Colour-coded conversations with customers to deliver profits
Innovation finalist Econiq’s software helps call centre staff structure client interactions
Elaine Houlihan and Econiq founder and chief executive Jim Callan.
The Conversation Hub from Econiq is the answer to the prayers of many hard-pressed contact centre agents. The solution sits on top of existing software systems and guides agents through conversations in a series of steps to help them achieve the best outcome for the customer and themselves.
The agent is guided through the conversation by prompts on the screen in front of them but overlaying those verbal signals is a colour guide which appears at the top of the screen.
“We have created a colour guide to represent a naturally flowing conversation”, says Jim Callan, founder and chief executive of Econiq. “It goes from blue, which is where the tone is set, through red, which is the compliance phase, to green, where the agent engages in deep listening to understand the customer’s needs, and then on to purple, where a relationship is built and value is created.”
That ultimate value creation can take the form of offering a customer a solution to an issue they may be having or selling them a new product or service which meets their precise needs. Every organisation wants their conversations to finish in the purple zone and the Econiq Conversation Hub helps the achieve that goal.
The origins of the Conversation Hub date back many years, according to Callan. “We had another business back in the 1990s and 2000s providing enterprise software solutions to customers. We saw that a lot of businesses were still having difficulty having conversations with their customer despite having the technology on their desktops to help them.
“I suppose we travelled a fairly unusual route to get to where we are now,” he continues. “We had to throw off the shackles of being an old technology company and focus on what people are saying rather than what they are doing. We set about building something completely different from a technology perspective.”
He describes this a taking a human perspective. “We introduced colour to it. All organisations are going digital but they are still having a lot of high-value conversations.”
Contact centres are struggling with customer demand, however. “Our system helps under-pressure contact centre staff,” says Callan. “Staff retention is an issue for contact centres and our system assists with that. We are solving a 30-year-old problem. We are unifying the different systems on the desktop into a simple colour guide that glides across the top of the screen.”
But that’s not all. “Where the magic comes is after the conversations. The system generates colour pictures of the conversations. Operations managers can look at them and see how individual conversations went, how long was spent in each colour zone and so on. This can drive improvements across the whole business. The colour snapshots can be used to improve customer experience while the front-line agent feels more supported as well.”
The solution is tailored to the specific needs of each customer. “It’s incredibly fast to deploy,” Callan says. “We are able to get it up and running on top of existing systems within six weeks. The biggest compliment we have got for the system so far is from an agent who said it helps make them seem more intelligent than they are. We don’t see ourselves as a technology company, we are more of a consultancy business which utilises technology.”
The market response to the Conversation Hub has been very positive. “Business is very good. While everyone is investing in digital their customers still want to speak to people. One of the great ironies is that the millennial generation actually want to speak to people more than the previous generation. There is still a role for humans in customer interaction and there is a lot of interest in what we are doing.”