Industry Standards Initiative

By Ray Shaw

In June 2004, then ATSI president Steve Diels chaired an ATSI strategic planning session in Vancouver, Canada. Out of that planning session came four initiatives that are of importance to the telemessaging industry. The topic of this article is an update on the Industry Standards initiative.

Mission: The mission of the ATSI Industry Standards Committee is to define and establish a core set of metrics that are universally accepted and adhered to by the vendors that support the industry. By developing this core set of metrics, ATSI members will be able to compete for contracts via a level playing field and utilize a consistent set of terminology when communicating across platforms and vendors.

While ATSI does not expect every product within a vendor’s portfolio to meet the standard metrics defined, the expectation is that new and emerging platforms will adhere to these definitions.

The nine metrics specified within these standards were compiled based upon Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that are being requested within common Request for Proposals (RFPs) targeted to our industry and from standard industry groups such as the Direct Marketing Association. The purpose and intent of the ATSI Industry Standards metrics is to “measure the caller’s experience.”

All major vendors that support our industry have been invited to participate in this certification process. Other interested vendors are encouraged to contact ATSI for more information.

Process: The ATSI Industry Standards Committee is charged with implementing the Industry Standards Program in multiple steps. The first step was to identify and define the key metrics paramount to the industry. By no means do these metrics represent the totality of the metrics that are used in the industry. However, they do represent the key metrics necessary for commonality within our industry.

The next phase the committee focused on was to define the certification process used to verify vendor conformance to these metrics. This phase required identifying the measurements necessary to accurately determine conformance to the nine metrics. The current phase is underway with the scheduling of the Vendor Certification testing to evaluate the equipment that they have enrolled in the program.

Metrics: The nine metrics defined for the ATSI Industry Standards Certification include:

1) Average Time to Answer (ATA)

2) Percentage of Calls Abandoned

3) Percentage of Calls Hanging Up During VM Prescreen Message

4) Average Time to Listen to a Mandatory Prescreening Message

5) Average Queue Hold Time (Incoming Calls Prior to Reaching an Agent)

6) Average Hold Time of Held Calls (Incoming Calls After Reaching an Agent) Including the Following Hold Time on Hold

7) Average Call Duration

8) Average Ring Time

9) Percentage of Calls Answered in X Seconds

Certification Process: The Industry Standards Committee has assembled a workbook (available upon request from the ATSI office) which describes the testing process and call scenarios that need to be configured for the ATSI Industry Standard testing. These five call scenarios enable an effective test environment to measure the nine basic metrics outlined in the ATSI Industry Standards.

Ongoing Process: To date, one vendor (Telescan) has completed the testing process, and others have indicated their interest but have not scheduled their testing. It is the hope of the committee that all industry vendors will follow suit and arrange for their own testing, so that by June 2008 all vendors will have had their platforms tested and certified.

I personally would like to thank Geri Cerkovnik of Startel, Dennis O’Hara from Associated Call Centers, and Allan Fromm of Anser Services for the hours of work they have devoted to this effort.

[From Connection Magazine Jul/Aug 2007]

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