Spoken Communications

News, opinions and information on the state of call centers, cloud contact centers and IVRs worldwide

What is VoIP?

Posted by Heidi Miller on October 6, 2015 at 5:00 AM

What is VoIp infographicSo what exactly IS VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Simply put, it's just another way of making a phone call that uses an internet connection instead of a dedicated phone line.

The use of VoIP over a Plain Old Telephone System (POTS, and yes, that's really what it's called) is increasing as more and more people are realizing the cost savings that it provides. Bascially, if  you have a computer with speakers, a microphone and a reliable internet connection, you can use VoIP for FREE! 

In some cases, it can also be used for free with mobile devices and landlines. If you choose to replace your landline with a VoIP system, there may be a nominal fee, but the savings is still significant. In much the same manner as SIP is saving on costs and complexity in the contact center, VoIP is saving for the individual consumer.

The current growth rates of VoIP are similar to the growth rates we saw in the early 90's with the rise of the internet. 

This handy-dandy little infographic gives you a great overview of how VoIP works, along with the advantages and disadvantages of the technology. Have you switched to VoIP yet? If so, why? If not, why not?



























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Humans vs. Robots: Are the Droids Taking Our Call Center Jobs?

Posted by Heidi Miller on October 1, 2015 at 8:30 AM

Humans vs droids in the call center

It’s no secret that customer service expectations are high and growing higher as new technologies help streamline communications between brands and consumers. But when it comes to the contact center space, business leaders must consider how far to take new technologies. That is, should modern technology tools, such as robots, be optimized to replace humans in the workplace?

A recent TED Radio Hour talk addressed this topic when it asked, “What do robots do better than humans, and how can we improve our lives by building better robots?” The conversation included clips from Andrew McAfee’s TED talk called “Are Droids Taking Our Jobs?” and Cynthia Breazeal’s “The Rise of Personal Robots.” Both speakers discussed the potential for robots to revitalize our society and the way that we, as humans, work and live.

Should we let robots take over the contact center?

What about robots and automation in the contact center? When we relate this back to the call center, the question for business leaders is whether or not to encourage automation to reduce, change or even eliminate the jobs of customer service agents. Given that robots and automation are most often implemented not specifically to eliminate jobs but to either save costs or to improve the customer experience, organizations have to balance customer needs with agent happiness as well as the bottom line.

In fact, McAfee’s TED talk focused on the positive impact of technology relieving humans of certain workloads. He said, “So, yeah, the droids are taking our jobs, but focusing on that fact misses the point entirely. The point is that when we are freed up to do other things … I am very confident what we’re going to do is reduce poverty and drudgery and misery around the word.” In essence, McAfee is saying that if humans can identify which tasks are better-suited for robots, we can save time and money that can be better spent on developing more impactful strategies built for success.

Which jobs are robots taking?

Building on McAfee’s idea, let’s explore the types of technologies that contact center leaders ought to consider implementing—whether or not they replace humans—to improve and streamline their day-to-day business practices to yield a better customer experience.

  • Intelligent routing: Manually routing calls and identifying which agents are best-suited to handle particular inquiries can be a rather tedious task for contact center employees. And when faced with tedious responsibilities, employees are likely to make mistakes—after all, they’re only human. As such, introducing an intelligent routing mechanism as part of your company’s IVR system can greatly reduce error and enable agents to focus on more pertinent tasks. Intelligent routing has produced quantifiable results for many companies. In fact, one organization saw a 30 percent decrease in misrouted calls by automating this contact center function.
  • Smart IVR: A truly comprehensive and intuitive IVR system can automate tasks that would normally bore contact center agents to tears. For instance, with Smart IVR, an automated system can handle mundane customer service inquires such as when products shipped, when packages are due to arrive and if a flight is on schedule. Answering these preliminary questions on the “robot” level and, subsequently, delivering this information to an agent makes for a shorter, sweeter interaction. In fact, one business increased its self-service automation rates by 73 percent after implementing the Spoken Smart IVR. That is, more preliminary customer inquiries were solved by an automated agent rather than a live agent, saving time for both employees and customers.
  • Advanced security: Security is a major concern for customers who share their personal information—from home address to credit card numbers—over the phone. As such, contact centers might want to consider implementing a robot in the form of an automated Secure IVR that can take the caller’s credit card information in a PCI-compliant manner--without the agent ever seeing or hearing it and even masking the information on the secure call recording. 

