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Avaya Call Center 5.0 Features New Capabilities
The telecommunications powerhouse promises the new release will help businesses improve the overall customer experience -- and cut costs.
Posted Jan 21, 2008
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Avaya today announced a slew of new customer service solutions in its Call Center 5.0 suite, looking to provide businesses with a more cost-effective, simplified, and productive way to deliver the experience consumers have come to expect. The telecommunications vendor also believes this release marks yet another step in the transition of its corporate focus from hardware to software. The 5.0 release -- available in standard and enhanced editions, each of which offers bundled, end-to-end contact center solutions -- became generally available at the beginning of January, according to the company. Colleen Aguirre, Avaya's director of product management, says the common thread in the new release is Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), an industry standard enabling businesses to take advantage of open environments and multimedia communications. "The main thing for our contact center customers is that we're delivering a true end-to-end SIP environment," she explains, adding that Avaya is hoping to help make the most of the SIP standard. "We have worked extensively with service providers in the United States so we could actually help them and ourselves define what the standard should be for utilizing SIP within a contact center," she adds. Aguirre notes that the main benefits of SIP revolve around cost and greater flexibility and productivity for contact center agents -- and for consumers as well. "The SIP capabilities can enhance the experience for the end customer," she says. "It can make the overall enterprise much more cost-effective, and for the agent experience it can simplify what the agent is looking at in terms of the new telephone and the new capabilities we provide." Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst of McGee-Smith Analytics, says SIP can also contribute to interoperability. "SIP makes multisite networking for remote agents, branch offices, and multiple-site call centers easier to support," she explains. "It also allows communications to become embedded in enterprise applications more easily because [SIP] is more standards-based."
The new features in Avaya Call Center 5.0 include:
  • Avaya Agent Deskphone 16CC, a hardphone giving contact center agents essential features while also allowing for presence-based capabilities such as identifying real-time availability of experts;
  • Avaya Interactive Voice and Video Response, a self-service solution delivering multimedia, personalized customer experiences through video content; and
  • Avaya Proactive Contact 4.0, a customer-outreach solution with "wizards" enabling contact center supervisors to create and edit customer lists by themselves.
The new SIP contact center phone does not require the addition of a softphone or other computer-telephony integration (CTI) middleware, further streamlining savings and network management, according to Aguirre. Softphones, she says, can send true SIP messages but would require the customer to install additional CTI servers, which could drive up cost. At a list price of $355, the hardphone not only provides the low-cost environment businesses are looking for, but the security as well. "Our customers like the stability of having the hardphone [in the contact center]," she explains. "They can pick it up; they know it will be there." McGee-Smith says the Avaya Agent Deskphone is a feature not currently being offered by any other contact center solution provider. "As a leader in the contact center, Avaya is more apt to support that horizontal application first, and they have," she says. "We don't see anybody else with a specific instrument just for the contact center that's SIP-based." The Avaya Interactive Voice and Video Response enables improved overall customer experiences, according to Aguirre. For customers calling in from a 3G mobile device, video kiosk, or PC, the video self-service solution allows for video-based menus and content -- a feature becoming increasingly essential. "Some companies set up prompts for self-service with too many options, and people tend to forget the initial prompts," Aguirre explains. "With video, I can actually send out to a 3G telephone showing what the prompts were so the end user can easily know which one they should choose." The final new feature, Avaya Proactive 4.0, is designed for companies seeking a more user-friendly format to conduct calling-list campaigns. "In the past, supervisors actually had to go down into command-line language and set up strings to do some of that work," Aguirre recalls. "Our customers asked us to look at this, and we made it easier for administrators so they can work quickly and adjust to their needs." As an industry standard, particularly for the contact center, SIP is here to stay. "Over time, what we've done as an industry is improve the standard solution so [SIP] can be deployed widely," McGee-Smith says. "The problem with SIP initially was that it was underfeatured. As SIP has become better featured, it now becomes a more viable solution to deploy." Related articles: Feature: The 2007 Service Leaders, Part 1 Today, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Voice over IP, and SOA can do all the work more easily and for less money by making it a software and data issue. Feature: The 2006 Service Leaders, Part 1 Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Voice over IP (VoIP) are two competing technologies that do away with the hardware requirements of CTI systems, making them easier to afford, manage, and troubleshoot. Feature: Home Bodies Cut contact center operating costs, reduce churn rates, and up flexibility -- a serious look at the at-home agent model. Feature: AntiSIPation VoIP protocol SIP's potential in the contact center comes with both benefits and caveats. Contact Center Market Absorbs IP Telephony A Frost & Sullivan report predicts "dramatic transformations" to the call center industry. The next generation, known as session initiation protocol (SIP), will raise the bar dramatically, but it may not be ready for prime time just yet. Putting Asia in Your Pocket Red Pocket Mobile snags a particular prepaid phone market, with help from VoIP Logic Avaya Is Set to Go Private Two private equity firms rather than a competitor are acquiring the company in a deal valued at about $8.2 billion; analysts see it as positive, but wonder what might have been under a rival. Siemens Communications' Virtual Reality The Siemens AG subsidiary releases a solution to capitalize on the agents-anywhere concept, and delivers additional presence and collaboration capabilities. Viewpoint: Shift Your Contact Center from Reactive to Real Time It isn't about jumping on the latest technology bandwagon. Genesys Announces Stronger Ties and New Solutions at G-Force Genesys also announced collaboration with Verizon to deliver a hosted IP solution that will use the Genesys SIP Communication Server to connect the Genesys 7 contact center suite to Verizon's voice-ready IP network. Nortel's Single Appliance for Contact Centers "The original premise for SIP was teleconferencing in an IP environment." Analyze This: Presence Management in the Contact Center: What's the Holdup? The next level of instant messaging applications can improve agent performance.
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