Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Emergency People Management Requires Effective Communication Tools

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Acting quickly to secure the safety of people in any emergency is a priority and therefore using effective communication tools is essential.

Unfortunately the news is often filled with stories of lone gunmen on school or college campuses threatening to shoot students or as in the recent case in Norway, actually undertaking a hofrrific attack.

But for every exceptional case there are plenty of situations which go under the radar of the headlines, so these types of occurances are more common than you might expect. Having plans in place as well as effective communication tools is essential. Rapid notification solutions are perhaps the best known way of reaching lots of people fast. Using a software application to send out emails, text messages and to post messages on web status pages is a fast way of getting information to the people you need to protect e.g. students and staff. For an example of how this is used in action can I refer you to a website by the University of Texas following an incident last year. It shows how they used email, texts, website status pages and even social media to keep communicating with students.

Under stress it must be said that solutions which are easily accessible, yet secure, and more importantly easy to use are perhaps the most effective when it comes to being able to communicate fast and effectively. Finally, knowing that the messages have a guaranteed delivery mechanism is also of importance, after all you need to know that those text messages are going to get through and take network priority.



Live Speech Analytics: Use for Compliance, Training and Quality Monitoring

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Live is the latest buzz word in speech analytics because of it’s value in helping organisations sift through the information gathered in their call centres. But customer feedback is only one application of live speech analysis. Knowing in real-time what is being said by agents and customers on every call can be used to ensure compliance with industry regulations such as FSA (Financial services authority), automate time consuming agent training and introduce live quality monitoring of all agents on all calls.

This revolution in technology is the amalgamation of the latest speech-to-text, phonetics and key phrase recognition innovations. Unlike first generation solutions, next generation speech analytics solutions do not require on-going expensive professional services and ‘training’ because it has now become intrinsic to the software.

What this means is that an agent can be handling a live call, and a discreet desktop client can indicate when the agent has spoken key phrases (or even bad phrases) during the course of the conversation. The system therefore monitors agent performance, adherence to compliance phrases and send statistics back to the call centre manager or team leader on how the agent is performing on a call by call basis.

So the live speech analytics market is gathering momentum and the choice is expanding depending upon an organisation’s objectives, be they understanding customers or monitoring agents, there is a solution for everyone.





9/11 Top 3 Tips to be Telecoms Continuity Prepared

Monday, September 5th, 2011

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 it’s a sobering reminder to businesses to have their telecoms continuity plans up to date and tested.

Now is the best time to  re-enforce the necessity of having your business telecoms continuity plans in order. So here are my top 3 tips for being prepared: (more…)

Olympics 2012: security tests planned

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

At least 10 exercises will take place to test the security surrounding the 2012 Olympics, the BBC revealed today. Police forces and emergency services will re-create situations in order to test their responses and to examine how they will communicate with the public.  A budget of £600m has been allocated for the exercises, which will prepare for (hopefully) any incident which may present itself during the games.

When it comes to technology there are plenty of systems that could potentially go wrong, however I wonder if businesses in the vicinty of the Olympic sites are going to be as equally prepared? Power cuts, telecoms failure and exclusion zones which may prevent employees from being able to get into their offices could all bring massive disruption to their daily operations.

Business continuity plans are not a nice to have, but a necessity in today’s competitive age, and should cover all eventualitites including one-off events like the Olympics, and newer natural disruptions such as Icelandic volcanic ash. Potential disruptions are constantly changing and evolving with the change in our climate and in the way we do business.

Flexible working practices are increasing but still not as fast as you would expect. The cultural problem of presenteesim is a hard barrier to break down, but as technology continues to improve we can but hope that organisations will see that the benefits will far outweigh any fear of losing managerial control, both in everyday operations and more importantly in times of business disruption.

Strikes: Calls Left Unanswered

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

As strikes occur around the country today, calls are being left unanswered in job centres, airports and courts over disputes in pension contributions.

The strike was announced a couple of weeks ago, enabling parents of school children and organisations to make alternative arrangements. So I wonder how many calls will end up still be unanswered today? Clearly if the head of the school or organisation is themselves on strike it may be difficult to find someone to authorise alternative arrangements. But how about this – for those call centres where the head is still in control but has no staff – why not re-route the unanswered incoming calls to alternative outsourced call centres, or to a temporary workfrorce who can work from home, regardless of where they are located?

Business continuity still applies in strike situations so what’s your organisation’s strategy?

