Avaya boosts call centers with IP apps

Avaya this week launched a host of IP-based contact center products aimed at companies looking to converge voice and data in large or small telephone customer service operations.

Avaya's Call Center 3.0 software lets businesses deploy call centers that can span geographic regions, but are managed as a single center via IP, the vendor says. New features in the software include the ability to fail over an entire call center to an alternate or back-up location. Also on tap are software for making call center agents more productive and tools for better analyzing the performance of a contact center, the vendor says.

Call Center 3.0 works with Avaya's Communication Manager software -- the vendor's core IP PBX platform which runs on a variety of Linux server hardware built specifically for telephony. The Call Center software queues phone calls and organizes agents into groups.

Version 3.0 of the software includes a IP WAN failover option, allowing one or more segments of a dispersed call center running off of one Avaya server to fail over to another server in case of a hardware or software crash. Primary and back-up servers can be located anywhere across a corporate IP network. (In the past, it was required that back-up call servers be in the same location as primary servers).

This service is of interest to CDW, the computer and network equipment reseller, which runs seven Avaya-based call centers nationwide for sales and customer support.

"We've used IP for a long time to trunk together different [call center] sites," says Rebecca Gosse, telecom specialist with CDW. This has allowed the company to save on toll costs for routing calls to different agents.

With five of its centers on Avaya's IP-based Communication Manager servers (running older versions of Call Center), Gosse says CDW is looking to upgrade to provide that ability to fail over an entire site to another Avaya Linux-based switch over the IP WAN.

The Avaya Call Center 3.0 software is available now and costs US$100 to US$1,000 per agent, depending on deployment size. The software competes with call center products from 3Com, Alcatel, Aspect, Cisco, Ericsson, NEC, Nortel and Siemens.

In addition to the base Call Center software, several other Avaya call center products are now available. Among these are:

  • Advanced Segmentation Routing 3.0: a separate server-based application that provides application screen pops to agents, matching computer records with the caller's ID. The software costs US$1,700 per agent.
  • Interaction Center 7.0: a server platform allowing agents to run an application screen that combines Web chat and e-mail with customers in addition to IP phone communications. The new software comes in a browser-based interface and works with Nortel, Aspect and Ericsson switches, in addition to Avaya gear. The cost is US$1,200 to US$4,000 per agent.
  • IP Agent 6.0: a softphone application for call center agents, combining a softphone client with instant messaging, presence management, click-to-dial from Microsoft Outlook e-mail, and the option to integrate with Avaya IP or digital desktop phones. The client costs US$150 per agent, and requires Avaya's Converged Communication Server, which starts at US$6,100.
  • Operational Analyst 7.0: software that allows call center managers to generate reports with report-building "wizard" interfaces. Includes modules that measure call center agent productivity per hour in dollar amounts. This package costs US$700 to US$1,300 per agent.

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