Call Center: Asterisk Conference 2008

AsterConference Asia 2008 is a conference dedicated to Asterisk, the IP-PBX Telephony Software that has changed the telecommunication landscape in the Business World. AsterConference Asia is your premier choice for everything Asterisk, in Asia.

Find out all you need to know about Asterisk, meet with it’s founder and creator Mr Mark Spencer who will deliver the keynote address and network with others in the Asterisk community.

AsterConference Asia 2008 will be held on the 10th September 2008 at Crown Princess Hotel,Kuala Lumpur, followed by 2 concurrent workshops on 11th September 2008 titled:

(i) Asterisk Essentials
Instructor: Mr Reza M (Canada)

(ii) Integrating Wireless Technology with Asterisk
Instructor: Mr David Duffett (UK)

Venue : Crown Princess Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Registration is now open. Don’t miss out on the PREMIER EARLY BIRD SPECIAL for registration before 31st July, 2008.  For more information on AsterConference Asia 2008, speakers and program, visit

CCAS Event: CPF Contact Center Site Visit

Site Visit to CPF Contact Centre,  CCAS International Awards 2007,  BRONZE Awards Winner, Best Contact Centre of the Year (Under 100 seats)

Date: Friday, 1 August 2008
Time: 3 pm
Venue: CPF Contact Centre, 1 Tampines Central 5, CPF Tampines Building

1) All participants will meet at the lobby of CPF Tampines Building at 2.45pm on the event day

2) All participants are reminded to bring their Identification Card (NRIC) on that day for entrance purposes

3) Photo-taking is strictly not allowed on the day of the event in CPF Contact Centre

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a comprehensive social security savings plan that has provided Singaporeans with a sense of security and confidence in their old age. Funds contributed by both employer and employee can be used by the employee for retirement, healthcare, home ownership, family protection and asset enhancement.

The Board has leveraged on information technology to enhance the customer service experience. These include my cpf portal which provides the customers with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions at major milestones of their life and the Biometric e-Counter which helps the customers who have problems remembering passwords to be able to perform their transactions online.

For the years ahead, the Board will continue to explore and introduce more initiatives to improve work processes and implement the right systems and technologies to meet customer’s new demands & rising expectations.



CCAS Event: Workforce Management Workshop

Call Center Association of Singapore will be conducting a Workforce Management Workshop at RELC International Hotel, SEAMAO Regional Language Centre, 30 Orange Grove Road Level 5, Room 504

The seminar is to be conducted by Ms Julie-Ann Hazlett, Education Manger of Call Design from 2pm to 5pm.

Workforce Management User Group –  An Overview of Staffing and Scheduling

  • Introduction to Call Design
  • Define workforce management.
  • List the implications of overstaffing/understaffing.
  • Describe why call-centre staffing is a unique kind of problem.
  • Outline the perspectives and goals of each stakeholder group and how workforce management impacts each.
  • List the basic steps of workforce management.
  • Describe the role of the supervisor in the workforce management process.
  • Open forum discussing workforce management issues

 Please reserve your seats via our website at  Cost for member:    S$100.00 / Non Member: S$250.00  

CCAS Events worth attending

Futuregen is registering for 2 CCAS (Call center Association of Singapore) events. These are:

  • Workforce Management by Julie-ann Hazlett, Education Manager of Call Design on Thrusday  July 31, 2008 and
  • Site visit to CPF Contact Center on August 1, 2008

 The Workforce Management will tackle the following topics:

  • Introduction to Call Design
  • Define workforce management.
  • List the implications of overstaffing/understaffing.
  • Describe why call-centre staffing is a unique kind of problem.
  • Outline the perspectives and goals of each stakeholder group and how workforce management impacts each.
  • List the basic steps of workforce management.
  • Describe the role of the supervisor in the workforce management process.
  • Open forum discussing workforce management issues

The Site Visit to CPF is significant because CPF Contact Center was awarded the Bronze winner for Best Contact Center for the year (under 100 seats).

Call Center:Team Leader Handbook Workshop

Futuregen attended another FANTASTIC seminar facilitated by Ian Northmore. Key takeaways from this CCAS organized seminar was :

  • The introduction of additional team leader metrics like Number of One on One meetings, Number of weekly briefings, and the % of absences in the team.
  • The use of Back to Work interviews before MC team members can get back to work.
  • The need for immediate feedback to be given by Team leaders to the team members.
  • The need to review recorded calls made by team members as a way to not only gauge team member performance, but to also allow the team leader to ‘touch base’ with callers.
  • The use of G.R.O.W. to conduct one on one meetings between the team leaders and their team members.

Here is our post on an earlier seminar by Ian Northmore.

Call Center: Call Monitoring and Quality Assurance

One of the continuing efforsts of singaporean call centers is to focus efforts on finding new avenues of measuring performance and improving coaching for their contact center staff. While solutions have been around for some time now, the recent enhancements are compelling.

Recent enhancements include multi channel recording (not only voice, but also desktop screens for IM and chat supports). Sentiment analyis and better User Interface for QA staff to drill down and pick out the more interesting recordings.

