Australian Energy Retailers Call Centre Rankings Q1 2024 Mystery Shopping

Energy Retailers Q1 2024 Call Centre Rankings

Introduction

In August 2023 we commenced conducting mystery shopping calls to a minimum of six different Energy Retailers across Australia to provide Voice of Customer (VoC) insights into the performance of the call centre channel for consumers and add additional value for ACXPA Members who are seeking regular, independent industry benchmarking data based on real calls, not self-reported information.

We pose as real customers and assess the accessibility (how easy it was to connect to a live agent) and the customer service/quality of the interaction with the live agent using over 80 different performance metrics as defined in the Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards.

As the majority of Energy Retailers require existing customers to provide account information for billing, faults etc.,  all the scenarios we tested were posing as new customers enquiring about a new electricity connection or looking to switch from an existing Energy Retailer, with both scenarios considered new business opportunities for the Energy Retailers.

For clarity, existing customers with billing or fault enquiries may have different experiences, as they are often treated with a different priority and handled by completely different teams.

Summary sector average data for the Energy Retail sector is published monthly for ACXPA Members, and we publicly release a quarterly report (like this) containing average sector information, executive commentary and a small sample of the individual results for three random Energy Retailers.

Energy Retailers that purchase our Contact Centre CX Benchmarking reports receive the data for all 80 metrics for their contact centre each month, call recordings, assessors notes, trend data and benchmarking data for any five competitors they nominate. Learn more >

Scroll below for additional insights or use the links below to jump directly to a section.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Q1 2024

Of the six industry sectors we currently assess monthly (Banks, Car Insurance, Councils, Energy Retailers, Internet Retailers, and TAFEs), the Energy Retailers were ranked third for Overall Rankings in Q1 2024 with a score of 56.9%.

  • The Overall ranking score for Energy Retailers in Q1 2024 was 56.9%, rated as ‘Below Standard’ and third of the six industry sectors we assess. Scores for each Energy Retailer in Q1 2024 ranged from 42.0% (Alinta Energy) to 67.9% (Engie). For comparison, Internet Retailers were the highest-rated industry sector overall in Q1 2024 (61.9%) with Banks the lowest (43.0%).
  • Access rankings for the Energy sector were 59.0%, fourth out of six industry sectors we assess, with scores ranging from 35.5% (Alinta Energy) to 77.7% (Origin Energy). Again for comparison, Internet Retailers were the highest-rated industry sector for Access (81.8%) with Banks the lowest (44.2%).
  • The Quality score for the Energy Retailers was 60.0%, third of the six industry sectors we assess, ranging from 48.5% (Origin Energy) to 77.1% (Energy Australia). Councils were the highest-rated industry sector for Quality (64.2%) with TAFEs the lowest (53.1%).

ACCESS RESULTS Q1 2024

Accessibility scores reflect how easy it was to get through to a live person to discuss your Energy needs. For Energy Retailers, the sector was rated ‘Below Standard’ at 59.0%, coming in fourth of six industry sectors we assessed for Q1 2024 (Banks were the worst at 44.2%, and Internet Retailers were the best at 81.8%).