5 Tips for Call Centre Compliance

Friday, April 15th, 2011

FSA fines for non-compliance have trebled in the last year. Here are my 5 top tips for ensuring your call centre ensures best endevaours for total compliance:

1. Call Recording

A necessity these days for FSA regulated call centres, voice recording of all calls handled by your call centre is not new. But the solutions available today make it difficult in deciding which supplier to use. Go with the large players and you may find the bill expensive and the systems cumbersome. Choose a smaller supplier and you may not get the support you need. My advice is that when shopping for a call recording solution ask your potential  supplier the following questions:

  • Is it a scalable solution?
  • Is it easy to use and fast to search and retrieve recordings?
  • Does it offer a resilience option should your call centre be evacuated to a recovery site for any reason?
  • Does it offer dual channel recording to isolate speaking parties?
  • Does it include a satisfactory level of encryption?
  • Are you getting the best value for money?

2. Call Scripting

Creation and management of your call scripts are vital to ensure that your call agents are aware of the legal necessity to make customers aware of certain information before they make a purchase.  Choose a scripting package that has the ability to raise flags at certain points to help the agent be reminded of what to say and when. Also choose a scripting package that can be easily amended at any time for all agents.

3. PCI Compliance

New PCI compliance rules mean that organisations cannot retain customer credit and debit card details whcih can then be accessed by a third party. Encryption is not enough to fulfill this requirement. There are three ways that I would strongly recommend you consider in achieving PCI compliance:

  • Obviscate the conversation. This means that when call recording, the conversation relating to taking credit card details is obscured with unintelligable sounds that can not be diciphered by any listener.
  • Use monotone dtmf tone. Allow the customer to enter their credit card details using their phone keypad and ensure that all that can be heard are monotone tones for each number.
  • Finally consider new technology which enables the voice recording to stop as soon as the call agent clicks on the field to start inputing the credit card details on their computer screen and whcih turns the recording back on when all the financial details have been entered.

4. Live Call Analysing

The ultimate way to ensure that every call is 100% compliant is to be able to analyse every call handled by every agent as it is happening, and actively prompt the agent to say the required phrases before they put the phone down. This may seem like a far-fetched ideal but actually live call analysis is available today.

5. Business Continuity

Finally don’t forget that compliance regulations are still enforcable even if your business operations are disrupted. Therefore have you considered whether or not your incoming calls can still get through or if voice recording continues if your agents are forced to work from home, from a recovery site or on their mobile phones? Also if during peak times you allow overflow agents to work from home, do they provide a seamless service to your customers? Can they be monitored? And what contingency do you have if your outsourced call centre lets you down or suffers a disruption?

I hope you find these tips useful, if you did feel free to pass them on…

Call Scripting More Successful With Live Speech Analytics

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Do you use call scripts for all, part or none for the calls handled by your contact centre agents? Using Live Speech Analytics is the best way to ensure that your contact centre agents remember to follow their scripts on every call, with every customer.

A recent article on by Stella Jones advocates a mix of freeform conversation in order to engage with the customer, along with scripted text to ensure legally required information is said for compliance puropses.

But how can you prevent your contact centre agents from missing out the scripted parts of the call? New Live Speech Analytics solutions have the answer. By automatically monitoring and analysing every call, if a certain phrase is not said, an alert will be sent to the agent’s desktop to remind them to follow their script. This has multiple benefits including enabling first call resolution and achieving best endeavours on compliance.

Home Working: Beat Petrol Price Rises & Be More Efficient

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Working from home never looked more appealing. When it costs over £70 to fill up an average family car, who wouldn’t want to cut out the daily commute to work to be more cost efficient?

Speaking at the Public Sector Efficiency Expo on Wednesday, Socitm President, Jos Creese highlighted the gulf between the public and private sectors attitude towards home working when he said that although remote working practices were ‘standard’ in the private sector, councils and the public sector were ‘not doing enough of this’. He said: ‘There is always the chance for employees to work at home. Security concerns have stopped this, but there needs to be a way around it.’

Well to answer his question, there are many ways around these security concerns and the availability of enabling IT and Telecoms technology is growing exponentially, because remote working is a no-brainer way of reducing ongoing operational costs. (more…)

Cut Cabling Leaves Hundreds Without Phones in Chesterfield

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Yet again another story has hit the papers of malicious vandalism leaving residents and businesses without phone or internet access, as underground cables have been cut.

Around 740 faults were reported in the Chesterfield area as BT engineers are desparately trying to replace 400m of cabling to restore service. (more…)

Not answering the phone? UK Businesses Could be Losing £70bn According to Vodafone Study

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Being at the end of the phone when your potential customers call you is all you need to ensure that you’re not missing out on thousands of pounds of revenue in new contracts. Being uncontactable in this day and age is simply not acceptable, particularly by people under time pressure. (more…)