Competitive Advantage

Competitive Advantage

Lesly Hanson

In an increasingly global and competitive business environment, companies need to seize every opportunity for competitive advantage. Yet few companies have in place a call management strategy for their business, and when they do the strategy is often restricted to the Call Centre environment. Lesley Hansen of Teleware explains

Incoming calls can be critical to a business.  At best, a poorly managed incoming call will create a poor impression of the business and create customer frustration and impatience. At worst, missed or delayed calls from potential customers or key contacts can mean direct loss of revenue.

Not all calls are of the same value to a business and an intelligent approach to telephony enables the business to differentiate between call types and provide the most appropriate handling.


Incoming calls cover a wide range of complexity and urgency, so the skill levels to handle the calls varies depending on the call type. The range spans from routine internal and external calls, which require little knowledge or skill, through high volume, low
value external calls, where a relatively narrow knowledge set is required, to low volume, high value calls, which require a high level of knowledge or skill set. If a business handles all calls in the same way, the costs of managing low value calls will be higher than necessary and insufficient importance and priority will be given to business critical calls requiring more specialist skills.

The right call handling strategy directly affects customer satisfaction, increases staff productivity and reduces telephony costs. A call strategy can bring about improvement to communication and provide simplicity of contact for individuals and teams, irrespective of their location, preferred device and the underlying technologies deployed within the infrastructure of their organisation.

Numerous surveys have been conducted regarding the success rates of contacting people within an organisation. Records show that about 19-20% of calls reach their intended destination and result in a live conversation. The abandoned call rate varies but is consistently in the region of 13%. Today’s workforce is becoming more mobile and the uptake of flexible working practices such as home-working and teleworking has meant that these contactability figures have worsened.

Voice mail is often implemented to prevent excessive ‘ring no reply’ situations and to give a level of store and forward messaging. But voice mail is a solution that addresses the symptom not the problem – the problem being how to access the right person in a timely manner at a minimum cost to the organisation.

You can consider incoming voice communications as shaped like an hourglass. Calls come in from anywhere and are passed out to resources within the organisation. The pinch point is critical as all communications pass through it. Availability and flexibility are key to keeping this pinch point open and ensuring calls are swiftly passed. It is at this point that a business can take decisions on calls in line with the appropriate business rules and priorities and so improve effectiveness and reduce costs.

 Anyone with teenage offspring realises that outgoing calls cost real money. This is no less true in a business, where we optimise by least cost routing and by clever purchasing of corporate call minutes. Every incoming call also has a cost – albeit one that is more difficult to calculate. The sting in the tale is that incoming calls are also often transient assets. Treat them wrong and they can be lost for good. Treat all calls the same and priorities can be missed, resources mal-aligned and costs wasted.

A variety of techniques are needed to best route and handle incoming calls.

•  Automated Response / Information Services

•  Facilities such as data capture and enquiry, fax back services, voice forms and speech recognition (ASR) and     text to speech (TTS) capabilities.

•  Auto-Attendant and IVR Services

These are routing services. Loved or hated by callers, these services need careful deployment to be usable, acceptable and effective. They can add valuable routing services to front-end the call centre or supplement the capabilities of more modest Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) systems. Call centre agents normally have a broad range of knowledge but, by definition, the depth of the knowledge is limited.


Teaming of Skills and Capabilities

A mechanism to enable the teaming of smaller work groups. Often, such teams are deployed over a wide area and require mobility or geographic independence. Such groups are more specialist and have a greater depth of knowledge.

Specialists and Alternatives

Calls that need to be routed to individuals who possess specialist skills. Individuals will often have narrow areas of expertise, but be hugely knowledgeable on their subject.
Individuals may have alternatives who can also effectively manage the requirements of the caller.  The organisation needs to get important calls to them, and to back off to other resources calls that can be handled more cost effectively elsewhere.

How convenient that they call Hour Glass works to facilitate an effective incoming call strategy!  The Hour Glass Model brings all calls through the pinch point where they can be routed to individuals, or teams, irrespective of their location or device.

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