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Automation call-center and accounting system integration

11.06.2020

Call center automation reasons

Call center automations result in increasing labor efficiency and monthly savings. We will make sure a client can get all the information without contacting the agent.

Even if the client still decides to connect with the agent, a call center employee  will have all the information for the conversation on the web panel including caller’s number and their personal account attached to it,  a look-up data base with themed articles on the topic the client chose via voice menu.

Рабочий экран старшего специалиста колл-центра, подключение к разговору

High automation efficiency  is obtained due to the integration of Asterisk software with your accounting system: 1C, CRM-systems, Ermak and others.

After applying all these solutions, 40-85% of the customers get used to using self-service systems and receive information without contacting the agent.  Agents serve the remaining customers much faster. It turns out that you need several times fewer agents with a higher quality customer service. Sounds fantastic, isn’t it?

But this system is no miracle or secret. We described in detail how to achieve such high results and efficiency step by step down below.

It remains to add that the minimum payback period of our call center automation system, depending on the size of the company is only 2 months. At the same time, we can modify the system to your wishes - after all, this is completely our product, ready to save your money every day.

 

Typical problems in call centers and how we solve them

Unlike families, call centers are unhappy in the same way, but happiness can be different.

Let's see what a standard list of call center problems looks like:

  • to search for a client in the database, you must ask the caller for his data
  • agents spend a lot of time on typical actions and written scripts
  • lack of information on the topic of conversation at hand
  • inability or difficulty to listen to conversations
  • primitive call routing
  • it is impossible to assess the involvement of each agent
  • you cannot tell if a call center lacks of human resources
  • the situation where the caller’s number is not visible is still not uncommon

Here are our solutions:

1. Connecting client’s personal account to the phone number

The first time a client calls, the system requires to enter their personal account before connecting to the agent. When you call again, there is no need to log in.

You can also specify or change the personal account for the phone number in the agent’s web panel (in case the caller did not enter the personal account). The same actions can be done in the used Ermak payment system (it may be different, for example, 1C).

The system identifies the caller by a phone number. Right away the agent can see not only the client’s phone number, but a personal account attached to it on the web panel (if there are several accounts they will all be displayed).

Перевод звонка в личном кабинете оператора, автоматизация колл-центра при помощи Asterisk

In addition, any important working information from the accounting system can be displayed on the screen immediately such as account status and debts, deadlines, client’s name and address, etc.

This combination saves agent’s time. There is no need to find out basic information about the client anymore, so an agent can take several calls in a given amount of time.

2. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

2.1. Getting information yourself

First and foremost a detailed and systematized list of FAQs is a must.

As a result, now a caller can easily receive all the necessary information on his own, so there is no need to connect the call to a live person.

Voice menu shortened option

The client will be informed on

  • Call center working hours and tariffs
  • Information bureau
  • Individual customer servicing
  • Current debt
  • Meter readings reporting
  • Meters verification
  • Change of Ownership
  • Making a contract for individuals and legal entities
  • Paid-for services

All these menu options have sub-options.

Проектирование схемы голосового меню Asterisk для современного предприятия
Пример реальной схемы полного интерактивного голосового меню Asterisk с указанием переходов

Of course, for some people this can be an inconvenience and they will prefer to speak to an agent. However, statistics show that with a well-thought-out voice response with clear wording, more than half of the callers receive information without connecting to an agent.

Think about it, you can almost halve the number of agents, the monthly economic effect of this is easy to calculate.

2.2. Active actions in IVR

It is important that customers have the ability to perform actions without connecting to an agent.

For example city residents can now declare taken meter’s readings to Vodokanal or other utility companies.

To find out efficiency is very simple – it is  the percentage of those who call via the telephone relative to those who submitted meter readings connecting to an agent.

2.3. Massive fault reporting

People often call to report the same important information, for example, about a problem. In this case, the senior agent in his web interface uploads an audio file voicing a specific problem.

By the way, the voice acting itself can be done using an office phone - just by reading out the text into the handset.

When making a call, such information is reproduced immediately after the automatic greeting which significantly reduces the number of calls needed to be processed in emergency situations. The system can inform you about the opening hours for the upcoming holidays, changes in the schedule, new addresses, etc.

2.4. Debt or expiration alerts

Another scenario is the automatic playback of individual information about debts, expiring or already expired verification periods, application status, carried out services, etc.

When making a call, the client listens to all the needed information via phone immediately after the automatic greeting with no assistance from an agent.

All these functions step by step allow the company to reduce the amount of work in call centers by more than half, reduce the number of employees and save funds. Moreover, information can be provided not only during working hours, but also late in the evening or on weekends.

