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Smart Call #74 – 2009 in review

December 22nd, 2009

In this Smart Call, Dr. Catriona Wallace from helps us to look back at 2009.

We look at Senator Steven Fielding and the extended Do Not Call Register proposal.

Also on the show:

  • What CEOs think of call centres today
  • Investment and technology trends for 2009 and 2010
  • How social media is impacting customer service
  • The demise of Nortel and what it means for competition

And while we’re here, all at Smart Call wishes our readers and listeners the very merriest of Christmases, and a fabulous 2010!

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Smart Call #72 – Electrifying customer service

November 23rd, 2009

Sorry for the corny title for this show, but what else can one call a program in which our two interviewees come from Energex and Energy Australia?

From Energex, we have Dayle Grant, the company’s Contact Centre Group Manager. Dayle joins us to explain how the company gets ready for summer, when tropical storms, extreme heat and even wildfires can mean that the company  gets 100,000 calls an hour from customers anxious to know if they are safe or (when things really go pear-shaped) when electricity will return.

Energex has all sorts of interesting tactics to cope with these surges, including a very interesting use of home-based agents.

And stick around to the end of the interview when Dayle explains the ROI from these efforts.

Our second feature comes from the Right Now summit, which I attended as a guest of the company in early November.

At the summit I had the good fortune to be present for a case study delivered by Samantha Forbes, Quality Assurance & Training Manager, Customer Services at Energy Australia. This is one of the best presentations I have ever heard at a call centre conference and details how the company replaced a real dud of a knowledge base with a shiny new one from Right Now at accrued all sorts of benefits along the way. Training time fell, agents became more engaged and customer satisfaction is heading in the right direction.

Samantha offers fabulously detailed insights into the company’s change program in this wonderful presentation.

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Smart Call # 70 – Travel and analytics advance agents

October 25th, 2009

On this show, we have a look at two unusually advanced ways to improve agent performance.

The first comes in our main presentation, which comes from Paul Cahill, General Manager Customer Service at Internet Service Provider iiNet, which operates contact centres in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Paul explains how iiNet works to build a consistent culture across these three nations. One tactic: sending staff abroad so they can experience its centres in other nations, share experiences and make sure everyone delivers consistently.

Our second feature is a sponsor interview with Fergal Murphy, IBM Global Business Services’ Senior Managing Consultant for Business Analytics & Optimisation.

Fergal joins us to explain Analytics Optimised Routing (AOR), a new technology from IBM that applies analytics to the task of routing. The idea behind AOR is that skills-based routing is great, but if you can route to an agent whose personality and lifestyle matches the caller’s, they’ll be more empathetic and you’ll get better results.

Fergal explains the genesis of AOR and offers a case study to explain its benefits.

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Smart Call #69 – Who’s the boss?

October 1st, 2009

In this episode of Smart Call, we ask: Who’s the Boss?

And we do so in two ways.

First up, we have Dr. Catriona Wallace of sharing the results of her firm’s annual Australasian Benchmarking Report with us. Catriona finds that call centre bosses have some happier challenges at the moment, because fewer workers are leaving the industry.

Our second interview is with the ATA’s Michael Meredith. Together, we explore the prospect of the government setting customer service levels, a notion flagged in recent telecommunications industry reform proposals.

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Smart Call #68 – The geek show!

August 31st, 2009

This episode of Smart Call gets geeky as we talk to two IT strategists.

But don’t worry that we are going to go all dry and technical on you! Instead, we have a fascinating presentation from Genesys’ G-Force about the future of customer service, from Bill Peer, a Vice President for Enterprise Architecture at the InterContinental Hotels Group.

We’ve also got a CIO for you, in the form of Phil Edwards from Smart Salary. Phil teams up with Global Speech Networks Nick Rodda to explain how he’s adopting an incremental approach to contact centre innovation.

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Smart Call # 67 – The tail wagging the dog

August 19th, 2009

This week’s show tackles a couple of long-held assumptions:

  • Contact centres are rightly an unloved and expensive enclave in most businesses
  • Offhsoring takes jobs from Australia

Many listeners’/readers’ will be just about to leap out of their chairs upon reading this pair of statements, because they just are not true and this week’s Smart Call proves it with two stories explaining how the call centre tail is wagging the dog.

We prove it in an interview with Genesys’ Jason Stirling, who explains how the company is working to get every part of an organisation that touches a customer working together, instead of just leaving the contact centre to do it all – or just to cop all the flak when things go wrong.

We’ve also got an interview with Denice Pitt and Sadip Sen of Aegis, who together explain how Aegis – which has just formalised its takeover of UCMS – plans to bring 2000 new BPO jobs to Australia. Yep that’s right – an Indian company BRINGING jobs to Australia!

Oh and as I mention in the show, here’s Episode 15 of Smart Call, which pertains to Jason Stirling’s interview.

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Smart Call # 66 – Crowdsourced IVR hacking

August 3rd, 2009

One of the big buzzwords in IT right now is “crowdsourcing,” the practise of harnessing “the wisdom of the crowd,” as represented by the millions of people online, to find the talent needed to solve problems.

Crowdsourcing is generally held to be a positive thing because it lets you tap into willing and clever people who help you to solve problems.

But what if crowdsourcing instead solved problems that your customers have? Like their frustration with your IVR?

That’s what’s happening at, a site on which members of the public can post the keypress sequences that get them through an IVR and straight to an agent.

Sean Riley, the site’s creator, joins us on this week’s show to explain why he developed the site, the public’s reaction and his future plans.

We’re also joined by Dr. Catriona Wallace from to analyse news including:

  • Disaster recovery plans for call centres
  • What Avaya’s looming purchase of Nortel’s enterprise network business could mean for call centres
  • Wage breakouts in the Philippines

Thanks as ever to founding sponsor NSC.

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Smart Call # 65 – When the CIO helps the contact centre

July 17th, 2009

This week on Smart Call we meet a Chief Information Officer. His name is Colin Thomas, he comes from NSW teachers Credit Union and he shares what sounds like a very, very healthy relationship between his IT team and the Credit Union’s customer service operation.

Also on this week’s Smart Call, Dr Catriona Wallace rejoins us to discuss news including:

  • Good reports about the DNC register
  • The contact centre where staff warn customers about offshoring
  • Why emergency services contact centres need standards

And don’t forget: if you like Smart Call, sponsor it! Sponsorships start at just $1500 and you’ll be keeping the industry’s only multimedia outlet alive!

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Smart Call #64 – The worst contact centres

July 3rd, 2009

This episode of Smart Call features Richard Gaze of Customer Service Benchmarking Australia, a Melbourne organisation that uses mystery shopping and surveys to analyse customer service experiences.

The company has recently updated its research and says mobile phone companies, airlines and banks are the worst customer service exponents in Australia. We ask Richard why in this interview.

We also look at news, including:

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Smart Call #63 – Voice biometrics special

June 18th, 2009

Authenticating callers to a contact centre consumes a big percentage of every call.

Voice biometrics promises a faster and more secure way to confirm a caller’s identity and this week we have two interviews with new users of the technology.

Frank Lombardo from Aviva and National Australia Bank’s Sam Jackel both worked with Salmat VeCommerce to get voice biometrics up and running and join us to explain why they chose the technology and how it’s working for their organisation.

Dr. Catriona Wallace also returns to help us with news including:

  • Relocating workers from Scotland to Manila
  • What we should expect of emergency services contact centres
  • How to respond to fake IVRs
Thanks as ever to founding sponsor NSC for its  support!
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