As part of its ongoing initiative to develop technical skills in South Africa, Siemens Enterprise Communications is sponsoring two forums targeted at the tertiary education and call centre sectors.
The National Telephone User Group (NTUG) is a forum for all South African universities and technikons which meets twice a year. Its objective is to find ways of improving voice and data communications technology in these institutions.
Fred Maurus, divisional manager: Technology Management and Marketing, Siemens Enterprise Communications, says, "In addition to sponsoring the user group meetings, Siemens delivers presentations geared specifically to the audience. For example, at the NTUG meeting at the University of Natal in May we focused on wireless LANs, which offer considerable benefits for tertiary institutions on the administration side."
In compiling the material for each meeting, Siemens Enterprise Communications puts extensive effort into ensuring delegates are kept up to date on issues such as trends, the future direction of technological developments, and the benefits those technologies offer to teaching and administrative staff as well as students.
The Call Centre Managers Forum was established this year and held its inaugural meeting in May. Attended by about 35 call centre managers, the two-day session was extremely successful and received an enthusiastic response.
"Although the initial session of the Call Centre Managers Forum was exclusively for Siemens customers, we aim to host two events annually and to open the Forum to all call centre managers in South Africa by the end of this year," Maurus says.
In response to the high levels of stress experienced by call centre agents, the Forum focuses on staff management issues: how to motivate agents, dealing with irate clients and using various technologies - such as fax, e-mail and WAP chat - to interact with customers.
"Call centre managers are in dire need of this type of information, and they need to interact with their peers in the industry to establish what is available and how things are evolving," Maurus points out. "The Forum looks at staff retention, technology updates, trends, the use of new applications and specialist training tools.
"Siemens is leveraging its in-depth experience in this field by developing presentations specifically for the Forum and bringing in its partners as well as top-notch guest speakers to provide input on training and motivation."