Tag Archives: Case Studies

Case Study: Orlando Regional Healthcare

When Orlando Regional Healthcare replaced its aging CTI system with an enterprise-level PC attendant console system, it got a new feature that stirred interest throughout the organization: a Web interface for users outside the call center.  The application was an instant hit, enabling employees to perform their own paging, directory lookups, and on-call scheduling from their individual Web browsers.

“Everybody loves Smart Web,” says Mike Spencer, Telecommunications Manager for Orlando Regional Healthcare. “We now have directory lookup and text paging on every desktop in the organization. As we roll out new PCs to nurses’ stations, we’re loading a Smart Web shortcut as an icon at startup. It couldn’t be easier to access and use.”

The Web services feature has helped enable the Orlando Regional Healthcare call center to process an increasing number of calls without hiring additional agents: More than 60 percent of their one million pages per year have been offloaded from agents and are now sent directly by physicians and medical staff via IVR and Web paging.

Smart Web and its related CTI database/operator console system is provided by Amcom Software.

[From Connection MagazineOctober 2003]

On-Call Scheduling Case Study

By Gary DuPont

MASCO Services Inc. (MSI) offers a full range of telecommunications services, including centralized attendant and main number answering, radio-paging and cellular dispatch, and traditional message center services to the medical community.

MSI uses a multi-tasking call processing system integrating the Avaya ACD and the LAN-based system provided by Xtend Communications for directory, paging, on-call, and telemessaging functions. Gary DuPont, Director of Telecommunications at MSI said, “The On-Call application, an integral part of the Xtend paging and answering service module, maintains accurate coverage schedules enabling those individuals on call to be reached efficiently. The program is an extremely flexible and powerful tool used by our customer care representatives and clients daily.”

“The problems with on-call schedules are manifold,” said Mary Gaughan, senior customer care supervisor at MSI.  “The volume of data can be enormous. Some of our clients keep hundreds of separate schedules for multiple sub-disciplines. This can mean hundreds of changes per month. Every time a change is made, there is potential for errors that can adversely affect service delivery. By using the on-call program we know who made the change and when. Lastly, we have made the on-call program accessible to our clients so they can input and update their own information on a regular basis.”

MSI takes advantage of Xtend Enhanced On-call to accurately and efficiently contact the person on call at a given time. Enhanced On-call is paging-status-aware, with the system tracking up to 99 customer defined paging states. Typically, an organization relies on ten status types. These may include “in-hospital on-page,” “in surgery – messages stored,” “covered by – (where another pager ID is receiving the paging messages on their own pager),” “available – long range pager” and “unavailable for page.” Including the status information within the on-call software quickly notifies agents of the paging status of that staff member or allows staff members to carry “job” pagers. Job pagers are commonly passed between on-call members and are sometimes used in lieu of a true on-call product.

Enhanced on-call is an important tool at MSI. It also includes multiple report formats and allows schedules to be built years in advance. The company asks clients to submit their schedules at least one month in advance. MSI is currently working on moving the responsibility of maintaining the individual on-call schedules back to the individual departments they represent using Xtend’s WebXchange application.

For more information about Xtend, visit www.amcomsoftware.com.

[See our article and vendor coverage for On-Call Scheduling Software.]

[From Connection MagazineMay 2003]

Errors and Omissions Insurance Case Study: Alarm Monitoring

By Laura McCormick

The following is a claim scenario involving teleservices companies, based on combining facts from actual claims made against the ATSI Professional Liability plan. Following the scenario are some helpful suggestions on how your company can avoid such claims.

A Business Alarm Monitoring Company Is Sued Over Response Delays

A teleservices and business alarm monitoring company was retained by a department store to monitor its fire and intruder alarms. The client provided the company with protocols, including the procedure to be followed if an alarm was received.

Late one night, the company received notice of an intruder alarm. Pursuant to the protocols provided by the client, the company called the store’s night security staff, but was unable to reach them because the line was busy.