Sentiment analysis allows the software to flag conversations where a noticeable rise in tone and pitch is detected. These usually mark the start of an irate call. Last week, I had the opportunity to be introduced to NICE perform, next week, where such abilities were showcased in Insights 2008.

I have an opportunity to try out a competing product from autonomy called e-talk. The information for etalk on their website states:

Autonomy etalk offers call recording, analysis, and performance improvement solutions that support superior service and enable customer intelligence for call centres. The recently released Intelligent Contact Centre solutions include advanced intelligence-based functions such as Multi-channel Interaction Analysis, Real-time Agent Support and Contact Centre performance.

Call Center Recording and Quality Control Solution

Insights 2008

Photo was taken from the Insights 2008 Presentation. The affair showcased the capabilities of the various NICE applications. The cool feature included their NICE Perform that enables the capture and recording not only of the voice but also of the agent’s desktop.

The captured audio can also be used by call center QAs to capture the sentiment and specific phrases using an add on Analytics module. Also present in the affair was Rick Puzon of eTelecare.

Photo shows Ms Gaby Koren, VP Sales, Enterprise Interactions Solutions, Mr Wilson Chua, Futuregen President, and Mr Edwin Koh, Regional Director for Southeast Asia and Vietnam, Enterprise Interactions Solutions for NICE.

Asia Call Center Benchmark 2008

The photo above was at the Call Center Benchmark 2008 affair that was conducted by and organized by the Call Center Association of Singapore (CCAS).  The presenters were able to share with the audience some of the key results of their survey and best practices.

One of the most common problems faced by Call center operators was centered mainly around staff recruitment, training and retention. Also, some key performance metrics were also shared in the industry with Singapore having the highest salary paid to call center agents.

The event was also for networking and socializing. I was seated besides Bernard Chia and Darius Ng of Innovax Systems. They do CTI integration with on premise and hosted solutions. Priscilla of CCAS introduced me to Ms Pauline Low, head contact center of NTUC Income, (which was judged one of the best call centers in Singapore).

I met up with Mr Dennis Calvin Tan of IVIC International. Calvin operates a call center facility out in Tampines for 500 seats.  Also present was Ms Estrellita Ong of Abacus Investments. Their company runs a 70 seat call center in Singapore.

Among the sponsors, I got to talk to Mr Don Lee of Autonomy E-Talk, who had this incredible QA software system. It promises to be able to do full recording of not only voice sessions, but also email and chat sesssions. It includes some sentiment and speech analyzers that will help in QA process.

Ms Margaret Kok , sales and Marketing manager at Vanco Pte was also kind enough to advise me on the latest Plantronics corded and cordless headsets. I was invited to visit their showroom and try out some of the new models for our philippine call center.

Singapore Call Center: Revenue Opportunities in Customer Support

Singaporean call centers providing customer care or customer support services are often treated as cost centers. It is simply treated as an expense tied to marketing a product or service. 

However, due to resource pressures and for the sake of “efficiency” these are typically understaffed. This creates the long queue and waiting times that one gets when you try to call them. If your customers are waiting in a queue, queues can be a detriment to any form of selling.  In addition, this spoils the client’s experience and casts a shadow over the company. It is sad. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

IDEA: Treat your customer contact center as a REVENUE center!

Work with your marketing department and you will discover that they have challenges as well. They are often asked to develop new markets, new clients, find new insights by soliciting feedbacks from their clients. Isn’t this happening right now with your customer support center?

We have been in projects where call centers are paid to do outbound telemarketing. The way it works is for us to design effective call scripts and have them delivered by the most experienced (read:battle scarred, battle hardened) agents. We load a bunch of leads into our predictive dialer and let the campaign ‘rip”. These cold calls are to people that typically :

  1. Do not know the company. (Not yet anyway)
  2. Have no wish to buy anything from the company.
  3. Annoyed at being disturbed. We do not have their permission to engage them in a conversation.

Is it any wonder then, that even the best telemarketing campaigns have a success rate of less than 5% of all the numbers called? However, consider the calls that you are now receiving in your customer contact center. These callers typically :

  1. Already know about your company and your products and services.
  2. Already bought one or more of your products or services
  3. Have given you the permission to engage them in a conversation.

All that is needed here is a consistent program that helps your agents to REALLY help your clients. Put more resources to it. Reduce your queue. And once the client’s issue is resolved, they are typically more receptive to offers that will further improve their customer experience.

It is really about TIMING. Giving the up sell, revenue generating ‘suggestion’ to the client at the right time, along with a smile and a geniune concern, this little persuasion is very effective!

A case in point is the technical support section that gets clients whose laptops have been infected.

The upsell here maybe to offer an anti-virus solution to them AFTER the technical support team have shown them how to detect and remove virii from their laptop. This technical center sold more anti-virus programs than their marketing department did.

Steve Coscia, best selling author of two best selling call center books, TELE-Stress and Customer service Over the Phone has this to say:

“Your phone systems also represents your company’s culture. And what customers are experiencing when they’re going to your phone system, affects their perception of your organization.”

Think about it. I’d like to hear about how this article has helped you. Leave a comment okay?
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