Olympics 2012: security tests planned

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

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?

Live Speech Analytics Could Have Saved Banks Millions on PPI Pay-Outs

May 10th, 2011

 Banks could have been in a better position to identify costly PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) miss-selling mistakes by using new live speech analytics, saving them hundreds of millions, if not billions of pounds on customer pay-outs.

New, emerging speech analytics technology can help any organisation, and in particular highly regulated banks, be in a position to know exactly what is being said, or sold, during or straight after every phone call handled by their call centre agents.

Analysing all calls as they are occurring gives supervisors the ability to identify errors or omissions and help agents rectify calls to protect the customer, and at the same time save the company millions in regulatory fines or customer compensation.

New Live Speech Analytics can identify miss-selling – innocent or otherwise

Speech analytics solutions have been around for a number of years, providing post-call trend analysis for call centres. Due to limitations in processing speed and prohibitive costs, only a selection of all voice recordings were actually analysed to provide valuable insight into customer and agent behaviour.

Now a new generation of speech analytics technology is emerging via specialist vendors which is taking ‘first call resolution’ to the next level, enabling companies to avoid any risk of miss-selling earlier, to recover quickly from mistakes, or at worst detect them. New speech analytics solutions include the ability to analyse every call as it is happening, in turn triggering live prompts to an agent’s or supervisor’s screen. Any keyword or phrase can be searched for. Any question and answer combination can be used as a trigger to prompt an agent to change the course of their conversation during a call. And all the time supervisors can see a real-time picture of what is being said in their call centre without having to physically listen to calls. Future enhancements will even see speech analytics identifying different customer emotions, giving supervisors the ability to flag up angry or distressed customers or agents in real-time.

Applying new live speech analytics technology could have helped identify the most inappropriate sales of PPI, giving agents the chance to rectify a miss-sell, thus saving the banks an embarrassing apology and hundreds of million of pounds worth of pay-outs.

Yesterday Barclays, HSBC and RBS (via the BBA, British Bankers Association) followed Lloyds’ example and chose to back down in their legal fight over the miss-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI). The insurance policies are designed to pay out for customers who have been made redundant, or are on long term sick leave in order to cover mortgage, loan or credit card payments. However the self- employed can never be made redundant and those with existing health issues are not necessarily eligible for policy redemption claimed due to extended sick leave.

Compliance is paramount in avoiding fines and compensation

Miss-selling is just one of the many issues around compliance affecting banks, insurance companies and financial enterprises today. Such companies need to demonstrate to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) that they are trading compliantly including voice recording calls made and received over traditional landlines, and in some cases mobile phones. Live speech analytics can ensure 100% compliance on every phone call handled by every call centre agent in a cost effective way that does not require expensive professional services or costly integration with existing voice recording equipment. Indeed the Return on Investment (ROI) of deploying such a solution can be realised, in some cases, in less than a year!

For more information on next generation live speech analytics and how it can help save your company millions of pounds, contact GemaTech on 0845 345 3333 or visit our website at www.gematech.com.

GemaTech attend successful US event on counter terrorism

May 6th, 2011

Organised by the Terrorist Information New York Group (TINYg), GemaTech exhibited at  an event last month focused upon preparing organisations for the risks posed by terrorist attacks.

The event held in New York at the offices of Mizhuo Bank and hosted an audience of law enforcement personnel, government employees and other security and counter terrorism professionals. Speakers at this event included Mike O’Neill, COO of MSA Security and the former commander of Counter Terrorism in the New York Police Department who developed the Police response to all Counter Terror operations in New York City post 9/11 and until his retirement.

Vice President of TINYg Andy Williams spoke about the impact of domestic extremism on organisations and individuals in terms of morale, cost and reputation.

All delegates were keen to hear the latest information regarding current threats posed by terrorists as well as exploring the technical solutions available to them for ensuring both business continuity and disaster recovery, in the event of such an attack occuring.

GemaTech’s DID Recovery and Mass Notification solutions were of particular relevance and interest. It seems that American organisations are open to the increased options available to them for ensuring telecoms business continuity and cost effective mass employee notification via sms and email.

5 Tips for Call Centre Compliance

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…

Live Speech Analytics a Big Hit at Call Centre Summit

April 14th, 2011

New live speech analytics was a big hit at last week’s Call Centre and Customer Services Summit at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire. We met Call Centre Managers from all sectors of industry including travel, retail, IT and finance and the overriding themes of quality management, efficiency and compliance were shared by all. When introducing GemaTech’s new Call Analyzer to people, the response was a big hit.

From the start of the summit where delegates were introduced to the latest research by the Customer Services Institute, throughout the event it was clear that everyone is still aiming for first call resolution rates to improve, customer service to improve whilst at the same time creating efficiencies and achieving compliance wherever possible.

Speech analytics technology has entered a new generation. Where first generation solutions made many promises, customers were left feeling disappointed with the cost and lengthy set up times which did not deliver the ROI expected. Next generation solutions are catching up with the unfulfilled promises of yesteryear and Call Analyzer is the first to deliver the results.

Delivering real-time that actually means real-time: ie. spoken word is analysed as it is spoken, Call Analyzer is the first solution in the UK that delivers truly live analysis, live on the call agent prompting and can be set up within a matter of hours or days.

We are looking forward to September’s customer services and call centre summit where it is likely that a new demo area will be set up and people will be able to see live speech analytics in action.

Call Scripting More Successful With Live Speech Analytics

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 CallCentreHelper.com 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

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Earthquakes, Floods, Tsunamis, Nuclear Explosions: Is Your Business Continuity Plan Sufficient?

March 14th, 2011

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami has shocked the world. Subsequent explosions at the country’s nuclear power plants no doubt have scared us all. I am sure it hasn’t escaped your attention that more and more natural disasters are hitting our headlines and while it is devastating for those involved, you have to ask what we, as yet unaffected countries, should be doing in response, aside from firstly offering aid, rescue and resources for re-building lives and infrastructure. Read the rest of this entry »

UK Public Sector: Stop Debating and Start to Save Money Now With Cloud-Based Technology!

February 11th, 2011

When will the UK’s public sector start acting upon the information they already have available to them to save money, now? Public Sector property running costs could be substantially reduced making real savings today! Not tomorrow or next year. IT and Telecoms solutions are evolving repidly and cloud-based pay as you go technology can deliver savings now. But all we hear is talk, and all we see is in-action. Read the rest of this entry »