Sunday, July 29, 2012

How to cut AHT overnight

Sound too good to be true? That's because most people think "boil the ocean". I'm going to blog 6 ways over the coming weeks on how you can take simple, easy to implement steps to eliminate "chunks" of AHT in short order.

The first one is reducing the time (by around 80%) it takes an agent to do call wrap-up. AND for those that say their agents don't spend time doing call wrap-up, I think you are denying reality. I've seen call wrap-up actually take place during the current call and even during the next call ("please hold whilst I look up that information for you"). Call wrap involves making notes during the call so your agents remember what they did - which is incredibly ironic since your agents are using a computer - and your computer is pretty good at remembering things for itself!

And this is where the first trick comes in. Simply use OpenSpan's desktop automation to teach the computer to remember, during the call what the agent is doing - EXACTLY, down to the last click / field change / credit / debit etc., across all the apps they use and feed that info into the right notes field instantly. 100% accurate and it won't forget!

I told you. It really is that simple. Our customers swear by it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How OpenSpan changes the game for a BPO!

It is well understood, that some of the best outsourcers in the world, not only just take on their call center customers work (plus front and back office) but they take it on so they can do a better job than the customer themselves. Sometimes this is simply through economies of scale (doing it cheaper / onshore or offshore). Sometimes it's because the BPO has the depth/breadth of experience of that customers sector, across their entire peers. Lets be honest, if you are the outsourcer of a telecoms company, it's likely you could add significant value (best practices) to another telecoms companies outsourced call center too.

In order to learn, scale up and deploy, the BPO has to make a huge commitment to their new customers (infrastructure, hiring, training). After all, they need to be great out of the gate. For an outsourcer, it doesn't make sense to take on new customers without at least a 2-3 year commitment and probably more in many cases. However, in return, the BPO is often guaranteed to be paid, say, a price per minute for taking call center calls or doing back office work.

This has worked for years and the BPO's have more often than not, delivered great value to their customers. However, once the BPO model has been established for a customer, when contracts become due, the competitive market for BPO's is hot. At that point. smart customers have been covering their bets and signing up more BPO's to outsource their call center seats to (spread risk). This is good in many ways for the customer since they can quickly add/remove seats from the best/worst performing BPO's (Customer service, SLA's etc.,). There are many other relevant angles for the BPO to gain more seats and the customers and BPO's are often trying outsmart each other to ensure they get the very best service at the very best price.

And that's the key - doesn't that last sentence "best service at best price" sound like a conflict to you? Of course it is.

What OpenSpan has seen over the last 4 years as a vendor to many of the worlds largest BPO's is that this game is changing.  The customers are coming to the BPO's and are now asking them to improve productivity which in turn would mean less business to the BPO. Again the conflict. Why would a BPO be incentivised to reduce the number of minutes it takes to deal with a call in a call center if the BPO is paid by the minute? Now the BPO's are fighting back with OpenSpan. OpenSpan is a global leader in Desktop Automation and Desktop Analytics which enables Call Center agents and Back Office workers to perform significantly faster and much more accurately.
The BPO's are now leading with OpenSpan to offer their customers choices. If the outsourcer works uses OpenSpan to improve the process, the outsourcer wants to share in the productivity gains. Customers love it. It's a win/win. Outsourcers using OpenSpan are able to compete with a productivity improvement story against those outsourcers not using OpenSpan. Since OpenSpan is already used by over 250,000 call center agents across some of the worlds largest banks and telecomms call centers, it is THE proven and accepted technology to drive up productivity. OpenSpan Desktop Automation is used by more BPO's in the world, than any other desktop productivity tool, and as more and more of the "pay-per-minute" contracts come up for grabs across the very competitive BPO market, OpenSpan's BPO's are not only keeping the customers they already have, but using OpenSpan to win more customers and more seats than their peers.

Check it out,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is cutting call center AHT a good thing?

A few years ago, I was telling a prospect about how OpenSpan's Desktop Automation technology can cut AHT in their call center. However, their response made me take a step back; They said, "we don't want to reduce AHT, we want to focus on customer experience and cutting AHT doesn't necessarily do that".

