You are here: Rediff Home » India » Business » Special » Features
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

Machines to make sales pitch on phone soon
Rajesh S Kurup & Shivani Shinde in Mumbai
 · My Portfolio  · Live market report  · MF Selector  · Broker tips
Get Business updates:What's this?
August 14, 2007

Auto-diallers using the interactive voice response technology are replacing the method of sending SMSs to sell a product or a service.

Next time you answer the phone, chances are there won't be a caller at the other end, but a recorded message trying to sell a product or service. It doesn't expect an answer, but goads you to punch in a few keys in acceptance or simply hang up.

The technology used here is not new, these interactive voice response systems have been there for long time.

What is new is that the technology is being used for outbound calls, commonly called auto-diallers. This is contrary to the existing method of using technology to answer inbound calls and directing it to a call centre executive.

BPL Mobile, for instance, has installed an auto-dialer to sell ring tones, caller ringback tones and other services of the company. The automated voice is also used to remind defaulters of bill payment, inform users on new products and services, and even for balance enquiry among others.

"IVRs are cost-effective methods to sell a product or service, and it is not totally impersonal as there is a human voice at the other end to guide the customer. This is a faster method of sales, as the user can buy a product or service instantly by pressing a couple of keys," BPL CEO S Subramaniam told Business Standard.

This is slowly replacing the existing method of sending an SMS to sell a service or a product. The product is bringing in excellent results to the telecom operators, he added.

Other operators including Bharti Airtel [Get Quote], Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communications [Get Quote] and Tata Teleservices [Get Quote] are also installing outbound diallers. Mutual fund and insurance firms, banks (for selling loans and credit cards) and other service providers are increasingly using diallers now, doing away with call centre executives.

Avaya, director marketing, Amit Mehta says telecommunication firms are looking at increasing automation in customer services to 60 per cent from the present 40 per cent. Apart from English, diallers are now available in Hindi also and it would not take long for vernacular languages to be included.

This also makes economic sense, Mehta said, adding the cost per call for using IVR technology is just one-tenth compared with the salary of a call centre employee for the same call. Avaya is an IVR vendor and the company is already working with two service providers�Hutch and Reliance�for providing this technology.

Cisco Systems Business Development Manager (IP contact centre� India & SAARC) Johnson Varkey said: "Usage of IVRs and voice recognition technologies result in increased income for service providers, as they cut down operation costs substantially. This is of significant importance as average revenues per usage (ARPUs) of mobile operators are declining."

IVRs also come in handy when a company has to run a campaign or provide services to a large number of subscribers. For instance, when an operator wants to inform of a service to all its customers across the country.

Call centre executives can take heart, for these machines will not replace their jobs, said Vodafone Essar director marketing Harit Nagpal. Moreover, he qualifies, it will be used for selling products to mass clients, while executives will be contacting subscribers for selling high-end products and services.

Powered by

More Specials
 Email this Article      Print this Article

© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback