Advanced Call Routing
These days, communications are among the most important parts of the modern commercial workplace. Being able to communicate clearly is absolutely essential, especially if you have a large enough institution to require fast communication within your company or if you field enough telephone calls to need a number of lines with independent call answerers.
Call routing is, essentially, helping the right people to talk to the right people. Take an example: you run a large business, or a section of a large business, which produces a software product that lets people design documents for printing. Your product becomes very successful, and your business grows. However, as more and more people buy your product, more and more people need help using it, and these people all call your company for help. At first, you had only one or two call lines, and that was plenty, but now you need a full department for technical support. So: how do you supply your customers with the sort of technical support they need in order to get the most out of your product? Your best bet is to open a technical support wing with advanced call routing procedures in place to direct customers to available customer service representatives ready to receive their calls.
The way you would do that is to use advanced call routing techniques, call distribution methods, and call centers to ensure smooth operation of customer service and the shortest possible wait times. This, in turn, will increase peoples' opinion of your company and make customers in the world at large more likely to use your product instead of that of the competition's.
Now suppose you are running a large company with a very large number of employees. This company is based in a large three story building with offices and warehouses spread out over thousands of square feet of real estate. If this is the case, it may well be difficult to communicate throughout your building and to route calls to the people who need to get them throughout the company. Suppose someone calls your company and asks to speak to one of your employees? In this case, as well as with the customer service example in the last section, advanced call routing is a very important part of the way your company works.
Interdepartmental communication is the way your company works; customer service is the way it looks. A company can look pretty and not work, and it will lose money faster than it makes it. A company can work great but look terrible and it will never gain money in the first place. Both of these things are absolutely essential to helping the modern corporation function as a working whole, and both can be accomplished best through advanced call routing and call centers.
A call center is the nervous system central for a good advanced call routing system. If you have a relatively small company and small advanced call routing needs, your call center might be as small as one person with a phone, computer, and switchboard. If you have a large company - especially if that requires fielding large numbers of calls, as in telemarketing firms or technical support enterprises, a call center may well include dozens or even, in some extreme cases, hundreds of call fielding employees, computers, call routers, and switchboards.
The way such a call center operates depends largely on mathematical formulae for successful achievement of its duties. We will address those formulae and how they apply in a future section. Call centers are becoming an increasingly necessary part of the modern workplace, and have greatly been aided by the development of computer systems and advanced phone answering systems, involving a new sort of technology called, collectively, computer telephony integration, or CTI.
Effective call distribution can only occur with the help of advanced mathematics, which are used to determine patterns and networks of call systems optimized to provide the best, fastest, most efficient systems for call distribution available with modern technology. Computers are greatly facilitating that process, as are data lines capable of carrying more and more information and wireless technology. As these networks get more complex, the technology grows and expands to adapt to the new situations.
One of the simplest algorithms for advanced call routing, for instance, is the old queue system: in other words, incoming calls are simply added on to a queue in line for the caller. This is the simplest system, and can be expanded on to provide better service - for instance, spreading the queue over a wide number of answerers in order to facilitate the speed of the answering. Also, as is the case in most companies, if the caller might need to reach a distinct destination, automated answering systems can be put in place to direct a user through a network without requiring the constant attention of a human employee.
Advanced call routing systems offer a wide range of services to the customers who invest in them. The complexity in a good call routing system is hidden entirely to the person using it; the appearance of simplicity combined with a complex efficiency are the two factors that, together, make a good advanced call routing system great.
Advanced call routing systems work through several different techniques to provide that end result, with a number of different methods involved. Every advanced call routing system has at least some automation - otherwise, of course, it wouldn't actually be a system. The simplest call routing systems simply divvy up the labor; in other words, put a line on hold until an answerer is available, and then connect the two. This is the simple queue system we talked about in the last section.
