Pagemart Wireless call center needed to span five locations. It needed
seamless integration of voice and data traffic, and partners to help it move into web-based customer self-help and e-commerce.
Williams Communications Solutions (Houston, TX 888-994-5835,
) custom programing and suite of Dialect call center products (Call Manager, Data Repository, Databas Gateway, Desktop Integrator).
Three Nortel Networks (St. John NB, Canada 800-4-NORTEL,
) Symposium IVR servers.
Three Nortel Meridian 1 PBXs with Nortel ACD.
Vantive (Santa Clara, CA 408-982-5700,
) CRM software.
Dialogics (Parsippany, NJ 973-993-3000,
) CT Connect switch-to-app middleware.
Pagemart can handle customer service calls for 55+ resellers of their paging
service, across five Texas locations, using top-notch skills-based routing. E-commerce and multi-media integration are now being investigated with the same vendor.
PageMart Wireless, Inc., maintains a paging network used by over 2.5 million U.S. subscribers, who buy their service through such resellers as Radio Shack. PageMarts National Service Center handles all customer service, receiving from 8,000 to 17,000 calls per day. People call to activate pagers, recharge their
accounts through credit cards, report problems, ask about area coverage, and check account status.
The service center now spans five physical locations, since it takes three Texas towns Dallas, Amarillo, and San Antonio to supply the necessary human resources. Nortels Network ACD links three Meridian switches over ISDN links, making them all operate as one, with skills-based routing seeking agents in any of the centers.
Not so long ago (early 97) PageMarts routing
wasnt nearly so nifty. Their system could pull unique DNIS numbers off 800 lines, so each reseller could be greeted appropriately thats about it. Then Williams Communications, who had earlier installed the Meridians for PageMart, added the infrastructure necessary to show agents who they were talking to, ship calls and data from one center to the other, and show management how customers were being served.
Williams servers and custom integration programming now send the call with the
associated Vantive customer screen, and with IVR-captured data.
Williams Symposium Open IVR server lets PageMart handle a percentage of calls without human intervention. It also lets them capture IVR information and route calls based on this data, as well as tracking calls across the entire five-location enterprise. The IVR app was programmed through Nortels OEMed version of Voicetecs Generations tool. Identical IVRs front all three Meridians.
If the caller needs an agent, his call
is then transferred to the ACD. The infrastructure for the switch is a private ISDN network, and the responsibility for marrying the call and the data together is handled by Williams Call Manager product, says Glenn Wyman, Williams Manager, Integrated Systems. A callers IVR-entered information gets stored in Williams Dialect Data Repository (DDR), a transient store of live call information. The Call Manager polls for a local agent with matching skills, talking to the switch via
Dialogics CT Connect middleware.
If no appropriate agent is found by the local switch, the call is transferred to another site on the network. When the call appears on the receiving switch, CT Connect tells the local Call Manager server that a new call is ringing. It pulls out of that notice the network caller ID, sees that the call came from San Antonio, goes and fetches the Data Repository data from San Antonio, and puts it in Austins DDR. The Austin agents Desktop Integrator gets
it, displays it in an interim Visual Basic screen pop, and Vantive shows up simultaneously (or one to two seconds later).
When we began, explains Mike Hardy, Pagemarts Director of Operations, the Vantive screen was as much as 30 to 45 seconds in coming. To make sure that agents knew at least whatever the IVR had been able to learn about the caller, the sub-second VB pop was inserted. Internal enhancements in our database and storage improvements have now
allowed us to speed up the Vantive pop to be simultaneous. But the VB pop still lets agents know what transpired in the IVR, and also color-codes the customer according to his or her value to PageMart..
Any problems? We definitely had some database integration issues, due to internal IS situations. We had about a 60 percent turnover in IS the last year. Responsible parties were no longer available. If it hadnt been for Williams and their dedication to bringing this online, we probably still
wouldnt have it working. Glenn and his team did the vast majority of the programming, provided the Oracle integration requirements to our ISA group, to the level of actually doing the programming and saying, this is where you have to put it.
At which point, Glenn pipes up to plug another Williams piece, the Database Gateway. This sits between the IVR system and the Oracle database, minimizing the number of direct connections to the database, keeping the IVR app live in case
Oracle becomes unavailable, providing alternative ways to handle the call, and automatically reconnecting at the first opportunity.
The IVR Server off the Meridian runs on SCO Unix, and also includes a fax-on-demand for faxing callers maps of their paging coverage area. The CT Server, with CT Connect, Dialect Call Manager, Dialect Data Repository, and Database Gateway, runs on Windows NT. The Dialect Desktop Integrator, running on agents Win 95 Desktops, adds soft-phone functionality, allowing agents to
take, drop, and transfer calls.
At the time of our interview, Mike Hardy was planning a more-or-less-immediate trip to Williams Woodbridge, NJ labs in search of added call center functionality; call-back requests from queue, hold-time announcements, and the whole multi-media-contact, e-commerce ball of web wax.
Im a firm believer in single-source vendor operation, says Mike. Multi-vendor solutions just complicate the issues in an already complicated
technology picture. Our goals today are full e-commerce. We want a complete CRM database. We want as much customer self-service as we can possibly provide, including the ability to activate pagers, buy debit cards and recurring charge cards, activate trouble tickets, provide complete billing, payment by credit card or bank draft, as part of our future applications.