Expert Author Michael R. Burns
Traditional operator assisted conference calls have always involved a crew of operators that were needed to answer all of the incoming calls from the conferees to each conference call. This operation was very costly in labor expense and difficult to manage. Now, new technology has emerged that makes the operator assisted call much easier to handle and it cuts down labor costs significantly. It also makes the customer experience much better.
Prior to 1995, most traditional conference calls required operators to either dial out to the conferees or take incoming calls from the conferees, which would allow them to place the conferees into conference. With the advent of reservationless conferencing in the mid 90's, the operators were taken out of the equation and customers could place their own conference calls without ever having to speak to an operator, unless they had a problem.
Even though reservationless conferencing exploded and most everyone began using this form of conferencing, there was still a need for "high touch" operator assisted calls. Quarterly earnings conference calls from public companies, continuing education classroom calls, and "town hall" political forums all required the use of operators to place conferees into conference and to perform "Q&A" or polling sessions. The operators are also used to gather important information from the incoming conferees, such as name, company, email and phone number.
Around 2007, operator assisted conferencing started growing again. As these operator calls grew, labor costs increased and started growing again. As these calls became larger, i.e. 500 to 1500 parties, human error became more of a problem. Operators would make mistakes pronouncing conferee names. They would misspell names, enter wrong email and telephone numbers and place some of the people into the wrong conferences.
As these human errors grew, certain conference bridge providers started developing technology to solve these issues. Now, you can get operator assisted calls that minimize the amount of interaction with operators. The new technology allows for conferees to dial into the bridge, input their pin code and be placed automatically into the conference. A "voice capture" application allows the moderator of the call to program up to five questions that the conference bridge can gather automatically from each conferee. All of this information is then recorded and at the end of each call is emailed back to the moderator. Now, only one operator is needed to run the Q&A or do polling. This new approach reduces the costs of the conference call and the costs to the customer.
The operators that were used for these calls can now be deployed to other activities, such as assisting customers with their web conferences and webinars, becoming more involved in customer demos and helping with customer recordings.
As a customer, you now have new options for your operator assisted calls, ask your current provider for these high tech options and how you can reduce your costs on your operator conference calls.


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