3. Built-in data base for agents

Each call center agent can see the options the client chose in IVR before connecting to the agent on a web panel. This seemingly simple feature is incredibly useful.

For example:

IVR / 4.Individual customers / 4. Overdue

Отображение пути клиента в голосовом меню до соединения с оператором

Пример отображения пути клиента в голосовом меню до соединения с оператором

Each of these steps has a link to a themed article with background information. After clicking the link an agent gets a screen pop with a selection of necessary information and answers to frequently asked questions on the topic.

Such database gives agent more confidence during the conversation so they do not distract other employees by random questions, increases customer satisfaction and generally reduces the time of each conversation. The agent enters the conversation prepared.

Different scripts can be added if needed.

Just for the sake of this function, it is already worth introducing an extensive IVR.

The senior agent has the right to create new articles and edit them to maintain the base up to date.

Создание статьи в базе знаний для оператора колл-центра

Управление статьями в базе знаний оператора колл-центра

4. Recording conversations

Disagreements are always there, sometimes there is a misunderstanding between a client and an agent who can not cope with the situation. Recording conversations can be useful in many different ways: from understanding the problem and training, to defending yourself in court.

Depending on the situation you can choose different modes. There is an option when an agent can listen to the records of their conversations. The supervisor can listen to the recordings of conversations of all his subordinates. If necessary, some exceptions can be made in Asterisk.

It is often the practice in call centers when the entire working group of agents listens to a recorded conversation in order to point out possible errors and discuss the correct tactics of holding a dialogue. This allows you to quickly get a positive experience on living examples and improve your communication skills as well as quick decision-making skills.

Another option for listening to the recording is to using the telephone. After clicking on the button with the recording of the conversation, the phone rings and after picking up the handset, the recording of the conversation starts playing directly from the handset of the office telephone. You don’t even need speakers or headphones. This way of customer service monitoring  does not attract any unwanted attention from the agents.

5. Call queues

Virtual queuing was invented a long time ago, but not many call centers use this concept.

After the caller expressed a desire to connect with the agent the call is placed in the queue. While waiting for an answer, the client is informed about his position in the queue and the approximate waiting time (based on statistics).

Управление очередями в Asterisk при автоматизации колл-центра

The most advanced companies are introducing new ways to make call queues more effective.

A modern addition is to add clips with useful information between playing music. For example, a reminder to submit meter readings before deadlines, new promotions information, information about opening new offices and services, etc. This can be an additional advertising or information channel for your company. As for the client, the waiting time flies faster.

And there may also be special customers who can be given a high priority and they will immediately take the first position in the queue.

6. Statistics for each agent

The senior manager can see the statistics for all team members in his web office. It is precisely those indicators that proved to be the most informative during work.

Отображения статистики и ожидающих в очереди в англоязычном интерфейсе
Пример отображения статистики и ожидающих в очереди в англоязычном интерфейсе

The set of indicators can be different, for example, the number of conversations per day, the average duration for the period, total time of conversations. These parameters can be an integral part of the agents’ KPI and can be used in a motivation system for bonuses and perks.

To evaluate the work of agents, you can use the point system, assigning points for a certain number of calls, their duration, speed of response. This can be part of the motivation program and create healthy competition among the agents with the assignment of weekly and monthly titles for achievements.

7. General indicators of the call center functioning capacity

The telephony web panel shows the number of clients waiting in line. You can also see the total number of calls per day, their duration and average call time. You can see who is on line, disconnected or temporarily out of the queue.

Of course, this is just a couple of possible indicators, we can add other necessary KPIs and parameters of a call center as a whole.

This basic set shows the full potential of call center capacity.

8. Other features

The senior agent of the call center can tune in on live conversation of any team member in three modes:

  • wiretapping mode (the supervisor is not heard by other participants of the conversation);
  • prompter / whisper mode (supervisor and team member can hear each other, this mode is good for trainees);
  • conference mode (all participants in the conversation can hear each other).

Подключение руководителя отдела к разговору в режиме прослушки, обучения (шепот) или конференции

Пример интерфейса с подключеним руководителя отдела к разговору в режиме прослушки, обучения (шепот) или конференции

The senior specialist of the Vodokanal call center has the right to add new users. This is the most simplified way to add new subscribers to the system, including Asterisk just by  entering their Name and Surname.

Управление и добавление новых сотрудников в интерфейсе системы автоматизации колл-центра

Пример управления и добавление новых сотрудников в интерфейсе системы автоматизации колл-центра

 

IVR voice acting

1. How it works

The voice menu is a central element of the self-service which makes agents’ work easier and more efficient.

