Cab services, food ordering, among others were a voice-op­erated industry. But, now, cabs can be booked and food can be ordered on apps, Website and over a phone call. There are other services that can be done via Facebook and Twit­ter. As these new channels penetrate deeper into our lives, the depen­dence on voice will decrease and will be replaced by these new channels.

Customers nowadays reach out to brands through various channels such as voice, SMS, instant messag­ing, e-mail, social media, Web and video, instead of one channel – call centre – as earlier.

Customers can choose between various channels to get help and support from brands. To manage this customer reaching out from a pleth­ora of channels effectively, brands have been using multi-channel con­tact centre software, which integrates these multiple channels to enable them to provide customer service effectively and efficiently. A major­ity of brands whose target customer is the end customer use multichan­nel contact centre.

Sanjay Gupta, managing director, South Asia & Middle East, Aspect, which offers contact centre software to companies, calls the new equation between brands and customers a rela­tionship revolution. Because, earlier, businesses were deciding how they will be contacted. But, now, custom­ers are deciding how they will contact the service provider. And therefore, control has moved from businesses to consumer. “They will decide the identity of the channel and the time of the day they would like to contact the brands,” says Gupta.

The devices through which cus­tomers and citizens can reach out to companies are going beyond desk­top & mobile. Cisco has helped Kar­nataka police install kiosks from where FIR can be registered. Initially, a pilot project, it’s now being imple­mented state-wide. “We’ve to think about customers and their end cus­tomers as to what they might adapt to and what they might not,” says Daisy Chittilapilly, director, sales, ITS, Cisco India & SAARC.

Customers also expect that the brand identifies and knows the caller and they want that the conversation should be seamless, even if they shift between the channels. If you send an sms and then call the brand, the conversation is taken forward from where you left on the sms and is con­tinued on the call. “There is a con­textual handover from one channel to another channel,” says Gupta.

Beneficial for brands Another change in customer behaviour that is being witnessed today is preference for self-service. Earlier, there was call centre for everything. Now, there are a lot of self-service channels. “Automa­tion is a big thing we’re seeing in the industry. And because of that, now, agents are not a low-value worker,” says Chittilapilly. “All the low-value work will be automated.” Majority of customers call a call centre only for some expert advice, where the role of the call centre agent is that of a sub­ject-matter expert.

This trend is beneficial for brands as well, because the multi-channel contact centre is more cost-effec­tive, more automated and prone to less manual error than in an agent- led voice call centre. The indus­try is optimistic that, in the tiroes to come, volume of voice will defi­nitely come down.

Aspect has 200 customers in India, such as Max Bupa Healthcare, Asian Paints, Homeshopl8, Naaptol, and rbl Bank. It has been in India for more than a decade and today, India is its biggest R&D hubs globally. Lead­ing global players in the industry are Cisco, Aspect, Avaya, and Genesis. “Our CRM solution that is integrated with the contact centre telephony solution enables superior customer interaction,” says Vikrant Khanna chief operating officer, TV & online business, HomeShopl8.

Contact centre adoption has grown in India and today, a majority of the businesses that directly touch a consumer has a contact centre India’s contact centre market is an $85 million market and it is growing at a rate of 5-6 per cent CAGR. Going forward, due io the mobile and Inter­net revolution, dependence on voice is expected to come down, signifi­cantly reducing cost for brands. And there will be a rise in the use of other channels as well as self-service. If that happens, that could lead to large number of job cuts.

♦ RQHIT PANCHAL as a guest pf Aspect in Koctol [email protected]:


New measure


The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), the new set up to gauge television audience mea­surement system, is now functional in the country. A joint industry body set up in India in 2012 with the spe­cific purpose of designing, commis­sioning, supervising and owning India’s television audience measure­ment system, barc is a joint ven­ture bringing together the three key stakeholders in television audience measurement – broadcasters, adver­tisers and advertising & media agen­cies. Their respective apex bodies the Indian Broadcasting Foundation] (IBF), the Indian Society of Advertis­ers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI), represent the three industries. According to Partho Dasgupta, ceo, barc, the set­ting up of the system was to provide a cutting edge measurement system which will see the marriage of tech­nology and research.

