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TMC Labs
August 2001

 

FrogDial

FrogJazz Incorporated
Huntsville, Alabama
Ph: 256-704-0555; Fx: 256-704-0559
Web: www.frogjazz.com

Price: $0.37 per customer interaction (i.e., every time a customer navigates the Web IVR)

2001 Editors' Choice Awards

RATINGS (0'5)
Installation: 4.75
Documentation: 4.75
Features: 4.5
GUI: 4.75
Overall: A-


Traditionally, IVR systems have been reserved for the phone, whereas more static contact pages are on companies' Web sites. Both of these arrangements have their drawbacks. Customers don't like wading through multitudes of menus on a phone IVR just to wind up speaking to the wrong person in the end. Current contact pages are fine, but finding only an e-mail address, phone number and postal address of the company probably won't answer a customer's questions.

Today, contact pages can be combined with an IVR on the Web. A traditional IVR can be navigated on a company's Web site so a customer can experience the benefits of both an IVR and the Web. One of the first companies to implement this concept is FrogJazz. Their product, FrogDial, enables contact centers to publish IVR phone menus directly to the contact Web page. Contact centers can create customer service Web pages, incorporating click points for multichannel customer interactions. In this way, customers can navigate the IVR menu on the Web at their own pace and may be able to skip quickly to the information they are seeking. Without requiring HTML programming skills, the FrogDial phone menu editor employs a simple drag-and-drop interface. A click-to-talk VoIP button or click-to-chat button can also be added to appropriate pages.

Installation
The actual installation of FrogDial can be downloaded from FrogJazz's Web site or from a CD-ROM. Either method takes only moments, so there are few elements of the process worth mentioning. First, the PC being used must have Microsoft Internet Explorer V. 5.5 or higher installed. Second, the proper server name or IP address (usually from a server at FrogJazz) must be entered into the FrogDial client configure interface. Finally, if there is a firewall on the client's network, the internal IP address being used must be associated with a real outside address and configured appropriately so the firewall does not interfere with the connection between the client and server. We had little problem adjusting our firewall settings, and FrogJazz let the IP address we specified to them through to their server so we could test the FrogDial software.

Documentation
The main part of the documentation is a FrogDial tutorial. This tutorial is split into two sections: Quick Course and Web Integration. It provides an overview of FrogDial for both its editor and administration. We went through the tutorial as a guide for our testing and it discussed everything we needed to know about the software in an understandable manner. Help files are also included. While not as detailed as the tutorial and not fully context-sensitive, these files may be of service for those users who practice the "wing it" approach to learning the software.

Features And Operational Testing
When we accessed FrogDial, we immediately noticed the clean interface of the editor. Both the editor and the administrator resemble Windows Explorer with their hierarchical tree interfaces. When a new or existing file is opened in "edit" mode, new prompts can be dragged and dropped onto the bottom of the editor tree, which is the middle window of the screen. That prompt can be moved to the appropriate position by simply dragging it to the desired position. By typing it into the HTML editor workspace, the prompt's name can be changed. If the user prefers, longer prompts, announcements or links can be word-wrapped. Once the change is applied, it will show up in the editor tree. In this manner, an entire Web-based IVR can be created. As it is being created or edited, the developer can preview it on the Web by clicking "Web Preview" from the menu drop-down box to see how it appears and edit for mistakes. All of this is done without writing any HTML code, but there is a source tab that allows developers to write the code if they are so inclined. Overall, however, virtually anyone with a good, logical design could build the IVR.

Besides prompts, other objects can also be dragged into the editor tree workspace. These include announcements, annotations, external links and internal links. Announcements can be greetings, important clarifications or other written text that is presented to viewers of the contact Web page and can be a useful source of information for the user. Annotations are generally place holders or a note in the editor tree that may not need to be visible on the Web page itself. This is one of the reasons someone might choose to uncheck the Web visibility box, which is found in the General Properties portion of the graphical interface. External links are used to daisy-chain phone menus so that a caller will be routed to the correct number even when the wrong number was originally placed. Internal links allow a developer to easily replicate menu paths that are traditionally repeated throughout the Web-based phone menu. All these features help users build a more successful Web contact page.

