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July 1998
New Communications Management, Internet Call Center And Message-on-Hold Products

Communications Management Platform From Syntellect

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Keeping diverse communications functions working properly within a complex call center network can be a nightmare born of legacy back-end servers that are unable to communicate with one another. To address this problem, Syntellect has designed Vista, an open-standards-based interactive communications management (ICM) software platform designed for enterprise customer call centers. Vista's architecture adheres to open standards and integrates all call center technologies, including third-generation interactive voice response (IVR), interactive Web response (IWR), predictive dialing, computer-telephony integration (CTI), fax-on-demand, speech recognition and agent desktop productivity tools.

Vista's scalable client/server architecture places specific call center functions on dedicated servers to provide full utilization of computer-telephony functions. Companies with large or multiple call centers can configure the software to reside on multiple or networked servers and small companies can have all systems on one computer. Designed to run on Microsoft's Windows NT operating platform, Vista is also based on Microsoft's Web-based Enterprise Management (WEBM) architecture. Other open components of Vista include Java application development engine, Dialogic CT Media, Sybase database and Intel-based computer hardware.

The VistaGen graphical and object-oriented applications generator is based on easy-to-use wizards, allowing nonprogrammers to develop, manage and maintain applications for multiple call center technologies such as IVR, CTI, Web or Agent Desktops from a single tool. VistaGen's Java programming language allows the rapid development of robust feature sets for complex call center applications.

VistaView is a thin-client, browser-based systems management, configuration, administration and reporting tool. Using VistaView, companies can manage their call center implementations from a single location using an Internet Web browser regardless of whether the Vista servers are deployed at a single site or scattered in multiple graphic locations.

Syntellect's chairman and CEO Larry Bradner announced that Syntellect is seeking alliances with select niche vendors and distribution partners in key areas such as Internet banking, human resources and electronic commerce. Using Vista, the back-end application containing the business logic involved in obtaining, for example, account information or processing a merchandise order is the same whether the consumer uses the telephone or a Web browser to initiate the transaction. If changes are made to a host or database system, only the Vista back-end application needs to be changed, while the Internet and telephone front-end applications are unaffected.

For more information, contact Susan Harmon at 800-347-9907 or see

Web Center 2.0 From Acuity

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As more companies are providing their customers online possibilities for interacting with them, managing the increasing flood of Web commerce is becoming more difficult, but also opening up possibilities for corporations to provide customers with opportunities to use the Web for self-help, thus reducing customer service costs to the corporation. Acuity Corporation (formerly ichat) has released version 2 of WebCenter, designed to provide companies with a comprehensive Web call center solution that integrates with existing technologies.

WebCenter consists of three modules that can be run as a stand-alone solution or integrated with third-party customer service or e-commerce systems. The Web Response Unit (WRU) enables interactive self-service, including knowledge base searches and moderated FAQ (frequently asked questions) inquiries. If customers need further help only a live agent can provide, the WebCenter WebACD queues and routes help requests based on Internet-centric attributes such as the customer's identity, their DataWake (URL trail) and agents' knowledge levels or multitasking productivity patterns. The WebACD initiates connections to the WebCenter Communications Interface Unit (CIU), which manages multiple forms of live interaction, including live text conferencing, browser synchronization, IP telephony, circuit-switched integration with legacy phone systems, and e-mail. WebCenter is built upon Acuity's Real-Time Enterprise (RTE) platform, which acts like an application-layer PBX, maintains tens of thousands simultaneous, real-time, TCP/IP connections.

WebCenter provides a variety of browsable and searchable self-help options through its WRU, helping to keep customer support agents free to handle more complicated inquiries, premium customers or sales opportunities. Dynamic FAQ and knowledge base searching capabilities make it easy for customers to find answers to product questions, order status or trouble ticket progress. If customers cannot find the answers they are searching for themselves, WebCenter's automated e-mail routing and response capabilities provide a medium for timely response in conjunction with escalation to a live agent if the question is unrecognized.

WebCenter's WebACD will route a request for a live agent to the appropriate agent or group based on customizable business rules and attributes such as customer profile, agent availability and question urgency. The CIU gives the agent and the customer multiple options for live interactions, including text-based conferencing, synchronized browser screens, phone callback, and voice and videoconferencing.

After the live help session is complete, customer and session data can be automatically stored in a third-party customer management system, posted in the organization's knowledge base for future self-service sessions and, when requested, e-mailed to the customer. WebCenter also offers reporting and logging capabilities for both live and historical performance monitoring and analysis.

For more information, call Ashley Lemari� at 512-425-2246 or see

Message-On-Hold Products From MetaSound

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Every time a caller is put on hold, a company is presented with an opportunity to not only inform the caller how long the expected hold will be, but to also inform the caller about the latest product or sale information. MetaSound Systems, Inc. has released two new message-on-hold products designed to fill the needs of small and large companies.

The PromoCast DXA is an entry-level message-on-hold player that uses flash memory to store audio broadcasts for playback. Audio broadcasts, including promotional and informative messages and licensed music, are recorded onto a CD or cassette tape, then loaded into the DXA via an external audio input port. The user then pushes the record button, adjusts the sound and plays the broadcast into the DXA, where it is stored in digital memory. The DXA can be plugged into the music- or message-on-hold port of telephone key or PBX systems. It may also be used with a digital or analog 2- or 4-line telephone equipped with an on-hold switch. The DXA includes courtesy messages and licensed music stored in nonvolatile flash memory (in 5- or 10-minute production options), a CD offering a selection of various courtesy messages (in both English and Spanish).

The PromoCast DDl is a digital download (DDL) player. It offers the same internal flash memory (5 or 10 minutes), and supports the same electronic downloading of digital broadcasts as is offered by MetaSound Systems' PromoCast ProPlus (MS-5000). The PromoCast DDL supports the electronic distribution of promotional messages and licensed music productions. Productions may be easily distributed to geographically dispersed sites by modem over ordinary telephone lines, be downloaded from a Web site or sent by attachment to an e-mail. The DDL also accepts audio input of a broadcast via the audio input port.

For more information, call 800-276-2322 or see


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