5 9s Resilience
See 99.999% Resilience.
A platform or service that has 99.999% resilience offers the highest industry standard in guaranteed up-time.
ACD enables calls to be intelligently routed to different agents based on pre-defined rules. At a basic level, this may mean that a caller’s Dual Tone Multi Frequency (DTMF) selections in the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) menu define which agent skill-group they speak to (for instance, a reservations line for bookings or a customer service line for enquiries & feedback). At a more advanced level, callers can be routed depending on agent availability, the date or time of day, or any known information about the caller which can be linked to their Calling Line Identity (CLI).
ASR allows callers to input data or navigate an IVR menu by speaking instead of using DTMF keys.
Fundamentally, automation is what technology is all about: accelerating key operational processes to drive efficiency. What is a keyboard but an automatic writing device? What is a phone but an automatic communication device? What is IVR but a system for automatic service delivery over the phone? At Content Guru, we are constantly looking for new ways to make technology work for our customers, cutting out the sticking points in key processes and streamlining their organisation.
Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms.
CLI is a feature which enables telephony devices to recognise the origin of an incoming call or message, usually given in the form of a phone number.
We usually use ‘capacity’ to refer to size and scale, in terms of the number of interactions that can occur simultaneously on a single platform. For instance, storm® has the capacity to handle 30,000 simultaneous connections, making it Europe’s largest interactive platform.
See also Resilience.
Capex is a lump sum of initial investment. Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) communications solutions require high capex because hardware must be bought and physically installed, often across multiple sites. By contrast, hosted or cloud solutions can be plugged into remotely, with minimal capex and costs being paid on an operational basis.
Cloud technology enables the provisioning of Software or Communications-as-a-Service. Instead of requiring hardware to be physically present on-premise, a solution that is ‘hosted in the cloud’ will be based on hardware and software which is physically located elsewhere, and which can be accessed remotely. Different users can be assigned separate partitions all on one platform in the cloud, allowing them all to use the same piece of hardware as if it were their own, without interfering with each other.
Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics: On-Demand Self-Service, Broad Network Access, Resource Pooling, Rapid Elasticity and Measured Service. Three service models: Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service. And four deployment models: Private Cloud, Community Cloud, Public Cloud and Hybrid Cloud.
Communications Integration includes the following three different capability sets, which are all supported on the storm platform.
i) The integration of different communications channels (See Multi-Channel). By bringing voice, SMS, MMS, email, Internet and many other forms of communication all through one platform, organisations can benefit from much greater flexibility. If their customers prefer to communicate via SMS, they can receive the messages to their Inbox as emails and send an SMS back from their mail client. If they miss a call, instead of checking their voicemail, it can go to their Inbox as an email attachment. And if they wish to see all customer interactions in one place at the same time, they can see all their communications traffic at a glance on one dashboard.
ii) The integration of data and communications. All organisations have to deal with large amounts of data. It can cost thousands just to ensure that the right person has the right piece of information at the right time. But because storm can integrate with over 100 different types of databases, the cost and administrative burden of moving data around can be dramatically reduced. For instance, our clients in the utilities sector no longer make their customers wait to speak to an agent when there is a power outage: when their monitoring system registers a fault, via integration with storm, a message is immediately sent to customers in the affected areas. And if customers do call up, their call comes through the storm platform and they are played a message informing them of the situation.
iii) Integration with existing equipment. Because storm is based on open standards, it is not necessary for our clients to replace their telephony estate. If they have a perfectly functional Private Branch Exchange (PBX) but they need some more advanced capabilities, they can overlay storm, bringing their legacy infrastructure together and offering powerful new features.
The Community Cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organisations that have shared concerns.
By enabling computers and telephones to exchange data, a range of new functionality becomes available. For instance, it is possible to present information on screen simultaneously with an incoming call, such as a script based upon known information linked to the caller’s CLI.
A contact centre is the first point of contact which a customer reaches when calling an organisation on the phone. Normally the term refers to a physical building or room full of call handling agents, which an organisation sets up once they reach a certain size in order to rationalise their communications infrastructure. By handling calls in one place, multi-sited organisations can save on line rentals and provide a single point of contact for customers who wish to reach them on the phone. However, centralisation has its drawbacks. There is a stigma around contact centres, and people often associate them with long queues and poor service. Furthermore, any organisation whose brand is heavily dependent its geographic origin, and the idea of providing a local service, can suffer as a result. That’s where a virtualised contact centre in the cloud can make all the difference, enabling organisations to keep their geographic numbers and provide a local service from a central point of contact.
