Suncorp embarks on teleworking pilot

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Suncorp embarks on teleworking pilot

Suncorp is said to be trialling teleworking at its 1,000 seat contact centre on the back of increased interest in ‘virtual’ business models.

The trial, which is understood to involve six home-based agents, puts Suncorp among a league of outsourcers, IT and professional services firms that are looking to teleworking for a strategy to retain staff in their respective industries.

However, several are finding that embarking on a virtual contact centre strategy is not as simple as it looks, according to Dr Catriona Wallace, managing director of ACA Research.

“Home-based working and teleworking appears to us to be not that simple to get up and running,” Wallace said.

“We know the technology is there for monitoring, central control and security. Take-up is more of a management issue and I’d say there’s still some resistance at the C-Level.”

Another key trend in the contact centre space is likely to be the phase out of email as one of the ‘channels’ for a customer to interact with a contact centre agent.

Wallace claimed the multi-channel agent ‘is a bit of a myth perpetuated by vendors’, and that while the technology is there to allow communication via multiple channels, centres tend not to enable it.

“We’re a bit slower in embracing features like web chat, speech recognition and SMS,” said Wallace.

“We see slow growth in these channels, particularly email, but that’s something we will need to change to keep pace with the U.S. and to keep costs down.”

She added, “I think web chat will leave email behind. We’ve not done email as a potential channel well.”

Wallace predicted that self-service channels will grow over the next 12 months.

Wallace was speaking in Sydney today to launch ACA Research’s annual contact centre industry benchmarking study.

Telcos and utilities performed worst in overall customer satisfaction with their experience of the contact centre. By contrast, IT services ranked third, with only hospitality and government ranking better.

Spending on technology over the next 12 months per contact centre is expected to drop 20 per cent compared to 2007 levels.

The mean budget for upgrading or replacing technology is $149,535, with an additional $260,854 per centre for purchasing new technology.

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are highest on the purchase list, followed by workforce management and voice recording systems.

Unified communications ranked a distant 11th in terms of next purchase.

The survey covers 152 organisations representing 393 contact centres.

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