In addition to the main function, the voice menu allows you to understand which menu option was chosen  so the agent can  open the corresponding article on the topic.

We took into account the change in the voice menu depending on the opening hours, in case the call center in does not work around the clock. So, during off hours, options which allow the client to reach an  agent are excluded and a warning is voiced that the agent can take a call during working hours.

2. IVR Voicing

Let us talk about Sochi Vodokanal experience. The company chose the most high-quality and labor-intensive option - voice acting by a professional. What is included in the professional voice acting:

  • Welcoming and multi-level voice information self-service menu
  • most frequently used instructions for individuals and legal entities
  • names of all meters and their installation locations for reporting
  • all streets of Sochi, letters and buildings of houses for checking the entered personal account
  • non-standard situations, errors and transitions

Today, there are several ways to do the IVR voicing, each  with its pros and cons.

Each company chooses the most suitable to achieve different purposes.

2.1. Online voice acting by a robot (Yandex or Google)

Pros:

  • no need to voice phrases in advance, they are requested by the robot as needed and saved for reuse
  • no need to make a complete list of phrases in order to voice them in advance and then to do additional voicing for the new ones
  • no need to understand, organize and rename a huge number of phrases from the announcer
  • no need to edit several parts into a phrase, you can record  them straight away, it turns out more smoothly
  • online voicing of any names and patronymics, geographical names of cities, towns, streets is no problem

Cons:

  • in case the limit of requests is exceeded, you will have to bear additional costs for voice acting;
  • the quality of voice acting by a robot, although acceptable, is still worse than the one done by a professional announcer;
  • a limited set of the robot  voices
  • it is recommended to re-voice many standard Asterisk phrases to avoid different voicing (for example, when voicing a position in a queue and waiting time, numerals, etc.)


2.2.
One-time voice acting by a robot (Yandex or Google)

Pros:

  • single payment
  • files can be saved immediately with the necessary technical names

Cons:

  • a list of phrases is discussed in advanced and cannot be changed
  • it is impossible to pre-voice all the names and patronymics, as well as geographical names of cities, towns, streets
  • you have to edit some parts into a phrase, for example, numerals, as there are too much combinations to record it all (for example, 234 567.89 rubles)
  • the quality of voice acting by a robot, although acceptable, is still worse than the one done by a professional announcer;
  • a limited set of the robot  voices
  • it is recommended to re-voice many standard Asterisk phrases to avoid different voicing (for example, when voicing a position in a queue and waiting time, numerals, etc.)

2.3. Voice acting by a professional

Pros:

  • single payment
  • best  quality voicing
  • large selection of voices and voice timbres

Профессиональная озвучка голосового меню Asterisk диктором

Cons:

  • a list of phrases must be chosen in advance, alterations are not easy to make
  • it is impossible to pre-voice all the names and patronymics, as well as geographical names of cities, towns, streets
  • you have to edit some parts into a phrase, for example, numerals, as there are too much combinations to record it all (for example, 234 567.89 rubles)
  • it is difficult to immediately save all phrases with the necessary technical file names
  • it is recommended to re-voice many standard Asterisk phrases to avoid different voicing (for example, when voicing a position in a queue and waiting time, numerals, etc.)

2.4. Asterisk branded voicing

Pros:

  • single payment
  • no need to edit several parts into a phrase, you can record  them straight away, it turns out more smoothly
  • voicing quality delivered by a professional speaker
  • large selection of voices and voice timbres
  • you do not pay for standard phrases voicing, as they are already recorded

Озвучка голосового меню фирменным диктором Asterisk

Cons:

  • it is more expensive  (does not matter much with a small number of phrases)
  • there is no choice of voices, it is a standard Asterisk voicing (female)
  • a list of phrases must be chosen in advance
  • it is impossible to pre-voice all names and patronymics, as well as geographical names of cities, towns, streets
  • you have to edit some parts into a phrase, for example, numerals, as there are too much combinations to record it all (for example, 234 567.89 rubles)
  • it is difficult to immediately save all phrases with the necessary technical file names

 

Asterisk, 1C and Ermak payment systems Integration

The biggest effect in is provided by the integration of Asterisk software with  any accounting  system.

The main advantage of Asterisk lies in its flexibility and readiness for integration with almost any settlement system or accounting system, be it Ermak, 1C or another system.

