• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Convergence changes call centers, Part 2

Aug 20, 20032 mins

* Three elements of a converged call center

Continuing our discussion of how advances in convergence can greatly improve call center operations, today we’d like to cover three elements critical to the success of any well-run call center: interactive voice response, skills-based routing, and computer telephone integration.

Let’s look at a typical call to an airline reservation call center to see how each of these work. When Larry makes a call to book a flight, his call is answered by the airline’s interactive voice response (IVR) system. The IVR accepts touchtone commands and a limited number of speech commands to begin routing Larry’s call to the right department.

Since Larry is a very frequent flyer (as identified by Larry’s frequent flyer number), Larry should only receive service from an “executive” agent since the “executive” agent can provide a greater number of services than typical call center agent. Using information gathered by the IVR, Larry’s call is sent to the next available “executive” (qualified) agent using skills-based routing (SBR). SBR keeps tabs of who in the call center is qualified to provide these additional services to assure a proper match for Larry.

As soon as the agent answers Larry’s call, the agent receives a “screen pop” with Larry’s profile from the frequent flyer database provided by the call center’s computer telephony integration (CTI) capabilities. (Note that in some examples CTI-generated screen pops can also be provided based on other incoming call information like the calling party’s phone number.)

Next week, we’ll cover how IVR, SBR and CTI are all undergoing change with the adoption of VoIP and related advances.