The Tools of the Trade

Traditional call centers rely on a plethora of technologies and management

tools including routing systems, automatic call distribution, interactive

voice response systems and customer relationship management software. A

fully integrated contact center would include those technologies, plus the

following Web capabilities.

E-mail. Largely ubiquitous, this capability allows customers not in a hurry

to ask a question of an agent at any time and go about their business. Ideal

for receiving lengthy instructions on technical and financial questions,

as well as anything that requires a written record.

Text chat. Also known as instant messaging or Web text collaboration, this

technology offers customers surfing a Web page to have a private real-time

one-on-one typed chat with an agent about specifics on a Web page. Ideal

for citizens who have only one phone line.

Callback. By clicking on a button on a Web page, a customer can have an

agent call when they're available. The advantages are that the customer

doesn't have to wait in queue and the agent knows exactly where the customer

has been on the Web site. The disadvantage is a customer has to have two

phone lines to view the Web site and talk.

Co-browsing. In a co-browsing or collaborative Web session, an agent walks

a customer through the Web site, pushing out Web sites, files or documents

as needed.

Voice over IP. Also known as Internet telephony or call through, this bleeding-edge

technology will enable customers with one phone line (as well as a multimedia

PC with speakers and microphone) to see visual information displayed while

speaking with an agent.

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