How this integration works:

  • personal account is determined when calling by a phone number
  • when calling a client can get the information about needed payments (if any)
  • when calling a client can get the information on meter reading overdue
  • round-the-clock automated reception of meter readings for each type of meter in the voice menu
  • entered address can be used to confirm a personal account information
  • both individuals and legal entities servicing are available
  • several personal accounts can be connected to one telephone number and one personal account to several phones

Agent's personal account

The web panel is actually the workplace. A personal account page opens in a browser and each agent of logs in with a unique username and password.

Добавление сотрудника колл-центра в систему автоматизации колл-центра

“Liquid” personal account design is a great option for a small office desktop monitor while multitasking.

Here is a list of functions available via agent’s personal account:

  • waiting line figures
  • real-time information update
  • adding, deleting and editing a user account, account management
  • incoming calls and personal account information display
  • display of menu items that the user went through before connecting
  • step by step instructions on a topic selected by a user in the voice menu
  • creating and editing instructions for any menu option
  • a pop-up list of all call center employees and workers from other departments
  • visible agent state (Ready, Busy, Not Ready, etc.)
  • call transfer function when clicking on a ready agent
  • comment section on personal accounts available during a conversation, comment history
  • field for entering a number and making an outgoing call
  • each employee can switch from on line to off line mode
  • the manager can connect to the conversation of any team agent in three modes: wiretapping, prompter / whisper, conference
  • the manager can see and save the statistics and personal efficiency numbers

Call Center Architecture: Hardware and Software

To serve 200-500 internal subscribers, a standard  server is enough:

  • the current generation Core i3 processor
  • 8-16 GB RAM

Two Raid 1 software hard drives

As you can see, the cost of the hardware is relatively low even when high-quality components are chosen. Of course, with additional investments, you can purchase a rack server with Raid hardware. This is just a matter of serviceability, not performance requirements.

Пример компьютера для сервера Asterisk

Asterisk server and call center systems at Sochi Vodokanal

The software we used:

  • Ubuntu Server LTS (we are currently using Ubuntu Server 20.04 LTS)
  • Asterisk LTS (we are currently using Asterisk LTS)
  • MySQL or PostgreSQL data bases
  • Nginx web server
  • Python 3 + Django full stack framework
  • Fail2ban and other utilities to ensure server’s security and stable operating

Besides, we launch all services as separate Docker containers (this is the world standard for server application deployment). This allows you to quickly restore Asterisk and update it in a matter of seconds even in case of a serious failure or urgently deploy the entire telephony system to use another server.

High quality system monitoring software is number one priority for safety. After all, any accident or breakdown has a cause, almost always it is a many-month deviation at first of one, and then several simple indicators: disk temperature, RAID status, network quality, registration stability, database parameters, etc. Proactive monitoring allows you to receive notifications and see the Asterisk server problem long before disaster strikes.

Along with monitoring, backups of the most important data and settings are required. Having backup copies, it is possible to deploy a copy of the system on any working computer as soon as possible.

For fault tolerance, we highly recommend using a cluster of multiple Asterisk server applications for high availability. In this case, in addition to the distribution and high scalability, we get the main thing - the highest system reliability. So, when one physical server breaks down, another server will take over its functions. This is a mandatory attribute of an enterprise that cannot afford a single hour of downtime.

By the way, the latest trend is to maintain not just one expensive server, but to use several cheaper servers, connected into a software distributed cluster. In this case, reliability is much higher while equipment costs can be even lower.

 

Plans for the future

What else can we offer besides call center automation with Asterisk?

We recommend improving customer service through other channels:

  • social networks and instant messengers integrated chats
  • phone application for subscribers
  • the subscriber’s personal account on the website

 

Call Center Automation Results

Summing it up. As you can see, the main result of the integrated call center  automation is a significant increase in labor efficiency.

Having implemented automation systems, the company pays once and receives daily savings day after day, year after year. It comes with a higher quality of customer service, because part of the services are fully automated and can be used 24/7.

The number of calls connected to agents is reduced by merely 85%, which allows you to streamline many call center operations. The remaining specialists will only do what robots are not yet capable of.

Повышение эффективности и kpi после внедрения автоматизации колл-центра

In addition to saving funds, any technological automation of customer service also has an image component. Russia now lags far behind developed countries in terms of labor efficiency, and a company that strives to be respected and prestigious must be open to innovations.

What is important, the technology we introduce do not require maintenance and do not have hidden regular costs. It is not even necessary to buy telephone sets - they can easily be replaced by free computer software and affordable headsets from a computer store.

Call or write us to get additional information, we will  answer your questions.

We will responsibly take care of all the automation issues of your call center.

Яндекс.Метрика