Do you remember using directory assistance in "the olden days?" A live operator would answer every time, look up your query and manually connect you. It was hard not to maintain a visual image of a grandmotherly-looking woman with a tall, white hairdo sitting in front of a switchboard wearing an old-fashioned corded headset. Dialing for directory assistance was something you seldom needed to do: invariably, you were telephoning from your home of office, and both places had telephone books.
But times have changed and the demand for directory assistance has risen. With the advent of cell phones and the rapidly changing nature of businesses, directory assistance has had to become a completely different animal. Honestly…when's the last time you touched a phone book? On the flip side, you probably use directory assistance much more often now, particularly when you are in your car, in an airport or otherwise on the road.
Service providers know this, and they know that offering directory assistance is an effective value-added service. But let's face it: unless you're willing to start building directory assistance from scratch (if you start now, you may have conquered the speech recognition component of it in a few decades, then it's time to start building the databases), you're going to need to get help from outside.
Service providers such as VoltDelta (News - Alert) have taken these years of expertise in supporting the demands of the directory assistance call center environment. The company is now offering its services through a hosted environment to all enterprise call centers. Directory assistance is an ideal service for hosted delivery. You can pay for only what you need and deploy state-of-the-art technologies, and the technical challenges need not be in your hands. DA is also an ideal value-added service that today has marketing potential far beyond offering customers a convenience.
Of course, you can't use hosted directory assistance as a door-stop or a makeshift booster chair for a child like you can with a phone book, but then ? no solution is perfect, is it?
Tracey Schelmetic is Editorial Director for Customer Interaction Solutions magazine, and covers the customer relationship management and call center industries for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey’s articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.