Gateway's 'TechTalk' offers new approach to phone support

Gateway is pioneering a new approach to technical support at its Dublin-based call centre. The idea is to replace the annoying elevator music that you are forced to listen to whilst your tech support call is queued, with the opportunity to take part in a telephone conference with other users needing help on a given subject.

Gateway is pioneering a new approach to technical support at its Dublin-based call centre. The idea is to replace the annoying elevator music that you are forced to listen to whilst your tech support call is queued, with the opportunity to take part in a telephone conference with other users needing help on a given subject.

Gateway are at pains to stress that the TechTalk service is not designed to replace one-to-one help, but to bolster it, and to help the company deal with a greater volume of calls more efficiently.

Director of Corporate Communications, Emmanuel Davidson said "We don't actually force TechTalk down on people"..."We're giving them an alternative to waiting music while they can educate themselves and possibly alleviate some of the tech calls we have because it will solve their problem"..."It is really working".

TechTalk was developed to help Gateway deal with a growing volume of tech support calls. "At any time of the day we had up to ten people asking the very same question. This was creating a little bit of a backlog on our phone lines, thus slowing down the service that we could give people with basic questions".

TechTalk hosts can see the users represented as tiny face icons on their PC. When a user is talking the lips on that face icon move, so that the technical support staff can easily monitor up to seven participants in a TechTalk session.

"We're using quite sophisticated in-house systems. We record each contact we have with each customer, to make sure that we have a record, so that people don't have to restate their life history"..."We tested the system to make sure we could not only get people in to an appropriate TechTalk, but also so that we could take them out and switch them to one-to-one tech support when we believe it would be better for that person, whilst making sure that he would not have to hang up and redial again",said Davidson.

TechTalk is a European initiative that may be launched in the US later this year. "The US are doing the numbers on TechTalk now" said Davidson.

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