Cell C has automated 60% of the calls put through to its call centre agents and consequently reduced customers' average call length from three minutes to one.

This follows the company's purchase of a multimillion rand IVR (interactive voice response) system from Intelleca.
The majority of calls – simple, common customer queries – can be resolved via the new automated system which guides them quickly through various options.
Cell C's existing IVR equipment had reached the end of its lifespan in 2007. The company went to tender for a replacement system for its Midrand and KwaZulu-Natal-based call centres.
"We wanted to give our subscribers a far better IVR customer experience," says Deborah Aspoas, Cell C contact centre systems manager. "Our existing platform had become dysfunctional and as a consequence calls were being routed directly to live agents, rather than first to the IVR system. In addition, the system catered solely for English speakers. It was also inflexible and difficult to change. Menus were replicated on our automatic call distributor (ACD). In every sense our IVR had become a costly auto attendant."
Intelleca won the contract in part due to its track record in similar customer situations and an innovative approach which has made it South Africa's fastest growing call centre specialist.
Intelleca applied the same technology in use at MultiChoice, ACSA, SAA and Discovery Health – the Genesys VoiceGenie VoiceXML Media Gateway. The solution is able to interpret human speech and guide subscribers to the service of their choice without human intervention. Callers are, however, able to break out to a live agent at any time.
It results in far fewer calls being put through to live agents and to rapid call resolution. This has allowed Cell C to offer more services through its "140" call centre without increasing staffing levels.
The ACD automatically detects whether a caller is prepaid or contract, enabling Cell C to give callers the right customer experience. Customers who need answers to frequently asked questions are now routed to pre-recordings in four languages on the "147" service, with around 20 000 calls a day being serviced.
The three main "140" services that were automated were over-the-air requests for MMS/GPRS settings, for prepaid customers to reset vouchers that they have blocked by entering the incorrect voucher numbers, and PUK requests. Over 61% of callers dialling the call centre achieve their desired outcome – Cell C had set a target of 50%.
The company brand was extended through the use of the familiar husky Cell C female voice in English, and dedicated voice artists for other languages. Recordings and post-production of four languages were conducted at Intelleca's iStudio, with 850 prompts recorded in English and around 570 each in Afrikaans, isiZulu and Sesotho. The recordings were guided by the call flows and dialogue designed by the Intelleca project team.
"This is an important aspect," says Darryl Marcus, business development manager at Intelleca. "Cell C had underperforming IVRs, in part due to inefficient call flows. By redesigning the call flows, we were able to improve the customer experience."
The MIS/reporting aspect of VoiceGenie was also invaluable to Cell C, as it enabled the company to gain insight into caller patterns and performance in each of the call centres.