Today I attended the morning sessions of the Voice Leadership Forum here in Wellington. You see, I am one that believes most help desk/customer services provide an awful experience. I would put the IRD and American Express in the "ok, these are not bad" basket.
Anyway, the main reason I decided to accept the invite was to see what companies are doing to overcome this problem. And the forum was a good place to see the other side.
I found out about the IRD experience with speech recognition, voice print identification and queue management. This was a big surprise. I knew about their experience with speech recognition, but voice print identification? Wow, that's cool, and it seems to work. The IRD wants (and here is a big ask) to have 800,000 customers (that's us, New Zealand citizens and residents) enrolled in the program. Forget about "what's date of birth, your mother's maiden name, address, last known dog's name" security questions.
I also heard from BNZ, the Newcastle Permanent Building Society, and TelstraClear.
TelstraClear was one of the main sponsors, with Salmat. And interestingly enough, while most of its customers I have talked to dread calling their call centre, the company is still one of the big providers of knowledge in this area - it seems almost every company in the forum had interacted with TelstraClear being a provider in this area. The presentation (just before lunch and therefore short of some details), gave the audience an idea of a framework to identify problems in call centres, as well as the stages where each company can be positioned when it comes to the deployment of solutions, technical or otherwise.
I wonder though (and I didn't want to ask this in the forum), in which stage TelstraClear see themselves?
After a couple of years where Vodafone New Zealand was the only official mobile operator carrying the Apple iPhone handset around here, Telecom New Zealand is now preparing to start selling the smartphone as well.
This comes after a week of speculation - from new configuration settings present on iOS 5, to a web page with a link to an iPhone page that soon disappeared earlier this week. The confirmation came soon after, and today I received this:
Who's going to be Telecom's first?
From 12:01 AM on Friday, November 11, our customers will be able to purchase the iPhone 4S from our Telecom concept stores in central Auckland (167 Victoria St West) and central Wellington (42 Willis St).
We'll also be open at that time in Christchurch (Moorhouse Ave) and Dunedin (101 George Street). The iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS will be available from all our other stores from 9:00 AM that day.
If you're one of the dedicated who plan to buy at 12:01, we've got a few things planned to make your wait as cosy as possible. Each store will have entertainment, food and drinks - free for those who register on the day, at the store to buy an iPhone.
In central Auckland (167 Victoria St West) we're holding a pre-launch event for customers who are purchasing an iPhone with live entertainment by People of Paris and Josh Leys, food and drink, and special guest Dan Carter who will help entertain customers in the lead up to midnight. Dan will hand over the very first iPhone purchased from Telecom to the lucky customer!
Excited? Registrations begin from 6pm and entertainment starts at 7pm. Head to the Telecom Building, Central Auckland (167 Victoria St West), L2 Conference Centre.
For more information on pricing and plans for iPhone on Telecom XT visit www.telecom.co.nz/iPhone
It looks like they want to make a splash. And the prices are not too bad:
Are you getting one? From Telecom New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand, parallel imported or directly from Apple?
I just got word the top 25 New Zealand teams have been selected for Microsoft NZ Imagine Cup 2012. More importantly, Microsoft is looking for industry mentors, who will work with team to guide them and share their industry experience.
The Microsoft Imagine Cup is a global student technology competition that encourages students to tackle the toughest problems facing the world today while applying the latest technologies and networking with the IT industry. More than 350,000 university students from 100 countries competed in 2011, and we are recruiting for New Zealand teams for the 2012 competition!
Once again, we are looking for Industry Mentors to work with student teams by guiding them and sharing valuable industry experience. In return, as a Mentor, you get to identify and work with the best young and up-and-coming IT talent in NZ. Industry Mentors also benefit from gaining positive exposure with their contribution to students, IT industry and wider community.
Industry Mentors Positions Available
It's funny when someone with complete lack of understanding of how technology works goes around saying these things. It's not funny when it's someone in a government position.
Here is an example of how messed up things are with browsers. We all complain about Flash, from sometimes being resource angry, to having lots of vulnerabilities.
A lot of people also keep saying how great Google Chrome is. And Google Chrome comes with its own built-in Flash platform, something we can't update independently if a new Flash version is released.
Today when I went to the Xero login page it says "You do not have a current version of Flash installed. We highly recommend that you update to the latest version of Flash before using Xero." And since I am using latest and greatest Google Chrome, I have no way to update it.
This is another example of the mess created by having browsers incorporating third party platforms directly. Developers that want to make sure users have the benefits of the latest developments keep checking browser version ("hey you, stop using Internet Explorer 6") and platform versions ("hey you stop using this old Flash version" or "hey you, stop using the Java Runtime and upgrade it or risk being delivered something that will mess your computer).
The fastest browsers move to HTML5 and leave this behind the better. Also, Xero will need to update their code to make sure you are using the latest Chrome, not the latest Flash.
Today I engaged in a little social experiment. Quite simple really: would I be able to, using Twitter, reunite a lost wallet with its owner?
The answer is, at least in Wellington, yes.
In short, I found a wallet while walking down to lunch with an IT company and some tech journalists. Inside some cash, credit cards, library card, driver licence and family photos. No business card or contact number.
Since I was just on time for lunch I decided to look around for a police car. Seeing none I entered the restaurant and sent out a tweet saying "Looking for Ian Shannon. Found his wallet. I am having lunch at Aribtrageur until 130pm."
If nothing happened by them I would just drop the wallet at the central police station.
Ten people retweeted my message, and about twenty minutes later I received the following: "@freitasm @greermcdonald - Hi there! Told Ian that you have his wallet. He'll be there in about 15 mins."
And so we managed to reunite Ian and his wallet.
Quite a cool tale for our little capital city.
I'm will be in Singapore 17 - 21 October to attend a HP event on Converged Infrastructure in APAC. Will post updated information in my "unofficial" discoveringhp.com blog while there.
As usual, full disclosure: travel and accommodation expenses being paid by HP.
As part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), ecentre is holding a Case Study Challenge on the 15th November and a Business Idea Workshop on the 18th November. Details below:
I registered to the Amazon AWS 101 Cloud Computing Business Seminar event happening in Wellington and Auckland. I am a tech guy, and I use technology. A lot. That's how we keep Geekzone running - we use the lot, including databases, performance optimisation, content delivery networks, balanced DNS, analytics, etc. Because that's how we keep the site running, and that's how we have it on the top.
So naturally I thought learning about Amazon AWS would be awesome and I could at some point use this.
But when I registered I put my title as "blogger" instead of "director". Because that's what I do for a living. The "director" at my company is just the signing title.
Then I got a strange phone call from Amazon asking what is my title, followed by this email:
Thank you very much for your interest in our Business Seminar in Wellington on Oct 13. This event is a customer-focus event and therefore not appropriate for Media and Bloggers. However, we would be very happy to answer any of your question and therefore set up a meeting with our PR Manager. Please let me know if you'd like to that.
So, there you go.
After I replied to this note with a clarification they sent me an email saying I am welcome to the event.
I think not.