Tech that enhances human connection
Originally published in the Australian Financial Review 15 October 2021
One unexpected side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an improved and more personal experience for many Australians in their dealings with the call centres of some big corporations.
These changes might have gone unnoticed by most of us, but the higher likelihood of connecting with an Australian voice on the other end of the line, and a streamlined path through hearing the dreaded ‘terms and conditions when you sign up for a product or service, can make a big difference, especially when so many of us have previously had negative call centre experiences. An innovative product developed by Australian company TSAGroup is the key to this quiet transformation.
TSA Group is Australia’s leading privately owned contact centre, with almost 25 years’ experience providing customer services for some of the country’s biggest brands.
Chief executive Luke Kenny says the company’s groundbreaking product, Cerebro, is all about making call centre contact a quicker, more effective and more pleasant process for customers. It takes the mundane, “less human” parts of customer engagement – specifically the need to recite a lengthy terms and conditions spiel – and uses text to speech technology to automate it in a script that is tailored specifically for each individual product. This ensures consistency and accuracy, removing the risk of human error or omission.
“Our frontline contact centre team members work across a range of client systems, which means that piecing together T&C scripting can be a difficult and often confusing task, for agent and customer,” Kenny says.
“This created confusion and inconsistencies in outcomes, which negatively impacted customer comprehension of critical product details, resulting in complaints and post-purchase customer queries, and negatively affected our team members through stress and increased handling time with customers.”
Using Cerebro, Kenny says the average time to serve each customer has been reduced by seven minutes, with a 19 per cent reduction specifically in the time needed to read the T&C script. Feedback from customers suggests between 50 per cent and 200 per cent improvement in their
comprehension of the critical T&C information.
Team members also report significantly improved satisfaction with the process. “We estimate that Cerebro has saved our clients and their customers over 46,000 hours to date,” Kenny says. “It enables our frontline teams to really focus on building meaningful relationships with customers.
“When you boil it all down, we’re in the business of human connection, and the pandemic has proven just how precious that is. As our world has shrunk dramatically, for some of us down to just the four walls we live in, having those moments of human connection are more important than ever before.”
Cerebro is a project that has been coming for some time, but COVID-19 gave it fresh impetus. “As contact centre experts, we identified early on that due to the impacts of COVID-19 and changes in customer experience expectations, brands have been increasingly interested in repatriating their contact centre operations back to Australia,” Kenny says. But this process was complicated by the very factor that took many corporations offshore in the first place – the high cost of labour in Australia, which Kenny estimates can be three to four times that in popular call centre host countries such as the Philippines.
“We recognised that this repatriation push would drive a need for innovation focused on improving productivity to close that labour cost gap,” he says.
For TSA, innovation is about working with clients to solve problems and streamline processes in practical ways. This involves designing solutions specific to a client’s needs.
There is probably no better example than the company’s foundation client, a major national corporation for which TSA has provided various services for almost 25 years. “We’ve grown together over the journey,” Kenny says. “And it means a lot that they’re still with us.
“We consider ourselves to have a unique advantage when it comes to identifying opportunities for innovation, because we are at the coalface of service delivery for our clients every day, and so we have direct access to brilliant insights from our teams and the customers we serve.
“Despite there being much hype in the industry about ‘digital transformation and disruption’, the truth is there remains a significant amount of legacy process and procedure that is ripe for a simple and elegant approach to innovation like ours. We’re very comfortable owning this space
for our clients.
“Our Innovation Lab team in Melbourne work directly with our clients’ internal product and service teams.We act as an extension of their business, and because we’re a really responsive and flexible partner, many of our clients use us as their technology and innovation sandbox to help
them leapfrog complex internal resourcing and prioritisation challenges.”
In the end for TSA Group, it all comes back to valuing human relationships. “In our view there is no technology in the world that can replace the magic of human connection,” Kenny says. “The role that technology can play is automating those parts of our interactions that detract from the relationship and rapport, and that’s what Cerebro does.”
TSA are Australia’s market leading specialists in CX consultancy and services. We are passionate about revolutionising the way brands connect with Australians. How? By combining our local expertise with the most sophisticated customer experience technology on earth, and delivering with an expert team of customer service consultants who know exactly how to help brands care for their customers.