More advanced features add more into the decision making process in order to maximize efficiency for you and your customers. You can buy advanced call routing systems, for example, that will select which answerer to connect to first, based on a number of factors - how long any given individual has been idle (ensuring a balanced labor distribution among your employees) ringing the fewest number of calls (if you're trying to be balanced on that basis) or ringing the member with the shortest average talk time (this works great if you're giving commissions or rate-per-call bonuses - it then connects callers with your most efficient workers, helping your company to run at maximum potential and giving your employees an incentive to answer calls efficiently.
You can also include a few other choice features in your call distribution systems. Caller ID, for example, is great with interdepartmental communications, letting your employees know who's calling and, if need be, even look up records for customer service usage. Some systems even include the possibility of different call routing patterns based on the time of day.
One of the greatest gifts computer technology has given the call routing world is the elimination of the need for human switchboard operators, opting instead for the infinitely more efficient computer versions that free up your human operators for more specific, personal, customer service and support positions. Automated callers answer phone calls with prompts for users to choose where they want their calls to be routed to - you've certainly run into these before, especially when calling commercial locations like big box stores or government institutions.
Suppose a customer calls your company in hopes of getting information. Instead of getting a human operator, they hear a voice saying "to contact customer service, press 1. To talk to a representative, press 2. For our sales department, press 3." This customer is interested in buying a computer, so he presses 3. The menu says, "for software, press 1. For home entertainment, press 2. For computer systems, press 3." The customer presses three and is routed to a computer representative. Note that this conversation takes a few minutes - if you had only one person operating that switchboard, it would be much harder for people to contact your company - automated call routing systems are essential for large modern companies.
Chances are, your advanced call routing and call distribution system is going to have to be set up by a contractor, unless you have the wiring skill and know how to do it yourself. Check out some of the options in your area (see the section on this shortly) and see what your options are - make sure you compare prices and consumer reviews - you'd hate to spend more and get less bang for your buck.
Also, do some research into those options once you've narrowed down the playing field. What sorts of technology and equipment are you going to need? Where are you going to keep them? Will you have to rewire? If so, how much rewiring will you have to do, and where? How long will the entire set up process take? These are all important considerations to think over when you're deciding whether and where to set up your advance call routing system, and are well worth the little bit of extra research it will take to find out more about the field and the industry.
Call routing services are available from a number of different sources - the only trouble is finding one that will work well for your particular situation. Do some looking. Conduct research on the Internet and in libraries. The more you know, the more of an edge you'll have on everything that needs to be done. Remember, education means saving money and getting the most bang for your buck, so be educated - the more you know, the more you'll save.
A good place to start is probably to just check in your local yellow pages, especially if you live in a large city or population center. Larger cities naturally have more access to resources and more reasons to use large and advanced call routing systems, so if you live in such a place, you're probably in luck. If not, don't worry! The Internet has dozens of companies to choose from, and allows you to search by location if that's what you want. Just log on to your favorite search engine and run a search for "advanced call routing services" or "advanced call routing systems" and start following through the list of links that appear. You're guaranteed to find what you're looking for sooner or later.
Some call routing systems are actually full out "contact centers" - in other words, they will work with email and web sites alongside your phone, and offer great integrated solutions for the modern idea-centered marketplace. Especially if you run a tech business offering technological, cutting edge solutions, getting this type of system might be a great idea. Computers are vital in modern commerce, and being ready for online communication is certainly a good idea.
No matter what you end up deciding to do for your company, remember at all times to research, research, research! The more you know, the better off you'll be - this is an advanced and complex field in an advanced and complex economic environment, and without doing some sleuthing, you're going to be knee deep in muck and going nowhere. Start with the Internet - research the options available and email people in the know, then start looking through recent books and magazine articles on the subject to see what you should do. Knowledge is power, especially in the modern "information age," so the more you know, the better off you'll be. Make sure you look around local areas - as vaunted as the technology we've been talking about really is, nothing quite beats just talking to an expert in person.