TMCnet - World's Largest Communications and Technology Community




corpusjuris.gif (1236 bytes)
September 1999

How CTI Can Solve The Call Restriction Dilemma


So you've resolved your Y2K issues and are prepared for a smooth transition to the new millennium. Just when things seem to be on track again, government regulations are about to create a new dilemma for telemarketers. Throughout the country, state legislation is placing new restrictions on telemarketing calls, including who can be called and when calls can be made. Many PBX and call center products do not currently provide outbound call restriction functionality and both PBX vendors and call center managers are scrambling to meet the looming deadlines. As we will see, PBX and call center system providers are using two approaches to provide calling restriction capabilities. Here is a summary of some of the pending legislation in 1999 (for a more detailed description, see "1999 State Legislation For Telemarketers" by Jerry Cerasale in the June 1999 issue of [email protected] CENTER Solutions™).

Arkansas - A statewide database of restricted telephone numbers is to be provided by the state attorney. Telephone marketers have 10 days to update their lists whenever the state's database is modified.

California and Michigan - These states will have do-not-call lists containing numbers of subscribers who do not wish to receive unsolicited calls.

Minnesota - A pending measure prohibits calls between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Tennessee and South Carolina - Both states are establishing statewide databases of restricted numbers.

In addition, many states are also passing legislation which requires telephone marketers to provide full, unmodified caller ID information and prevent any form of caller ID blocking for unsolicited sales calls. Given the changing face of legislative measures across the country, PBX vendors, call center solutions providers and call center managers are faced with dilemmas on how to provide the most flexible and timely solutions.

To solve these legislative requirements, PBX vendors are taking two approaches. First, there is the in-the-skin solution which places the call restriction capability within the PBX. This approach has the obvious advantage of providing a seamlessly integrated solution, but there is at least one hidden issue. Most states will be providing access to a centralized database of restricted numbers and these data must be imported into the PBX. Although the process can be done manually, this would be a time-consuming and error-prone task. An alternative approach is to provide an external software solution which will act as a gateway, converting the state's call list and importing these data into the PBX. Since each state will be providing a slightly different mechanism, installations in each state will require some level of customization. In addition, call centers that call interstate will need to import data from multiple state databases, greatly increasing the complexity of the import function.

The second approach to resolving the calling restriction dilemma is to use computer-telephony integration (CTI) as a method of restricting outbound calling. This solution has the advantage of being easily expandable to meet future requirements. This approach requires the development of an external application which uses the PBX's CTI link to monitor outbound calling and restrict (disconnect) calls as necessary. The application should provide both an import function similar to that for an in-the-skin solution and the actual restriction function.
The level of CTI functionality re-quired from the PBX is relatively low and is comprised of three functions:

  • The ability to monitor phone devices used for outbound calling. This is a basic CTI functionality usually provided by all vendors.
  • The ability to receive notification when a phone originates a call. Often termed the "originated event," this message contains the number which is being dialed.
  • The ability to disconnect the call if the number is restricted. The key here is that the call must be disconnected before the destination starts ringing. As a general rule, the application should be able to process the originated event, search the database to see if the called number is restricted and disconnect the call in less than three seconds.

Given a PBX system with this level of CTI capability, a solution can be provided via an external application platform. This solution should provide both the call restriction functionality and the import capability in a single, integrated package. As with the in-the-skin solution, installations in each state will require varying degrees of system integration and customization. Any call center operating across multiple states and time zones will have to take into account specific state restrictions and time differences. Figure 1 shows an example of a CTI configuration including database import from multiple states.

In the figure, the following steps are indicated:

  1. Local restriction database is built based on one or more state databases.
  2. Via CTI link, the call restriction server monitors agent phones.
  3. Agent dials customer number.
  4. Originated event is delivered to the call restriction engine.
  5. Call restriction engine checks the database to see if the number is restricted.
  6. If the number is restricted, the server sends a disconnect request to the PBX to disconnect the call.

PBX vendors, call center system providers and call center managers need to move quickly to meet the impending legislative deadlines. CTI can provide the needed functionality in a timely fashion. If your call center needs call restriction capabilities, make sure the solution provider has a strong systems integration background and an understanding of current and pending legislation. The key is to get a solution that can be modified and expanded to meet future legislative requirements.

Sanjay Mehta and Dean Alleva are principals of Eloquent Communications Inc., an applications development and systems integration company based in Southern California. Eloquent provides consulting, development and integration services to telecom, CTI and e-commerce vendors as well as end users.

Figure 1  [return to text]

Technology Marketing Corporation

2 Trap Falls Road Suite 106, Shelton, CT 06484 USA
Ph: +1-203-852-6800, 800-243-6002

General comments: [email protected].
Comments about this site: [email protected].


© 2023 Technology Marketing Corporation. All rights reserved | Privacy Policy