The advent of Computer Telephony due to the convergence of Computing and Telecommunications has created new avenues for companies to provide better service to customers by leveraging the interaction of customer calls with the company’s customer databases providing access to rich customer data helping the call center agent provide better support to the customer.
A contemporary call center requires ACD, Predictive Dialer, CTI links, Web Integration, Interactive Voice Response / Fax On Demand, Voice Logging and Messaging, Universal Media handling capability and Integration Interfaces for other Applications like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) packages.
Key Components of a Call Center
1. ACD (Automatic Call Distributor)
ACD’s Distribute calls to agents as they are received. The calls may be distributed in various ways to optimize usage of the call center resources and allow the best possible agent to service the customers call.
The main parameters used for routing are:
• Agent Skill based routing
• Agent Idleness Based Routing
• Network Directed Routing (Using Calling Line Identification / Dialed Number Information Service )
• Time Based Parameters
2. Predictive Dialer
Predictive dialers go beyond just automating the dialing process to eliminate wasted time in the calling process and improve productivity. This is done by dialing calls according to a calling algorithm to smooth out a center’s workflow by using complex algorithms which use factors such as the number of available telephone lines and operators, the probability of getting a busy signal and the length of an average conversation. The calling process is also made efficient by screening out no answer, busy, out of order and answering machine calls.
3. CTI (Computer Telephony Integration)
CTI integrates telephone and computer operations by linking databases to the telephone connection. A common perception is that CTI is just for a “screen pop,” in which customer information “pops up” on an agent’s screen as a call is received. Today CTI encompasses far more as the coordination of real time voice events and database events is far more sophisticated today allowing real time feedback for Dynamic Routing Schemes, Call Flow Scripting, Workforce Management and Real Time Reporting.
4. Web Integration
E-commerce is now becoming a reality going beyond the hype. But there is a catch, 66% of online transactions are abandoned before a sale is closed. That is where Web Integrated Call Center helps companies provide the human touch for providing information assistance, closing sales and servicing customers.
Web integration allows customers to interact with call center agents through Web Callback, Web Chat, and Collaborative Browsing, allowing companies to provide live contact to online customers which is essential for providing non standard information to customers, and giving them reassurance that there is expert help available in case they need it.
5. IVR (Interactive Voice Response) / FOD (Fax On Demand)
IVR and FOD provide information to a customer by turning the keypad of a telephone into a keyboard. As a result, many standard queries formerly answered by an agent can be handled by an IVR, freeing agents for more complex, value-added work. It also gives customers a self-service option, speeding up the transaction for the customer.
6. Voice Logging and Messaging
Voice Logging Allows digital recording of conversations and messaging allows callers to leave messages if agents are not available to handle a call. Voice Logging allows call enters to have sophisticated agent training by recording and playing back agents conversations to them. It can also be used to monitor agent performance and to provide proof of transaction records.
7. Interfaces For Integration With Applications
Modern Call Center solutions need to be integrated with other applications such as Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) modules, Lead Management Software and Billing Applications for Screen Pop-ups, Predictive Dialing, etc.
8. Universal Media Handling
Customers should be able to call up, send a Fax, send an email, visit the Web site or have a text chat with the organization’s representatives. This is provided by the Universal Media handling capability of a call center, which handles all the messages in an integrated manner using common business processing rules.
The traditional architecture has not kept pace with the rapid changes in the computer industry. Telecom was a relatively protected industry and products and technology were evolving much slower than the computer industry. Thus while computer systems power and reliability were growing and costs coming down in accordance with Moore’s law , the Telecom equipment market saw near stagnation. Thus a PC based call center now costs far less than the traditional architecture. There are two main reasons for the dramatically lower cost of a PC based System:
1. Standard hardware and Software components rather than Proprietary Systems.
2. Call center components are software modules on a common platform thus eliminating expensive and difficult integration due to the need for integrating proprietary systems from different vendors.
Apart from the much lower costs, PC based call centers provide far superior features.
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