  • For Q1 2024, Alinta Energy was the most difficult to get through a live agent, with a ranking of 35.5%. Origin Energy was the easiest, at 77.7%, only marginally ahead of Engie (76.8%) and Red Energy (76.6%).
  • Across the Energy Retail sector, 9.3% of calls we made in Q1 2024 were not answered within our 10-minute threshold. Energy Australia failed to answer 22.2% of our calls in Q1 2024 and a third of our calls within the 10-minute wait time threshold in both February 2024 and March 2024.
  • Average wait times across all Energy Retailers increased significantly from Q4 2023, increasing from 01:03 to 02:19 in Q1 2024.
  • Alinta Energy’s average wait time was the lowest in the sector for Q1 2024 at 01:17 minutes, and it achieved the lowest wait times for two of the three months in Q1 2024.
  • Energy Australia had the longest average wait time of 03:15 minutes in Q1 2024, with March 2024 their longest wait time of 03:46 minutes.
  • All Energy Retailers had a minimum of two IVR layers (press one for this, two for that) with Alinta Energy having the most options in Q1 2024 with 3.4 layers.
  • In addition to making menu selections, customers were forced to listen to an average of 00:49 minutes of recorded messages, the second longest of all industry sectors measured, ranging from 00:14 minutes (Red Energy) to 01:26 minutes (Energy Australia).
  • Alinta Energy had the most Access deductions of all Energy Retailers (88.9% of all calls had deductions), primarily attributed to menu options regularly being repeated.
  • Energy Australia was the only Energy Retailer that consistently interrupted the hold music with excessive messaging (at least one message more than every 30 seconds).
  • Talk times averaged 07:09 minutes across all Energy Retailers, an increase of 01:43 from Q4 2023 (05:32 minutes). Talk times in Q1 2024 ranged from 05:47 minutes (Origin Energy) to 08:34 minutes (Red Energy).

QUALITY RESULTS Q1 2024

The Quality of customer service across the Energy Retailer sector was rated ‘Below Standard’ with a score of 60.0%, ranging from 48.5% (Origin Energy) to 77.1% (Energy Australia).

  • Of the five Quality Competencies we assessed using the Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards, the ‘Engage’ competency was the lowest rated at 44.4% with Energy Retailers failing to build rapport with customers, take ownership, and provide a personalised experience. Scores ranged from 29.2% (Alinta Energy) to 73.6% (Energy Australia).
  • Using the customer’s name during the conversation,  one of the four ‘Engage’ behaviours we assess, was ranked at 38.9% for the Energy Retail sector, ranging from 11.1% (Alinta Energy) to 72.2% (Energy Australia).
  • The ‘Energy’ competency was the highest-rated Quality competency with a score of 80.3% ranging from 66.7% (AGL) to 91.7% (Energy Australia).
  • The ‘Discover’ competency was rated at 52.2% in Q1 2024 (Below Standard) and is used to assess that the conversation explores and confirms both what the customer needs from the call and what they wish to achieve through the available products and services. Scores ranged from 38.9% (Origin Energy) through to 70.4% (Engie).
  • There were no major audio issues observed in Q1 2024 across any of the Energy Retailers, however, AGL received deductions for audio distractions observed on calls in February and March 2024.

Call Centre Rankings Key:

POOR

BELOW STANDARD

MEETS STANDARDS

EXCEEDS STANDARD

OUTSTANDING

OVERALL RANKINGS – Q1 2024, Energy Retailers

Overall Rankings*
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:ENGIE67.9%
2nd:Red Energy65.1%
3rd:Energy AUS60.0%
Lowest:Alinta Energy42.0%
Sector AVE56.9%
Industry AVE54.7%
Energy Retailers Q1 2024 Call Centre Rankings Matrix

*The Overall Rankings are determined by the Access Score and Quality Score, with a higher weighting applied to the quality of the call. Deductions/penalties are applied for metrics that impact the customer’s experience, such as technical glitches, audio quality, and a failure to answer calls within our 10-minute threshold.

ACCESS SCORES – Q1 2024, Energy Retailers

The Call Centre Access Rankings rate how easy it was for customers wanting to speak to a live person to discuss their energy requirements.

59 individual elements are assessed, capturing the entire experience before interacting with a live agent including queue wait times, how easy it was to find the phone number, the number of menu options (i.e. press 1 for this, 2 for that), messaging times, hold music, audio quality and lots more.

Mystery Shopping calls to Energy Retailers are terminated if wait times exceed 10:00 minutes.