That was one aspect. But the real reason behind the shift from TAM, the earlier audience measurement system, to BARC was after broadcast­ers complained of inaccuracies and anomalies in data provided by TAM Media Research. And this was going on for several years, many industry people charged. TAM measured indi­vidual viewership for 15 years, while BARC is capturing household-level data and the two are not comparable. “Besides, these are just one week’s rat­ings and it would be unfair to make a judgement based on these,” says a media buyer. According to previ­ously published estimates by media agency GroupM, ?16,525 crore worth of advertising on Indian TV channels in 2012 was decided on the basis of TAM numbers. Also, TAM has in the past been involved in a row with Indian broadcasters – both enter­tainment and news channels – over the agency’s data, which the chan­nels maintained was inaccurate and flawed. “The basic tenets of measure­ment were not being followed in how ratings were being reported. It’s not that capability is an issue, the peo­ple at TAM are quite capable,” says a media expert.

Mired in controversies BARC was formed after some broadcasters found that data provided by TAM Media Research in India, a 50:50 joint ven­ture between Nielsen (India) Pvt Ltd and Kantar Media Research, a unit of the London-based advertising com­pany WPP Pic, was inaccurate. News broadcaster NDTV had challenged the authenticity of the data in a New York court and claimed dam­ages. TAM was mired in controversies for a long time. It earned criticism for having too few people – around 10, 000 meters to measure television viewing in the country and did not cover the fact that over a quarter of the population focussed on regional channels.

BARC shortlisted five media research agencies to advise it on the technology required to put in place an accurate and reliable system. It
aimed at starting operations with at least 20,000 people meters to pro­vide a deeper measurement of televi­sion viewing habits in the country. The team at BARC has been organ­ising road shows with broadcasters and media agencies to explain the new ratings system. The exercise led some broadcasters to try out the new rating system as part of BARC’s pilot. BARC has broadcasters, advertisers and agencies as its equity stakehold­ers and thus, would get preference over TAM, which has been discarded.

Last year, when the guidelines approved by the Cabinet to govern the functioning of television rating agencies were spelt out, there were murmurings in the media industry that the new system may have the potential to disrupt the system of measuring TV viewership. But most industry representatives felt that in the long-term it would help bring in greater transparency and accuracy to the process of monitoring and rating broadcasters. The guidelines, then unveiled, prevented any single entity from having paid-up equity in excess of 10 per cent simultaneously in both a rating agency and a broadcaster, advertiser or advertising agency.

That requirement would auto­matically disqualify TAM. “But there is another possibility of TAM taking another form by becoming a third- party member in the compilation of TRP (television rating point) data from the logistics side of things,” comments an industry expert.

At the time the government also gave 30 days to the parties to comply with the change. Any non-compli­ance would lead to forfeiture of two bank guarantees worth ?1 crore fur­nished by the company in the first
instance. If the requirement is found not to be met again, the registration of the agency would be cancelled.

According to Apar Gupta, a law­yer who works on media issues, the nature of guidelines was such that it may lead to litigation in the future aimed at preserving the position of rating agencies.”The guidelines limit the cross-holding of media entities in rating agencies to not more than 10 per cent. Given this, and the pres­ent ownership structure of the rating agency, there is a likelihood of litiga­tion, whereby the guidelines may be challenged,” he says.

However, it is just the beginning for BARC and much has to be seen. Paritosh Joshi, a member of the tech­nical committee of BARC, says the company will start gathering data from 20,000 homes in the next six months. According to him, some

  • meters have been installed. These will start collecting data in the next few weeks. Dasgupta has announced the launch of the view­ership study that currently covers only urban areas with a population of 100,000-plus.

However, the data has been col­lated from 12,000 people meters in homes against the 20,000 promised at the time. “The system should be allowed time,” he says. He also said comparisons should not be made between old data from TAM and the new data from BARC. “There are dif­ferent ways of computing them and even the establishment study is dif­ferent. BARC follows a new consumer classification system.” In the near future, BARC will start measuring towns with a population of under

  • and rural markets.


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