Listen up: Aust call centres will harness new tech

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Outsourcing, VoIP, speech recognition and self-service in contact centres were some of the main topics covered in the opening speeches at Genesys' G-Force conference in Melbourne yesterday.
 
James Brooks, Genesys vice president South East Asia-Pacific and India, delivered an upbeat keynote about the rising importance of contact centres and their significance to the enterprise.
 
He cited examples of the ATO, which gets 85 percent of its customer contact through its contact centre, and GIO -- with 90 percent of its revenue coming through its contact centre. "Every year the contact centre becomes more and more important to the enterprise."
 
Brooks identified offshore outsourcing as "an emotional issue" in Australia but acknowledged that the potential cost savings of offshoring would make it increasingly attractive. He said that currently Genesys was "not advocating offshoring, and it makes no sense for some" but said the key issue was understanding its benefits and considering the options.
 
SalesForce CEO Kevin Panozza at a media roundtable said cost was the crucial factor when it came to outsourcing. He said that in India agent rates of $10 per hour -- compared to Australian agents at $30 per hour --- were "not just attractive, but irresistible".
 
"We all believe that IP is a reality," said Genesys CEO Wes Hayden. He demonstrated that most businesses believed IP telephony would be "an important part of their contact centre technology" in the next couple of years, even though few companies had a clear idea of when they would begin deploying it.
 
Nicolas De Kouchkovsky, Genesys senior vice president, marketing and business development, said the latest version of Genesys software, G7, had much greater IP telephony capabilities. "We've added tremendous support to IP soft switches."
 
Moving from tone to speech recognition was a "breakthrough" area in contact centres, said Brooks. "Efficiency remains a huge issue for the industry and at the heart of efficiency, there's no doubt, is speech recognition."

Brooks said speech recognition addressed the three main contact centre issues: having happier customers, happier agents and reducing costs. He said it allowed customers to get to the right agents or to self-serve and that talking was more "natural" than pushing buttons.
 
"There are some compelling business cases around speech [recognition]," Brooks said.
 
De Kouchkovsky described voice recognition-enabled self-service in contact centres as a "win-win" situation for both the enterprise and for customers. "It reduces cost for the enterprise, the customer gets access to the system without having to wait, and it also allows the customer to browse," he said.
 
Brooks said that since 2002, with the introduction of voice recognition in contact centres, the average time to abandonment -- when a customer hangs up after waiting in the queue too long -- had increased by 53 percent.

"People are prepared to wait longer in queues because they know that when they do speak to someone, their enquiry is going to be satisfied," he said.
 
Around 650 delegates attended this year's G-Force conference. 
 
Claire Doble travelled to G-Force courtesy of Genesys.

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