In early 2010, a large international data management company was facing increased competition from offshore outsourcing firms, and needed to find a way to more effectively compete for new business, while increasing client retention. EPIC Connections was contacted to help find a solution.

To see where improvements could make the most impact, the company reviewed customer service offerings already in place, including its basic interactive voice response (IVR), which it had been outsourcing on behalf of a small percentage of its customers. The client also reviewed its own auto-attendant feature, used to route calls to the right “class” of customer service representatives (CSRs) by matching specific types of inquiries with CSRs who had the most appropriate skill-set or experience level. The system did a basic look-up to back-end data for screen pops, but was not used to provide any speech recognition functionality.

After a careful review, the client decided that adding a unique self-service option via speech recognition would be the most effective way to increase competitive differentiation, while offering clients more convenient service.

The client had a number of calls they were taking on behalf of their customers that were pretty routine in nature, such as requests for address changes, which amounted to nearly 30% of all calls”. The client believed that these types of interactions were ideal for a speech recognition application due to their relative consistency and simplicity.”

The client considered the option of outsourcing speech recognition functionality to reduce start-up time and more adequately handle spikes in call volume by offering a larger pool of IVR ports. However, start-up and maintenance costs proved higher, thus the ultimate return on investment was not as favorable.

The client also reviewed in-house speech solutions, but instead, chose to look for a platform that, in addition to meeting its IVR and speech needs, would also include technology that could benefit its contact center. Ultimately with the help of EPIC Connections, the client selected an Integrated Call Center Application from one of the EPIC Channel Partners. As a standards-based, all-in-one  IP communications software suite, The EPIC solution offered built-in IVR with support for multiple speech recognition vendors, as well as contact center automation functionality.

The client chose EPIC Connections due to their ability to align them with a cost-effective, non-proprietary architecture, as well as their ability to provide features beyond speech, such as automatic call distribution.

Using natural language speech recognition, the client automated a variety of transactions.

Other unique options that were added included the following: Dynamic prompting: The system receives calls from customers for multiple products. Based on DNIS information, the system used appropriate prompts for each product.

Based on account information and application logic, callers were presented with options tailored to their profile. For example, if a caller’s product is nearing its expiration date, the caller is presented with the option to renew.

As callers navigate the IVR, the error and help prompts are specific to the state they are in and provide examples of allowable phrases. Pause: If a caller needs time to find a product or account number, the caller can ask the system to wait by saying, “hang on.” The system will wait for the caller until it hears, “I’m back,” and the call continues.

EPIC’s Integrated Call Center solution tracked a caller’s progress, and if the system could not automatically process the transaction, the caller is transferred to a CSR. The CSR receives a screen pop with the caller’s account information and the details captured up to that point identifying the reason for the call. This feature dramatically reduces call duration times and increases customer satisfaction because callers are not asked to repeat information they have already provided. This saved the client 20 to 30 seconds per call in call handle time. The client used this time to incorporate lucrative up- sell programs.

Using EPIC’s Integrate Call Center solution, speech recognition and screen pop technology to reduce call handling time enabled the client to provide unique up-sell programs for their customers that have resulted in significant increases in revenue. The speech capability also reduced spikes in call volume, which helped the client to maintain more consistent service levels.”

The client also reported high speech recognition success rates. EPIC’s Integrated Call Center solution’s speech recognition capabilities resulted in an average 92% completion rate, which compares with prior completion rates of only 15% based on touchtone.

According to the client, in addition to its speech capabilities, EPIC’s Integrated Call Center solution featured an all-in-one architecture which turned out to be of significant benefit. “EPIC’s Integrated Call Center solution tightly integrated ACD and IVR, which both ran on a single, standards-based server, plus its intuitive GUI-based customization tool, have eliminated costs associated with computer telephony integration, and given the client the ability to more quickly respond to client requests.

These benefits, combined with the benefits of speech recognition capabilities resulted in significant differentiation, which has enabled the clients to remain competitive amidst increasing offshore outsourcing options.

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