Do we want the jobs the robots are doing?

When it comes to the call center, robots aren’t exactly driving humans to extinction. Agents still exist, and they still are the harbingers of excellent customer service. We like to think that this automation is allowing agents to thrive in the increasingly competitive customer service landscape. After all, isn’t there a job you do that you would prefer to give to a droid?

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What is bad customer service?

Posted by Heidi Miller on September 28, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Are your loyal customers abandoning your brand because of your call center?

The loyalty test  defining bad customer serviceIn the call center, we spend a lot of time with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as First Call Resolution, Average Handle Time and Net Promoter Score.

But when it comes down to it, that's not how our customers measure the quality of our customer service. As ClickFox's survey Consumer Tipping Points revealed, what most customers care about is not having to repeat their information and story to multiple reps and having their issue resolved the first time, something we call the "Riling Repeat Syndrome." In fact, 42% indicated that having to explain their issue repeatedly to multiple agents was the most frustrating aspect of customer service.

What are the ramifications of bad customer service?

Bad news: 52% will tell family, friends or peers about a bad experience, and 35% will simply stop doing business with the brand. And here's the whopping loyalty metric: of those that leave, 82% are established customers! And since we know that it costs about 6 to 7 times as much to gain a new customer as to retain an existing one, every lost customer is a huge cost burden to the organization.

How can you prevent Riling Repeat Syndrome?

The number one reason most customers must repeat their information is due to misrouting. If the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) didn't understand the caller request, the caller will be routed to a general queue rather than the specific queue desired, which necessitates the agent transferring the call to the correct department.

To decrease misrouted calls, consider reviewing and upgrading your call center IVR. The Spoken Smart IVR is proven to reduce misroutes, thanks to patented technology and pinpointed intervention by human Silent Guides.

To see a case study of how one customer reduced misroutes by 30%, click below:

Download case study

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How to schedule call center performance reports

Posted by Heidi Miller on September 18, 2015 at 11:31 AM

Tip of the month: use the scheduling feature to save time and effort on routine reporting

In some sense, it's true: the robots are taking over our lives! But let's face it: we generally only let the robots do the things that would bore us silly to do every day--like scheduling call center agent performance reports.

Whether you use Spoken Engage reporting or ClearMetrix online coaching and quality tool, it's easy to schedule your favorite reports so you can have all the information you need to start your day, recap your week or review your month. Reports can easily be delivered straight to your inbox and even to your colleagues' inboxes as well.

Here's how: in Engage, go to Reports and select the type of report you want to schedule. For demonstration purposes, I chose the popular Agent Summary Report.

Add the parameters, date range and any filters that you'd like. Then, under Save/Schedule Report, click the + in the upper right to expand the options. Select Schedule Report. Enter the Name and select a frequency from the drop-down menu. Select the Format (XLS, PDF or TXT) from the drop-down menu and then select the preferred delivery method from the drop-down menu. Check Encrypt file if you want the file to be encrypted.

Then click Schedule and Run Report. Voilà! The report will be sent in your favorite format automagically.

Spoken Engage schedule report

TIP: If you want to change a scheduled report, just go to Reports>Scheduled Reports tab and click Edit to change the frequency, format, content or title of a scheduled report.

To find out more about Spoken Engage reporting, view the demo video. To find out more about ClearMetrix quality platform, view the demo video.

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Voice recognition doesn't reduce distracted driving

Posted by Heidi Miller on September 18, 2015 at 8:30 AM

 Think voice controls in your car or phone reduce distracted driving? Think again.

