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In the European contact centre industry, high quality customer service and information is crucial, and as a result many businesses are moving contact centre activity to local outsourced providers. Traditionally, offshore outsourcing (e.g. India) is cheaper, but many companies are convinced that this is a necessary tactic to maintain quality. This cost/quality gap has shaped the proposition of ICON Communication Centres, a UK contact centre provider operating from Prague, Czech Republic.
ICON's remit is to provide the perceived quality of onshore and low cost of offshore providers, as well as flexibility for any changes within the industry, technology and the customer's requirements for any campaign or project. This 'nearshore' model has propelled ICON over a four-year period to over 220 active agent seats in two contact centres handling a total of approximately 1,571,000 calls (70% outbound, 30% inbound). With customers from all over the world in a variety of industries, including telecommunications and finance, ICON provides almost any language requirement and boasts an agent base of approximately 30 nationalities, many of which are bilingual.
Managing Director of ICON, Helen Hickin, explains, "When ICON was looking for a location for its first centre we could not justify paying UK prices, whilst offshore locations such as India compromised our commitment to quality communications due to cultural misalignment. Prague's location within Europe and its diverse, multi-cultural society were perfect. The demand for global communications has also grown, so we had to ensure we were meeting linguistic or cultural requirements for any campaign. Operating out of Prague has also enabled us to price our services 20%-30% lower than the UK industry average."
ICON required technology to run the contact centre that would evolve and move with the business and adapt to the ever-changing environment of the industry. Explains Hickin, "Every contact centre requires a solid platform from which to operate - this is an essential backbone to operations. In addition we needed to be confident that agents could handle calls without having to worry about the technology, ensuring that it was easy to use and reliable."
ICON chose Noetica's Business Process Management module from the Synthesys™ software framework on a monthly license rental basis, to use on its VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) platform and combined predictive dialler.
"We wanted a solution that would support multiple languages and provide comprehensive reporting, for review and our customers," says Hickin. "Most importantly, the system had to grow with the business and be flexible enough to 'future proof' our activities and adapt to any campaign."
Using a visual drag-and-drop interface, the Synthesys Business Process Manager enables ICON's contact centre manager to quickly set up, implement, amend and refine business processes at the agent interface using non IT staff and without any downtime. It negates the need for ICON's agents to consult other sources by presenting all the information needed on screen. As a result, ICON's training times are reduced, call durations are minimised and higher quality data is captured. Detailed reporting ensures that ICON is able to identify where improvements can be made, such as measuring the amount of 'drop out' calls (less than ten seconds in duration) and ultimately improving the call flow to reduce these, in a matter of minutes and without downtime.
Says Hickin, "We find that as and when campaigns evolve, Noetica Synthesys Business Process Manager changes with them with little effort on our part. We can adapt to and cater for changes without affecting operations, as well as building more effective call flows over time to enhance agent performance."
Noetica's support team worked closely with ICON to resolve problems caused by the VoIP platform, as Hickin explains, "Changes to campaigns were sluggish, agent idle time increased and the system was so unstable it would shut down frequently. With a recommendation from Noetica, we approached Avaya, its recognised supplier and a partner. Coupled with our strong relationship with Noetica, who supported the installation, we were well on our way to building an even better technology backbone."
ICON purchased Avaya's MultiVantage Communication Manager call processing and management software, choosing to employ traditional telephony after its experience, but still enabling a return to VoIP if required. ICON also purchased the 200 licenses for the Noetica Synthesys software framework and upgraded the original predictive dialler to Noetica's Script Aware Predictive Dialler.
As ICON continues to expand, it performs intense outbound campaigning more frequently, supported by the Noetica Script Aware Predictive Dialler, which limits ICON's silent call rates in compliance with industry regulations, whilst maintaining high performance and high agent engagement. Both Noetica Synthesys software framework modules integrate seamlessly with Avaya MultiVantage Communication Manager, providing an open, scalable and highly reliable telephony solution and a robust platform for ICON's network.
"Noetica is one of the most support-focused suppliers I've come across since I've been working in the industry. Even though the problems with the original platform was not to do with its software it stepped up and actively went out of its way to help resolve the situation," says Hickin.
Barely four years after opening the Prague contact centre, ICON launched its second in Brno, Czech Republic. Noetica installed the Synthesys Business Process Manager and Script Aware Predictive Dialler for 20 seats (with an aim to reach 150) at the centre, again integrating with Avaya MultiVantage Communication Manager.
"Noetica Synthesys Business Process Manager and the Script Aware Predictive Dialler has facilitated ICON's expansion from the first call to the opening of our second contact centre; enabled us to confidently pursue new business; acclimatise to all required contact centre disciplines and also strengthened our contingency strategy," Hickin adds.
Hickin continues, "I have every confidence we have chosen the right supplier. Noetica has enabled ICON to plan for the future through the Synthesys software framework, because it organically evolves with the business as it goes forward - enabling us to maximise efficiencies where they need to be maximised in the contact centre."
Maximising efficiencies at the contact centre in Prague has also benefited the industry in the region, as Hickin explains, "At the time of ICON's inception, the Czech Republic was not part of the EU nor a Contact Centre Association endorsed country. As the country's first and leading contact centre, ICON has helped to change the latter, ensuring the country is included in industry reports."