What's New in In Queue
Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, [email protected]
New Research Kick-Off.
Concurrent with the 2012 NFL football season, the NACC is gearing up to
launch our annual survey of end-users. All NACC members and
readers are invited and encouraged to participate. Results are
published throughout the year in this newsletter so your participation
will allow you to better understand the results and benchmark your
attitudes and intentions against those of your peers and
colleagues. We’ll post the survey link in the October issue of In Queue.
In the meantime, we’re still looking for volunteer members who would
like to trade 30 minutes of their time during the course of a year for
an annual NACC membership at no cost. NACC membership gives you
access to reports, our Job Board, business opportunities as they come
to us, and the opportunity to tap into the membership network for
inquiries, advice and review. We promise to ask for no more than
30 minutes of your time to participate in our surveys during the course
of the year. It’s a great deal. If you’d like to join us,
send me an e-mail with the word “Volunteer” in the subject line and
I’ll set up your membership. If you have questions don’t hesitate
to contact me.
New Reports. Speaking of reports, the
quarterly industry reports that David Butler authors are now available
for the first and second quarter of 2012. These reports are
stored at the NACC website, www.nationalcallcenters.org, and are available to all members, including NACC volunteer members.
If you’re interested in speech analytics, you’ll probably be interested
in a series of papers I recently authored on the subject.
Sponsored by Nexidia, these reports get right to the point and are a
quick read. You can download these research notes at the
Guest Author. Our guest author this month
is contact center Art Rosenberg of The Unified View. Art is an
authority on unified communications and has spent most of his career in
the contact center industry in one capacity or another. I’ve
known Art as an industry author and analyst for many years and we’re
very pleased to have Art write about mobile devices and the impact that
multi-modal communications are having on the customer service
profession. Art can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 310-395-2360.
This issue’s thoughts from the blogosphere was blown away by Hurricane
Isaac, which dumped sufficient rain on The University of Southern
Mississippi to keep David Butler busy with a mop and bucket while
waiting for power to return to his office. In the meantime, I’ve
written an article regarding contact center legislation and employment
fluctuations that you might find provocative.
"Customer BYOD" Is Changing Contact Center Operations
Art Rosenberg, UC Strategies Expert, The Unified View
In a recent webinar,
the speakers from the National Association of Call Centers described
what industry members were doing to improve their operations through
technology. There were two key factors mentioned.
Paul Stockford, Research Director for the Association, highlighted the
fact that “Big Data” analytics for contact centers includes all
customer interactions, including voice calls, email, and chat. David
Butler, Executive Director of the Association, pointed to the growing
need to automate simple customer service tasks with self-service
applications to minimize demand for live assistance.
As it turns out, the rapid adoption of mobile smartphones and tablets,
will not only facilitate consumer abilities to exploit self-service
applications, but will also drive an increased need for customized
options to flexibly access live assistance on demand through the
various forms of contact available to consumers. Such flexibility comes
under the label of “unified communications” (UC), and may well make the
Contact Center the biggest source of ROI for
While there is a lot of discussion about how new “BYOD” (Bring Your Own
Device) policies will impact organizations in supporting their
employees with mobile access from different devices and operating
systems, what has not been properly acknowledged is that
consumers/customers will also be bringing that issue to the challenge
of designing and exploiting self-service applications. In addition, the
flexibility of multi-modal mobile devices, coupled with any demand for
live assistance, will also require greater flexibility on the part of
customer-facing agents to interact with mobile customers.
The Customer Perspective
consumers, who were restricted in the past by legacy IVR applications,
self-service applications no longer have to start with a phone call. In
fact, the reverse is becoming true – online (visual) applications are
becoming a primary gateway to a voice or chat connection for live
Many market studies have confirmed that most consumers would prefer
direct access to information and business transactions, rather than
have to deal with a live person. Of course, such access would have to
be simple and easy to use from an interface perspective. That is one
area where the combination of speech input (like Apple’s Siri) combined
with visual information output would be the fastest and easiest way for
a mobile user to interact with an online application. However, the
choice of user interface has to be dynamically controlled by the mobile
end user, depending on their circumstances, e.g., while driving a car,
in a noisy environment, or sitting in a meeting. Such flexibility is
now possible with Mobile UC technologies and multi-modal devices.
Bottom Line For Contact Center Management
mentioned in the webinar, while more-self-service applications may
reduce the total demand for live customer staffing, it will increase
the need for greater flexibility in customer interactions with customer
service staff. This in turn, will make management of contact center
operations and performance more complex, especially in the design of
user interfaces to maximize the Customer Experience and minimize the
need to “click-for-assistance.”
“Cloud”-based applications (private, public, hybrid) will
facilitate the development and management of contact center
applications, including self-service “mobile apps.” Contact
center technology vendors are all moving into this service space,
making it easier for existing contact centers to start adding new
self-service applications, as well as allowing remote agents and
contact center management to easily be involved with both current
customers and the next generation of mobile customers. Key to mobile
flexibility is “unified communications” (UC) that enables communication
contacts to be initiated in any form and to be dynamically shifted as
needed (e.g., from a text/voice message to chat to a voice connection).
Did Contact Center Legislation Drive Industry Job Losses?
Paul Stockford, Research Director, NACC and Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research, [email protected]
In the April 6, 2012 issue of In Queue
I wrote about pending contact center industry legislation at both the
state and federal levels that had the potential to severely impact the
penalties companies could pay for moving American contact center jobs
to offshore outsourcers. At the federal level House Resolution
3596, introduced in December of 2011, proposed the creation of a public
list of all employers that relocate a call center overseas and to make
those companies ineligible for Federal grants or guaranteed
loans. It also required companies to disclose the physical
location of business agents engaging in customer service
communications. The difference between HR 3596 and its three
legislative predecessors was that this one seemed to have legs.
There have been legislative attempts to address the offshoring of U.S.
contact center jobs since 2005 but none made any significant progress
toward becoming law. In fact, one attempt at contact center
legislature introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in May of 2010
was never even introduced to the senate. HR 3596, however, was
different. It was progressively moving through the six steps required
for a bill to become law. I believe this caused a couple of
wireless companies to start to feel the potential legislative heat.
Regular readers of this newsletter will recognize the graph below,
which details U.S. contact center employment on a quarterly basis since
January of 2010. As you can see, there was an
uncharacteristically sharp drop in employment gains during the first
quarter of 2012.
As it became clear that there would be a senate vote regarding HR 3596
in 2012 with a good possibility of passage, business decisions were
likely accelerated. We believe that this was the impetus behind
the combined 6,500-plus contact center job reduction from wireless
communications providers T-Mobile and Verizon during the first
quarter. All of these jobs were transferred to offshore contact
As it turns out, HR 3596 was defeated by a vote of 56 – 42 on July 19th of this year. At least 60 votes are required in the U.S. Senate for a bill to be enacted into law.
Our concern for the future focuses primarily on the potential impact of
any new industry legislation that may be introduced in the years to
come. While it appears that any contact center industry
legislation seems doomed to failure, the damage caused by the knee-jerk
reactions that some companies may take presents a risk too great to
ignore. In the meantime, construction of new buildings designed
to house call centers continues in the Philippines where the industry
is expected to employ some 1.3 million Filipinos by 2016.
Call Center Comics!
If you like this comic and would like to see more, write Ozzie at [email protected] and visit his website at http://callcentercomics.com/cartoon_categories.htm
or just click on the comic to take you to his page. The NACC
appreciates Ozzie letting us use some of his comics in our newsletter.
To view past issues of In Queue, please click here.
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Copyright 2012 National Association of Call Centers