Content is interactive data. It is usually associated with the words, images and videos on a website, but at Content Guru we take a much broader view of what content means. It is about bringing data to life, not just on a web page but throughout an organisation. Organisations should be able to benefit from the same kind of interactivity enjoyed by consumers every day, whereby the information they need is placed at their disposal. That’s why we enable our clients to access storm from anywhere through a browser-based portal, which enables them to control and customise their services using tools which are simple to manipulate, displayed on intuitive and user-friendly GUIs.
The bringing together of disparate silos of technology. This may refer to disparate data systems or communications technologies, or to distinct modules located at separate sites.
CPE solutions are based on hardware or software located at a customer’s premises. This contrasts with hosted or cloud solutions, which do not require large initial investments since it is all accessible remotely through the network.
CRM involves the use of technology to automate and optimise key processes in the management of an organisations customer relationships, the aim being to attract and win new customers while reducing churn.
Whenever an end-user is putting information into a system, the system is said to be capturing data. This could refer to anything from filling out fields on an online registration form, to speaking a postcode or tapping in payment information as part of an automated IVR process.
A DDI is an internal telephone extension, enabling outside callers to reach a specific person within an organisation directly instead of having to be forwarded from a switchboard.
A disaster recovery solution is designed to address the issue of guaranteeing business continuity in the event of unforeseen technical problems.
The technology behind ‘touchtone’ telephony.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
ERP applications bring together critical management information from a spectrum of different business processes.
A fixed line connection links the customer’s premises directly to the carrier network.
A flexible solution can be adapted to new requirements quickly and easily. Cloud solutions tend to be highly flexible, because they enable the customer to control their services from any location through a browser-based portal. The solution itself can also be increased or decreased in complexity very easily, because costs are charged on an operational basis. For instance, a customer may start off with a simple automated pay-by-phone solution hosted in the cloud, but as their business grows they may wish to adopt a Centrex solution or even a full Contact Centre deployment. Additional services can also be trialled on a proof-of-concept basis with minimal risk to the customer due to the minimal capex requirements.
Any telephone number beginning with 01 or 02, with a 4 or 5 digit area code.
A GUI is an interactive display from which a user can manipulate data and processes. All storm services are controlled from intuitive GUIs.
With hunting, calls to a single number can be distributed to multiple extensions in a ‘hunt group’. Multiple phones can ring simultaneously to be answered by whoever picks up first, or each line can ring in series until somebody is available to answer. The idea is to reduce the number of calls being abandoned because the line is busy, helping callers get through more easily.
Within a Hybrid Cloud the infrastructure comprises of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community or public) that are unique entities but bound together by standardised technology that enables data and application portability.
Providing the consumer with the capability to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where they are able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure.
Inbound traffic refers to calls and messages coming into an organisation, usually from customers or stakeholders. Most organisations beyond a certain size will use an IVR system to greet inbound callers and direct them via ACD to the service they require in the contact centre. A full contact centre solution will also include full monitoring capabilities, enabling analysis of patterns in communications traffic for the purpose of optimising operational efficiency and enhancing the customer experience.
ISDN enables the digital transmission of voice, video, data and other network services over the traditional circuits of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
IVR enables automated self-service over the phone, giving callers a number of options to choose from via DTMF inputs and ASR. Based on the caller’s selections, messages can be played offering access to further services, or the call can be intelligently routed to a live agent (see ACD) in a contact centre. As the first point of contact for callers trying to reach an organisation over the phone, it is crucial that IVR menus are efficiently structured and well adapted to the needs of the caller. A negative experience with the IVR leads to customer complaints and a reputation for poor service, whereas a good experience makes the customer feel valued and keeps them satisfied.
The international standard for data security.
The international standard for quality in service delivery.
Mass interaction is not the same thing as mass communication. Mass communication enables people to communicate with each other one-on-one, or for organisations to communicate with large groups of people simultaneously. Mass interaction, on the other hand, is a new level of engagement. It’s about thousands of people holding a conversation on the same online forum or social networking site; it’s about enabling organisations to treat every one of their millions of customers as individuals, simultaneously if necessary; and it’s about letting people choose how they want to interact, whether it be online, on the phone, via SMS, or on the TV (see Multi-Channel Communications).