You may not think of yourself as a distracted driver. After all, you silence your phone while you’re on the road, you put your makeup on before you leave the house; how could YOU be a distracted driver? Well, according to a recent article published by Liberty Mutual, there are three types of driving distractions:

  • Manual taking your hands off the wheel
  • Visual taking your eyes off the road
  • Cognitive taking your mind off the road

We have to keep our hands, eyes AND minds engaged while driving, as it turns out. When we take those three factors into consideration, it would seem that ALL of us, at one time or another, have been guilty of distracted driving. Most likely all of us are guilty of eating while driving (manual), checking our radio or iPhone to change our music (visual) and just allowing our minds to wander away from the task at hand (cognitive). Unfortunately, most of us are probably guilty of texting while driving, which is the worst distraction because it involves all three types. Teens are particularly vulnerable to this distraction.

How distracted are we?

So how distracted are we? Well, AT&T recently commissioned a study to find out, and what they learned is pretty mind-blowing:

  • 27% of drivers age 16 to 65 report using Facebook, and 14% report using Twitter. Of those, a startling 30% said they post to Twitter while driving all the time.
  • One in 10 say they do Video Chat while drivingMythbusters cell phone vs drunk driving mini myth
  • 17% take selfies
  • Texting remains the most prevalent with 61% of drivers texting, 33% use e-mail and 28% surf the net!   (Seriously??)

Frighteningly, texting and driving has now surpassed drunk driving as the greater threat to drivers on the road according to the NHTSA. In fact, when the popular Mythbusters television show tested whether drunk driving or distracted driving was more dangerous, they confirmed lower road test scores by distracted drivers versus drunk drivers.

Do voice controls reduce distracted driving?

In attempts to reduce distracted driving, many auto makers have introduced voice controls for their vehicles to ensure that drivers are keeping their eyes on the road. Despite studies by speech recognition vendors claiming that voice controls reduce distractions, independent studies by AAA have shown that attempts to get most speech recognition systems to understand your command while driving can be more frustrating and distracting than simply performing the action yourself: "Talking to your dashboard, or Apple Inc.’s Siri system, can be a stressful and potentially hazardous activity when conducted at highway speeds," reports the Wall Street Journal.

The solution is to improve speech recognition systems so that that frustration doesn't occur. AAA reports that "developers can improve the safety of their products by making them less complicated, more accurate and generally easier to use," something that Spoken has already done for enterprise clients with its no-repeat Spoken Smart IVR.

How to prevent distracted driving

While speech recognition vendors work to improve voice recognition, the best option is to stay off your phone while driving. Many states have implemented laws that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving. While these laws may be good, one has to wonder how easy and practical they are to enforce. Sadly, it most likely will take an accident in order for drivers to really feel the effects of these laws, so it requires more self-governing on the part of all of us. Here are some tips that everyone should put into practice in order to avoid the danger of distracted driving:                                                                                                                                                       

  • Pull off the road Don’t drive while calling or texting; pull off the road to a safe location.
  • Never dial while driving If you must dial manually, do so only when stopped or have a passenger dial for you.
  • Take a message  Let your voice mail pick up your calls while you’re driving. It's easy—and much safer—to retrieve your messages later on.
  • Know when to stop talking  If you must make or receive a call while driving, keep conversations on brief so you can concentrate on your driving. If a long discussion is required or if the topic is stressful or emotional, end the conversation and continue it once you are off the road.
  • Don’t take notes while driving If you need to write something down, use an audio recorder or pull off the road.
  • Know where you’re going Study the route before you leave or have a passenger read the map. And if you’re using a navigation system, program in your destination before you start driving and use the audio setting to avoid having to look at the screen for directions.
  • Don’t eat or drink while driving Eating takes both your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road, so don’t do it. Furthermore, spills can easily cause an accident. If you have to stop short, you could also be severely burned.
  • Groom yourself at home  Shaving, putting on makeup, combing your hair or other forms of preening are distractions and should be done at home, not while driving.

Tips from Insurance Information Institute

It’s extremely important that parents continually drill these safety principals into their teens. It’s important to remember that driving is a complex task and it only takes about two seconds for what seems like a minor distraction to become a major accident. Even if an accident doesn’t cause serious injuries, (thankfully) the damage done to one’s car, the hassle of dealing with insurance and the inconvenience of getting the vehicle repaired add up to one MAJOR issue that could have been avoided by simply staying focused on the road.

