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An auto-attendant is a recorded announcement that answers incoming calls and offers the caller a list of options. e.g “For support press 1, for sales press 2.” Automated Attendant can prove to be beneficial if your company receives a high volume of inbound calls as it can reduce disruptions to your staff carrying out their duties. Badly designed call flows with multiple levels or lengthy lists can be frustrating to callers and lead to high abandonment of calls. Auto attendants can be bought as equipment based or hosted solutions.
Automated Call Distribution (ACD)
ACD allows organisation to introduce call management to incoming calls. This can range from simplistic routing of calls to multiple people (hunt groups) to ensure prompt answering to sophisticated prioritisation. For example ensuring existing or high value customers are placed at the head of the queue or identify types of call and direct them to the most appropriately skilled agent. Announcements can also be incorporated to advise callers of their place in the queue and /or the estimated time to answer. It is the base component of most contact centres and is normally used in conjunction with reporting tools to assess productivity, abandoned calls and answering statistics.
A key measurement of connectivity capacity and how much you can send through a specific connection. Bandwidth is usually measured in bits per second; a full page of English text is roughly 16,000 bits, whereas full-motion, full screen video would require some 10,000,000 bits per second, depending on compression. Voice is most sensitive to insufficient bandwidth, a voice call will require 40,000 to 100,000 bits to be of listenable quality. This is particularly important in the design of hosted VOIP solutions and converged IP networks
Call recording allows you to record telephone conversations for later playback and analysis. Typically, the voice recorded files are saved in Windows .wav file formats making them easy to use. Certain industries such as finance require the recording and long term storage of all calls, but there are many uses that voice recording can be put to either in the case of dispute eg taxi firms or bookmakers or for training purposes such as Call Centres. Call Recording can be bought as equipment based or hosted solutions.
Cloud computing (also known as Software as a Service (SAAS) or utility computing) is where virtualised resources such as Microsoft Outlook are provided as a service as over the internet. Users have no control over the technology infrastructure that supports them which maybe in another continent. As the resources are effectively shared, they can be designed for optimal utilisation. They are made available on a pay per usage model and backed by service level agreements (SLAs).
Computer telephony integration (CTI)
CTI is a generic term given to applications that connect PCs to a phone system. Most commonly known is “screen popping”, which uses CLI to identify the caller and display information about them on the screen before the call is answered. Another is “click to dial” which enables to users to use click on numbers in a database such as Outlook and the PC will connect the call. Microsoft OCS software offers a packaged set of features that can be used with most IP Telephony solutions. TAPI (Telephone application Programme Interface) developed by Microsoft is the standard interface for CTI applications.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Generic term for applications designed to streamline interactions with customers. CRM software allows call centre agents to access a customer’s service history from the back-office customer account packages. Small businesses are waking up to the advantages of CRM solutions that integrate with their PCs. The Internet, Email, IVR, voice and interactive TV have sparked a seismic shift towards web-enabled call centres, opening up a new dimension in offering good service
Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC)
FMC is an emerging technology whereby users can combine their desktop and mobile handset. There are a number of alternative solutions including premicells, mobile calling plans and dual mode handsets. The latter option is becoming increasingly popular as it enables the user to have a single number, directory and voicemail. Whilst in one of those or the office, or in a wifi hotspot, it acts as a desktop phone with all the traditional features such as 3 way calling and call transfer. When outside of the office and hotspots it acts as a mobile. This ensures always the cheapest call option is made.
Also known as IP Centrex, Hosted VoIP, is the routing of voice conversations over the internet. It uses a broadband internet or leased line connection to link individual sites back to a partionable centralised data centre. It offers an alternative to IP PBXs as it is available on a pay per usage model and backed by service level agreements (SLAs). Whilst the functionality and features are advancing quickly, more sophisticated organisations or those with complex communications needs may be better suited with a traditional IP PBX providing they can afford the upfront capital cost.
IP Telephony (VOIP)
The use of IP signalling methods to send voice traffic across a data network. This means that separate voice and data networks are not required by converging all traffic onto one network. Adopting VoIP can offer your company a variety of benefits such as improved communication between offices and remote locations, the ability to introduce new network applications and make significant cost savings through more effective use of your company’s network.
ISDN is a digital solution that supports voice, data and fast access to the Internet. ISDN2 is suitable for two to eight users and ISDN30 supports eight to thirty users. ISDN is widely used as it works with virtually all of today’s communications solutions and is available from a wide range of suppliers. In the past twelve months it had begun to be supplanted by SIP Trunking as this offers a cheaper solution and other benefits.
Integrated Voice Recognition (IVR)
IVR technology (also known as Self Service) has led to a variety of automated applications based on voice recognition being created. These include the automation of routine transactions, such as name diallers and requests for literature or information. More sophisticated applications include form filling and customers satisfaction surveys. Research has shown few callers abandon their call when IVR is used instead of an Auto Attendant.
Presence is an IP based technology which enables users to indicate there present communication status. Most people would be familiar with availability settings on the various instant messaging solutions and social networking sites to that people attempting to make contact know the availability of the intended recipient. More sophisticated business solutions also enable communications to be routed in the most suitable format depending on the recipients current location and availability. The availability may vary on the person making contact, for example anonymous callers may be routed to voicemail. It also
An contact centre application, traditionally used when high levels of outbound calls are being made. Using databases it dials the number, upon connection it presents the call to an agent usually together a screen pop of who has been called and possibly a script for the call. Once the call has been completed software automatically connects the next number. It can significantly improve productivity, as agent does not waste time dialling or obtaining engaged tones or faxs.
Quality Management System (QMS)
QMS is a technology used in conjunction with call recording to evaluate the quality of service provided by agent. Using a sophisticated scoring system, it enables supervisors to rate each call. Often used to evaluate new employees and as part of bonus assessment
Quality of Service (QoS)
This is a standard industry measurement of voice quality on IP Networks. It usually includes assessments of latency and packet loss. Excessive latency (variation in the speed of signals) and packet loss can lead to calls breaking up or ultimately failing.
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
SIP is an open, signalling protocol for establishing and maintaining multimedia communication sessions such as voice and video calls over the Internet. SIP enables the creation and deployment of feature rich services that go far beyond simple VoIP calls such as presence and online games. SIP does not provide the functionality itself
Unified Communications (UC)
UC is a technology that means is open to many interpretations, often linked to the capability of that particular vendors UC solution. In essence it enables users to handle multiple messages through one medium, for example email mails being converted to speech or voicemails sent as wav files to outlook. Message types can be dealt with, replied to or forwarded in most suitable medium.