Cloud systems automatically control and optimise resource by leveraging a metering capability at a level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service.
People communicate in dozens of different ways in their daily lives, and each different method can serve a different purpose. If it’s urgent, they may make a phone call; if they’re on a noisy train, they may use SMS; if they want to send a link to website, they may use email; every method of interaction has its place, and preferences vary from person to person. In order to provide the standard of service which the consumer has come to expect, organisations need to be able to interact using whichever method of communication the customer prefers. The problem for many organisations is that managing all these different interactions be a huge task. That’s one of the problems we can solve with communications integration on the storm platform.
Any telephone number beginning with 08 (0800, 0845, 0843 etc).
A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.
Opex refers to costs paid on an ongoing, or operational, basis. For instance, communications solutions hosted in the cloud can be plugged into remotely, with minimal capex and costs being paid on an operational basis. By contrast, CPE solutions require high capex because hardware must physically be bought and installed, often across multiple sites.
Outbound calls are calls made by a contact centre agent or member of an organisation to a customer or stakeholder. Outbound can also refer to other forms of communications, particularly mass email or SMS messaging, useful for direct marketing campaigns, notifications, alerting and reminder services.
See also Pro-Active Contact, Inbound, Multi-Channel Communications, CRM.
The standard for payment systems, set out by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. Payment systems which fail to comply with the standard can be vulnerable to data theft, which can have disastrous consequences. One little-known fact is that, according to the PCI DSS, a system which permits a live call handling agent to receive payment details cannot be considered compliant. It is essential that all payment data be kept out of the hands of third parties when a transaction is taking place, to avoid the possibility of fraud.
See also ISO 27001.
Every customer has individual requirements, and wants to be treated as a separate entity. But the larger an organisation is, the harder it is for it to provide a personalised service to its customers. The more common enquiries can be anticipated, and IVR scripts can be updated over time to reflect the customer’s most likely needs. But communications integration is the only way achieve a truly personalised standard of service on a mass scale. If data and communications systems to work together, customers can be automatically greeted by name and offered a service appropriate to them based on their past purchases and known preferences. Furthermore, if it is known that a particular customer has an ongoing enquiry in progress, they can be routed directly to appropriate service, while the relevant information appears on-screen (using CTI) for the benefit of the agent handling the call.
The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider. The consumer has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment but does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure.
Solutions hosted through the cloud are generally accessed and controlled via a web-based portal. This gives organisations full mobility as standard, because instead of having to install applications on every machine and paying for separate licences for each one across the organisation, they can simply log on and use the service through their internet browser. Licences are virtualised, meaning that they are not associated with individual devices, but can be reassigned to different users around an organisation freely.
See also Cloud.
A PBX is a private telephone exchange used by an individual organisation as opposed to a public exchange operated by a carrier. PBXs offer greatly reduced costs on internal phone calls, as well as a range of additional telephony capabilities not available through the carrier network, including hunt groups, call forwarding and Direct Dial-In’s (DDIs) at a basic level, or full contact centre capabilities such as CPE, Contact Centre, ACD, ASR
Private Cloud refers to the cloud infrastructure that has been provisioned for exclusive use by a single organisation.
Most organisations take a reactive approach to customer service: a customer has a problem; the customer calls the organisation; the organisation attempts to deal with the problem. But for most organisations, many customer problems and complaints – indeed the majority of them – will be predictable. When there is a power outage, electricity distributors receive thousands of calls from concerned customers asking when the lights will come back on; when there is heavy snowfall, transport companies receive thousands of calls asking which trains or planes have been affected and how badly; and when engineering works commence on a major motorway, the local council receives thousands of calls asking why and for how long they will continue.
Mass inbound call events, which occur as a result of such incidents, put enormous pressure on contact centres, as agents get bogged down handling disgruntled customers and queues build up. But if the information which all of these upset and worried people require is already known to the organisation, there is no reason not to be pro-active about informing them, thus preventing many potential callers from ever picking up the phone. No reason, that is, other than lack of resource: contact centre agents are so busy reacting when the phone rings that they have no time to send people messages.
