Avaya last week unveiled software that the company says will let customers extend call-centre capabilities to multiple sites over Internet Protocol (IP).
The Customer Interaction Suite is server software that could help improve efficiency of large customer-service centres by integrating voice, email and text chat call-centre capabilities with other applications such as interactive voice response (IVR) and back-end customer relationship management system integration.
While these features from Avaya are not new, the twist with this latest release is that the applications now can run on a standard server, instead of in hardware on a proprietary automatic call distributor (ACD). Avaya says this feature can let customers use advanced call-centre applications on a wider variety of ACDs, including IP ACDs, and distribute features to multiple locations.
"This is more of a regrouping of products by Avaya," says Mary Wardley, an IDC analyst who covers the call-centre market. While not breakthrough technology, the Call Centre Suite should help businesses better organise their customer contact infrastructure, she says.
"There are a lot of out-of-date call centres out there," she says. "They run a jumble of technologies that are not integrated well and kind of grew up in the call centre organically."
Wardley adds that deploying these types of call-centre applications on servers instead of digital boards on ACDs should lower the cost of deploying and maintaining these applications.
Avaya's Customer Interaction Suite is made up of several modules:
— Interaction Centre 6.1, which acts as the central nervous system for a call centre, managing the flow of calls, emails and Web chat sessions coming into a contact centre.
— Business Advocate, a predictive routing application that matches incoming caller ID information with existing customer call data and then routes the data to the call to the most appropriate agent.
— Interactive Response 1.2, a platform that lets call centres set up "self service" capabilities through IVR, with support for Voice Extensible Markup Language.
— Outbound Contact Management, which can manage outbound calling activities and includes new features for handling "do not call" lists.
— Operational Analyst 6.1, a module that lets users monitor and produce reports on call-centre activity, such as tracking average call length and call-flow patterns.
Each of these modules can now run on an IBM 's AIX, Sun Microsystems 's Solaris and Microsoft 's Windows-based server platforms. Users can choose which modules they want to install and run them on one server or on separate servers in different locations. Avaya says this could let a business extend IVR to multiple call-centre sites by extending the application over an IP wide area network.
The software will work with Avaya Definity ACDs, and TDM- and IP-based ACD hardware from Nortel and Aspect, two of Avaya's top competitors in the call-centre market.