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Meet the blended call centre

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The risk of using and outsourced contact centre is having agents idle during periods of low demand – resulting in a loss of revenue. The solution however is a bended approach where a company has operators operating in an inbound and outbound approach.

The risk of having an outsourced contact centre is having agents idle during periods of low demand. Every second that employees are sitting around waiting for a customer to get in touch means the loss of revenue. So how does a contact centre address this challenge in order to keep productivity high and maximise on profitability?

“A blended contact centre which operates as both an inbound and outbound contact centre is the answer,” explains Henry McCracken Regional Sales Director for Aspect Software. “This enables the dynamic workflow management so that skilled agents are always either making or receiving calls depending on the requirements at any given moment,” he adds.

In order to achieve this, a blended contact centre strategy needs to understand where opportunities lie for creating time and ensuring that employees are always in the right position at the right times. This is essential in creating a positive customer experience. There needs to be a balance to ensure that when there is a large number of agents making outbound calls that there is not a sudden influx of inbound calls.

“Predictive analytics is a solution that can play a major role in reducing the likelihood of an imbalance. It also helps to recognise when the organisation is expected to be at its busiest and when there will be periods of ‘dead time’ that needs to be filled. It is however important to keep in mind that having an effective blended contact centre goes beyond front-line agents. It is therefore essential that monitoring and planning incorporates back-office functionalities, as this is often where bottlenecks arise impacting performance,” he continues.

Wasted time is a major problem for outsourced contact centres. “Customers become frustrated when their issue is not resolved on the first interaction. This frustration grows when they are passed around to a number of agents until they eventually reach the most appropriate person to assist them. This is equally as frustrating for the contact centre as they need to devote and allocate more resources than necessary to a single call,” he says.

A self-service offering and a strong omni-channel is key in addressing time inefficiency. This is not only beneficial for the contact centre but it also appeals to the growing number of younger customers who are dependent on services such as social media, text and mobile. Encouraging the use of self-service reduces the pressure on contact centre agents, freeing them up for other activities.

Intelligent use of planning and workforce management tools is particularly valuable to outsourcers, as this allows contact centres to offer their clients a wider range of value-added services which in turn improves customer satisfaction and boosts productivity. Blending back office activities with front-line activities ensures that agents gain a good insight into the customer’s circumstances and current situation which helps them to resolve queries effectively and faster.

“Whilst this not only increases customer satisfaction, it also develops staff morale as employees that have the right information are likely to be more confident within their roles. In turn this leads to higher productivity and employees that are able to perform a much wider range of activities which is critical if a blended contact centre strategy is going to be successful,” says McCracken.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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