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Qwest Notify Enhances Hosted Contact Center Solutions

February 11, 2008

At ITEXPO East 2008, Qwest announced enhancements to their hosted contact center solutions portfolio including an interesting new outbound notification feature offering called Qwest Notify.


Qwest’s Hosted Contact Center Solutions provide network-based IVR (Interactive Voice Response), intelligent call routing, CRM Integration, multimedia contact management, multi-channel call distribution, network-to-desktop CTI (Computer Telephony Integration), and consolidated reporting. Their Web Contact Center (QWCC) is an IVR and voice recognition solution for both inbound and outbound applications. It works as a standalone application or integrates with your web, CTI platforms and database information. QWCC provides the reliability and scale of a network-based solution with the kind of control and flexibility found in a opremises-based implementation. QWCC is based on the Genesys Voice Platform – indeed, it’s said to be the biggest such platform in production with over 12,000 virtual ports and hundreds of customers.

Ali Giacomin, Product Director for Contact Center Solutions at Qwest, says, “We have pretty robust contact solutions portfolio. We’re basically a Genesys shop. We’ve taken their software and have put it into our network, through a network-hosted IVR and network-hosted ACD that are founded on Genesys software. What we offer is a carrier-grade solution – it’s one of our offerings in our managed services portfolio. We’ve been doing that for quite a while. We’ve been doing the IVR piece for about seven years now, and the ACD since about the middle of 2005.”

“What we’re now introducing our next solution in the contact center portfolio is Qwest Notify, which is an outbound notification solution,” says Giacomin. “There are two parts to the offering. One is a template solution – very standardized, and for very common applications such as appointment reminders: orders shipped, orders received, missed appointments, and so forth. These are things that are very common across different industries that typically don’t involve a lot of changes to them. We can do that for a small set-up fee, and then a monthly-recurring charge based on your usage.

“Secondly, we also now have a custom offering, so if you have any type of integration that you want to do,” says Giacomin, “such as a back-office system, databases, or something that doesn’t involve one of the templates that we have out there, you can now create one that suits your business needs. Or, if you want to work with different kinds of contact media, such as SMS [Short Messaging Service], email and fax, then you would use a custom solution. We at Qwest can do the application development and actually complete the whole application. It’s a professional services engagement. Qwest Professional Services will work with your company, do a discovery process, figure out what your environment is, what the application is, and then do the actual development. The professional services offering can even involve such things as doing voiceovers and scripts using talent.”

“A common application might be an Appointment Reminder – you want to automatically call people to remind them that they have an appointment,” says Giacomin, “but if they for some reason can’t make that appointment, they can press ‘0’ to be transferred to an operator or someone else the customer can talk to about rescheduling his or her appointment. That’s basically an IVR [Interactive Voice Response] platform, but instead of calling into it, the platform calls out. Other applications could be payment reminders and reminders about orders shipped or ready for pick up, such as drug prescriptions.”

So Qwest Notify product gives you two options: Pick one of Qwest’s templated solutions, or else Qwest can work with you to do custom development.

“In terms of government and institutional organizations, we have some limitations regarding emergency notifications,” says Giacomin. “We’re steering away from systems that would have to handle situations such as, ‘there’s a terrorist on the campus, and people have to be notified immediately.’ When tackling a project like that, there’s a lot of liability involved. Plus, there are many niche players that already do that, and do it quite well. But certainly we can do systems for such things as snowstorm notification, or other applications for schools.

For customers, the most expensive part of a call center is the staff. So whatever you can do to eliminate calls into your contact center is pretty much a good thing. That’s why there are been such advancements in self-service web-based and other systems. They help the bottom line. And Qwest Notify is another avenue that, first, helps reduce your costs because now you’re making an automated call out to your customer, and second, hopefully you’re improving customer satisfaction, or ‘customer sat’, because you’re keeping them informed of things, making their lives easier with the information that you’re providing them.

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Richard Grigonis is an internationally-known technology editor and writer. Prior to joining TMC as Executive Editor of its IP Communications Group, he was the Editor-in-Chief of VON Magazine from its founding in 2003 to August 2006. He also served as the Chief Technical Editor of CMP Media’s Computer Telephony magazine, later called Communications Convergence, from its first year of operation in 1994 until 2003. In addition, he has written five books on computers and telecom (including the Computer Telephony Encyclopedia and Dictionary of IP Communications). To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

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