Guest Blog: “Technology Delivers Austar Customers to Destination”
As Chief Information Officer for Austar United Communications for the last 10 years, I’ve been working hard to ensure that we evolve our systems to support future customer service strategies and achieve the best return from our technology investments. AUSTAR is a leading subscription television provider in Australia, offering digital satellite services to customers in regional and rural areas. 740,000 customers, or 2.7 million Australians, receive our product and we serve around one-third of Australia’s total homes. Great customer service is very important to us and a key differentiator for our company, and collaboration from our suppliers is critical to achieving superior results.
AUSTAR recently had some great results using Cisco call centre telephony technology, including reduced costs, increased customer intimacy, improved call center agent productivity, and most importantly laying the technology foundations for next generation of customer service strategies, such as web chat, work from home, attribute routing, email & live video.
We built a homogenous platform ensuring our call center technology is both reliable and scalable and in turn reduced overall costs, saving over $1 million and achieving a five to ten per cent reduction in average handle time. Thanks to that platform we now have improved reliability allowing for easier deployment of our technology to our partners in remote locations and greater flexibility. We are now able to increase customer intimacy by delivering our customers to agents with the right skill set when they place calls. This in turn improves call center agent productivity, giving agents much deeper insight into our customers. We’re deploying the next generation of customer facing services providing customers an improved experience and more options on how they transact with us.
Three years ago, we were handling over two million calls using a mix of traditional TDM based products from a range of vendors all integrated together to create our telephony platform but it was becoming difficult to scale and maintain reliability. Upgrading to Cisco technology allowed us to create a homogeneous and reliable platform. We used a phased approach, implementing a full swap out of our technologies with zero down time to our business and came out on budget. As a result of the new platform, more customer calls are dealt with on a one-time basis rather than over several calls at different times.
Now, 200+ agents handle up to 1000 calls per hour, or 2.4m calls a year. A one-off pay per view or On-Demand movie event requires dynamic scalability. For example, during popular Championship Fight pay per view events we receive up to 5000 calls an hour – a 500% increase, and we experience transactional spikes such as these every week or so as new Box Office movies are released to our On Demand movie service. It was very difficult to design for such dynamic scalability and historically we experienced significant challenges implementing increased capacity into the platform due to the multi vendor integrated approach that we were working with. Our Cisco platform now provides simple and reliable scalability and delivers excellent overall platform reliability.
As customers change their viewing habits and consume content in different ways – be it on-demand, on the move, over the web or via subscription – we are going to need to understand even more about their behavior, what they are consuming, how they consume it and then provide contact and transaction strategies aligned with their expectations. Thanks to Cisco, we are now better able to understand our customers’ behavior, preferred methods of contact and more effectively communicate with them via their preferred method.