: Third
Generation Comes of Age.” If you have anything at all to do with
workforce management software, from analyst to buyer, you should take a
look at this paper. Not only do you get a bit of history, I
provide a comprehensive overview of the third generation of workforce
management software and why I find it so intriguing. You can
download a copy at http://calabrio.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Calabrio-WFM-Final_June-2012.pdf
If you’re in the financial services market, you’ll probably be
interested in a paper I recently wrote called “Understanding Workforce
Optimization in the Financial Services Industry.” This paper
takes a deep dive into how workforce optimization specifically
addresses the needs of those of you in financial services. This
paper can be downloaded at http://knoahsoft.com/white_papers/Understanding_Workforce_Optimization_In_the_Financial_Services_Industry.html
If your interests lean toward analytics, don’t miss the series of
research notes I just wrote about new product offerings from
Nexidia. They have come up with what I believe is a very unique
analytics-on-demand service as well as integrated voice and text
analytics offerings. You can find complimentary downloads of
these research notes at the following three URLs:
UPCOMING NACC WEBINAR! On August 21st,
David Butler and I will be co-hosting a webinar covering one of the
industry’s current hot topics – optimizing the customer
experience. As broad as that topic sounds, we’ll be narrowing our
focus to exploring how humans interact with both processes and
technology. We’ll be joined by speakers from OpenSpan, who will
add to the discussion of how to simultaneously improve both the worker
experience and the customer experience. You can sign up for this
webinar now by going to http://www2.openspan.com/l/11522/2012-06-27/73rk2. More information about this webinar is in this issue of In Queue.
Contact Center mobility has suddenly become the industry hot topic du
jour. We’re fortunate this month to have an article contribution
from Dan Miller, Senior Analyst and Founder at Opus Research in San
Francisco. I’ve known Dan for many years and he is universally
recognized as a leading industry authority in the voice services and
conversational commerce areas. In his article, Dan discusses
mobile virtual agents and virtual assistants, like the iPhone’s Siri,
in the contact center industry. This is cool stuff. If you
want to contact Dan once you’ve read his thought-provoking article, you
can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 415-904-7666. The Opus website can be found at www.opusresearch.net.
What Siri Has To Say About Customer Care
Dan Miller, Senior Analyst, Opus Research
other day I was invited to SRI’s headquarters in Menlo Park to see the
next-generation of virtual assistant to support online and mobile
banking. Named Lola, she was the product of years of research and
development carries out jointly by the scientists at SRI and the
customer care specialists at Spain’s giant financial services provider,
BBVA. Lola shows off the power of “combining understanding and
reasoning.” The result, in the banking domain at least, is a
highly-personalized resource that is able to understand a customer’s
intention and then act upon that in a conversational mode.
Lola is the future of “customer centric” services and support. It has
many implications for contact center operations as companies across all
verticals begin to integrate virtual assistants into the normal
workflow and as customers define and determine when they want to turn
to “virtual agents” to carry out certain tasks or applications. It’s
tempting to say, “this is where contact centers need to get getting
Siri-ous” (referring of course to Siri, the mobile virtual assistant
that ships with every iPhone 4S out there).
For all the attention she’s getting thanks to Apple’s multi-million
dollar advertising campaign, Siri is not the only game in town when it
comes to virtual personal assistants. There are dozens of competitors
or imitators claiming to be “Siri-killers” or
“Siri-for-the-Enterprise.” The second term could easily apply to
today’s speech-enabled interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Both
sound “human” and encourage callers to communicate to callers in
natural, comfortable tones. They also use loads of data or metadata in
order to anticipate the purpose of a call or utterance and move the
mobile user closer to a successful outcome.
From a technology perspective, both mobile and enterprise virtual
agents employ automated speech processing (ASR and TTS), natural
language understanding (NLU), artificial intelligence (AI) and
knowledge management (with judicious use of “Big Data”) to infuse each
interaction with human-like qualities. In the background, they carry
out the complex search, data analytics and “decisioning” functions that
shorten the time and effort it takes for callers to accomplish what
they have set out to do. Ideally they make an agent’s life easier as
well because they can do much of the triage work, to ascertain the
purpose of a call, gather information and deliver the caller to a
well-informed agent to complete an action or transaction.
Siri is called a “mobile virtual agent” (MVA) because, for now, she is
embedded in the iPhone 4S. Playing the role of MVA puts her in the very
important position of helping mobile users grow accustomed to using
their voices to get things done. She’s fostering “Speechable Moments,”
meaning occasions where using one’s voice is preferable to pressing
“One” on a keypad, typing instructions on a computer keyboard or
pecking out text on a handset or smartphone.
Who among us hasn’t found oneself barking “Agent! AGENT!” in the
airport lobby? Siri or the Siri-like interface gives us more genteel
and productive ways to articulate our needs, wants or desired outcomes.
Thus, the opportunities for “Speechable Moments” are growing
geometrically. This is the product of proliferation of automated speech
processing (ASP) resources on devices and in automobiles, coupled with
links to “workflow management” tools, natural language processing and
databases “in the cloud.”
