Call center primer

* Why IP contact centers could be valuable to your business

Last week, we suggested that “what comes next” after VoIP is the IP-based contact center. We also note that while IP contact center technology has been for several years a replacement for traditional call center technologies, we contend that both hosted and premises-based IP contact center solutions are becoming a valuable and cost-effective business tool for organizations that may not have considered a traditional call center system.

Today, we’d like to highlight a few basics about what is included in a traditional call center as a first step to understanding why we believe the IP contact center is the next wave in converged communications.

Legacy call centers have traditionally been structured around one or more central sites that are staffed with call center attendants who accept incoming and place outgoing calls. To manage incoming calls and balance the call flow to agents, call centers use automatic call distributors (ACD) and outbound dialer applications.

Most traditional call centers also include an interactive voice response (IVR) system to assist in call routing, and phones to each attendant are connected to the desktop through a private branch exchange (PBX).

More advanced call centers can include computer telephony integration (CTI) applications that provide a “screen pop” of business applications (like a customer record) that route data to the call center agent when the voice call is routed to the agent’s desktop. Skills-based call routing can be achieved by tying an agent’s profile and skills to the customer’s service request or customer profile.

Finally, even the most basic call center deployments include management reporting systems that can range from call volume and missed call reports to work force administration software and applications.

Next time, we’ll explain the differences between a call center, a contact center, and an IP contact center.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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