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Friday, 28 October 2011 16:27

Amdocs' tools to help telcos lift their customer service game

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Amdocs has launched a new suite of products to enable telco customer service reps to better respond to customer queries, in particular to the deluge of enquiries generated to a large extent by the proliferation of smartphones. It would fit very well with Telstra CEO David Thodey's mantra of focussing on the customer.

According to Amdocs: "Amdocs Customer Management 8.1 provides a simplified and intuitive user interface (UI) for CSRs in contact centres and retail stores (including tablet support); better tools for handling the growing volume of smartphone-related support calls; and process automation for faster order taking."

The company claims to already have several wins from service providers across North America, Europe and Asia. Yossi Zohar, head of product marketing, for Amdocs Customer Management division, told ExchangeDaily: "We are working with a major customer in Australia on selling this. They have other components of Amdocs, but not Customer Management. So for us it would be a new deployment."

Telstra is already a major Amdocs customer. In 2006 as part of then CEO Sol Trujillo's much vaunted 'transformation' of Telstra Amdocs was awarded a multi-year, multimillion dollar OSS contract. More recently, in July 2010, Telstra subsidiary Sensis signed a new six-year contract with Amdocs for the support and development of its customer relationship management, production and provisioning platform and other associated IT managed services. And in November 2009 Amdocs revealed that Telstra had deployed the Amdocs ChangingWorlds personalisation technology to support its BigPond Mobile portal.

Zohar told ExchangeDaily that CM 8.1 was designed to address the growing burden of customer support. "Customers gravitate to assisted channels whether it is a store or a call centre, because they want to ask questions, make sure they are making the right decision. On the support side it is because they are frustrated, seeing something they do not expect. They don't care about looking for answers on the web.

"It is getting worse because there are more and more smartphones and they are injecting more complexity. So there is an impact on customer satisfaction and or the business. All this calls for a new look at how we make the lives of these sales and support people easier - putting the burden on the system instead of on the people. This is why we are coming out with customer management 8.1. The focus is on improving the efficiency of the agent."

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The problem is particularly acute with smartphones. Amdocs cites Research by Gartner undertaken earlier this year, which found that calling customer service was the preferred option for around 30 percent of people having problems with their smartphone, or other digital device, well ahead of asking friends or family (15 percent), visiting a retail store (12 percent) and reading the instructions (10 percent). And, according to Amdocs, the cost of supporting a smartphone can be as much as 50 percent above the cost for a featurephone.

Adding to the burden on telco call centres is the fact that, thanks to the inefficiency of many other service channels it is often the channel of last resort for a whole host of customer problems. Citing a variety of surveys, Amdocs claims service activations that are supposed to be done in-store by the retailer require contact centre assistance in 40 percent of cases and, worst of all, one US pay TV operator reported that cryptic bills resulted in 100 percent of recipients phoning the call centre.

According to Amdocs CM 8.1 can deliver Up to 20 percent reduction in average handling time for device-related calls; up to 30 percent increase in first call resolution of device-related calls; up to 40 percent cost reduction of non-faulty device returns. Zohar said these figures were "based on our estimates and our work with customers."

The system, Amdocs Customer Management 8.1 has a number of discrete modules: Amdocs Customer Interaction Manager 8.1 provides a unified agent desktop with single sign-on for all interactions and applications. Amdocs Ordering 8.1 simplifies the process of taking orders for new customer services and activating those on the underlying systems.

Simplified smartphone support
Amdocs Device Care 8.1, presently available only for mobile devices, is designed to interface to the device management systems of multiple cellphone vendors and, so far as possible, present the operator with an interface harmonised across different device types through which they can monitor and, if necessary, configure a customer's device. According to Amdocs it "Empowers level 1 customer service representatives to diagnose and troubleshoot smart phone support inquiries through actionable insight and visibility into device details."

Amdocs Retail Interaction Manager 8.1 is for use in telcos retail stores. It is designed to run on tablets because, according to Zohar "We believe reps in the store need to be mobile." He added: "US Cellular the sixth largest operator in the US, particular wanted to adopt the Retail Manager because they see their retail stores as one of their key differentiators."

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