There had been a number of recent false alarms, so the company’s agents tried three times over the course of 10 minutes to reach the store’s security staff by telephone, then called police.

It turned out that intruders had cut the telephone wires, broken into the store’s jewelry cases, and made off with several thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

The company’s client was reimbursed by its insurer, which, in turn, made a claim against the company.

The basis for the claim was that the company’s agents had not followed protocols when they attempted repeatedly to call the store’s security staff rather than calling police immediately after the first unsuccessful attempt.

The delay of 10 minutes allowed the intruders to take more merchandise and get away before the police responded, the client’s insurer alleged.

The matter was reported by the teleservices company to its errors and omissions insurer. It was determined that the store’s protocols did allow for an initial attempt to call the security staff for verification purposes, but directed that the police should be notified immediately thereafter.

The teleservices company was able to argue, however, that the amount of time that had elapsed would have allowed the intruders to escape with a substantial portion of merchandise anyway. Therefore, a settlement was reached for a sum below the total value of the stolen goods.

How This Claim Could Have Been Avoided or Mitigated

The company’s agents, while provided with protocols and trained to follow them, had altered the protocols because of recent false alarms without consulting the client.

Where there are written guidelines, they should be followed unless the client has directed the teleservices company to do otherwise. If unusual situations arise, the client should be consulted before any protocol procedures are changed.

Agents can also be trained to recognize that unusual situations, such as busy signals, or lack of a response from a source that generally should be available, can be warning signs that mandate immediate action, rather than further attempts at contact.

Often, it is better to act on a false indication than to mistakenly allow a real problem situation to escalate.

The amount of damages in claims such as this can often be subject to legal challenge. Response times for police or firefighters can be questioned, especially as they relate to historical data, along with conditions at the time and the type of situation in question.

More experienced intruders would know they had little time and would likely have gotten away, regardless of the timeliness of the company’s call to the police. Perhaps at the time the incident occurred, all patrol cars were too far from the location to have made it in time. Investigation into all possible factors is necessary.

For more E & O Case Studies, see Laura’s previous article.

[From Connection MagazineJan/Feb 2003]

Errors and Omissions Insurance Case Study: Wrongful Death

By Laura McCormick

The following is a claim scenario involving teleservices companies, based on combining fact from actual claims made against the ATSI Professional Liability plan. Following the scenario are some helpful suggestions on how your company can avoid such claims.

A medical telemessaging company held responsible for a patient death: A telemessaging company performed call answering and forwarding for a group of physicians. The company had handled this account for many years and while there were originally written instructions that all calls received for a specific doctor were to be directed to either a medical center or to a designated on-call physician, whose identity was supplied each day by telephone, this documentation hadn’t been seen in years, nor had it been reviewed or updated.

A call came in one evening for a specific doctor and the company tried, without success, to get through to the medical center. The company then paged the originally specified doctor, rather than the on-call doctor. A delay occurred before the original doctor answered the page. Ultimately, the patient died and a lawsuit was filed, alleging that the delay caused or contributed to the patient’s death.

The telemessaging company was defended by its insurance provider. The company could not get out of the lawsuit on a summary judgment motion, because the court found there was a question as to whether the delay was a cause or contributing factor to the patient’s death. There was also a question about whether paging the originally specified doctor was in accordance with applicable legal and contractual standards for medical telemessaging companies. Ultimately, a settlement was reached, with the teleservices company contributing a substantial percentage of the total settlement amount.

How this claim could have been avoided or mitigated: The medical teleservices company had a written set of instructions from its client on how to deal with certain situations. This is a good and necessary practice, which is strongly recommended. However, perhaps because of a lack of training, inexperience, or a lack of communication to the agents on duty, these instructions were not followed by the agents. Further, the general instructions about the on-call physician were nowhere to be found, nor had they been reviewed or updated by either the client or the telemessaging company. This made it harder and more expensive to show what protocols the company followed or attempted to follow.