ACCESS Overall Rankings
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Origin Energy77.7%
2nd:ENGIE76.8%
3rd:Red Energy76.6%
Lowest:Alinta Energy35.5%
Sector AVE59.0%
Industry AVE63.3%

Purchase additional insights >

ACXPA Subscribers and Members can instantly see the quarterly leaderboards for an additional six metrics.

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ACCESS Metrics

Below is a sample of the highest and lowest-ranked Energy Retailers for 6 of the 59 metrics we assess, along with the sector averages to illustrate the gaps between the best and worst performance in the Energy Retailer sector.

Companies that purchase the Contact Centre CX Benchmarking reports will be able to view all 59 metrics for their business and any five competitors they nominate.

Calls Answered %
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
Highest:AGL Energy*100%
Lowest:Energy AUS77.8%
Sector AVE90.7%
Industry AVE84.6%

*more than one business achieved the same result in this sector.

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Menu Layers
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
Lowest:Energy AUS*2.00
Highest:Alinta Energy3.40
Sector AVE2.4
Industry AVE2.1

*More than one business achieved the same result in this sector.

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Total Experience Time
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
Lowest:Origin Energy09:05
Highest:Red Energy12:14
Sector AVE10:48
Industry AVE10:18

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Total Message Time
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
Lowest:Red Energy00:14
Highest:Energy AUS01:25
Sector AVE00:49
Industry AVE00:35

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Average Wait Time
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
Lowest:Alinta Energy01:17
Highest:Energy AUS03:15
Sector AVE02:19
Industry AVE02:40

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Menu Navigation Time
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
Lowest:Origin Energy00:16
Highest:AGL Energy00:50
Sector AVE00:29
Industry AVE00:26

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QUALITY SCORES – Q1 2024, Energy Retailers

While getting through to a live Energy Retailer call centre agent can be frustrating on occasions, it’s what happens during the live interaction with the agent that can have a large influence on the customer’s satisfaction. 

Recent CX Statistics continue to highlight the importance of interacting live with a customer service employee and the preference to speak to a live agent rather than an automated chatbot/AI, etc.

The Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards have been developed and refined over 30 years, and when businesses consistently achieve high ratings in these core competencies (e.g. Exceeds Standard or Outstanding), there is a direct correlation to improved business metrics however you measure them – Sales Conversions, NPS, Customer Effort Score, improved efficiency, reduced AHT etc.

The Quality Standards are assessed across five core competencies and 18 call-handling behaviours that directly correlate to better customer and business outcomes: Engage, Discover, Educate, Close, Energy.

Learn more about the Australian Contact Centre Quality Standards >

QUALITY Overall Rankings
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Energy AUS77.1%
2nd:ENGIE68.8%
3rd:Red Energy65.0%
Lowest:Origin Energy48.5%
Sector AVE60.0%
Industry AVE57.6%

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ACXPA Subscribers and Members can instantly see the quarterly leaderboards for an additional six metrics.

Join now to view instantly >

Quality Competencies 

Below are the overall scores for each of the five quality competencies we measure to assess the quality of the customer service provided by the live agent.

Each quality competency has an additional three or four behaviours that are assessed to enable businesses to hone in on specific skills that can be improved through coaching and/or training.

Companies that purchase the Contact Centre CX Benchmarking report will be able to see the results of the overall scores for each of the five competencies and the individual scores for all 18 behaviours for their call centre and any five competitors they nominate.

ENGAGE Overall Score
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Energy AUS73.6%
2nd:Red Energy50.0%
3rd:AGL Energy41.7%
Lowest:Alinta Energy29.2%
Sector AVE44.4%
Industry AVE36.0%

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DISCOVER Overall Score
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:ENGIE70.4%
2nd:Energy AUS64.8%
3rd:Alinta Energy51.9%
Lowest:Origin Energy38.9%
Sector AVE52.2%
Industry AVE54.7%

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EDUCATE Overall Score
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Red Energy84.7%
2nd:ENGIE77.8%
3rd:Energy AUS76.4%
Lowest:AGL Energy63.9%
Sector AVE73.1%
Industry AVE67.0%

