Monday, May 14, 2012

Alternative Implementation of Call Center

Most call centers needs sophisticated call management software to distribute calls among the call center workers. Asterix and openpbx are few open source alternatives.  Basically the core design in based on proxy/middleware architecture. I am sure this is expensive.

An alternative way to implement the same functionality would be to use say smartphone based apps. Instead of putting your switching logic on the server, the same can be accomplished via the client. The idea is instead of pushing logic into the IVR or call proxy, use the internet connection and the computing power of the smart phone and your normal webserver (in your favorite langauge) handle the logic aspect of the call and then just make the app call the right number for the job. The approach has multiple benefits.
  • Use phone to store the answers to most stupid questions asked like name of the customer, address of the customer, even phone number of the customer, his choice of language and customer specific ids like account number or customer identification number or may be the receipt number etc. No need to waste time. 
  • Even if the stored information is insufficient, you could let the customer enter it on his mobile device instead of doing it over the IVR.
  • Customer can talk to the same guy he talked to earlier and save time. This helps the customer by skipping the context and generates faster response time.
  • No need to buy a special number. Just expose a web API which tells the phone app which number to call based on the information stored in the phone. Put whatever logic you need to put into that web API like .... if customer has called 5 times and the issue is not yet resolved, automatically route the call to the manager. The numbers could be regular mobile numbers or desk phone numbers of the employees. 
  • Very easy for the customer to give feedback. You have complete power of the webapp at your disposal. 
  • Very easy to implement say a work queue....customer simply presses a button and says call me back. Why wait.
Most "customers" already have smartphones and the ones that don't have are going to have them in next few years. By using the internet connection on phones and their computing power, it is possible to build much better customer management solution at fraction of the cost by offloading the "logic" to the app and webapi and use usual phone number to do the actual talking. Somehow we are still stuck in pushing logic into the phone line. 

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