There are also more advanced features available by clicking on the Properties tag of the interface or right-clicking on the appropriate prompt in the editor tree. These features include scheduling, e-mail, enablers (Web callback and instant messaging), Web links and IVR links. FrogDial allows users to intuitively schedule hours for placing particular IVR prompts on the Web-based phone menu or even to schedule emergency announcements. On certain pages, customers might wish to contact a representative via e-mail. This can be enabled by assigning the e-mail of a particular representative to a particular page so the customer need only click the link and compose the message.

Web callback provides a customer with the means to request a phone call from a live agent by entering a standard telephone number or the proper SIP URL address of the contact center to be reached. When the click-to-talk button is pressed on the Web site, a screen will appear onto which the customer enters his or her name and phone number and waits for the callback. At this time, the VoIP call reaches a gateway and is routed over the Internet to a SIP proxy server at Level(3), an Internet telephony service provider (ITSP) that provides the IP-to-PSTN bridging. The agent at the contact center is then notified and the callback from the agent is automatically placed to the number the customer entered. We tried this a number of times with representatives at FrogJazz, and each time, we quickly received a callback. While the calls varied to a small degree in quality, we could clearly hear the representative on every call. For instant messaging, the address for the customer's AOL or Yahoo! account must be entered in the space provided. A click-to-chat button will appear at a desired Web location, where a customer can activate a chat session with an agent.

Web links are means for the customer to be directed to other sites related to the information provided on that page. IVR links are usually used to pass by long Web IVR menus to the page that allows customers to reach the appropriate live agent faster. For Web links, all that needs doing is to add a name and the URL of the Web page you wish to link for the selected IVR prompt. The IVR link is similar except the developer is adding a connection to another IVR prompt instead of to an entirely different Web site.

An example of the use of many of these advanced features on a Web page is shown in, which shows what a visitor to the page would see. Like many pages, there is a keyword search and other links. The customer could also press the click-to-talk button to reach an agent, click the phone number to return to the home menu or click one of the number options to go back to previously viewed pages.

When we were finished with the tutorial documentation, we examined the administration portion of FrogDial. Here, new users, menus, divisions, phone numbers, standard messages and e-mail links are added and information is centrally located. The admin is straightforward enough that virtually anyone can use it. There are also four types of menu reports that can be printed: standard tree, menu statistics, complete menu and IVR difference reports. The first three reports are quite standard. The last would be the most useful to developers as it contains all the changes between the published version of the menu and the edited version so the developer can more easily keep the IVR system up-to-date.

While we were learning how to use the reports, FrogDial gave us an Oracle error message: "ORA-00020: maximum number of processes (500) exceeded." At that point, FrogDial ceased to work and we could not obtain access to the software. After a few calls to FrogJazz, we discovered this message occurred when Microsoft COM+ did not release connections. This is a result of configuration issues between Microsoft COM+ and the Oracle Manager for Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS). Luckily, FrogJazz was immediately aware of the problem and had FrogDial up and temporarily running in about a half an hour. They claimed that this would no longer be an issue in a few days, as they were in the process of fixing the problem. We did not run into the error again.

Room For Improvement
There are only two main improvements we would suggest. The first has to do with the click-to-talk button. Currently, once the user enters a telephone number and clicks the button to wait for a callback, there is no way to tell whether the call went through or how long the wait will be before the callback. Only upon receiving the callback does the user know the VoIP call worked. There should be some type of indication to show the call went through and how long the wait might be until the customer hears from an agent. Customers would appreciate this feature and would be more likely to be ready for the callback.

The other improvement involves the reporting functionality. We would like to see the built reports on screen. Right now, the reports are directly printed so a user cannot save a report on the hard drive, print only certain portions of the report, or see and edit the report before it is printed. On-screen reports would add flexibility for the user.

Conclusion
FrogJazz has brought a new type of IVR to the table. FrogDial is easy to use and may solve some of the headaches customers encounter while either navigating an IVR on the phone or on a contact page of a Web site. Whether or not customers will accept this new idea and FrogJazz's pricing scheme remains to be seen. What we can say now, though, is that FrogJazz has built an efficient and appealing product that allows customers to find the information they need or to reach an agent quickly. 

[ Return To The August 2001 Table Of Contents ]

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