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The top five benefits of SIP trunking explained

Posted by Heidi Miller on September 15, 2015 at 9:20 AM

What are the real benefits of SIP trunking?

Top five benefits of SIP trunkingWhat is SIP?

Session Internet Protocol, or SIP, has been the silent revolution in telecommunications efficiency and cost savings over the last decade. Briefly, SIP is a protocol for controlling and directing communications, including voice, video and data, over IP (Internet Protocol). Basically, it's a way for voice and data to travel over the same pipeline. The advantages include the ability to deliver high-definition video and related call data along with call audio over a single pipe as well as an inherent flexibilty and cost savings.

What are the benefits of SIP?

When I first joined Spoken six years ago, I wasn't too familiar with SIP and had to read every book, blog post and presentation I could on it to get a grasp on the technology, which eventually lead to this post on SIP vs TDM for the call center, a look at the state of SIP adoption rates and reported benefits in 2012. Later, we published this article called To SIP or not to SIP on the barriers to SIP transition, including packetized voice quality, lack of interoperability and slow carrier response.

Now, in 2015, the benefits of SIP over TDM, PRI or ISDN are still pretty solid:

  • Reduced complexity
  • Simplified processes, with voice and data using the same pipe
  • On-demand scalability
  • Increased security
  • Reduced network costs (in the infographic to the right, one organization reported a $40,000 savings; another reported $12,000 savings in long distance costs alone)

Has Spoken adopted SIP?

As a contact center cloud provider to outsourcers and enterprise, we are flexible, working both with organizations using SIP and those who don't. What is our take on SIP? We find that SIP allows us to have greater security and control over data and voice channels, which in turns allows us to provide more secure and precise reporting to our customers.

In fact, one service we provide for our analog customers is to convert their interactions to SIP for easier manipulation and reporting, and then conversion back to TDM for the final mile.

To find out more about Spoken's integration and connectivity with legacy systems, visit our integration tool.

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Customer success: feeding, funding and figuring

Posted by Spoken Communications on September 2, 2015 at 10:25 AM

 We hear a lot about the importance of customer service. You know, that aspect of business that tends to the customer’s needs, resolves their issues quickly and efficiently and does it with a smile: that’s in essence basic customer service.

But what is customer success? It's a way of treating the customer like a prospect throughout the entire life cycle of the relationship. You know how attentive sales folks are when you are about to purchase? How accommodating and focused on your needs? It's applying that mindset and energy over time. And applying a customer success framework requires an investment of time, funding and buy-in throughout the organization.    customers_win-1


The customer success life cycle

Judith Platz of TSIA research recently published an article on five questions to ask when considering funding for a customer success framework, which focused primarily on the three most neglected steps of the customer journey: adopt, expand and renew. Let's take a look:



Land: This is basically the process of convincing a prospect to invest in your technology, or “landing” a new client.

Adopt: This is the process by which we help the new customer use the product they’ve purchased to achieve their objectives, also sometimes referred to as training.

Expand: This is the point in the relationship where we help the customer find reasons to expand into using more products. An example might be an Amazon customer who purchased running shorts then purchasing running shoes. Or, in a more technical example, a Spoken Smart IVR customer expanding to use the Spoken Automated Call Distributor (ACD).

Renew:  Basically, this is renewing the contract with the new customer into what will hopefully be a long-term and successful relationship.

In the past, it’s been noted that technology companies tend to focus a bit more on the beginning of the customer life cycle, the landing phase, pouring energy and resources into building a customer base. However, as more technology market segments embrace technology-as-a-service models, the need to shift the thinking to a customer success model has become necessary in order to stay profitable.  Focusing on the areas of adoption and expansion have become critical to economic growth.

