Call Centre Consulting

While no one concerned about the quality of an organisation's documents would attempt to address this by replacing Word with WordPerfect, there is a widespread belief that the way to address issues in a contact centre is to replace the infrastructure. Of course, one would expect vendors to tout their products as the solution to all shortcomings, but when they promote the notion that the signing of the purchase agreement will itself deliver great outcomes, this is really stretching things.

While there is significant product differentiation within various categories of call centre products, what a business achieves with them is far more dependent upon the quality of the application than the product selected. In short, a great application requires a great application design and while it will be easier to implement with a "great" product, there is no substitute for thorough analysis of business requirements, well thought-out application design, rigorous testing of the application as implemented and regular refinement thereafter.

There are, without doubt, suppliers of such systems that are able to analyse business requirement and design serious call centre applications, given their focus on supplying infrastructure often with squeezed margins in a competitive market and the replacement of any peripheral system with which their products cannot integrate, application design is not at what they excel. Call centre application design and implementation is, however, a speciality of Stephen Coates, the principal of Occidental Communications. Stephen has been designing call centre applications for clients using a variety of infrastructure platforms and spanning multiple platforms for more than a decade. Some examples:
l An IVR application for a bank that offered only those menu options to a customer that were applicable to the products that customer used;
l An ACD application for an electrical utility that, using CTI and IVR, varied call treatment depending upon the volume of queued calls and restricted lower priority calls to give priority to emergency calls during major outages;
l An IVR/CTI application for a transport company that offered options to drivers applicable to whether the driver was signed on and whether or not they were on a run;
l A multi-lingual IVR application for an electrical utility that, using the ACD and workforce management software, varied the non-English language scripts and options as a function of whether or not agents speaking the language were working or if not, when they would be working;
l An IVR application that used speech recognition and text to speech to advise finance encomberance and roadworthiness of motor vehicles;
l A CTI/IVR/ACD application to forecast wait times both for calls in the IVR and queued calls specific to the function selected;
l An IVR/CTI application to queue a callback at either the first available opportunity or a scheduled time;
l A CTI/ACD application to connect, subject to certain parameters, a customer to the agent with whom he or she had recent contact;
l A CTI/ACD application to partially automate the collection of line-of-business codes, also known as wrap-up codes.

Appliation variations are not always a function of customer attributes. What options are offered if the enterprise computer system is unavailable, say, for maintenance? How is the call treatment varied if there would be a significant wait to speak with an agent? Yes, callback can be used but it is not always the best option. A good application design may require an interface to the ACD. Can the application address a fire drill? How does the IVR application treat enquires in languages other than English if agents speaking those languages are not currently rostered on? What functions can be offered when the call centre is not staffed?

Stephen Coates brings to a wealth of business analysis and application design experience to call centre projects. If a new system is required, Stephen has extensive experience procuring systems and services that address the requirements of the business in question. (For more information, see
Procurement Consulting.) But if the incumbent systems are adequate but the applications are not up to the task, Stephen will design and manage the implementation of new applications that are.

Market Knowledge
Stephen maintains a broad awareness of a large number of vendors in each of several vendor and product categories relevant to call centres. The directories for Australia and New Zealand are listed in the ANZ Vendor Directories page.

Vendor Independence
Whether working on a consulting project, writing a piece for publication or compiling the vendors directories cited immediately above, Stephen Coates maintains strict vendor independence. RFTs, for example, are written to reflect the requirements of the client in question and not to seek capabilities some vendors would like to promote. RFTs managed by Stephen Coates for different clients have been won by a number of different vendors.

To further discuss how, contact our call centre consulting skills can benefit your organisation, contact Occidental Communications.

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Occidental Communications, 2010