Written checklists, changed every day to meet the specific needs and instructions of each client, cannot only prevent errors from occurring, but can also furnish documentary proof that a telemessaging company performed its work in accordance with applicable standards of care. Continued training of agents is important, and it is strongly recommended that all contracts, instructions, lists, and protocols for each client should be discussed, reviewed, and updated periodically. Further, these reviews should be acknowledged in writing by the client, including confirmation that the instructions and procedures are correct and approved by the client.

For more E & O Case Studies, see Laura’s previous and subsequent article.

[From Connection MagazineDecember 2002]

Errors and Omissions Insurance Case Study: Dealing with Subcontractors

By Laura McCormick

The following is a claim scenario involving teleservices companies, based on combining facts from actual claims made against the ATSI Professional Liability plan. Following the scenario are some helpful suggestions on how your company can avoid such claims.

A teleservices company held responsible for a subcontractor’s error: A teleservices company was retained by a client to set up a sales program for the client’s product, with the understanding that a toll-free number was to be obtained for the client by the company as part of the program. The company, in turn, retained a subcontractor to secure the toll-free number. The client, in reliance on the toll-free number furnished to it by the company, mailed out 20,000 advertisements about its new sales program. On the date the toll-free line was to be effective, however, it still had not been turned on. It was soon discovered that the subcontractor had failed to activate the line, and it was inactive for several days after the start of the sales campaign. The client made a claim against the teleservices company for the cost of the mailings, as well as for lost profits on its sales campaign.

The matter was reported to the teleservices company’s insurance carrier. The insurer’s attorney determined that the subcontractor had no insurance of its own, and did not have sufficient assets to pay for the damages alleged by the client. As a result of the subcontractor’s error (for which the teleservices company, however, was ultimately responsible) a settlement was negotiated based on evidence presented about the alleged damages. It was argued that the projected profits were speculative and excessive, since the figure was based on a large percentage of sales resulting from the mailed advertisements, although past sales histories showed a much lower percentage of positive responses.

How to avoid or mitigate a similar claim: Although it is not unusual to retain a subcontractor to perform certain services on a project of this nature, the teleservices company should have realized it was responsible for the conduct of its subcontractors. The subcontractor should have been asked to sign a contract confirming the service it was to provide. The claim also could have been avoided if the teleservices company’s telephone service provider had been asked to confirm, in writing, the date the line was to have been activated. A checklist of items to be performed by the subcontractor, submitted to the teleservices company ahead of time, could have prompted the subcontractor to confirm the activation date on the toll-free number.

To mitigate the impact of the claim on the teleservices company, the subcontractor should have been asked to provide an insurance certificate or other evidence of its ability to respond to any claims that could arise. Thus, if the subcontractor was at fault, the teleservices company could have obtained contributions or indemnification for any damages. To avoid certain problems in securing such relief, the subcontractor’s agreement could have contained indemnification and “hold harmless” provisions favoring the teleservices company.

For more E & O Case Studies, see Laura’s subsequent article.

[From Connection MagazineNovember 2002]

The Phoenix

By Frank McKeown

We operate a small inbound call center near the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Most of our CSRs are students at the University. We service national clients by providing order taking, help desk and other customer service functions.

On September 11 we witnessed the national horror, outrage, and sorrow. Our mourning was interrupted later that day when we were selected to participate in the national Red Cross Call Center Grid to accept donations and pledges and provide information on blood donations. The outpouring of support from people of all situations made us extremely proud of our country. We received individual donations ranging from $3 to $300,000, all given with a fervent prayer for America and the victims’ families. We tripled our normal staff and still had calls in queue. What a great show of support for the country!

In the middle of this campaign I was awakened at 5:00 A.M. on Friday September 14 by one of my employees who told me that our building was on fire. I arrived at the scene in the middle of a virtual tropical storm, with four fire engines training water cannons on our building.

First, we ascertained that none of our people were hurt. Fortunately, we had a disaster recovery plan with another center who also used the PI-2000 Order Entry System. They had all of our account programming and had assigned DIDs for each account. While the firemen finished their job, I was on my cell with the owner of the other center and the long distance carrier to transfer our lines. We were out of business for only 37 minutes.

