By Tom Curtin
The only constant in life and in business is change. We are continually being pushed by clients to offer more choices for enhanced services to meet their unique business objectives. Clients don’t care about the technology utilized to run our call centers as long as they feel we’ll be there when they need us. They’re focused more on the services we provide for them. That’s where each call center has the opportunity to distinguish itself from the competition.
There are so many choices that sometimes it’s hard to choose one direction in which your business can grow, reduce expenses, or add revenue. Amtelco has product categories to make it easier to talk about and determine which solutions make sense for your call center.
For call centers that are happy with their on-site solutions, there are still lots of ways that advances in technology can improve the reliability of your operation and potentially increase your revenue.
System and Switching
Amtelco’s Infinity Intelligent Series continues to add revenue-producing features and services for businesses to easily accommodate their clients’ evolving needs. At the same time, the Intelligent Series provides “six nines” uptime that enables you and your sales staff to meet your business growth goals.
Amtelco developed the Intelligent Soft Agent to interface with software-based switching systems, and it has been in the field for more than two years. Amtelco’s Soft Agent also interfaces with switches provided by Asterisk, Cisco, Avaya, Mitel, NEC, Nortel, and Siemens.
There are many positive features to soft switching, and there are many clear benefits to your ongoing business. Amtelco’s Soft Agent is switch-independent and utilizes the same Intelligent Series family of applications such as IS scripting, IS OnCall, IS Web, IS appointment taking, and IS contact-based architecture. This switch-independent trend gives call center owners much more flexibility in selecting switching platforms and opens up the opportunity to connect directly to client PBXs and ACDs.
Virtual call centers will become more prevalent in the coming years, especially as an element of the consolidation that is taking place in the call center industry. Virtual call centers are more flexible than traditional call centers, which are constrained by their location, floor space, and physical agent positions.
Virtual call centers will utilize colocated call center solutions and remote agents. Use of a colocated call center solution frees the call center from the physical constraints and overhead costs of a building, equipment room, and backup power devices. The use of remote agents eliminates physical floor space requirements, heating and cooling, break rooms, and agent computers. More importantly, employing remote agents allows much more flexible hour-by-hour staffing, greatly minimizing the biggest nonessential expense a call center faces, the overhead of idle labor.
Amtelco cloud-based applications can be used on any system with screen pop capability. Choosing applications that use cloud computing yields benefits such as reducing run and response times, as well as minimizing the purchase and deployment of physical infrastructure. Cloud-based applications offer energy efficiency, flexibility, simplified systems administration, consumption-based pricing, and most of all, they limit the footprint of the data center. Additionally, subscription/rental programs allow call centers to increase monthly revenue by reselling cloud-based applications.
One such option is miSecureMessages, a secure, cloud-based messaging and notification application that sends encrypted messages to BlackBerry®, iPhone®, iPad™, and Android™ mobile devices. With the continually increasing number of mobile devices, miSecureMessages uses the convenience of mobile technology, eliminates pager expenses, and adds security to keep information safe. For healthcare organizations, securing patient information is required by HIPAA and HITECH regulations.
Another application is miOnCall, a powerful, flexible, and secure cloud-based on-call scheduling application that is used to assign and view schedule coverage, dispatch messages, schedule contacts, and manage and extend on-call schedule information to physicians and staff via Web access.
Third is miAppointments, another cloud-based application that provides mobile and Web access to schedules and appointments. Call center clients can connect to the schedule using miAppointments to see and set their schedules. Additionally, appointments can be forwarded to the clients’ personal calendar applications. Call centers can also add new revenue by reselling miAppointments subscriptions to their clients.
Business continuity has become a major focus of the call center industry across all vertical markets, and this trend will continue. Business continuity solutions may be put in place by call centers within their infrastructure to provide redundancy of essential call center components. Solutions also may be implemented by partnering with a vendor on hosted disaster recovery solutions.
A recent example of the power of partnering with a call center vendor for disaster recovery is the situation that occurred at a Chicago-area call center that lost all telephone connectivity for several days when a major cable was cut by a construction crew. The call center worked with its phone carrier to quickly redirect calls to Amtelco’s emergency backup system in McFarland, Wisconsin. This kept the call center in business during a situation that lasted for days and would have otherwise been catastrophic. Every call center should be making such business continuity plans.
Messaging and Scripting
Call centers have always guided agents through call flows. In the past, this was done by reading instructions and having agents to make on-the-fly decisions. The new model for call flow guidance uses sophisticated scripting engines.
Scripting shifts the burden of making decisions away from frontline agents and puts it in the hands of supervisors and managers who can work with clients to determine and agree on the optimum call flow. The role of scripting will continue to expand, and it will grow to include scripting of the dispatch process and Web-connectivity to client systems.
Amtelco’s Intelligent Series (IS) Web scripting provides call centers with a one-click method to provide Web-based demonstrations of new scripts for clients; it also can be used to provide clients’ customers with script-driven data collection applications using only a Web browser.
Web-Enabled and Mobile
Call centers can offer clients access to their services without agent involvement through the Internet or an intranet. Web applications are available for on-call scheduling, appointment taking, reports, messages, directory information, and contact information using Amtelco’s Intelligent Series Web features.
Call center clients can connect to the call centers’ schedules using the IS mobile/Web applications to see and set their schedules.
Change is inevitable and not to be feared. It’s one of the exciting things about the call center industry. We are constantly forced to reshape our businesses to meet ever-changing client demands. I guess that’s why we like what we do so much.
Tom Curtin is the president of Amtelco and son of the founder, William Curtin. This year Amtelco is celebrating its 35-year tradition of excellence and call center innovation. Amtelco’s three major divisions, TAS call center, 1Call healthcare, and XDS digital switching, form a winning combination, backed by an esteemed service and support department.
[From Connection Magazine – June 2011]