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CLOSE Overall Score
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Energy AUS79.6%
2nd:AGL Energy77.8%
3rd:Origin Energy68.5%
Lowest:Alinta Energy48.1%
Sector AVE66.4%
Industry AVE62.4%

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ENERGY Overall Score
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Energy AUS91.7%
2nd:Alinta Energy86.1%
3rd:ENGIE86.1%
Lowest:AGL Energy66.7%
Sector AVE80.3%
Industry AVE75.5%

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DEDUCTIONS – Q1 2024, ENERGY RETAILERS

Deductions are applied to the overall scores if there are moments that can negatively impact the customer experience, including excessive queue messages, technical glitches, menu navigation challenges, audio distractions, etc.

A low score (i.e. 0.0%) means there were no deductions applied.

Deduction Leaderboards can only be viewed by ACXPA Members.

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ACCESS Deductions
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Origin Energy0.0%
2nd:ENGIE11.1%
3rd:Red Energy33.3%
Highest:Alinta Energy88.9%
Sector AVE40.7%
Industry AVE32.7%

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QUALITY Deductions
Energy Retailers - Q1 2024
1st:Red Energy*0.0%
2nd:ENGIE*0.0%
3rd:Energy AUS*0.0%
Highest:AGL Energy33.3%
Sector AVE10.2%
Industry AVE6.9%

*more than one business achieved the same result in this sector.

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LIFETIME AVERAGES – Energy Retailers

The lifetime averages for six metrics, displaying the top three Energy Retailers, the Energy Retailer with the lowest score, and the lifetime sector average.

Overall Rankings
Energy Retailers - Lifetime Average
1st:ENGIE69.4%
2nd:Energy AUS66.0%
3rd:Red Energy65.6%
Lowest:AGL Energy44.5%
ENERGY AVE58.5%
INDUSTRY AVE55.6%

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Date Last Updated: 04 Jun 2024

ACCESS Rankings
Energy Retailers - Lifetime Average
1st:ENGIE81.9%
2nd:Red Energy79.3%
3rd:Origin Energy74.8%
Lowest:AGL Energy33.2%
ENERGY AVE61.0%
INDUSTRY AVE64.3%

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Date Last Updated: 04 Jun 2024

QUALITY Rankings
Energy Retailers - Lifetime Average
1st:Energy AUS75.8%
2nd:ENGIE65.8%
3rd:Red Energy63.2%
Lowest:Alinta Energy50.6%
ENERGY AVE59.9%
INDUSTRY AVE57.1%

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Date Last Updated: 04 Jun 2024

AVE Wait Time
Energy Retailers - Lifetime Average
1st:Alinta Energy00:56
2nd:ENGIE00:57
3rd:Red Energy01:47
Longest:Origin Energy02:28
ENERGY AVE01:44
INDUSTRY AVE02:32

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Date Last Updated: 04 Jun 2024

Total Message Time
Energy Retailers - Lifetime Average
1st:Red Energy00:24
2nd:Origin Energy00:26
3rd:ENGIE00:31
Longest:AGL Energy01:30
ENERGY AVE00:50
INDUSTRY AVE00:34

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Date Last Updated: 04 Jun 2024

Talk Time
Energy Retailers - Lifetime Average
1st:Alinta Energy5.00
2nd:ENGIE6.00
3rd:AGL Energy7.00
Highest:Origin Energy*8.00
ENERGY AVE7:17
INDUSTRY AVE6:46

*More than one business achieved the same result in this sector.

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Date Last Updated: 04 Jun 2024

ACXPA MEMBERS QUARTERLY REPORT DOWNLOAD ⬇️

Download a quarterly report that contains sector averages for 40 metrics plus the averages for 23 individual metrics for three random Energy Retailers each quarter.

The Lifetime Averages and Quarterly Report for the Energy Retailer Sector can only be viewed and downloaded by ACXPA Members. 

