Thursday, 17 May 2012

Speech Automation – What the Doctor Ordered

Speech automation is helping to battle the growing problem of sickness absence in the UK contact centre industry.

Sickness absence accounted for the loss of 8% of working time in the UK contact centre industry in 2005, a figure that shot up to 11% in 2007. The phenomena isn't specific to the contact centre and call centre industry but taps into a wider problem that recently inspired a Panorama documentary, Britain on the Sick. With an estimated 175m working days lost each year to sickness, the problem costs £13 billion in lost productivity across the UK. But there is a healthy antidote to the sickness epidemic - speech automation has been recognised as an effective system for monitoring and managing sickness absence.

Speech Automation: How it Works

Speech automation uses automation technologies that are commonly used across contact centres. Eckoh - the self service specialist – has, in partnership with BT, developed a sickness absence management (SAM) service that uses speech recognition technology to gather sickness absence information. Using email, IVR and sms, the SAM technology offers managers the tools they need to monitor and manage sickness absence effectively.
Once a staff member calls in sick, the speech automation technology does all the hard work. Previously, if a staff member was sick, they would have to chase a line manager until they finally got hold of them. With the speech automation technology, the employee simply calls the SAM absence line and outlines the details of their absence and likely duration of their sickness. The SAM absence line is available 24-hour, 365 days a year and so offers effective time management and ease of use. Once the call is made, the information is sent to the relevant line manager and human resource department using sms or email. The speech automation technology not only offers a time and cost effective alternative, it offers managers a data capture service, allowing them to easily analyse sickness patterns.

Speech Automation: A Company Health Check

Using the speech automation technology, employees can manage this fraught human resource issue more effectively. Although many sickness absences are genuine, there is the issue of the 'work-shy'. The speech automation technology behind the SAM absence line helps employees to capture absence information, providing line managers or human resource staff with the tools they need to examine the endemic causes of absence. It's possible to see trends or clusters of sickness to determine whether the company needs to address underlying problems such as health and safety issues or stress, or if they need to intervene with individuals whose repeated sickness absence indicates management intervention or support is necessary.

Speech Automation: Diagnosis and Cure

We are all human, and the news that Alan Sugar's recent Apprentice winner Lee McQueen called in sick on his first day at work highlights the fact that nobody is immune from absenteeism. But by using speech automation technology that records and monitors all employee absence, SAM technology ensures sickness absence cases can be handled fairly. It also ensures employers can find alternative cover for absent employees fast. The speech automation systems ensure employers have the tools and information they need to ensure their staff are given the help they need to return to work, fit and healthy.

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