For many businesses an inbound phone call (still) carries a high value – it can represent an opportunity to identify a lead or to cement a customer relationship. Most large and high value transactions (finding a real estate agent, buying insurance, hiring a lawyer, buying a car, etc.) start with an interaction that involves the human voice. Buyers and sellers alike feel that the warmth of the human voice in real time allows a more nuanced and thoughtful interaction than the written word of an email, instant message, or text message. In VoIP Logic’s market – the hosted PBX (News - Alert)/unified communications services niche – a business PBX channeling calls to a sales or support organization is the main path for these important interactions; hence it is incumbent upon a service provider offering hosted PBX to consider ways to improve the value of these interactions.
Caller information has historically been part of the signaling information received via SS7 on circuit-switched networks. Using the line information database (LIDB) and the caller ID name (CNAM) database, carriers are able to present the phone number and the registered name of the calling party. While this information is still a useful starting point on an inbound phone call, it can be dramatically improved by using other resources available on hosted/cloud architected PBX platforms.
With the transformation of the traditional PBX to VoIP, and both the growth of the Internet as an all-reaching network and the growth of the Internet in social and economic interactions, the capabilities for identifying a caller have expanded exponentially. With an open network, the technology of real-time information retrieval is migrating from SS7 closed network architecture to REST API open programmatic interface.
What Info Is Available
With users fostering extensive online profiles – coupled with many formerly closed databases now available online – the data that can be associated with something as simple as a phone number can be overwhelming. This information can include the calling party’s name, address, email address, preferred language, historical addresses, income, school district, marital status, relatives, occupation, real estate value, criminal record, LinkedIn connections, Twitter posts, and Facebook (News - Alert) status. Companies like Whitepages, Nextcaller, Neustar, and TNS can all provide access to different bundles of calling line ID data.
“Ultimately, the receiving party just wants to know whether to answer the phone,” says Alex Algard, CEO and Founder of Whitepages. “[For this reason], our users increasingly demand better information about caller identity and phone intelligence, including full caller name, rich address and social information, along ability to detect SPAM/fraud.”
Smart Call Routing: Small and large companies alike can benefit by getting calls more quickly to the appropriate group or to the individual most qualified to deal with the calling party. Whether you are using geographic origin or an economic variable or language preference, assigning the value of a caller and connecting his or her call to a person with the right expertise to handle the opportunity is a sure way to improve sales and/or client perception. A great add-on to smart call routing is capturing advanced caller ID data into a CRM system and adding to it based on verbal data. Generally, this requires readily available CRM-to-hosted PBX integration. The icing on the cake is screen pops that deliver the information to the call recipient as the call is answered. All of this is available with hosted PBX/unified communication integrations.
Advanced Fraud Detection: Some significant number of calls falls in the category of fraud (calls meant to cause economic harm to the called party) or scams (attempts to convince the called party to participate in an activity that will cause economic harm). One of the value-adds that can be provided by advanced caller ID providers is to screen these calls based on assessment algorithms, thereby saving businesses the pain of wasting time and considerable money (inbound toll-free costs add up quickly from traffic pumping applications run by fraudsters) inadvertently supporting this type of activity.
Richer Customer Interaction: Having more data about your callers – as their calls come in – can provide a considerably more effective and richer customer interaction. In call centers, in particular, where metrics of speed and outcome are measured over large volumes of daily calls, coupling smart routing with more detailed advanced knowledge of the caller can provide a tangible competitive advantage over systems using inferior technology.
Service providers that sell hosted PBX/UC are starting to realize the ancillary benefits of being pre-connected to the world of large data. The future of caller ID – as discussed in this piece – is one of the ways that more instantly accessible data can be neatly packaged in ways that are broadly compelling to business users across many different markets.
Edited by Maurice Nagle