Join now and download instantly >

What type of scenarios do we use to conduct the Mystery Shopping calls?

As most Energy Retailers require customers to provide account information for service, billing, fault calls etc., the scenarios we use are typically based on new sales opportunities where someone is looking to either connect a new premise or switch from their current provider.

How does the scoring work?

You can learn more about the framework we use here >

How many calls are assessed?

For the public monthly report, we include at least three calls per Energy Retailer per month and for companies that purchase the Contact Centre CX Benchmarking, we conduct a minimum of six calls per month for every Energy Retailer included in the report.

If you’d rather have a larger sample size, please refer to our customised Benchmarking service >

Why aren’t all the Energy Retailers included?

We’d love to have all the Energy Retailers included; however, conducting independent Mystery Shopping is expensive!

We randomly chose six Energy Retailers, and as other Energy Retailers purchase our CX Contact Centre Benchmarking program, we’ll be able to publish a larger sample size each month.

How can we improve our score?

Our Mystery Shopping program has been designed to provide Energy Retailers with the insights they need to improve performance!

You’ll receive detailed information on your performance against over 48 individual elements, so you know exactly where to focus, and we also include a quarterly report that provides you with personalised key recommendations on areas to focus on.

We also offer a range of training courses that can help teach your frontline employees the skills they need to deliver great customer service or improve sales:

How do I get my Energy Business included?

We have a fixed-price service starting from $1,297 per month that will provide you with information on your contact centre, as well as benchmarking data against any five Energy Retailers that you can nominate. Learn more >

How do I order the service?

We have an online ordering form that makes it easy to order the service, nominate the Australian Energy Providers you’d like to benchmark against, who you’d like the reports to be sent to etc. View the online order form >

How do I access the full data for the Australian Energy Providers?

ACXPA Business Members get full access to the summary monthly data for Energy Providers (and other sectors) along with a host of other benefits.

An ACXPA Business Membership starts from just $497 per year and includes five individual memberships you can allocate to key employees who could benefit from gaining access to leading industry insights for contact centres, customer experience (CX), digital service, and in-person customer service.

Is there someone I can speak to to learn more? 

Absolutely! If you’d like to speak to someone further about the Benchmarking Service, please get in touch with our General Manager of Quality Insights, Simon Blair – 0407 002 113 or simon@acxpa.com.au or call us on 03 9492 2871.

What type of scenarios do we use to conduct the Mystery Shopping calls?

Most of our mystery shopping scenarios involve new sales opportunities such as new connections or switching from another Energy Retailer where we don’t need to disclose account numbers or personal information.

Why do you hang up at either 10 minutes?

All our Mystery Shopping calls are conducted live by our accredited Mystery Shoppers who are all based in Australia. We cut off the calls at 10 minutes for two key reasons:

  1. Research has shown that these are at the end of typical times customers will wait before they hang up, especially a sales queue when there are alternatives in the marketplace.
  2. It’s expensive! As we use real human beings to conduct the Mystery Shopping call, it’s simply not practical to pay them often for hours (hello Centrelink!) whilst waiting for the call to be answered. So unless we get a very generous sponsor that enables us to wait the full time, we thought this was a reasonable decision.

Why don’t your results align with my experience?

Despite the perception, call centres are complex operations involving lots of people, processes, technology and the random nature of call arrival as we don’t know when people are going to call! 

Even with the best planning, this can result in a varying level of performance depending on a wide range of factors, including the time of day, whether everyone who was rostered attended work, whether the number of calls forecasted is accurate, and much more. 

In addition, calls for service can be treated very differently than sales, and many call centres have the technology to alter the priority of calls answered depending on their nature, previous history, status within the organisation, and so on. 

All of these factors can result in a much different experience every single time you call a contact centre. 

