By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Every business owner and manager is concerned about the future. While people tend view their prospects in varying time horizons (albeit a day, a year, or a lifetime), all savvy business leaders have made plans, envisioned hopes, and articulated dreams. While conducting my Doctorial research, I endeavored to tap into the minds of industry leaders to ascertain their planned direction for their business. When specifically asked what their single overall direction was, fifty-nine percent said they were going to increase their sales and marketing efforts. Some were planning to do so by developing niche markets, others by spreading out geographically, but most were going to drive this effort by offering some sort of enhanced teleservices. Included in this broad category is order-taking, first-level help, literature requests, customer service, accessing client databases, and being Web-enabled.
While the traditional telemessaging platforms, which have sustained the industry, can and will be expanded to fill some of this yearning to offer enhanced services, a new and different approach is needed to adequately address all of the more sophisticated and intricate requirements. These enhanced teleservices platforms, sometimes called order-entry systems (resulting from their most common use) represent new, from-the-ground-up designs, offer greater flexibility, and provide much more power to meet and exceed the demands and expectations of new and different types of clients. These clients see value in the service and are generally more willing to pay for that value and the corresponding business that it represents.
While the greater call center industry is flooded with a vast array of computer-based call processing systems, only a few have been specifically designed with the outsourcing, teleservice call center in mind. The two significant keys of these progressive systems are an extremely tight, even unnoticeable, computer-telephony integration (CTI) and the ease, almost transparency, of simultaneously handling hundreds of clients and campaigns, each with vastly varying needs and requirements.
In this examination, we will explore four such systems that meet these exacting requirements: Evolution by Alston Tascom, Amtelco’s eCreator, AccuScript by CadCom, and PI-2000 from Professional Teledata.
The Evolution order entry program, from Alston Tascom, uses the same script development interface as all Tascom system forms and is flexible beyond typical order entry applications. It provides three primary screen formats: split-screen, full-screen, and full-screen Internet browser. The program walks the agent through the call with prompts for scripts and instructions. Built-in safeguards reduce agent errors.
When creating a script, the designer can begin with any existing forms template or build a new one from scratch. The system employs a user friendly point-and-click interface. Each object loaded onto a form is granted a series of properties that can be tailored to the needs of the particular client. All forms created in the Tascom forms design program automatically create an HTML version for immediate client Web access.
The Tascom Evolution system’s order entry program can access external databases. Multiple databases can be queried simultaneously and filtered by specific fields on the form. Another powerful feature of the Tascom Evolution order entry program is the ability to write and call Visual Basic scripts.
Tascom order entry accounts can deliver information many ways: data export, scheduled email, fax, and MS Word document merge. A scheduled export of data can be arranged in multiple data formats, sequences, filters and sorts, and delivered to different client email addresses multiple times each day.
The main features of the Tascom Evolution Order Entry Program are:
- Point and click design
- Multiple external database access
- Spell checking on selected fields
- Data exporting and reporting
- Automatic HTML Web form creation
- Credit card verification
- Blended inbound/outbound
- Agent Internet access to multiple URLs
- Pop-up scripts and branching
- Fully integrated with messaging accounts
For more information on Tascom Evolution order entry program, visit www.alstontascom.com or call 866-282-7266).
Amtelco’s eCreator provides for a fast and easy way to create custom Web-based agent scripts. It uses a simple and intuitive drag-and-drop approach. With eCreator’s supervisor module, the management of accounts is further streamlined with a navigational view of scripts and database wizards. This reduces the time needed to set up new clients or to make changes for current clients.
Scripts can be created for virtually any teleservice application with eCreator. Also, eCreator offers an optional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) package that allows users to provide more services without the need for additional staff. With eCreator, the call process is simplified. This reduces the training time needed for new agents, thereby making them productive faster, while reducing labor requirements.
All of this results in increased profitability and the opportunity to taken on additional types of business. Allan Fromm, of An-ser Services in Green Bay, WI, concurs, “order entry and other consumer response revenues account for about fifteen percent of our business but almost fifty percent of our profit. We are in a relatively small market with significant price competition, but with eCreator, we have the ability to set up complex scripts, process credit card orders, and fax or email order information in any file format. Because of eCreator and other features we can offer (including key stroke capture for orders entered on our client’s websites and call conferencing for third-party verification), we can command a decent price for our order entry services.” He added, “All calls are logged using Voice Logger. In short we have all the tools we need to compete with other businesses including the very large call centers.”
The main features of eCreator include:
- Flexibility to create a script for any application.
- Scripts that step agents through any call, minimizing errors.
- Web-based scripts allow access as needed for remote agents.
- Optional hosting at Amtelco (no equipment to buy, install, or maintain).
- Completely scalable for any call volume.
- ODBC database compliant.
- Drag-and-drop design that simplifies script design.
- Supervisor module simplifies the organization, creation, and maintenance of scripts.
- Ability to deliver call data via virtually any method needed.
- Script changes are possible without interrupting continuous agent access.
