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Call centres must go digital

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Customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation for the digital consumer, and the only way for contact centres to rise to this challenge is through transformation, says DEON SCHEEPERS.

The digital revolution cannot be ignored: digital technology is impacting everything, including the contact centre.

Global research shows that digital is impacting every facet of life and work. The next generation of digital consumer – Gen D – is emerging fast, with new demands and expectations of what organisations can deliver and how they will engage with consumers. Digital encompasses more than just mobile, social media, big data and cloud. IDC says although digital is all these things, we also need to be aware of new technologies that are starting to emerge: the next generation of security, IoT, augmentation, artificial intelligence, robotics and more.

Research indicates that by the end of 2017, two thirds of CEOs at Global 2000 enterprises will have digital transformation strategies in place, and the key focus in this transformation will be cloud.

Cloud computing is growing exponentially: at Interactive Intelligence alone, it makes up 60% of our revenue and it is growing fast. Gartner research shows a key reason for this is that it gives organisations agility and flexibility as well as cost savings: cloud will give access to the latest and greatest digital tools without costing millions.

However, contact centres have been slow to move to digital transformation. In fact, the Dimension Data 2015 Contact Centre Benchmark Report shows we are going backwards when we talk about customer service. The report says digital interaction will overtake traditional voice interaction by the end of 2016. Social media is the first choice for interaction in millennials but 57% of contact centres have no social media capabilities. The game is changing. The contact centre of the future must become the action hub of engagement, but 40% of contact centres have no analytics capability.

It raises the question: How will you engage with the customer if you don’t know who they are? All these new channels are being thrown at you and you need to be able to use them to communicate. The single view of the customer is still key, but only 20% of organisations achieve a 360-degree view of the customer, because it is becoming more complex.

In the social media space, a lack of digital strategy is causing a divide to grow between customers and organisations. Customers are using their digital toys, but the organisations don’t understand these new channels half the time; or they don’t have budgets to enable effective omni-channel engagement.  When there’s a disconnect between customers and your organisation, what happens to customer experience?

Customers are changing – they have a lot more of the power, they expect access to information, they want control. They expect digital self-service, social media and mobile engagement.  Consumers expect to interface on any channel and hop between channels. Organisations must transform to meet these expectations. While most companies say customer experience is important to them, few actually get it right and most are not ready to meet the expectations of Gen D.

It’s time for the contact centre industry to focus on digital transformation that enhances operations and the customer experience. In line with this, it is crucial to understand the customer, making sure all the right the touchpoints are in place and all processes are effectively automated. Organisations must design the customer experience from the outside in, understanding the customer journey and rearchitect their systems and operations accordingly.

* By Deon Scheepers, Manager, Sales Operations at Interactive Intelligence South Africa

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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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