Top five questions to ask for funding

In order to implement a customer success framework, funding and buy-in is required from several different departments of your organization. For the best chance of success, Platz recommends answering these five questions before attempting to implement a customer success program:

  1. What is the target financial model your company is attempting to achieve?
  2. Will the customer success organization have responsibilities for traditional support activities?
  3. Will the customer success organization be responsible for adoption?
  4. Will the customer success organization be responsible for renewing the customer subscription?
  5. Will the customer success organization be responsible for cross-selling and upselling existing customers?

Feeding the customer success life cycle

What are techniques for beefing up the adoption, expansion and renewal phases? A few ideas:

  • Newsletter Maintain a client services newsletter to highlight new products, services and case studies
  • Events Offer a user conference for clients to network, discover the entire product suite and share best practices
  • Webinars Offer frequent webinars to showcase how new products align with tech trends
  • White papers Offer technical white papers highlighting common tech challenges and best practices for addressing them
  • Customer surveys Never forget to survey your customers and determine their top challenges and priorities you might be able to help solve

Figuring out results

With funding comes the responsibility of analyzing key metrics to determine the success of various campaigns. Newsletters can measure open rates, clickthroughs and landing page conversions; events can use a special offer to gauge interest in new products and free demos; webinars and white papers can institute follow up sales calls to measure interest in expansion and renewal.

However you slice it, customer success is the fine art of not neglecting customers after the sale in order to increase loyalty, retention and the bottom line. Do you have a success framework in place? How is it working for you?




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Tell me something I don't know: four insights your call center analytics SHOULD reveal

Posted by Sarah Schwitters on August 13, 2015 at 6:46 AM

41468238_sAre you call center analytics telling you something you don't already know?

If you Google "call center data analytics," over 11 million results will promptly appear, many of which are promoting data analytics products for sale (naturally).

And it's a given that we need data analytics in the call center in order to improve customer service.

But what exactly is your current data telling you that you don't already know? Since the early days of Average Handle Time, call center operations have struggled with what we can measure versus what we should measure to improve the customer experience. So let's take a few minutes to review what, at a minimum, your data analytics application should be providing you.

1. Interactive Voice Response analytics

If your organization has an IVR, you should have at your fingertips a wealth of data that can help to streamline and improve the customer experience. Many organizations create an IVR and then just tack on new prompts as needed without any analysis as to how changes affect the quality of customer experience. But why do that when there is so much data available to help improve the IVR every day?

You'll want access to the following data:

  • Reason for Call analysis: What reason for call did customers give and in what proportions? What percentage of each Reason for Call bucket was properly routed? Does the Reason for Call logic and routing need to change based on actual caller use?
  • Caller Identification analysis: What percentage of callers were accurately identified? For the ones that weren't, why weren't they? What prompt should be changed or added to increase the identification match rate?
  • Opt Out Rate: What percentage of callers opted out of the IVR call flow (by hitting zero to speak to an agent)? At which prompt did the largest percentage of callers do so? Can the prompt or call flow be rewritten to decrease opt-outs?
  • Misroutes analysis: What percentage of callers ended up in the wrong queue and had to be transferred? What Reason for Call did those callers give? Can the Reason for Call prompt and routing logic need to be altered to decrease misroutes?
  • Self-Services rates: What percentage of calls were handled exclusively within the IVR, without speaking to an agent? How were the quality of those calls rated in comparison to those handled by agents? Are there additional types of calls that would be good candidates for self-service?

2. Speech analytics

39238839_s"Speech analytics" is becoming the hot buzzword of the call center (and stay tuned for an exciting announcement from Spoken in this area). Whether performed on live calls or after the fact for quality and marketing analysis, speech analytics can provide valuable insights into the customer experience. So what exactly can this next generation of speech analytics provide to improve the customer experience?

In the past, speech analytics was limited to keyword search applied to recorded calls after the fact. However, in this exciting next generation of speech analytics, organizations will be able to analyze using the following tools:

  • Real time keyword search Apply keyword searches to real-time transcriptions of live calls
  • Real time sentiment analysis Apply sentiment analysis to real-time transcriptions of live calls
  • Privacy redaction Redact private customer data such as credit card numbers from recorded calls
  • Real time issue flagging Use machine learning to create algorithms that can flag live calls that are at risk

3. Agent evaluations

39196178_sThe workhorse of the call center has always been agent evaluations. Never quite a sexy as newer data analytics, agent evaluations often fall into the category of "should" and get dropped down in the priority list, behind newer and shinier quality applications. And in part, I believe that is because many of us believe that these evaluations are NOT going to tell us anything we don't already know.

