Until now, call centres have been utilised mainly by larger businesses and based on proprietary PBX systems. Now Clear Communications is offering a call-centre solution for small to medium-sized businesses based on Windows NT.
Barry Everett, business manager of Clear’s call centre solutions group, believes the product, AgentXpressNT from Washington-based Applied Voice Technology (APT), is the first NT-based call centre offering in the country, though a couple of PBX-on-NT solutions are also available.
“The market in New Zealand has either been network-based call-centre offerings which service multiple locations, or the traditional PBX-based solution.”
Everett says Clear has been in the traditional market for about four years, but needed specific call-centre solutions for small and medium-sized (five to 50 seats) businesses.
Clear has been offering AgentExpress, along with support and consultation, for several months and has three customers including the helpdesk of its own ISP — Clear Net — and Lower Hutt-based call-centre bureau Corporate Call Centre.
Laura Johnson, director of call-centre marketing for APT, says there is a strong trend toward open systems call centres and what she terms “informal” call centres.
“The traditional call-centre products were niche and proprietary, going after areas such as telemarketing, hotels — any type of reservation environment.
“We see call centres changing to address a department within a business such as technical support or order entry.” In the near future, call centres will not only handle live telephone calls, but email messages and Web site requests as well, says Johnson.
Johnson does not suggest people get rid of the PBX and replace it with an NT-based solution. “Most people have made a considerable investment in their PBX. This is a complementary service. It can take call centre calls and offload them from the PBX, thus easing traffic on the main switch. It’s a gradual migration.”
However, Hamilton-based Talking Technologies offers an NT-based PBX system from Altigen with a phone console application for up to 120 extensions, while Auckland-based Call Time International is planning to offer an NT-based PBX system called Enterprise Interaction Center from Interactive Intelligence which serves about 200 users.