Interactive Intelligence -- a pioneer in computer telephony integration and unified messaging, as well as one of the leading makers of contact center software and phone systems -- is gearing up to launch a nifty little application that alerts users of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging that they have received a new voice mail message via an indicator light on their office phones. The new standalone app, called Interaction Message Indicator, is just one more way that Interactive Intelligence’s advanced software solutions can be integrated with Exchange Server 2007. The app works with existing third-party phone systems, including the Interactive Intelligence IP PBX, and monitors Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging mailboxes so that users are alerted to new voicemail messages as they arrive via the indicator light. In other words, if you are at your desk but your PC or mobile computing device isn’t turned on, you can still be alerted when a new message arrives on Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging via a light on your desktop phone. The application offers a Web-based interface for easy set-up, administration, monitoring and reporting. In a press release, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Joseph A. Staples said Interactive Intelligence developed the Interaction Message Indicator “as a direct result of customer requests.” “This move underlines our commitment to offer Microsoft customers critical functionality backed by more than a decade of experience developing applications for the Microsoft platform,” he said. Staples said Interactive Intelligence plans to roll out more complementary applications for Exchange Server 2007 UM based customer demand, such as personal notification features, in the near future. Interactive Intelligence is demonstrating its Interaction Message Indicator at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, being held this week at the Denver Convention Center. The app will be available in Q3 2007 through Interactive Intelligence’s global channel of more than 250 value-added resellers. For more information, visit http://www.inin.com/Products/imi.
Contact center solutions provider Amcat has reportedly developed new enterprise IP contact center software -- Amcat Interactions -- that, according to the company, “enables contact center managers to overcome the architectural restrictions they face with current systems.” This comprehensive suite, which is based on open standards, offers ACD, IVR, inbound call handling, predictive dialing, email, SMS and other software bundled on a single platform. This powerful IP-based solution provides voice and data communication for the entire enterprise. From this news it sounds like the company has developed its first fully “virtualized” contact center offering where all end-points on the network are in effect “equal,” thus breaking down the boundaries that have, until recently, kept call centers “centered.” These new SIP-based offerings are what finally enable call centers to make effective use of remote agents. With these new “virtualized” call center environments, all an agent needs in order to get on the network is a PC, a broadband connection, a headset, some SIP-based telephony software and his/her log on. That’s why they are so ideal for facilitating the remote agent model. This type of solution is also ideal for facilitating the “informal contact center” model, where other knowledge workers across the enterprise are connected to the system and can help out with specific customer problems as they arise. In this sense, the solution provides a true enterprise communications platform. Because it is centrally managed, the solution is also ideal for managing multiple call centers in different locations.
Hawaiian Airlines might be the latest company to discover that outsourcing your call center operations to overseas isn’t always the greatest move. According to an article in the Honolulu Advertiser and reprinted in USA Today, Hawaiian Airlines’ customers are facing average hold times of 30 to 45 minutes when they call the airline’s call center in the Philippines – and apparently many of them are quite irate. Although a representative from the airline claimed in the article that the delays were due to a spike in call volume, and would have occurred even if the call center was based in the U.S., he did admit that some of the agents in the call center are new trainees and that this was contributing to the long hold times. According to the article, the airline’s call center operator, Citel, is hiring 40 additional workers to handle the increased volume. In addition, it is providing additional training to the agents to help them handle calls more expeditiously. We’ve seen this happen before – where an airline farms out its call center operations to the Philippines or India and the level of customer service plummets. As the article points out, the airlines are more financially challenged than ever – with fuel prices and labor costs now rising – so it’s no wonder that they’re looking to cut costs whatever way they can. At the same, though, it can be argued that they are causing more damage to their business than they are helping it. The call center is your customer touch-point – the front line between your organization and your customers – and if you make people wait on hold for 45 minutes and then give them lousy service on top of it, you’re going to lose customers.