For more information about eCreator, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or email@example.com
AccuScript, marketed by CadCom, allows non-technical staff to easily create “call-flow scripts” for inbound and outbound work. AccuScript assists in first time resolution of customer inquiries, delivering increased productivity, improved client service, and greater agent job satisfaction. It is the product of an ISO 9001 certified company possessing extensive quality systems.
The latest features of AccuScript include the ability to generate outbound calling, support complex data architectures, an embedded Web browser, a powerful diary integration, and an interface to on-line credit card authorization services.
AccuScript has been deployed in a wide variety of situations including brochure requests and fulfillment service, medical diagnostic help desk, insurance, automotive retail and servicing, financial services, public utilities, and dot-coms.
With AccuScript, there are no programming languages to be mastered, thereby making it the ideal tool for use by business managers. AccuScript lets managers design and implement a campaign using the electronic equivalent of a flow chart, creating a visual flow of the conversation including branching and alternate decision routes. Agents using AccuScript are presented with a pleasant and clear interface with simple to follow prompts and associated detail screens. Information entered in the prompt boxes is simultaneously updated on the data screen. This increases the smoothness of the call, reduces stress, and increases productivity, thus leading to the retention of both customers and staff.
“I’m familiar with several order entry packages,” stated CadCom’s Ken Brantley, “and the thing that sets AccuScript apart from the rest is the ease of script building.”
AccuScript has many features: script branching, calendar integration, call blending of inbound and outbound calls, computer telephony integration, credit card validation, data entry screens, multiple ANI, drag and drop campaign design, embedded Web browsers, enhanced zip code file integration, images, international time zones, outbound message generator, and predictive dialer support.
The main features of AccuScript are:
- No programming language to be mastered.
- Drag and drop script building.
- Visual flow chart.
- CTI integration.
- Web integration.
- Syntax checker.
- Script zone and detail pages.
- Credit card validation.
- Predictive dialer support.
- Blending of inbound and outbound campaigns.
For more information on AccuScript, visit www.onvisource.com or call 800-422-3266.
PI 2000 from Professional Teledata is call center software used for agent scripting, data capture, and data delivery. It is a Web integrated Windows product that runs on standard PCs and PC Networks. PI 2000 is used by high traffic teleservice companies with multiple clients, applications, and catalog order operations as well as commercial call centers. Applications include catalog order entry, lead qualification and generation, dealer locator, marketing surveys, and outbound telemarketing. “PI has provided us the tools to perform nearly any service that our customers request,” stated Kirby Clock, President of Mountain West Communications. “Scripts which used to take many hours can now be up and running quickly and efficiently.”
An independent and highly active users group, Professional Inbound Network (PIN), participates in the development and future releases of the PI product line as well as other ancillary products developed by Professional Teledata.
The top features of PI 2000 are:
- Powerful scripting increases agent performance while reducing training time.
- Easy to learn administrative program.
- Automated data delivery and reporting; exports are available in multiple formats.
- Agent access to the Internet.
- Open system; all internal databases are standard X-base formats.
- Unlimited scripts, conditional branching, formulas, and format control on every line.
- Caller, dealer locator, and custom databases.
- Credit card validation and processing.
- Expert technical support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Extensive catalog features: multiple catalogs, product scripts, up-sells, and cross-sells.
For more information about TBS, contact Professional Teledata at 800-344-9944 or www.professionalteledata.com.
Enhanced Services Software Comparison Grid
|Operating system||Windows NT/2000 and Windows Internet Explorer||Windows Web server; browser-based agents||Windows 98, NT, 2000, (XP in 2003)||Win 2000 server, Win 2000 or XP Pro workstation|
|Stand-alone or add-on||Either||Stand-alone||Stand-alone||Stand-alone|
|Switch interface||Tascom Evolution & Legacy, TAPI & TSAPI interfaces to 3rd party switches||Infinity, Avaya, PDS, Cell-It switch, can run as stand-alone||AccuCall or|
PBX: Avaya, Nortel, Cellit, Seimens, Intertel, Lucent/Merlin
|Amtelco, Startel, Tascom, CadCom, Telescan, Axon, Aspect, Eon, Meridian, Fujitsu, Harris, Cortelco, and Picazzo|
|Number sold||Over 40||Over 100||Over 60||Over 200|
|Entry-level cost||Included with system purchase||$9,995.00 plus $675.00 per position||$11,500 plus installation for 4 user system||$9000 for four position software license|
|Hardware||Customer or vendor supplied||Customer supplied||Customer supplied or available from CadCom||Purchase at additional cost, or can be user provided|
|Annual support costs||Varies with number of seats||Varies with the number of positions||$50/seat for the first 10; then $25/seat||$2,640, includes free version upgrades|
|24 x 7 support||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Installation||Customer or Tascom installation||Yes, with assistance from Amtelco service department||Customer installed or by CadCom||Can be user installed; vendor install is recommend|
or phone training
|Classes at Amtelco or via webinar.||On-site or online training via WebEx.||3 day course at Professional Teledata.|
[From Connection Magazine – Sept/Oct 2002]