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Customer Support Systems
If only an automated support solution could answer 100% of calls on the first ring, provide services that nearly without exception satisfy customers, and do it all without the necessity for laying off any call center agents who are already employed, it would be an absolute boon for the call center industry. Is this scenario a call center managers pipe dream, or is it within the realm of possibility? The good news is, that such solutions already exist and are working exceptionally well for the companies who have put them in place.

Until very recently, the concept of speech recognition solutions was relatively untested even though several companies were building systems with those kinds of capabilities. Companies that thought about implementing these solutions faced obstacles even within their own organizations. Telephone support agents feared for their jobs, nobody was certain whether the voice solutions would be acceptable to customers, and dozens of other questions remained unanswered. Further, because nobody had adopted these solutions, there was nowhere to turn for advice, except to the companies and vendors that were building the devices.

Since then, things have changed. The still relatively few companies that have adopted voice solutions are realizing significant benefits from them and the word is spreading. These types of solutions work best, however, in non-revenue generating situations, where live agents can be freed from routine calls to focus on more complex issues, problems, and tasks.

One car rental company has been especially pleased with its adoption of voice solutions since most car company calls seem to be conducive to these types of systems and automation. Customers are satisfied, agents are happy, and the company can use its agents to focus on sales and answering complex calls. The company installed its first voice solution system in 2000, and used it to identify customer reservations and itineraries all over the world that had been previously made through the Internet. It proved exceptionally efficacious for monitoring those reservations and canceling them at the customers request. Agents, who had been reluctant to accept the voice solution, saw that it freed up their time to concentrate on sales, and learned to appreciate the system for the things it could do for them.

The same company had now initiated a second voice solution that uses speech recognition techniques to interact with customers regarding when and where they want to rent a car. It repeats the reservations, including pickup and drop off spots to the customer, and relays the information to a live agents computer screen. The system has received high customer satisfaction marks, indicating that customers in other industries may be just as receptive.

While the company acknowledges that it has not felt the need to hire any additional reservation agents, it also categorically states that not one agent has been laid off or experienced reduced work hours as a result of the system. This particular experience suggests that voice solutions can be very effective at handling call center traffic, particularly that which is non-revenue generating. In addition, live agent time can be reallocated to handle more complex issues or to concentrate on selling. Customers also seem to be happy with the way some voice solutions work, so there will be no resultant loss of business from installing one as long as it is implemented correctly.

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