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TMC Labs
August  2004

Call Processing System (CPS)

SER Solutions, Inc.
21680 Ridgetop Circle
Dulles, VA 20166
Tel: 800-274-5676; 703-948-5500
Fx: 703-430-7738
Web site: www.ser.com
Price: Price is based on a per-seat license.

Installation: N/A
Documentation: 5
Features: 5
GUI: 4.75
Overall: A

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 are met.

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 called.

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.

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 recommend it.

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