The next challenge to overcome was to relocate our center. Our landlord was at the scene and we negotiated immediate occupancy of another vacant suite in the same complex. We then not only persuaded the fire captain to allow us to enter the burned out suite to get our computers, telephony system, furniture, and records, but the firemen actually helped us. A “Fire Recovery” team suddenly appeared (they monitor the police band); we were able to persuade our landlord (who owned the business that had caused the fire) to hire this roving band to help move our gear.

In our new location we had to get back in business immediately because we were unable to transfer the Red Cross calls and felt an obligation to resume this support as soon as possible. We kept all management and labor on duty for the weekend. Everybody understood the importance of this and all volunteered to work as long as necessary. Our folks worked from 7:00 A.M. to 10 P.M. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We also needed our computer and telephone vendors to help. They arrived Friday morning and virtually lived with us for the entire weekend, re-establishing our networks and systems. They ordered new equipment, on credit, for weekend overnight delivery and agreed to wait for the insurance settlement to receive payment.

The insurance company contacted me on Saturday and told me not to move, replace, or re-build any equipment until an adjuster could inspect our situation in ten days. After making her aware of our need to minimize our business loss, the obligation we had to the Red Cross, and the fact that we were about to be interviewed by two local TV stations, she dispatched an adjuster Saturday afternoon and agreed that we should rebuild immediately and just provide inventory information to the adjuster.

We were fully back in business Monday at 8:00 A.M.

While I am extremely proud of our “weekend recovery”, this story was written not to chest beat but to point out some key principles of operation which carried us through this near disaster.

Have A Disaster Recovery Plan: Keep it up-to-date so you can transfer your business immediately without advanced notice.

Share Your Mission With Your Employees and Management: Through good communication, training, and motivation make your employees into your greatest asset.

Treat Your Vendors Professionally: You never know how much you will need them.

Act Like An Owner: It’s your business and when it’s on the line don’t be afraid to do what you have to do to save it.

Be Grateful For Divine Providence: More than ever, this particular week showed us how fortunate we were.

Now, if I can only make the insurance company understand!

[Editor’s note: The Phoenix is a mythical bird that rose from the ashes after being burned.]

[From Connection MagazineMarch 2002]

How High’s the Water, Mama?

By Donna West

The rain was relentless; a block away at the foot of the street, the usually sleepy creek was churning. Hurricane Floyd was punishing the east coast as far inland as Collingdale, Pennsylvania, a southwest suburb of Philadelphia. On Thursday, September 16, 1999, Hank Schwab, owner of The Phone Works, was blessedly unaware that within hours this storm was going to wreak havoc on his business. They had beefed up their staffing in anticipation of a higher than normal amount of call traffic, but basically it was business as usual on this dismal morning. The Phone Works occupies a three-story storefront with administrative offices on the second floor, the operations center on the main floor and equipment and storage in the basement. The front door opens at street level while the back yard slopes toward the creek allowing about six feet of the basement to be above ground.

At around 11:00 a.m. Hank looked down toward Darby Creek and noticed that the water, usually about thirty feet below the banks, was lapping over the edge. The slope of the street was fairly steep, raising about 45 feet from the bank of Darby Creek to The Phone Works front door. The creek had flooded many times in Hank’s memory and even engulfed cars on the street downstream, but his unit had never had a drop in the basement.

In the operations room, calls were coming in fast and furiously as the weather worsened. Outside, Darby Creek was creeping up the street, over the curbs, storefront by storefront; Darby Creek was taking over the lower block.

Inches high and rising: It was just a little after 1:30 p.m. when Hank decided to go down to the basement and move a few things. On shelves around the perimeter of the room were tools, spare monitors, boxes of neatly stored records, and the myriad of “stuff” we accumulate in our businesses. He moved a box in the corner; and as he watched, the concrete turned dark. The water oozed in and spread over the floor in an ever-widening circle. In the process of lifting file servers to a higher shelf, Hank suddenly, instinctively made a split second decision. “Pull the plug! Get stuff out!” “I am not a panicky person,” Hank noted later, “but something was telling me there was no time to waste.” He called upstairs to his wife, Patty, and phoned his sister, Annette at home (both of whom take part in running the business), to tell them he was taking the operation down. Then he started unplugging the equipment. If it didn’t easily unplug, he cut the wires, working faster and faster. There was no orderly shut down; there was no notification of customers. He knew he needed to get it out, now.