Hard to argue with that but this was a big part of my sales pitch. Sure we don't just cut AHT but what's the best angle to take going forward with my pitch. It got me thinking. Our customer service agents spend all day on the phone, at their desktop, they use the computer to help them during the call but the truth is, they spend the time typing into the computer what they need to get done. They spend hours doing this during the day, many minutes during each call is spent navigating the multiple screens, searching, duplicating the same things over and over using rules they learnt in training and hoping they don't make mistakes. Why are they doing this stuff? The desktop computer is a powerful beast and yet the agents do things it should be doing. They waste time doing lookups, searches, rekeying etc., and slow the call down and extend AHT. This often leads to poor customer service - especially if the caller is in a hurry!

Then it came to me. Just because we don't want to cut AHT, does not mean our agents should be wasting time on the call, doing things the computer should be doing. The average time they waste on each call is huge. If you could cut out the waste, your call center can choose to use the time saved towards cutting AHT or use the time to have a better customer experience. This is when I came up with a new acronym for the Call Center - AWT (Average Wasted Time). AWT should be reduced or eliminated on every call because it's pure waste. You are paying people to do things they simply should not be doing - and people are your biggest cost, right?

So now, when I talk to prospects about how Desktop Automation can save millions of dollars a year, I don't focus on AHT unless that's what they want - I focus on AWT - because EVERYONE wants that.

Check out our quick 3 min videos on What is OpenSpan - and Does this remind you of you

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why we LOVE Automation

You have to love Automation

When people and technology meet there's one thing we humans all have in common; we hate wasting time doing stuff that our computers should be doing for us.

It struck me yesterday, when I got my new Samsung Galaxy S III phone (way cool btw), just how far we have come. After I activated the phone, I logged into my Google account and within 15 minutes it had automatically;

  • Downloaded all the apps I had download over the prior 2 years onto my old Droid X
  • Downloaded and configured ALL wifi and internet settings for home and office
  • Download and configured all GMAIL, Exchange mail, contacts, calendars and tasks
  • Restored all my bookmarks and phone favorites
  • and was ready to go as my replacement phone

We can all remember when something like this would takes hours, sometimes days, just to resync a phone to be like our old one.

We take it for Granted, that someone at, in my case Google, wrote some automation tools that would save whatever we do on one Google device, to a central place so it would make moving to the next device a breeze. Some might not call this automation! I guess it could be called backup/restore or synching but the truth is, it automated what I used to do so I don't have to do it any more.

Remember when you would get an email on your smart phone with a phone number in it and you had to write down that number just so as you could retype it in the phone app and press send (sometimes still faster than copy and paste)? Nowadays you just click the phone number in the smart phone email and the inbuilt automation detects it's a number and sends it over to the phone app and dials it for you (doesn't work for international numbers but heh, you can't have it all).

Now turn for just a moment to the most costly part of any enterprise; PEOPLE. What do our people spend their time doing all day? For many companies, call centers, back office, task workers etc., our people sit at a desktop computer; This is WHERE PEOPLE AND TECHNOLOGY meet. Why do our people spend their time, day in, day out, doing things on their computer that the computer could and should be doing for them. Some examples;

  • Updating 3 different systems with an address change (15 copy/pastes)
  • Taking an order and updating the delivery system with a date and then sending an email confirmation to the customer to confirm
  • Typing in notes at the end of a call or task (ironically telling the computer what they just did)
  • Traversing through spreadsheets, looking up the internet for each customer id and typing results back into the spreadsheet
  • Looking up some value(s) on the system, applying a rule (they've been trained on) and determine what to say to the customer
  • Searching 4 systems looking for some notes from the previous call/chat/email/tweet
  • Forgetting to check "account on hold" before booking an engineer site visit

How awesome would it be if you could automate all this work? That's where Desktop Automation from OpenSpan comes in. You can quite literally automate any of these steps (where people and technology meet) so all you leave your costly employees to do is to focus on the customer or key parts of the task. Automation is key to our lives. It saves us not just fractions of a percent in time and money but 10's and sometimes (as in my Phone migration), 100's of percent. Check it out. Where people and technology meet