Call centre automation could save economy £23bn a year

I don't even need to think about this heading in order to come to conclusion it could very well be true. Call Centre automation technology has the ability to rip out upto 95% of the costs of conducting contact centre transactions, and yet it has been deployed and designed so badly in the past that it is almost universally hated by everyone. Almost everyone has a tale of woe about a bad voice self-service experience and it's even de rigeur for comedians to make fun of it.

When I saw Kevin Bridges at the Edinburgh festival this year, he was at it regarding a cinema booking line. (Which incidentally does have a fundamental flaw that I spoke about at a conference almost 10 years ago, and it hasn't been improved). It's exactly this kind of lip service to good design that needs to be challenged. And there's no excuse not to do so, and do so well, when the savings can be so high.

For what it's worth, I think Gartner are totally wrong on this one. The technology is absolutely mature enough for the big time - what isn't mature enough is the commitment to user-centric design rather than cost-oriented and departmentally siloed project mentality.

Here's some of the article:

In an interview with Computing, local government CIO Jos Creese said local authorities should be looking to move as many services as possible into self-service. However, a report from Gartner last month argued that the technology was not yet sophisticated enough, and that self-service struggles to solve more than one eighth of IT problems.

A step towards self-service, at least from the perspective of the consumer, is call centre automation.

A study released yesterday and carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that UK organisations and consumers could save more than £23bn a year by reducing inefficiencies in public and private sector call centres using call automation technology.

The study, called The Economics of Call Automation, said firms could recoup £14.8bn through call centre automation, and consumers could save £8.3bn a year through not being put on hold at call centres.

The potential public sector gains rise to £13bn per year if increased call automation is applied across doctors' surgeries, universities and government departments, as well as call centres.



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VoxWeb and Loquendo Bring Speech Technologies to Spain

In a bid to bring speech technologies to even more people and places in Spain, Loquendo and VoxWeb Soluciones de Voz have announced they worked together to create speech solutions for local councils in the area.

VoxWeb Soluciones de Voz, a Spanish speech solutions company made use of Loquendo Speech Recognition and Text to Speech solutions to develop speech applications particularly to complement Web portal services. [click heading for more]

Speech technology improves service at council

Warwickshire County Council employees have entered their names into a new speech recognition system, to automatically direct customers to the person they want to speak to.

The speech technology, by Macfarlane, will ask incoming customer calls for the name of the person they wish to speak to.

The system will then match them to names contained in its database, and route calls through to the correct telephone extensions. [click heading for more]

BT and Eckoh win a three year contract with the Ministry of Justice

[nik's note: I can't help but feel a certain satisfaction with this announcement - in a sense this was orginally my 'baby' when I was at BT - where I proposed and specified the first Magistrates Eckoh/BT fine payment voice self-service solution. Glad to see it has come of age.. :-) ]

BT and Eckoh’s hosted solution to provide an automated fine payment service for all Magistrates’ Courts across England and Wales
BT and Eckoh, the UK’s largest provider of hosted speech recognition services, today announced that they have been awarded a new three year, multi-million pound contract with the Ministry of Justice, to provide an automated fine payment service for Magistrates’ Courts (“Courts”) across England and Wales. BT and Eckoh will also supply the live contact centre operation to support the automated service, providing the Courts with a complete end-to-end telephony solution. [click heading for more]

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to use speech self service payments

Not previously known for being on the cutting edge of Silicone valley, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council has decided to opt for a 21st century solution for its automated payment transactions.
The council has taken on Telephonetics VIP speech self service solution which is the latest in speech recognition and voice automation payment methods to service around 50,000 homes in Reigate and Banstead with approximately 127,000 residents .
The system will be introduced gradually, at first the Council will use the speech self service technology to process payment transactions such as parking fines or council tax bills. [click heading for more]