Teletech unworried by Aust threat

Call centre operator Teletech says it's not troubled by the prospect of an Australian competitor establishing an operation here.

Call centre operator Teletech says it’s not troubled by the prospect of an Australian competitor establishing an operation here.

Stellar Call Centres, which is 50% owned by Telstra, hinted at its New Zealand ambitions last week. Sydney-based business development manager Richard Mann, an Avaya customer roped in to speak at the Auckland launch of new call centre products, says the company is looking at expanding to New Zealand.

Mann will begin a serious search for customers this week, needing just one to justify establishing a 100-plus facility.

“We put in a major bid for a government department contract last year but missed out because we didn’t have a presence there,” Mann says.

Stellar operates seven Australian centres, each with about 150 staff, under a charter of “serving the Asia-Pacific”. Mann says the company uses Avaya’s Definity PBX as its core platform.

Auckland-based Teletech is another Avaya customer and business development director Wayne Tollemache says its use of Avaya’s multimedia products gives it confidence that it can withstand the challenge of a new competitor.

“It’s not something we’ll lose sleep over,” says Tollemache. “We have a long history in New Zealand, have leading-edge technology and solid customers.” They include ISP Xtra, The Interisland Line and Meridian Energy.

Tollemache says while Teletech doesn’t use the “full Avaya kitbag”, its customers are already deploying multimedia methods of coping with callers’ requests.

“The phone is still the main contact method and email is the second cab off the rank,” Tollemache says.

The tantalising prospect of clicking a button on a website to initiate a voice call remains just that — a prospect.

“I’m not aware of any [call centre operators] talking over the internet.”

Technology’s leading edge for Teletech is use of speech recognition systems, which are sufficiently advanced to recognise different dialects. Tollemache says the company has a project in progress with one of its customers — he wouldn’t say which — for “relatively simple requests” for information. The key to keeping callers happy is offering them a variety of ways of getting the information they’re after, he says.

Sydney-based analyst Michael Barnes, another speaker at the Avaya event, endorses Teletech’s approach. Barnes, of Meta Group, says call centres — or customer interaction centres — have increased in value as eCRM (customer relationship management) has lost currency.

“ECRM is dead, long live CIC,” Barnes says, adding that no single customer communication channel is adequate.

“Customers want multiple channels.”

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