Richard Wilson On Hold – industry view on automated phone systems- Part 1 Holding


Last nights “Richard Wilson On Hold”

Though we would just comment as an industry insider on automated telephone systems.

The program covered two distinct areas of the phone system industry,

1) Being put on hold before you get to speak to an operator. In phone system terms call centre software is called ACD – or automatic call distribution. This enables a larger number of calls to be handled by a fewer number of people, so put basically if you have 100 calls coming into a call centre at a particular time, with ACD software you can que 75 of the calls when the 25 operators deal with enquiries.

As a phone system solution provider we provide the tools to enable a business to achieve this, what tends to happen is these tools are ‘abused’ or cranked up to unfair wait times on clients, typically when a new manager in a call centre is brought in, or a new operations manager has to cut costs, usually by cutting staff. In real terms the 25 could be cut to 20, then 15 then 10 people over time and rounds of cuts.

We recommend hold times of less than 2 minutes. If consumers could see it form the other side, if you are a call center of 25 operatives that gets 5,000 calls a day (circa 625 an hour, 25 calls each op per hour), but many call centres dealing with consumers get many more calls between 12:30 and 2pm – when most consumers are free to make personal calls at lunch – so 25 operative may need to handle 1500-2000 calls in the lunch hour – and this is how ACD software should be used to smooth the curve, as most would concede its hard to find people who only want to work for an hour at lunchtime, let alone the space needed to seat them!

A more cynical point was the use of 0870 and 0871 numbers where the operators purposely hold customers (certain football clubs will not be mentioned), as the called company ears revenue on the call. Thankfully this has been tackled by the regulator, reducing the cost of the calls to these numbers. These practices still however prevail and we hope to see regulation stamp them out further.

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