Two feet high and rising:: He was right. Fifteen minutes later the cold, brown water was up to Hank’s thighs. He and Patty, with the help of their staff, furiously ripped out the PI server, fax computers and voice mail, and carried them up to the main floor. They managed to haul the Telescan up the stairs with a hand-truck. The rugs were floating up, making movement difficult; file boxes were floating off shelves and a small refrigerator kept in the basement was bobbing off the floor. Still they worked, determined to save everything they possibly could.

Three feet high and rising: Hank abandoned the hope of doing more as the water reached his waist. There were still boxes and boxes of employee records, customer files, financial data and memories. There were Telco blocks, UPSs, the stationary back-up generator–all submerged. The smell was awful, the water full of sewage and mud. In only twenty minutes Darby Creek had claimed the basement.

Four feet high and rising: Reporters from the local television station were in the street outside The Phone Works, standing at the edge of the water looking down the street at the devastation. “Looks like you’re lucky so far,” they told Patty. “Come in and see,” she insisted. So camera crew and reporters trouped in, and little more than hours later their business was highlighted on the nightly news. Now, their customers would understand why their phones weren’t being answered. Now, friends and ex-employees would know what was happening. Now, help would be coming.

Five feet high and rising: Tired and unbelieving, Hank and Patty watched the water climb ever higher. As it lapped against the last step, they realized the nightmare wasn’t over. They formed a “fire brigade” with their staff and began almost throwing things up to the second floor. The equipment from the basement went first, and then the monitors, keyboards, and PCs from the operations room; everything had to go up. They never lost focus. They never panicked. They had no game plan; they just worked. Pick something up, hand it off, pick up something else, save every piece of equipment possible.

Nine feet high and rising: The relentless water reached the ceiling of the basement, setting off the smoke-alarms. The shrieking added to the surreal atmosphere–the incredulous, this isn’t really happening. The water began to stain the floor of the operations room, slipping silently over the threshold of the door, flowing over the top of the basement steps.

The National Guard arrived to patrol the area; banks and businesses were all under water. It was time to vacate the building; there was nothing more they could do. A small touch of humor, The Phone Works had electronic door locks. No one could find the key to the deadbolt. The National Guardsman taped the door. It was only 5:00 p.m. While closed away in the basement, totally focused on saving his business, Hank had been unaware of the tragedy that had taken place only fifteen feet from his door. A van had been swept away by the turbid waters with a man trapped inside. One fireman’s clothes were literally torn from his body in the attempted rescue, but they couldn’t reach the van. The scene, now that he actually saw outside, was frightening. Cars were floating and buildings only a block away were completely submerged. Angry water was continuing to ravage the devastated area. The Phone Works was on the fringe of the disaster. As they looked around in semi-shock, employees came up to them. In tears, believing both the company and their jobs were gone, they told Hank how much they had loved their jobs, how much they appreciated him as a boss, how much they cared for Patty and Annette. How sorry they were. “Oh no,” said Hank, “this is not the end! We are absolutely not going to close.” Already looking ahead, he told them, “Go home, go home and get a good night’s sleep. There is nothing we can do now, but we’ll begin putting things back together early in the morning.”

At daybreak, Hank, Patty, and Annette were back at The Phone Works. Annette, who had not been there the day before, burst into tears when she saw their business. They surveyed the mess and tried to determine where to begin. Hank had made a list: buckets, mops, wet-vacs, generators and hairdryers were needed. Their staff began arriving wearing old clothes and boots and bringing the requested supplies–they were ready. Their building was intact and so was their spirit. The first floor had never really flooded. The rugs were soaked, and the place looked ransacked from the hurried evacuation, but the damage there was minimal. The basement was a disaster. The water had receded leaving behind mud and filth. The horrific stench of raw sewage permeated everything. Cardboard boxes full of records had disintegrated and left a layer of slippery, slimy paper underfoot. It was filthy, exhausting work to clean it out.

