Agent Integrator Adds a Human Touch to Call Center Software
May 25, 2004 Alex Woodie
It can be one of the most irritating things when dealing with computerized telephone systems. Once you’ve “zeroed out” from a phone tree to talk to a real live human, you have to repeat all the account information you just entered into the keypad. iMessaging Systems, a developer of OS/400 interactive voice response software, says it has solved this dilemma with its new iVoice-Agent Integrator, which maintains data as you are transferred from a computerized session to a live agent.
The new Agent Integrator software, which iMessaging Systems announced at the recent COMMON conference, works with iVoice, the Merrimack, New Hampshire, company’s interactive voice response (IVR) solution, which basically turns the telephone into another client interface for RPG applications and the DB2/400 database, using its touchtone input, text-to-speech, and automatic speech recognition capabilities. While the real value in iVoice lies in using the telephone to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as looking up account balances, it doesn’t prevent callers from “zeroing out,” an industry phrase for pressing the “0” button to speak with a customer service representative when the IVR system can’t solve a caller’s needs.
There hadn’t been an easy way to transfer the data from the computerized IVR session to the customer service representative’s new session. With the new Agent Integrator software, however, IVR sessions can be handed to a live agent without requiring callers to repeat their information. What’s more, Agent Integrator’s logic enables it to select a customer service representative who has the appropriate skills to match the needs of the caller. Once it has found the right representative, Agent Integrator “pops” a screen up on the representative’s display, which contains important information about the call, before that call is connected to the representative. Providing this level of personalized service leaves customers happier with their interaction with a company and makes for more satisfied customer service representatives, iMessaging says.
This level of personalization has been available to large companies for years, through sophisticated computer telephony integration (CTI) software and services from industry leaders like Avaya and Nortel. But these offerings have traditionally been out of reach of small and midsized businesses’ budgets, says Karen Sedlar, president of iMessaging Systems. “We have seen a need for a product like iVoice-Agent Integrator that addresses the needs of entry-level and intermediate iSeries shops for some time now,” Sedlar says. “Sure, there have been call center products on the market for years, but what iVoice-Agent Integrator brings is a solution that is affordable to centers ranging from two to 42 agents.”
Agent Integrator isn’t just an iVoice API for OS/400-based call center applications. It’s an application in its own right, and can even be used on a stand-alone basis to screen incoming calls (although the iVoice hardware and software is still required). With Agent Integrator, managers are provided with a green-screen interface that lists all calls waiting in the queue, including why the calls entered the queue and how long they’ve been in there (through color coding). Calls can be “pushed” to the appropriate customer service representative, or Agent Integrator can be configured to allow a customer service representative to go into the queue and “pull” out certain calls, through the representative’s green-screen interface. Managers can also monitor their call center employees with Agent Integrator, which gives managers the current status their customer service representatives (such as “busy,” “idle,” “wrap-up,” or the dreaded “AWOL”) and collects statistics on the representatives’ average calls per day, average time per call, and other similar measurements.
The iVoice-Agent Integrator is not yet generally available. Beta tests on the product are beginning and will continue into the summer. There is a starting price of $15,000 for the product, which provides a license for up to 10 agents. For more information, go to www.imessagingsystems.com.