Coming soon: A web-only call centre

Coming soon: A web-only call centre

Call centres ramp up on automation technology.

In an effort to improve customer service, CIOs are expected to spend more on automation technology for call centres in the next year, according to a report from The Australian- based company provides services and research for call centres in the Asia Pacific region.

The statistics in the report also reveal there are more customer interactions happening through what terms self-service technologies such as web chat.

“Having said that, people are still the preferred channel for most consumers. We will see that change with the coming of Generation Y who, if the technology works, would prefer not to speak to a human,” says managing director Dr Catriona Wallace. “The average age of people using Twitter is around 35 to 45 so it’s no longer just young people using self service technologies.”

Wallace, who was interviewed by CIO during a recent trip to Auckland, believes a web-only call centre is a possibility in the future.

The 2009 New Zealand Contact Centre Industry Benchmarking Report published by found over the past 12 months there was a 19 percent reduction in technology budgets, but the budgets are expected to grow in 2010.

“We know [based on the findings] that there will be investment in technology over the next 12 months by the IT managers within that industry,” Wallace says.

The technologies that IT managers and CIOs are interested in purchasing will include customer relationship management (CRM), computer telephony integration and knowledge management.

“CRM is at the top of the list of what they want to spend money on. It’s anything that assists agents, provides information and gives better service. A lot of the technology that CIOs would be looking at, is to get more information and automation to the desktop so they can better service a customer and have the problem solved on the first call.”

Wallace adds that IT managers are also interested in emerging channels such as web chat.

“Around 14 percent of New Zealand contact centre managers said they would invest in web chat, while 10 percent said they would invest in text message services. Six percent of IT managers also said they would invest in speech application and 2 percent are looking at biometrics.”

The other 68 percent were interested in current technologies such as CRM.

According to Wallace, these channels will become more important because technology will be heavily relied on over the next couple of years, as a way of reducing costs in the contact centre.

“Under the current climate there has been much more interest in outsourcing by CIOs, because it is an effective cost-saving strategy,” she says.

Citing the example of Telecom outsourcing some call centre operations to the Philippines, she says call centres can make significant savings this way.

“The general argument for an organisation to outsource and keep the centre in New Zealand, you would look for a 15 percent cost saving. Outsourcing and offshoring to a country like the Philippines means a 40 percent cost saving.”

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