Genesys-AudioCodes

Who is Controlling Your Home Agent’s Voice?

At the upcoming Genesys CX17 events (http://online.audiocodes.com/genesys-cx-events-registration), AudioCodes will present, as part of the new Genesys and AudioCodes partnership, an IP Phone combined with a centralized management application that has been specially designed to increase the productivity of work at home agents (WAHA) and deliver a superior level of customer service.

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The move towards the WAHA model, also known as the virtual agent model, is currently one of the leading trends in the contact center market. More and more industry leaders are discovering the benefits of the home agent model for their contact center services. Home agent programs offer compelling advantages, including cost reduction and better customer response strategies. Furthermore, this model tears down geographical barriers, meaning that businesses can recruit highly qualified individuals, in practically any location, who will then be available to provide excellent service at any time.

Contact Center Agent

The home agent voice challenge

In spite of the obvious attractions of the WAHA model, its implementation at a technical level is very challenging because the home agents themselves are not an integral part of the contact center’s own private, secure and reliable network.

Instead, home agents typically use their home broadband internet to connect to their company’s contact center. While this unmanaged broadband internet connection is good enough for using desktop web applications and for accessing CRM services, it is far from ideal for real time communication such as voice calls. Broadband internet connections can be unreliable, based as they are on the “best effort delivery” principle, and they have a tendency to suffer unpredictable drops in quality. This can cause poor quality voice transmission and, even worse, disconnections and unavailability – all leading to customer dissatisfaction.

Another problem with the WAHA model is the use of soft phone clients. Unlike standard web browser applications for accessing services such as CRMs and digital channels, soft phone clients are specific applications that need to be installed and configured. Since these applications handle real-time voice traffic, they require significant memory and CPU resources. Performance is therefore very much dependent on the individual agent’s PC and its operating system capabilities, which can in itself be adversely affected by other applications that are running on the PC and consuming resources as well. In addition, maintaining and updating such applications requires remote IT intervention that can be time-consuming and disruptive, causing agents to be offline and therefore unavailable to take customer calls.

Controlling, monitoring and improving the home agent’s voice service

What is needed is a dedicated IP Phone device suited to the specific needs of home agents and fully integrated with the business’s contact center, assuring a high quality voice experience. This will substantially increase the home agent’s productivity and operational efficiency, leading to a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction.

AudioCodes IP Phone

AudioCodes’ IP Phones use VoIPerfect™ voice enhancement technology that delivers high voice quality over any internet connection. This unique technology is based on a monitoring engine that examines and measures voice quality at all times, automatically triggering enhancement tools such as adaptive jitter buffer and dynamic voice quality adaptation if necessary.

The data collected by the IP Phone monitoring engine can be transmitted to a centralized monitoring application, giving a clear picture of everything that is going on in the voice network, right down to the level of individual home agents. Not only can IT managers analyze and resolve potential quality issues before they even occur, they can also remotely manage and automatically configure individual IP Phones without interfering with the agent’s work or running dedicated applications on the agent’s PC.

And last but not least, the monitoring application can also be used to add or remove agents from the agents’ pool based on the quality of their voice service, ensuring that customers will always receive the exceptional level of service that they deserve.

Want to learn more about Genesys and AudioCodes SIP solutions for contact centers? Click here to request a meeting with our experts at the show.

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VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

If it’s Friday, I’ll Take the Scenic Route Home

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

VoIP applications need dynamic routing decisions

In my opinion, Waze is the best navigation application in the market today. Actually, Waze is much more than just a navigation app: it’s a community of travelers and commuters who are constantly contributing to form one of the earliest and largest crowd-sourcing platforms. By using on-line navigation data and user notifications, Waze maps traffic jams and sends drivers a variety of notifications including hazardous situations on the road, police presence, and speed cameras.

When it comes to navigation setup, Waze is very much like other navigation applications; the navigation setup is static. The main setup decision related to routing that the user is required to do is choosing between the route with the shortest distance or the one with the fastest time.  In addition, the Waze user can decide to avoid toll roads, highways, ferries, complex turns and dirt roads.

The fact that the setup is static is a real shortcoming, since routing preferences may change during the course of a single day. For instance, in the morning when you’re in a hurry to get to work you might not mind using toll roads. But on your way back home, you might be quite happy to take it easy and go via the scenic route, enjoying the springtime aroma of orange blossom along the way. To achieve this with Waze or any other navigation application, you would need to modify your routing preferences twice a day.

VoIP routing applications suffer from the same issue: how to make decisions based on a variety of criteria. In an ideal scenario where the network is free of any impairments, the main VoIP routing criteria would simply be the cost to the desired destination (i.e. least cost routing). However, in real life, there are so many other competing criteria which need to be taken into consideration, e.g. VoIP delay, VoIP quality, bandwidth, connection health, the time of day, user policy, security, load balancing and call admission control.

Unlike a navigation application, in a VoIP routing application, most of these additional criteria can’t be configured with a simple binary yes or no. For instance, in the case of voice quality, the user would prefer the call to be transported via the route with the best quality while, at the same time, ensuring that the cost is as low as possible.  The same goes for voice delay, signalling impartments, etc. The network administrator would like his calls to take the optimal route, but how can he configure the priorities and weights for these competing criteria?  A tricky problem.

Currently, most VoIP routing applications handle this issue by associating weights to the main routing criteria. This means that the user associates a weight to each criteria giving each criteria a priority.  The routing algorithm takes into consideration the criteria based on their associated weights and calculates the routes accordingly.

An alternative scheme is basing the entire routing calculation on one criterion (usually cost). Any additional routing considerations are applied to the main rule as relevant on a call by call basis.

For instance, all routing rules can disregard VoIP quality in general, but a VoIP quality condition will be applied ONLY when it is relevant, e.g. any calls made specifically to New York must be routed via a high quality connection disregarding the cost.

With this per route association approach, routing rules can get quite complex but since the additional conditions are applied on a route by route basis they are still easy to configure and easy to maintain. Imagine how convenient it would be to be able to configure a routing rule which, for example, determines that calls from the CEO to the New York sales manager on Mondays between 8:00am and 10:00 am must be routed via best quality route. Now try to figure out how to configure the same routing rule using a Waze-like static routing configuration.

I wish that Waze had route options like playlists, aligned with users’ personal moods: happy routes, contemplative routes, romantic routes, routes for birthdays etc., maybe even combined with recommended music per route. In today’s dynamic lifestyle, we can’t rely on a static, generic setup.  We need tools that let us customise our needs as simply as possible, since routing is everything.

 

To find out more about how AudioCodes helps simplify call routing in complex enterprise and service provider VoIP networks, download our white paper today.