BI and call recording rescues CSA agents from abusive customers

Plans to recruit an extra 1000 agents by 2008

The Child Support Agency (CSA) is using business intelligence (BI) and call recording to protect its staff from threatening callers and other verbal attacks.

The new safeguards were introduced when the CSA, which is part of the federal Department of Human Services, upgraded its IVR system.

With 3000 customer service operators across 14 sites, the agency answers 4.5 million inbound phone calls from its customer base of 1.4 million parents.

The agency collects payments for about 1.2 million children across Australia.

CSA information, communication and technology division general manager, Peter Richards, said the CSA had no way to substantiate personal threats from customers to its staff or inappropriate behaviour by employees, and lacked any business intelligence (BI) strategy.

"We were too busy patting ourselves on the back about our 75 percent customer satisfaction and forgot about the 25 percent who were chucking tantrums and going to the Ombudsmen and anyone who would listen to complain about us," Richards said.

"We wanted to improve 'he said, she said' accountability because we couldn't protect our staff from personal threats.

"About 10 weeks into the implementation we realized we were missing business intelligence (BI) and we didn't know why callers rang."

The CSA deployed call recording technology along with IVR skills-based routing, disaster recovery and business continuity, and activated an unused BI and reporting feature in its existing Genesys platform.

Up to 100,000 phone calls can be logged by the NICE call recording solution each week and kept for three years, while abusive interactions are logged and provided to police.

Richards said the software has already helped staff under threat and identified bad employees.

The call recording solution is tied into the agency's IVR system and uses audio analytics, emotion detection and word-spotting to analyze calls for heightening caller emotions.

Those calls flagged as potentially abusive can be terminated or re-directed to specific areas, while returning callers are automatically directed to the agent they spoke with previously.

Customer information including accrued debt, number of children, martial status and CSA customer history are extracted from recorded calls to assist caller responses.

Richards met weekly with the CSA's human resources, fraud and legal departments every week to broaden project accountability.

"I carried my resignation letter with me the whole time after realizing the off-the-shelf call recording project would need to expand into IVR, BI and reporting," he said.

Richards briefed business separately from IT because they "risk creating confusion because they don't understand each other", noting the project was a change management rather than technical implementation.

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