Death knell chimes for telemarking and touchtone IVR

Too many Web sites don't adress the customer - lights are on but nobody is home

Telemarketing and touchtone IVRs will be shafted for SMS notifications, speech recognition IVR and contact centre cross-selling campaigns which will top business agendas in 2008.

Speaking at the 2007 G-Force Asia Pacific conference in Melbourne this week, which kicked-off with a contortionist squeezing into a 61 inch cube, Genesys CEO, Wes Hayden, said the business process rules of call centres must be deployed across all customer channels including marketing, sales and support.

He said the move is necessary to shake the old negative contact centre image which has plagued the industry for the last five years.

"About 80 percent of companies believe they have a superior [customer service] proposition, [but] only one percent of their customers agree," Hayden said.

"Business often does not link the contact centre to other internal departments like marketing, accounts and the back office with business process rules.

"Business can modify problems in pricing and quality of product, but service quality stays with customers a long time so it needs to be consistent across all channels."

He said the lax exploitation of online channels such as Web chat, IM and click-to-call means business is losing profit from a potentially huge market.

"Business have setup Web sites but aren't addressing the customer - it's like the lights are on but no one is home," Hayden said.

While Hayden said highly integrated Web chat, IM and click-to-call technology is "still a little crude", he pointed to a number of financial instructions which employ stealth customer activity monitoring on their Web sites to direct IM inquires to specific agents based on skills-based routing.

Genesys product and solutions marketing general manager, Steve Rutledge, said old telemarketing approaches will be shafted for integrated up-selling campaigns and brand promotion as "legacy resources are replaced with expanded resources".

"2008 will be a critical inflection point as Web technologies and contact centre channels and operations become integrated," Rutledge said.

"Outbound telemarketing will be replaced with up-selling campaigns and call-backs and there will be more use of e-mails, SMS and Web chat."

Genesys Australasia vice president, Jason Stirling, said the contact centre will be a front for a battle between the big four banks which are implementing skills-based routing, speech-overlaid IVR and targeted sale campaigns.

He said the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, the National Australia Bank and Westpac are refining their IVR systems and will deploy online contact channels in the future.

According to Stirling, online florist 1800 Flowers is one of four percent of Australian businesses using the technology.

The company has deployed Web chat and fax-to-email, and records customer purchases dates to assist sales in the assumption that customers purchase flowers on birthdays and anniversaries.

The Bank of America has increased mortgage sales by 800 percent since deploying online customer contact tools.