However, that is exactly why it's essential to insist upon third-party evaluations of agent performance. Why third-party? Because most of us have our own personal biases, and it's nearly impossible not to let them affect  agent evaluations. For an accurate view, selecting a third-party vendor to conduct agent evaluations is a best practice. And that vendor should be able to provide:

  • Form evaluation An evaluation of the quality form to ensure what is measured will accurately reflect agent success and improve the customer experience
  • Attribute analysis Evaluation of each quality attribute, viewable by agent, score or coaching notes
  • Calibration Several vendors offer online calibration, which saves a significant amount of supervisor time and energy
  • Customized reporting Any evaluation service should provide the ability to customize and schedule reports and alerts

4. Real time and historical reporting

The beating heart of call center analytics is the dashboard showing both real-time and historical performance data. Can your reporting tell you which agent or line of business is in trouble right at this moment? What about which team has improved the most over the last month?

Daily reports and roll ups are a thing of the past; today is all about viewing performance data in context, both real-time and historical. Many vendors offer online reporting and dashboards that curate a variety of data feeds, including our own Spoken Engage advanced reporting:

  • Automated data from the Automated Call Distributor (ACD), including agent ID, call length, and Average Handle Time (AHT)
  • Silence An analysis of silence time on calls, usually a predictor of low quality
  • Talkover An analysis of talkover time in which both parties were speaking at once, usually a predictor of low quality

And many tools offer the option to integrate with other third-party quality metrics, such as:

  • CSat scores Customized customer satisfaction scores from past post-call surveys
  • First Call Resolution scores Historical FCR scores


Analytics are abundant in today's modern call center. The key is to be able to glean insights from them to determine what you don't already know. When you select your analytics products, feel free to be a skeptic and ask, "What is this going to tell me that I don't already know?"


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Budget slashed? Creating a cost-efficient IVR your customers will love

Posted by Spoken Communications on July 30, 2015 at 5:01 AM

Can cost-effective automation really provide value over human agents?

Common wisdom in the contact center space is that human customer service is by its very nature better than automation. But is that always the case? What if you could create an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) that your customers love while providing a better experience for both the caller and the agent?

Here's the dirty little secret in the human vs automation debate: what customers care about is getting their issue resolved quickly and accurately the first time. Most don't care about the method, as long as the brand is one they can rate as easy to do business with.

So how does a brand create an IVR that will leave a customer pleasantly surprised at the ease of doing business while leaving the call center manager happy at the cost savings of doing business? There are two key functions of the IVR that can be technologically addressed to accomplish those goals: knowing who the customer is and what she is trying to do, also known as caller identification and caller intent.

1. Caller identification

The first key to an easy customer experience is identifying the caller. The challenge is that every business has a different way of positively identifying the caller, a system we refer to as "matching," since the caller is being matched with a record in the organization's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Elements such as the ANI (the number the customer is dialing from), caller name, email address or member number are common identifiers for positively identifying a customer in the organization's CRM system.

  • ANI lookup While it's easy to automatically look up the ANI, match rates for ANI-only lookups tend to be quite low for a number of reasons. The caller could be calling from a different phone, such as a VoIP phone or an office phone that doesn't happen to be the phone number listed in her customer record. So a second piece of information is typically required to positively match the caller with her record in the CRM database. But each additional piece of information has its difficulties in terms of IVR collection.
  • Name First and last names can be difficult to hear and spell correctly via most speech recognition systems, leading to repeated questions, caller frustration and opt-outs
  • Email address Email addresses are notoriously difficult to accurately collect via speech recognition systems, once again leading to repeated questions, caller frustration and opt-outs
  • Member ID Numeric member numbers are ideal for IVR data collection. However, most customers do not have their number memorized, so they tend to skip this step or opt out.

