Interactive CTI comes out of the box

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Point Information Systems has added core CTI functionality to its browser-based, thin client customer relationship management (CRM) solution. The move heralds an important enabling technology in the deployment of thin client call centers and brings location-independent virtual contact centers one step closer.

It is the first time that fully interactive CTI has come out of the box in a thin client CRM system. Other offerings use loosely integrated, separate components.

True thin client technology makes the "write once, implement anywhere" call center a reality. It means CRM systems can be deployed faster with lower total cost of ownership, eased maintenance and greater scalability. In turn, companies can be earlier to market with new, fully-supported propositions.

The new development – WebPoint Telephony – is made possible by Point's next generation, n-tier architecture centered around browser-based clients driving a core CRM system through Web portals. Selective functionality is delivered to call center agents through the intranet-based Enterprise Portal, to associates and resellers through the extranet-based Partner Portal, and to customers via the Internet-based Customer Portal.

Such an approach is key to tomorrow's 24-hour virtual contact centers. These will seamlessly support globally-dispersed users – including telecommuters and international staff – over wide area networks, and through multiple channels and access points.

Announcing the CTI advance, Point CEO Dieter Schneider said it underpinned the company's e-business strategy of delivering total marketing, sales and customer service functionality through a simple Web browser, thin client interface.

"Today's e-businesses are increasingly having to deal with global customers who demand expert attention on their own terms, in their own language, at a time that suits them. Virtual contact centers are the key to service without frontiers but technology has so far lagged behind," he said.

Gartner Group agrees about the importance of the virtual contact center. "Fully capable virtual call centers and contact centers, that include work-at-home agents and remote agent clusters, are just around the corner," said Bern Elliot, Research Analyst, Networking Group. "Soon we'll see globally dispersed users working through multiple channels to provide true 24-hour, seven-days-a-week customer service."

WebPoint Telephony is non-proprietary and compatible with any CTI platform. It adds functions including answer, hold, transfer, retrieve and hang-up to a telephony toolbar in the WebPoint Enterprise Portal. Unique to Point is server-based state management which constantly updates displayed CTI status independent of browser refresh. Agents need no special hardware and can work with only a telephone and simple Web browser.

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