They broke a window and shoveled out the mud and debris. They hosed down the walls, including the phone blocks and electrical boxes that contained an inch or more of mud and pumped the filthy water out using garden hoses. They scrubbed the racks, shelves and floors and spread things out to dry. Fans were going in every area. They had been at work for less than an hour when they heard a knock. There stood the telephone installer who had put in their T-1s only months earlier. He knew he was needed and came without being called. He worked most of the day to bring the up T-1s. The day before, while he was madly tearing out equipment, Hank had noticed a box of caps that had been taken off the ends of the fiber optics when the T-1s were installed. Amazingly in all of the turmoil, he had the presence of mind to put those caps back on to protect the fiber from the mud. That action helped save the day.

Throughout the day help arrived from unexpected places. A manager who left The Phone Works two years earlier arrived on Friday morning with her husband. “You were so good to me when I worked here,” she said, “I had to come to help.” She worked for two days scrubbing floors and equipment. A friend Hank had lost track of resurfaced offering to pull wire or do anything else that was needed. A customer arrived to see what he could do, rolled up his sleeves and stayed for hours. Friends brought food, coffee and cold drinks. Hank’s mother sent over a huge pot of beef stew for everyone. As so often happens after a disaster, camaraderie reigned. Willing hands made the work go faster. When the floors were relatively clean and dry, Hank put helpers to work with hairdryers, blowing the phone blocks, jacks and other critical connections until they too were dry. By 7:00 p.m. Friday night everything was dried out enough to plug the equipment back in, and it worked!

Amazingly, Telescan came back without a hitch. Remarkable, since they had not done an orderly shutdown. PI also came back up with very little trouble; even the voice mail was fine. The only problem arose when a digital switch he used to front-end the Telescan “lied” about its settings and ports. Night had fallen. Hank sent everyone home and then spent hours sitting alone in the cold damp basement determined to reconfigure the switch. The manufacturers were no longer supporting it; the manuals were mud soaked and useless. Alone with the rank odor and the hum of dehumidifiers, he wouldn’t give up. Finally, at 3:00 a.m.–success! Exhausted beyond belief, Hank could now climb the stairs to his second floor office and close his eyes, confident that with the sunrise, they would once again be taking calls.

At 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 18th a cheer went up as the first call rang through and then another and another, The Phone Works was back! The first order of business was to send messages and faxes to all of their customers. They also sent a letter that went out special handling. It was on the desks of every single customer on Monday morning. There was something else waiting on Monday morning, a call from Maryann. We all have a Maryann, he or she is the first customer to call whenever anything goes wrong. And our Maryanns are not shy about letting us know just how displeased they are! When they told Hank that Maryann was on the line, his first reaction was “Oh, no!,” but Maryann surprised him. “Thank God you guys are back!” she said. “After what I saw on TV, I thought you were gone! I’d never want to look for another service.” Why does it take a catastrophe to get good feedback?

Taking calls was not the end of the cleanup; however, removing the debris went on for months. It took ten dumpster loads to get rid of all of the damaged furniture, tools and equipment. They had not been able to save any of the spares; they threw out over 60 monitors and nearly as many keyboards, three switches, two hard drives (completely refurbished and not even paid for) and other parts. It was necessary to replace boilers and rebuild generators, all long, painstaking and costly jobs. None of the damage was covered by insurance. Their location near Darby Creek precluded their ability to buy flood insurance. The loss was great but not enough to keep The Phone Works from recovery. In fact, the company was nominated for the Phoenix Award, given by the Small Business Administration for companies that have risen again after a disaster. “I never, for one minute, thought we would go out of business,” Hank said. “It never occurred to me. We just did what we had to do to get back up and running. It never seemed heroic to me.” To that I say, “Oh Hank, what you all accomplished was heroic; it really was.” Often in times of stress there is one incident that brings real comedic relief, one thing you’ll laugh over for years to come. This tale of disaster and recovery is no exception. Hank’s sister, Annette, had nagged him for years to throw out the four garbage bags of packing peanuts he had stored in the basement. The flood came. The water rose and so did the bags of peanuts, until they were pressed between the water and the ceiling of the basement. The water continued to rise; the bags burst open from the pressure. The water forced peanuts into every crevice and impaled them on every snag in the ceiling. Peanuts were everywhere! Annette had the ultimate “I told you so!” The welcome laughter broke the tension and gave them an unforgettable memory.

