Predictive dialing, inbound skills-based routing and DNC compliance are
all critically important to call centers. SER's Call Processing System
(CPS) is one of the most powerful call management systems available that
includes all of the aforementioned capabilities and more. CPS features
superb predictive dialing capabilities, sophisticated inbound routing and
call-blending features to ensure maximum agent productivity.
TMC Labs recently visited one of SER's office locations to test the
latest version of CPS. We didn't have far to go ' about a mile down
the road, in fact. One of the first things we noticed about CPS is that it
seems to blend some old-school style features with new-school styles. Some
of the on-screen displays used a fixed-width style font (namely, Courier)
to display statistical information. (The look reminded us of old
dot-matrix printer reports.) In fact, many call center supervisors are
accustomed to these types of text-based statistical reports. However, CPS
has blended sexier Windows-style graphical reports and charts for those
users looking for something more graphical.
CPS consists of two integrated components: a switch (SER's TSP500) and
the Call Manager. Both communicate via Ethernet or high-speed asynchronous
links. The TSP500 switch performs dialing and switching and, of course, it
terminates the phone extensions at each agent's desktop. The Call
Manager handles list management, sends telephone numbers to the switch and
displays customer information on agents' screens.
The TSP500 supports up to 288 agents on a single system, and according
to SER, it fully complies with FCC, FTC and state regulations including
support of enhanced caller I.D. capabilities. SER also claims its
SmartPace VI dialing algorithm, using precision answering machine
detection, generates more connects to live agents than nearly any other
dialer in the market today. While we can't confirm this claim, we do
know SER's dialing algorithms have been tuned for over 15 years and are
well respected in the industry. Other important features of the TSP500
include DNIS and ANI support, T1/E1, ISDN connectivity, integrated VoIP
and voice detection.
In fact, the moment the switch detects voice (i.e., a 'live
answer'), the call is immediately transferred to an available agent. The
agent receives a screen pop of the customer's information. Because the
switch and Call Manager are synchronized, the agent hears the customer say
'hello' at the same time the customer's information appears.
CPS systems can be configured to transmit the telephone number and text
of the company name of your choice by campaign. This allows service
agencies to show client-specific caller information rather than that of
the service agency.
We examined the documentation, which was in Adobe Acrobat format. We found
it to be thorough and well organized. It featured a lengthy but complete
278 pages for the SmartStat User Guide, as well as 112 pages for CPS
WebAgent Administration Guide. Both manuals feature a table of contents
and an index, one also containing a glossary of terms. Overall, we were
quite pleased with the documentation.
Management And Reporting Features
CPS comes with a comprehensive set of management tools that allows you
minimization of agent idle time by dynamically filtering lists and adding
records, even to active campaigns. You can monitor your campaigns in
real-time, viewing pertinent statistical information. One interesting
feature is on-the-fly agents-tranferring (no supervisor intervention
needed) to more productive campaigns when predefined wait time thresholds
Creating campaigns and scripts was easy. The CPS WebAgent Scriptor (See
Figure 2) was simply a text editor for creating and compiling the XML
files used to create the agents' scripts. These XML scripts were easy to
create and modify, and because the scriptor leverages the power of
XML/HTML, you can easily create dynamic Web pages to display pertinent
information for the agents.
In fact, the agent's screen is a simple browser-based interface (See
Figure 3) that displays the scripts you created, along with customer
information and the ability to perform telephony functions such as call,
end call, transfer, conference and hold, essentially enabling your browser
to act as a softphone. Also, because the GUI is browser-based, extending
your call center reach to other branch offices, as well as telecommuters,
is a breeze. Agents have the ability to play a recording to the caller
with the click of a button from this interface. Similarly, managers have
the ability to listen to agents for monitoring and coaching.
Both the real-time and post-analysis reporting were superb. We liked
the real-time wallboard display, which could be configured into a
two-by-two quadrant for displaying four different real-time reports. You
can set critical alerts that will play a sound, send e-mail or even run an
application if a certain threshold is met. Also, the system comes with 14
out-of-the-box statistical reports that can be displayed in either text or
graphical format. One interesting motivational feature allows supervisors
to set up automated instant messages configured to be sent when a
threshold is met. For instance, if an agent's talk time is 55 minutes
per hour, the supervisor can send a congratulatory message.
SER offers a new 'Zero Abandon Rates By Area Codes' feature. This
feature was designed to satisfy new California legislation and similar
future state legislative actions that prohibit any person operating
automatic calling equipment from making a telephone connection for which
no person acting as an agent or telemarketer is available for the person
The Zero Abandon Rates By Area Codes feature selectively replaces the
predictive dialing method for outbound campaigns with either the preview
dialing method or the priority dialing method. This feature is implemented
based on the area code of the dialed number and configurations, regardless
of the outbound campaign type.
For preview dialing, one call is dialed per agent. The agent is
connected to the call immediately upon dialing and will hear the progress
of the call. Priority dialing ensures that an agent will be available to
handle the priority dialed number, should it result in an answered call.
[ Return To The
August 2004 Table Of Contents ]
SER claims its product has an average uptime of 99.87 percent, an
important factor to consider for a purchasing decision. SER offers
around-the-clock support, another important factor. More important to us
was the feature set and ease of use. We especially liked the XML-based
scripts, Web-based agent interface and real-time graphical reports.
Overall, TMC Labs was impressed with CPS and would not hesitate to