Mobile subscribers are becoming more comfortable and more skilled at
using their voices to step up their personal productivity. This is
destined to become self-reinforcing. Whether it's a company claiming to
be “the next Siri” or a well-designed and executed speech-enabled IVR,
each implementation should be judged according to its ability to make
things easier for a user, not its ability to replace Apple or a contact
It Is Not Self-Service If You Have To Call
David L. Butler, PhD, Executive Director, National Association of Call Centers,
(The following is a recent posting from the NACC blog)
being the Executive Director of the National Association of Call
Centers, my wife and I own a consulting company where we work with
organizations assisting with their call center operations. The
consulting company carries the standard business insurance, workers
compensation, liability and so on. One of these policies is
through Travelers. Each year we receive a letter that says
something like, “You have been randomly selected to be audited…,” which
is clearly not random. If it were random, I would own my own
Caribbean island having won the lottery at least two times with such
randomness. This year the letter, instead of asking us to go
through out files for the past year and make copies, and send them into
to them, asks us to go online to their new system, ePHR, to submit the
information electronically. While I a still a bit peeved at being
"randomly" audited each year for the past forever, at least Travelers
is moving to a self-service model, which is efficient and cost
effective. Something that you should know, besides researching the call
center industry for the past 15 years, I have also been studying the
self-service emerging industry for the past 5 or more years as well.
was going well last night when I was completing my self-service audit
online until I had to upload my last 4 quarters of payroll data. When I
searched for the file it found it just fine, and then pressed "upload"
and poof!, the field disappeared (see image) and nothing was uploaded.
I then searched again, cleared out again, nothing uploaded. I re-read
the instructions, nothing about no .pdf documents, the size of my file
was only 1.6M nowhere near the limit to upload. So, I tried again,
nothing. I was stuck. So what did I do? I search out help of course.
The problem was it was 8pm CST when this problem occurred and the hours
of available support are EST and not open when I am doing this project.
Note number 1, if you are going to have a 24 hour self-service system,
at least for the first trial period have 24 hour support available.
So this morning, after getting done my much needed items I tried the
self-service system again. This time I was hoping that there was only a
technical glitch and that it had been reported and fixed by now. Same
screen, same problem. Note number 2, if you are going to have a 24 hour
self-service system in place you must have a 24 hour technical support
available on call as well. With the problem not solved, I called the
audit department help desk. I explained the problem to the nice woman
on the phone, and she told me that it was a common problem. The system
would not allow me to upload form my computer but if I emailed her the
document, she could upload it for me. So I did email it to her.
Note number 3, and this is a big one. Self-service is intended to not
only offer the customer flexibility in a 24 hour system it is also
supposed to add a channel that reduces cost by moving simple tasks to
the self-service channel and away from the more expensive channel such
as the call center. However, since the system does not work, or not
always works, then the cost of the self-service solution is sunk and
also the cost of the call center is also still ongoing. In essence, I
cost Travelers double because I used the self-service and the call
center. This brings me to note number 4, test, retest and retest again
before launching a self-service application. Otherwise, you lose
the one chance of migrating your customers to this channel and cost
savings down the road. You can be assured, when I am "randomly" audited
again next year, and it will happen, I will probably chose to call and
send in the documents via mail or email since my first experience with
the self-service channel was less than successful.
If in doubt, go purchase something at Amazon.com. If your self-service
channel is not as easy as purchasing an item from Amazon.com then
rework it so that it is. Amazon.com is the standard that we are all
expecting as consumers.
Free The Agent! How Technology And Process Can Better Serve The Employee And Ultimately, The Customer
Laura Tanner, Vice President Marketing, OpenSpan
face it. All too often, business executives and the IT
organizations that support them focus on the abstract, at the expense
of the personal. At the end of the day, all business activity is
for and about people. It’s about what the customers experience
when they call you, or come into your storefront, or visit your
self-service Website. It’s about your employees’ effectiveness at
meeting customer needs, and how much it costs your organization to do
so in terms of efficiency and errors. All too often, the
technology and business processes put in place can become barriers to
the worker’s ability to execute. At OpenSpan, we believe there’s
a better way to work. By optimizing how human beings interact
with processes and technology, you can improve not only the worker
experience but the customer experience as a result.
Join OpenSpan for a compelling Webinar on August 21 as we introduce a
new way of working for contact centers, hosted by the National
Association of Call Centers’ Executive Director Dr. David Butler and
Research Director Paul Stockford. We’ll explore how worker
experience impacts customer experience, and how to improve interactions
human-to-human and human-to-computer. Find out how to improve,
measure and innovate both productivity and efficiency by starting where
technology and people meet—on the agent desktop. Register for
this important event today at http://www2.openspan.com/l/11522/2012-06-27/73rk2.
Call Center Comics!
If you like this comic and would like to see more, write Ozzie at email@example.com and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com/cartoon_categories.htm
or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The NACC
appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.
To view past issues of In Queue, please click here.
If you would like to contribute to In Queue, please reply to this email with "Contribute" in the subject line.
Copyright 2012 National Association of Call Centers