Donna West is President of Focus Telecommunications, Inc., www.focustele.com.

[From Connection Magazine – July 2001]

Case Study: Communications Server Technology

By Christine J. Holley

The Company: NTS Marketing, Lynchburg, VA

The Problem: NTS Marketing is a full-spectrum teleservices and fulfillment agency with an extensive call center handling 15,000 to 20,000 calls per day. NTS Marketing began looking for a new system to replace a Teloquent ISDN in their call center. NTS Marketing was experiencing lost calls due to incompatible ISDN signaling with their local carrier (Centrex-based ISDN) and the Teloquent switch. Dropped calls and lack of results remedying the situation were main reasons NTS Marketing decided to look for another switch.

The Solution: NTS chose a Comm Server solution by Interactive Intelligence, Inc. due to its reliability, scalability and flexibility. Nearly 200 NTS staff members use the Comm Server solution, and NTS services approximately 30 clients with upwards of 20,000 contacts per day.

Servers: One main and one backup

Number of trunks: 8 PRIs

Number of lines: 32 Centrex lines w/CLID

Number of extensions: 134 Stations

Applications Used: PBX, IVR, ACD, fax services, reporting tools, unified messaging, greetings, filter features, look-ups, and recording capabilities.

Benefits: “A Comm Server solution has given us a lot more flexibility,” said Chris Judd, CIO for NTS Marketing. “Not only are we able to offer a wider range of services, including Web chat and email, but we can create those services more quickly. This is a farcry from those complicated and cumbersome ‘traditional’ communication solutions I’ve witnessed in past. Comm Server technology has helped us to improve quality of service, and in many instances, has actually reduced implementation costs.

Using Comm Server technology, NTS has created numerous applications resulting in improved customer service. One NTS application generates a “hot FAX” and “hot EMail” to the caller while they are still on the phone for things like directions to an event and order confirmation. They’ve also programmed the system to route calls based, not only on the skill of the agent, but on proficiency and desire to use. In addition, NTS uses least-cost routing for outbound campaigns or as needed using specific client-owned trunks. The system can also play client/project-specific greetings or even music-on-hold, based on the day of the week and time of day. Finally, recording capabilities have allowed NTS to systematically record calls for Quality Assurance and verification based on parameters for the project. For example, they might program the system to record every call for queue “A, “every 10th call on queue “B,” and “on demand” for Agent “X”.

“In addition to improved customer service, we’ve also witnessed an increase in productivity and a decrease in certain costs,” said Judd. “For instance, with our old Teloquent system, NTS agents waited about 40 seconds between calls. Now, agents can receive calls between 2 and 3 seconds apart. In addition, we’ve created a special option when a call needs to be transferred to an AT&T 800 number. The application performs a flash hook, followed by DTMF digits ‘*8’ and then the 800 number. The call is then released to AT&T’s network. Phone charges then continue from the originating call to the final destination 800 number, and the middleman, in this case NTS Marketing, is not billed for the rest of the call. The advantages of Comm Server technology are endless. The more I use the system, the more I realize how limitless its potential really is.”

Christine J. Holley is the Market Communications Specialist for Interactive Intelligence Inc. Contact her at 317-872-3000.  For more information, read New Technology, New Markets.

[From Connection Magazine – November 1999]