Addressing name and email address matching How can the challenges of name and email address matching be addressed? Our answer is through technological innovation. The Spoken Smart IVR adds a human in the background to make pinpointed corrections to traditionally difficult-to-understand caller utterances (such as name and email address). Through a patented software interface, corrections can be made on up to 10 simultaneous calls to caller utterances where needed. The human sits at a dashboard like the one below and only listens briefly when a tab flags red or yellow:

Neat screen shot clean

The result is a dramatic increase in the caller identification match rate, which is the cornerstone of a personalized caller experience and accurate call routing. And here's the proof for one customer:

  • Average Handle Time was reduced by 12%, since the IVR was doing the heavy lifting of caller identification
  • Self-service rates increased to 73%

2. Call routing

The second half of the formula for an easy and elegant IVR interaction is accurate call routing. This is typically based on a combination of the caller identification and of the caller intent. The better the caller identification match rates, the higher the likelihood that the call will be routed to the right agent accurately, the first time.

Let's look at an example. A customer call in to an organization and asks for technical support. However, from a combination of the ANI match and the email address, the CRM record indicates that the caller isn't entitled to technical support over the phone. So instead of routing the caller to the technical support queue, forcing the agent to do a manual look up and having to deliver the unpleasant news that the caller isn't entitled to live technical support, a better solution would be to route the customer to either a Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) self-service queue to deal with a common question or to a sales queue so he can purchase the support he needs.

And voilà! Misrouted calls decrease dramatically. In the case of Neat:

  • Misrouted calls were decreased by 30%


It isn't machine automation that is the enemy; it's poor IVR construction and poor speech recognition. And we believe that we've solved the issue of poor speech recognition with the Spoken Smart IVR: by adding the human in the background working on the software interface to make pinpointed corrections to caller utterances, the accuracy of caller identification match rate and caller intent will increase, resulting in cost savings all around.

Want more detail? Download the full case study here:

Download case study

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Yet another reason to move your call center to the cloud: future-proofing

Posted by Sarah Schwitters on July 14, 2015 at 10:10 PM

How well will your call center technology be serving you in five years? Or 10?

Cloud-computingFrequently upgrading your call center technology can take a toll on your wallet, your productivity and your business continuity. To be truly effective, enterprise contact centers need a long-term solution that’s nimble and that can ebb and flow with the ever-changing technology trends of the telecommunications market. If you’ve ever invested in a costly on-premise solution only to discover a new, incompatible technology trend two years later, you’ll begin to understand the huge value of cloud in terms of future-proofing your call center technology.

And organizations are catching on to the value of the cloud for future-proofing: IDC’s latest report shows that U.S. spending on cloud contact center services is expected to grow to $1.6 billion by 2018; 77% of on-site contact centers are either already using cloud or evaluating transitioning to a cloud or hosted contact center.

The secret to a risk-free cloud transition: a single-application start

But let's face it: transitioning to cloud from an on-premise system, no matter how outdated, can be a hassle and can even threaten business continuity and the quality of customer service. So here's an approach to cloud that gives organizations the future-proofing organizations want without the unnecessary risks: do a quick start with a single application.

Let’s take a look at just two call center applications that can easily be a first step into to the future-proofed cloud: call recording and virtual agent desktop.

Call Recording

Cloud call recording white paper thumbnailIf you’ve ever tried to implement on-premise call recording, you’re already aware of the drawbacks. In addition to the time and expense of the implementation, selective call recording is clunky, and the addition of call analytics, while interesting, is no substitute for 100% call recording. The addition of media forking capabilities to IP phones and session border controllers has moved much of the on-premise recording profit margin to the equipment manufacturers, so providers end up passing on the complex implementation—and its costs—to the customer. And here is the recording industry's dirty little secret: the expense associated with on-premise server hardware, SAN/NAS storage, Microsoft Windows and SQL licensing, VMWare and other platform components are not typically included in the vendor’s pricing.

