Avaya suite extends call-center apps

Avaya Inc. 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, e-mail 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 organize 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"There are a lot of out-of-date call centres out there," she says.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, e-mails 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 Corp.'s AIX, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris and Microsoft Corp.'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.

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