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The 2012 Implementation Awards

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customer: Ceridian

vendor: Utopy

products: SpeechMiner, Intelligent Coaching

Ceridian is a global provider of payroll, tax filing, benefits, human resources, workforce management, and recruiting software and solutions. The Minneapolis company offers solutions to businesses in banking and insurance, law, government, and professional services.

Like most contact centers, Ceridian is constantly striving to improve its first call resolution (FCR) rate, as higher FCR rates mean lower call volumes and higher satisfaction. Ceridian measures FCR using its IVR system, which asks customers whether it is the first time they are calling about an issue. This method provided an accurate measurement of the FCR rate, but not the insight into what was driving it.

"Our contact center quality monitoring and analysis systems and processes were good at telling us when our FCR rate and other key performance indicators needed to get better, but they weren't very helpful in discovering how we could improve our performance," says Ceridian quality coach Pamela Cook. "Our existing analysis and processes and systems were simply unable to analyze enough of our calls in enough detail to discover macro-level issues in a reliable way."

Early in 2011, Ceridian decided to implement the phrase-driven speech analytics provided by Utopy SpeechMiner. Data from Ceridian's case tracking system was integrated into SpeechMiner's unified Data Mart to determine which customers were calling repeatedly. SpeechMiner's patented phrase-driven speech analytics engine identified repeat calls by recognizing when the customer or agent uttered any phrase that indicated it was not the first time the customer was calling about a particular issue.

SpeechMiner's direct phrase-recognition engine, which recognizes entire phrases within calls without first converting the calls into text or phonemes, delivers a complete method of call classification and categorization. This method automatically categorizes all calls by type in addition to any subtopics discussed during the call, while also classifying customer service skills and processes used by agents.

SpeechMiner's call categorization pinpointed which types of calls were generating the most callbacks for Ceridian.

By investigating those types of calls, SpeechMiner uncovered further commonalities within those specific types of calls, allowing Ceridian to discover the root cause of the repeat calls. In the same way, Ceridian was able to analyze which customers and agents have the lowest rates of FCR and discover the drivers of those rates for each customer and/or agent.

Ceridian learned it was lacking a standardized process for callbacks and follow-up, causing increased calls into Ceridian Customer Care and lowering FCR rates. Ceridian defined a new callback and follow-up process to ensure that agents all use the same method to recognize that a callback is necessary, gather the necessary information, set the proper customer expectations, and keep their commitments.

SpeechMiner automatically monitored each agent's adherence to this process on every call. Supervisors leveraged Utopy Intelligent Coaching to reinforce the importance of this process during agent coaching and self-learning sessions. Intelligent Coaching was able to deliver best practice call libraries to the agents with example calls on which the process was followed particularly well by the agent, along with any examples where the process could have been followed better, accompanied by specific recommendations from the supervisor for coaching or self-learning purposes. Coaching maximized the efficiency of the coaching and self-learning process and drastically increased the speed of performance improvement.

The programs were implemented in June 2011. The results were measured using responses to post-call customer surveys. The post-call customer survey asks customers, "How likely are you to call back on this issue?"

Ceridian initially implemented the process in a pilot group of two teams. When it compared the responses to this survey question from July, August, and September 2011 to the results from March, April, and May 2011, the percentage of customers saying that they were unlikely to call back increased by 30 percent in the pilot group and by 18 percent throughout Ceridian's entire customer care organization.

"Utopy SpeechMiner and Utopy Intelligent Coaching helped us significantly improve our (FCR) rate," Cook says. "However, the reality is that we've just [reached] the tip of the iceberg in terms of the opportunities for improvement speech analytics can help us discover."

the results:

  • Significantly improved overall FCR rate;
  • Customers unlikely to call back increased by30 percent in the pilot group; and
  • Customers unlikely to call back climbed 18 percent throughout Ceridian's entire customer care organization.

customer: US Airways

vendor: Nuance Communications

products: Nuance On Demand IVR platform and Nuance Vocalizer, a spoken output engine

US Airways, along with its US Airways Shuttle and US Airways Express, operates more than 3,200 flights per day to more than 200 cities in North, Central, and South America; Europe; and the Middle East. The fifth-largest U.S. airline, it serves approximately 80 million passengers each year.

As a result of various buyouts and mergers during the past few years, the 1,600 agents in its four contact centers in Reno, Nev., Phoenix, Winston-Salem, N.C., and Liverpool, England, were using multiple interactive voice response (IVR) systems. These systems had nine voices and a variety of cumbersome menus and offered almost no insight into the 18 million calls handled every year. Key performance indicators, like call containment, call deflection, and average hold time, were almost impossible to compile.

What's more, an agreement with the Airline Customer Service Employee Association to onshore all of its reservation agents by November 2011 was going to require US Airways to rein in contact center costs.

So, in December 2009, the airline issued a request for proposal for a new IVR. It eventually selected Nuance Communications as the vendor, and in July 2011, launched an IVR based on Nuance's On Demand hosted platform. The deployment was also part of a larger US Airways corporate rebranding effort aimed at improving market perception and strengthening customer loyalty.

One of the highlights of the IVR is natural language call steering, allowing callers to state what they're calling about in their own words. Other innovations include personalized call handling with proactive information delivery, automated collection of trip information, and a new voice—named Wally—using the Nuance Vocalizer speech synthesis engine.

The system also distinguishes itself by identifying callers who are members of the US Airways frequent flyer program, Dividend Miles, based on their phone numbers, and tailoring the interaction based on that information. The system can greet callers by name, pull up information about their next flights, and anticipate the reasons for their calls.

"The more we know about our customers, the more efficiently we can provide the assistance they need," says Kerry Hester, senior vice president of operations planning and support.

The switch took place over two days; the system was handling 100 percent of calls right away. A month later, when Hurricane Irene hit, the system saw a very dramatic spike in call volume in response to all of the flight delays and cancellations, but it performed flawlessly. In fact, an assessment of airline hold times by STELLAService found US Airways had the lowest times of the top 10 airlines.

Since then, more capabilities have been added, allowing customers to use the automated system to confirm itineraries and seat assignments.

US Airways has already noticed a 5 percent increase in call containment and a 2 percent to 3 percent decrease in call handling time, which, combined, have saved the airline about $3 million this year.

Prior to the deployment, US Airways turned to Cyara Solutions, a provider of solutions for simulating, testing, and monitoring IVR and contact center systems and applications, to ensure the successful upgrade of its systems. US Airways continues to use Cyara to test and simulate callers' experiences as they make new reservations, confirm or change flights, and access preferred member mileage support in both self- and assisted-service scenarios.

"Our partnership with Nuance has allowed US Airways to offer our callers an industry-leading IVR and CTI platform designed to deliver cost savings for the airline while improving our customers' experience," says Tim Lindemann, vice president of reservations and customer service planning at US Airways.

The application also comes with reporting and analytics tools that now give US Airways visibility into many key call center metrics, such as containment, transfers, and task completion.

Another benefit has been improved agent effectiveness. The system has cut the amount of time that customers spend on the phone with agents when making or changing reservations by asking tailored questions about their trips and then transferring that information to the agent via screen pop. This allows the callers' conversations with the agents to be significantly more effective and frees up the agents to handle more complex issues.

"By integrating [our understanding of our customers and their needs] with cutting-edge speech recognition technology, we are providing our customers with the convenient, quality care they have come to expect," Hester concludes.

the results:

  • A 5 percent increase in call containment;
  • A 2 percent to 3 percent decrease in call handling time; and
  • A savings of $3 million a year.

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