Article : The Art of the Possible: DTMF and the Cloud in Call Centres
The use of DTMF (dual tone multi frequency) is commonplace today in telephony systems and is a universal technology through which many of us interact on a daily basis. Known by many as the "Touchtone" phone, DTMF is the signal to the phone company that is generated when an ordinary telephone's touch keys are pressed. So that a voice can't imitate the tones, with DTMF one tone is generated from a high-frequency group of tones and the other from a low frequency group.
Guiding the customer seamlessly through a call
Today DTMF has replaced the traditional ("pulse") dialling and is often what is used when making a call to a call centre. The recorded message from an IVR system, "Please choose from one of the following options…" guides the user through the call, pressing the keypad to pay a bill, register a service call or be routed to an agent.
For many of us pressing the keypad is second nature and we don’t really think about what goes on behind the scenes. In fact, when a call is handled by an interactive voice system (IVR), it is DTMF technology that is key to routing the call.
Often if the IVR is connected to a fully automated payment system, the caller can provide requested card details to make payments. The IVR collects this information and carries out the processes, advising the caller whether the payment was successful or not.
DTMF benefits contact centre agents, too
While the customer is familiar with this process, the contact centre agent can also benefit from the same technology when handling a call. An agent can press the buttons on his or her phone keypad at different times to send the caller a survey or simply transfer the call to another department.
The technology can be applied even further, enabling an agent to carry out complicated tasks, including recording of calls. With access to a host of applications on the desktop, agents can manage the calls, pausing and resuming recording where needed.
Extending the possibilities to an outsourced call centre
But what happens when the call centre reaches full capacity or during out of hours, when calls are routed to an outsourcing company, where they may not have the same level of control or access to these applications?
In the past the only way to give the outsource call centre access to some of the main call centre functions was to develop customised integrated solutions - often complicated and costly, as well as introducing potential security issues.
With an integration in the cloud approach, call handling systems can interface with virtually anything, extending the functionality of the call centre seamlessly. Using the same DTMF technology, outsourced call centre agents can use the necessary functions, like pause and resume, simply by pressing a button on their telephone keypad without any additional local hardware or software. All of the intelligence and complex functionality resides in the cloud application, which can be connected to, and accessed by, a tone generated by the keypad indicating a routing required.
Cloud technology that delivers optimum customer service on demand
So what else might be possible? In such a scenario, one could imagine that an outsource agent might press a button to initiate a logging request that creates an entry in the main call centre CRM application, which matches the caller’s phone number or customer reference.
This log in turn may be defined as a request for follow up by another specialised team based in the main call centre. Since the contact centre software is aware of the type of request, it can then allocate this request to an appropriately skilled agent with a screen pop up of the customer’s details on the CRM and at the same time dial the customer.
With cloud solutions, this is not just wishful thinking, but possible today, reducing complex requirements into simple tones.
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Published: Friday, December 4, 2015