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Telephony 101: Giving Voice to Your Network: Page 3 of 8

With a CMS (Call Management System), administrators can track inbound and outbound call volume, average time on hold, length of calls, IVR opt-outs and other call minutiae. This detailed reporting reveals trends in customer call volume, which is crucial for planning line capacity and staffing and for developing IVR applications. CMS reports may be used to pinpoint inefficient call paths, usually evident when users opt out of the IVR app to talk to a service rep, and detect call volume trends, like the fact that volume is highest at noon on the first Monday of every month.

You can use this information to adjust your work flow and business processes, and update your IVR applications. And management can measure a call-center agent's performance with daily and weekly metrics, such as time to answer, call duration and transfers. Older CMS apps interfaced to PBXs and VRUs over serial connections, but newer ones, such as Avaya's CMS, use IP.

CTI: Caller ID

Computer telephony integration applications automatically pull caller information from the ACD and capture the caller's interactions with the VRU and associated databases. They then send the data to a call-center representative's PC or terminal screen, enabling the agent to greet the caller by name and immediately access that person's account information. The net result: shorter call time, which drives up efficiency at the call center and improves customer service (see "Go With the Flow: How IVR Handles a Customer Call," at left).

Using Ethernet and IP connectivity facilitates interdevice communications. But IP connectivity comes with security risks, which result when legacy equipment is added to the mix.

IP enablement isn't the same as VoIP. While VoIP actually puts voice traffic on your data lines, IP connectivity basically allows you to use your existing cable plant for data transfers. IP-enabling your telecom equipment means adding LAN connectivity, so that the CMSs, PBXs and VRUs run on Ethernet, for instance, instead of connecting via conventional serial connections and proprietary cabling schemes. It's simple to do: Older equipment can be upgraded with Ethernet add-ins, and modern equipment already ships Ethernet-ready. But before you plug into your existing switch, there are design and security issues to consider.