• May 1, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Chatting Up Customers Down Under

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It can be a logistical strain handling 24 million calls per year for a growing, yet complex base of products and services, especially when the company's frontline tool for customer service over the phone is no longer up to par. That was the issue facing Telecom New Zealand (TNZ). The telecom's portfolio features solutions for several lines of business including residential, small enterprise, mobile, faults (trouble/repair), and broadband helpdesk. But by leveraging a homegrown touch-tone app in efforts to provide support for complex solutions, customers had to navigate through an IVR maze. "We got to a point where we had a significant number of people choosing immediately to press zero to speak to an operator," says Jared Mortlock, speech implementation manager at TNZ. "We [saw] customer frustration as a key thing we [needed] to address." To improve the customer experience, the telecom giant decided to inject speech into its contact center operations. Additionally, though, the company wanted a speech solution that would maximize its investment in Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories' CTI functionality. With the help of systems integrator and information communications technology specialist Gen-i (TNZ acquired Gen-i in 2004), the telecom tapped on-demand speech applications provider TuVox--more specifically, the TuVox Perfect Router, a natural language call-routing speech application. The telecom outfit went live with its TuVox deployment in September 2006. The solution allows callers to say what they'd like to do and then routes them to the appropriate outlet, whether it's to the right agent or voice self-service module. By incorporating speech into its call routing schema, Telecom New Zealand has realized notable returns. For starters, it bolstered customer satisfaction with its speech-driven call routing system threefold over that of its original touch-tone routing solution: According to a survey of 400 customers who experienced speech immediately before speaking with an agent, 60 percent of customers revealed they were satisfied or very satisfied with speech, while only 16 percent had the same level of contentment from touch-tone IVR. The company has also made significant gains in increasing user adoption of the routing application, bolstering customer self-service by 20 percent in just the first month of production. Additionally, CSRs have proven to be more efficient. By combining TuVox's speech app with Genesys's skills-based routing and screen-pop functionality, reps are armed with information on the customer's interaction when calls are routed to them. "The call gets to the right agent the first time," says Azita Martin, vice president of marketing at TuVox. The company has a 90 percent rate of first-time CSR identification of customer requests with speech. "One of the keys of our business requirements was to carry the experience the customer has in speech right through to the desktop of the agent, so the agent can just continue the phone call," Mortlock says. "That has given us a huge benefit in the reduction of talk time. Agents feel much more empowered and customers don't have to repeat themselves. The experience is a lot better." The Payoff By combining TuVox's Perfect Router with Genesys's CTI capabilities, Telecom New Zealand:
  • has had 60 percent of customers report that they were satisfied or very satisfied with speech, compared to just 16 percent with touch-tone IVR;
  • has a 90 percent rate of first-time CSR identification of customer requests with speech; and
  • increased self-service by 20 percent in the deployment's first month of production.
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