Cloud-based recording solutions, on the other hand, circumvent all of the aforementioned challenges and are just as easy to remove as they are to install—a boon for future-proofing. With a cloud call recording solution, gone are the days of selected recording, and gone is dependence on computer telephony integration (CTI).

For more information, download Why Cloud Call Recording? Cloud vs. On-Premise Technical Analysis white paper.

Agent Desktop

Likewise, if you’ve ever had to endure the hassle of installing a half-dozen software applications to each desktop at a brick-and-mortar call center or mailing remote agents CDs or USB sticks and walking them through the installation process, you probably already understand the future-proofing value of a virtual agent desktop application. A software-based tool—complete with an array of hosted applications—eradicates the need for on-premises hardware, enabling call center agents to work from home by way of an easy-to-use interface. It provides agents with the same capabilities—like security, CRM integration, chat tools and telephony controls—they have at their fingertips while at the office. Furthermore, the interface allows supervisors to contract with call center agents from external locations to handle high call volumes when they arise, thereby scaling up the workforce and increasing productivity. And the biggest benefit of all is that upgrades and application changes are all made uniformly from a centralized database, so the burden of changes is moved from the remote agents or the local IT team to the cloud service provider.

How does a cloud service such as a virtual agent desktop help to future-proof your call center? It’s just as easy to uninstall as it is to install. If your cloud provider isn’t keeping pace with technical innovations, it’s easy to switch providers, unencumbered by sunk costs or capital expenditures that still need to fully depreciate over time.

How cloud applications future-proof your call center

Man on cliff futureCloud-based benefits such as these are inspiring more businesses to move to virtual technology. As a matter of fact, the Evolve IP and CCNG 2014 North American Call Center Survey revealed that 70 percent of respondents who currently use premise-based call center technology plan to move to the cloud. In addition, 61 percent of call centers employ agents who work in disparate locations. As such, you would be wise to keep pace with your competitors by deploying cost-efficient and flexible remote working software.

So, start thinking ahead for your call center and adopt a solution that you can depend on for the long haul. Here are the top ways cloud applications such as cloud-based call recording or virtual agent desktop could add value to your call center’s business venture:

  • Increases security: With a variety of cloud vendors in the space, you are at liberty to select a provider with the highest level of cloud security and hack prevention. (We blogged about five cloud security measures you should always ask about here.) For virtual agent desktop, insist upon two-factor authentication to ensure that only the agent authorized to use a particular desktop can gain entry to it. In addition, look for vendors that offer end point scanning to assess potential vulnerabilities with each log in, so that your virtual desktop is regularly audited. For cloud call recording, look for a minimum of 256-bit AES encryption. Some providers also offer on-the-fly call encryption so that the live call isn’t vulnerable to hacking. Additionally, be sure that each call has a unique encryption key, so that hackers can’t decrypt one call and get access to the entire database. 
  • Expands your recruitment pool: When your call center offers technology that employees can access away from your brick-and-mortar location, you entice more digitally savvy candidates to your hiring pool. For example, our virtual desktop solution comes complete with the cloud-based Citrix XenApp—a robust feature set of communications tools—that agents can use by simply logging onto their desktops no matter their geographical location. With a technological edge like this, call centers can recruit the best talent from around the globe.
  • Reduces telecom spend: Hosted solutions enable call centers to avoid capital expenses associated with on-premises-based infrastructure. With our virtual desktop solution, you’ll only pay for the time your agents spend using the virtual service, without wasting a dime on licensing fees or unused equipment. What’s more, our virtual platform allows you to scale up and down as necessary without incurring additional fees, that is, you only pay for actual usage, nothing more.

While there may be some concerns that cloud is simply the next trend that will be replaced soon by 'The Next Big Thing', we’d argue that since the cloud is so flexible, it’s a valuable tool for future-proofing your contact center. In the absence of huge capital expenditures, it’s not only easy to select the right cloud provider for you; it’s also easy to evaluate security and recruitment performance and change providers much more easily than with an on-premise solution. There’s much to be said for living in the moment, but when it comes to your call center technology, keep the future top of mind. Find out more ways to future-proof your call center here.

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