Archive for October, 2011

What is an Icon?

We’ve been talking about icons a lot recently in this blog, so I thought it might be time to explain what an icon is and what you can do with it.

We’ve all experienced IVR in one way or another: mostly when you’re calling a company for support and are asked something like: “for support press 1”, “for sales press 2”, etc., there is logic in the background in the form of a routing plan or call flow.

For example, such a routing plan could look something like this:

  • You call a number and hear a “welcome” announcement (Prompt – icon).
  • The system checks what time you are calling (Time icon)
  • For callers within opening hours, we play a menu (Menu icon)
  • For callers outside opening hours, we play a message and disconnect (Prompt icon)
  • Callers who select sales will be sent to the skill-group “Sales”  (Destination)

Our icons are end-user building blocks and represent a pre-built feature set based on the mode that is chosen for that particular icon.  Icons are graphic elements that you can use to build routing plans or call flows. We have packaged the most frequently used functions in IVR service creation and created numerous icons for our Visual Call Flow Builder (VCB). As a result, we now have over 30 pre-defined icons such as “Menu”, “DTMF”, “Http”, “Prompt”, “Destination”, “SOAP”, “String” etc.

In everything we do, we aim to make communication simpler, so rather than programming call flows, we offer a fully web-based graphical user interface in which icons are configured and connected: if you understand the logic of the call flow, you can create it. To check the parameters of an icon, you just need to double-click on it and can then make adjustments to suit your requirements.

Here are some screen shots of our VCB and the available icons.

This is an example of the logic for a credit card payment.

Call Flow - Credit Card Payment


Pre-defined Icons

Pre-defined Icons

If you want to know more about our icons and how to build call flows quickly and easily, then please get in touch.

Seven Ways to Improve Your Automatic Call Distribution

Just recently, I called my carrier because I needed some information. I found myself dialing through an IVR. Thanks to clearly structured menus and DTMF it worked really well (no surprise, this carrier uses our solution) but then I needed additional help from an agent.

It took more than five minutes until I spoke to a real person. This agent was very competent and could answer the various questions I had, nevertheless, I found the waiting time too long. Over five minutes elapsed until my call was transferred and I called during off-peak hours. Apparently, my carrier doesn’t have the best ACD they could have.

What can you do to enhance customer satisfaction with Automatic Call Distribution? The ACD should get you to the right place the first time. This saves the caller time and frustration and the contact center money. However, there are a few criteria for this to work. Here are seven options to improve your ACD:

  1. First come, first serve. The caller that has been waiting the longest should be the next to be connected to an agent.
  2. Use skill groups. As your callers are guided through your IVR, you learn the reason for their call and can transfer them to a skill group, where an agent with the required knowledge takes over. Enhanced ACD logic filters the incoming calls and sends them to the right group of people the first time, keeping callers happy and avoiding expense for the contact center.
  3. Combine ACD and IVR with your CRM system. The agent who eventually takes the call should already have the customer’s information available and the caller shouldn’t have to authenticate again having done that in the IVR.
  4. If you have multiple contact centers you may want to distribute the load across all centers to ensure the best level of service across the enterprise.
  5. Have enough agents. One reason queues get so long is because there aren’t enough agents. If you need more agents, e.g. during peaks, consider using on-demand seats, either on-site or elsewhere to handle each and every incoming call in compliance with your target service levels.
  6. Avoid transferring your callers from agent to agent. That’s the other extreme to keeping them in the queue for several minutes. A caller wants answers from the agent and not to hear “Sorry, I can’t help you, let me transfer you” three times.
  7. Put your customers in groups like “Platinum” according to their “value”. Customers that are ranked higher get connected faster or to the best available agents. Those who are e.g. always behind with paying their bills should not get this treatment.

In my opinion, skilled agents and a good call flow are very important for good customer service but if your call queues are too long or calls reach the wrong agents, customers will still be dissatisfied with the service. What do you think?