As we’ve mentioned though, most customers don’t really care about any of that and will make their decision based on their phone call only – and our mystery shopping is designed to capture that – a snapshot of what customers are experiencing. 

Finally, we are also unable to test the experience for existing customers. To maintain the anonymity of mystery shopping, we cannot provide account details, etc., which many call centres now require before being placed into the queue. 

And frustratingly, its often the existing customers who receive the worst experience 😱

Do Australian Energy Retailers really care about the service they provide?

As a competitive marketplace, it means there are a range of different approaches. As a commoditised product (it’s the same electricity when you switch on the lights no matter who you purchase it from!), price is, of course, an important consideration.

But smart Energy Retailers are also realising that providing a good customer experience can be a competitive advantage.  But sometimes, whether it’s through a lack of resources or skills, or a strategic choice, the Contact Centre experience that is delivered is well below industry standards.

If, for example, Australian Energy Retailers choose to under-resource the contact centre, or use offshore call centres, and can pass those savings onto you in the form of cheaper electricity, that may be acceptable to some consumers who are happy to forgo some service to receive cheaper prices.

We don’t get involved in the strategy of each business, we simply report on the data against industry standards.

We do, however, believe that delivering a better customer experience is not only is it good for you as a consumer, but it’s also good for the business as all of the latest CX statistics will confirm.

Why does ACXPA publish results each month?

Our mission is to improve the level of customer experience in Australia so by publishing the results monthly, we’ll continue to ensure that Energy Retailers are accountable for the level of customer service they are providing and to enable consumers to make an informed choice.

What type of services does ACXPA offer?

In addition to the Mystery Shopping CX Benchmarking, we offer a range of services and resources for people working in contact centres, customer experience (CX), digital service and in-person customer service/retail.

You can learn more about us here >

Purchase exclusive Voice of Customer insights for your Business

If you’d like to gain Voice of Customer (Voc) insights specifically for your contact centre and benchmark your results against other Energy Retailers, we offer a cost-effective, fixed-price benchmarking service that makes it easy!

Starting from just $1,297 per month, by purchasing our Contact Centre CX Benchmarking Service, you’ll receive the following:

  • Six Mystery Shopping calls into your call centre each month at random times and days where you’ll receive the full assessment against 48 metrics, our quality assessor’s notes, the employee’s name (where provided) and the full call recordings.
  • Benchmarking data for any five Energy Retailers you nominate, so you can benchmark your performance against other Energy Retailers that matter the most to you.
  • Sector Average data from all the other Energy Retailers we assess providing you with sector-wide results to further compare your results to.
  • A monthly email with data to track your performance along with the call recordings.
  • A quarterly report containing insights and trends that are easy to understand, along with actionable recommendations to help improve your performance.
  • An optional Quarterly Insights workshop for your team (conducted live via Zoom) that can provide additional insights, coaching and guidance.
  • Access to training to help you improve results.

Want to know when the latest results are published?

Subscribe to ACXPA and we’ll let you know when new data is released for any industry sector you choose!

Upcoming ACXPA CX Roundtable - Next Guest Announcement
Upcoming ACXPA Contact Centre Roundtable July 2024 - John Stavrakis

Upcoming ACXPA Member Bites Sessions

Short, sharp interviews and presentations on specific topics to fast-track your knowledge!

The ACXPA Member Bites are only available to ACXPA Members! 

ACXPA Members can watch all the ACXPA Member Bites at any time in their Video Library. Discover which membership is right for you >

Nadine Power, ACXPA National Advisory Board Member

IVR Best Practice

Over 90% of contact centres are using an IVR (Press 1 for this, press 2 for that), and we've encountered many contact centres with over four layers of options for customers to select from. In this session, Nadine will be sharing some best practice tips on IVR design for 2024.

Presented by Nadine Power, Client Success Manager, VERSA Connects (and ACXPA National Advisory Board Member)

More sessions announced soon! 

(If you're interested in speaking at one of our events, click here to learn more >)

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