That’s why pro-active contact has to be automated to a great extent if it is to be successful. It seems like such a simple idea – for instance, electricity distributors are constantly monitoring their power network for problems using an extremely powerful data system. They know when an outage has occurred, and indeed in many cases they will know before it happens. But that data system has no communications capabilities, so there is no way of getting that vital information to the customer. Through the power of Communications Integration, organisations can act upon information as soon as it is known, informing the stakeholders concerned and thereby mitigating the impact on their call centre.
In addition, pro-active reminders and confirmations can help increase efficiency and bolster revenue streams on a day-to-day basis by ensuring that customers don’t forget to renew subscriptions and policies. This saves time for admin and contact centre staff who would normally have had to chase up non-payers. Appointment reminders are also a useful way to cut down on DNAs (Did Not Attends), preventing unnecessary cost and inefficiency. Customer service is not just about doing the minimum required to stop the customer from complaining or taking their patronage elsewhere: it’s about going the extra mile to ensure that the customer is both happy and co-operative, reducing churn and making sure revenue opportunities are not lost.
The infrastructure of a Public cloud is provisioned for open use by the general public.
The world’s public telephone network.
See also ISDN
Nobody likes being stuck in a queue on the phone. Various methods have been attempted to alleviate the problem of queuing: on-hold music; messages to tell people where they are in the queue; even promotional messages, in an effort to make a virtue of necessity. But on the whole these measures only serve to antagonise the caller further, meaning the customer who is eventually put through to an agent is already irritated before the conversation has even begun.
The only real solution is to try and minimise or eliminate queuing altogether, but that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Increasing agent capacity is expensive, and if traffic is unpredictable or highly variable then additional staff may be on stand-by for long periods of time, and still unable to deal with the peaks effectively. One solution is to contact customers pro-actively when something causes a known spike in traffic, giving them the information they need and thereby preventing them from having to call up at all (see Pro-active Contact for more information). But if they do call up, the key is to ensure that the IVR menu is fully optimised to provide as high a level as possible of service to the customer automatically, without needing to involve a live agent. Full visibility into the customer journey through the IVR menu is essential, in order to identify and iron out the key points of failure in the system.
When properly optimised, IVR has the power to minimise the queuing problem which means happier customers. On top of which, since availability is no longer an issue, agents can get on with higher value tasks, improving efficiency and enhancing service levels still further.
Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, sometimes automatically, to scale rapid outward and inward commensurate with demand..
A redundant system will consist of at least two independent pieces of hardware, usually at separate sites for added resilience. When one piece of hardware fails, the other(s) ensure(s) that full service continuity is maintained.
See also 99.999% Resilience.
See 99.999% Resilience.
Pooling of the providers computing resource to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.
A scalable solution can be increased or decreased in size and/or complexity with impunity. Cloud-based solutions can be scaled up and down according to requirements as an organisation expands or downsizes, because costs are charged on an operational basis and capacity is, for all intents and purposes, unlimited. CPE solutions can scale up, but only with limited flexibility because each model of PBX has a set maximum capacity. An organisation which needs 250 seats may be forced to choose between a 200-seater, insufficient to their needs, or a 500-seater, an over-engineered solution. And CPE solutions cannot scale down at all, because once the PBX is on-site, the capex has been paid and cannot be retrieved. That means that an organisation that is downsizing will end up with excessive capacity which is not being used. Scalability is almost always considered a desirable trait in an IT or telephony solution for any organisation, because it allows them to adapt to unforeseen events.
SIP Trunking provides a dedicated VoIP connection between Cloud-based telephony services and your IP-enabled on-premise PBX. They allow you to benefit from the cost savings, flexibility and features of VoIP without having to replace your existing equipment. By deploying a SIP Gateway, you can even handle VoIP calls using your existing TDM equipment and handsets.
Social networking is the technology pioneering the concept of mass interaction. Users do not simply send each other messages through Facebook and Twitter: they interact. They hold discussions, form groups, organise events and start online communities. They are the platform for COINs (Community of Interest Networks) in the digital age. Organisations around the world have begun to see social networking as a powerful tool for engaging with customers in new ways, revolutionising service delivery and opening up new channels to market.
TickIT procedures are guidelines to help software developers conform to the ISO 9001 standard of quality in service delivery.
Touchtone inputs, also known as DTMF inputs, are the key presses made by a caller. The term is usually associated with the navigation of an IVR menu.
VoIP is the technology behind internet telephony, allowing voice to be transferred via the internet instead of through a traditional ISDN connection.
WAP enables users to access internet applications on their mobile phone.