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October 20, 2008

Important Elements to Call Progress Analysis for the Contact Center

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The concept of a multi-channel contact center is one that has been around for some time, yet it has gained more attention in the past few years as consumers have become more mobile and more tech-savvy, demanding new communication channels when interacting with companies.

To fulfill demand among its client base, many contact centers handle both inbound and outbound calls. To do so effectively, these centers will deploy such technologies as predictive dialer systems, IVR, voice broadcasting, and much more. A key element in enabling technologies and media processing capabilities is call progress analysis (CPA).

In a recent Whitepaper, “Call progress analysis for contact centre solutions”, Aculab (News - Alert) discusses the critical enabler function that call process analysis fulfills when call center applications involve predictive dialing. Across the analysis steps, there are three very important factors which involve both pre- and post-connect processing, which have an impact on the effectiveness or success of outbound dialing campaigns.  
The first of these three factors is accuracy in detecting tones. When a call is made, the dialer has a number of possible scenarios to contend with as signals are provided by the telephone network and are designed for a human ear to hear and interpret. As such, dialers have the difficult task of differentiating and interpreting these signals.

When there is no answer, an integrated CPA hardware or software solution will provide the user with configurable options for the management of such calls. Users should be able to specify the length of time the system “listens” for ringing before hanging up. In the case of a busy signal, the CPA firmware will return an API event to the contact center application, which will hang up the call.

If the call is met with special information tones (SIT), a number of different conditions can be at work. As a result, the CPA should offer unique three-tone sequence for each of the conditions. The software should readily recognize the component tones and return a SIT identifier to the application, which will promptly hang up and make a fresh call.

A similar situation occurs if a call reaches a fax or modem tone. Such a tone indicates a fax or modem connection and once the application receives notification of this connection, it will hang up and initiate another call. If a signal cannot be categorized, no API event is likely to occur and the application should enact a timeout and rapidly move to another call.

The second factor impacting the success of dialing campaigns is live speaker detection accuracy. Often, the dialer must discern between voicemail/answering machine and a live speaker.

Given that dialers will reach an answering machine or voicemail box as much as 80 percent of the time, it is especially important that the CPA application be able to identify a live speaker from a recorded greeting as this capability significant improves productivity and effectiveness within the contact center.

The third factor to consider in call progress analysis is call connection time, which is the overall time duration between placing the call and connecting to an account representative. The value of post-connect CPA to contact centers is balanced by how long it takes between the live answer and a connection being made to the agent. If this takes too long, there is a high risk of abandonment.

Dead air in the call is often met with intolerance by the customer and contact center operators can face stiff penalties for non-compliance to strict regulations. In many countries, a connection typically needs to be made in less than two seconds from the time there is a live answer, otherwise, it is considered abandoned.

A contact center can optimize its outbound calling campaigns by using Aculab’s CPA capabilities. These are readily available with DSP boards or HMP software to developers of call center solutions. When selecting CPA solutions, important elements to consider are ‘out of the box’ accuracy, and the ability to configure or fine tune various parameters associated with tone frequencies, noise levels and time periods.

It is also essential that the CPA solution address call connection time and abandoned call requirements. It is important that a fast and accurate result be presented to the call center application in order to realize the full value of the CPA solution. 
For more, be sure to check out the VoIP Developer channel on TMCnet.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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