Do Not CallThis example has many possibilities where using a DTMF entry on completion of a call to update a global database is desired. Typically, this type of system is one where employees (e.g., telemarketers in the Do Not Call scenario) dial in, log in with a password and/or PIN and dial out from the IVR. The dial out numbers will be from a preset list all of the details of the call (start time, duration, DNIS, etc.) will be placed in a database in addition to a code entered by the employee. This database will be common to all IVR’s in the system and will be universally available to those who have access.
In the Do Not Call example, the code entered will be related to the status of the called party. If there was no problem with the call, the employee may enter a “#1” which could mean “this party is interested in our product” or “#2” which could mean “some interest”. On the other hand, the entry may be “#*” which could mean “Do not call this party again” and would set a flag in the database telling all parties to refrain from calling this number. In the actual situation, if anyone were to call this party again, the company would be fined thousands of dollars according to existing laws.
While Do Not Call is the example given, there are many other possible situations for this type of application. Some of these possibilities are:
- Service calls
- Appointment setting/reminders
- Catalogue sales
- Political calls
- Alumni calls from a University.
Whatever the choice of the dial-out application is, it can be customized to update any database desired for real time record keeping.
Nationwide Delivery TrackingWithout having the extensive tracking systems used by UPS, FedEx and DHL, our customers have the ability of tracking shipments completely. This is all done with a quick telephone call from the driver. The basis for the generic application relies on a “pallet” count; however, the application may be customized to use any other measurement scheme.
At each store, e.g., Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, etc., a unique store number is given to be entered into the system. There are pickups and/or deliveries at each store and the driver simply enters the truck number, store number, the number of pallets dropped off and the number of pallets picked up. Combined with the time the data is entered, a complete picture of each truck’s route and performance is provided to the home office.
The driver may also be prompted to check in to the home office or may retrieve a voice mail message sent after his most recent stop. This adds interaction with the driver for special instructions, changes in the route or other important messages that are pertinent to the driver.
This is a simple and straightforward application that accomplishes a multitude of functionality at a very low cost.
University Help DeskThis is an application that is a major cost-saver to large universities and colleges. All aspects of a student’s participation can be managed with this application as well as a secure means of parents to check on a student’s progress. This “one-stop shopping” system can be a major time saver for the student as well as saving the university large staffing costs. For those of us who have gone through registrations, the ordeal of signing up for classes, getting the textbooks, etc. is well remembered.
The student can call into the system, login with a student ID and select from a large variety of topics. These include:
- Registration for classes based on hearing all of the choices or by correlating to a course schedule handout that has number codes for each class and time. The student can have his/her finalized registration faxed or e-mailed to receive confirmation.
- Purchasing textbooks based on the numerical code provided in the registration confirmation. The student can purchase a first book, then a second and so on until all are obtained (with the option of new or used). These can be charged against the student’s established account or paid by credit card. Arrangements can then be made for pickup or delivery.
- Events and activities can include football and basketball games, special interest and social clubs, dances, concerts, sports activities and social events. The option to get sign-up information or obtain game tickets is provided and the student can make all necessary decisions here and come back later to add more.
- Housing can be researched on and off campus by choosing key words from lists of categories. Addresses and telephone numbers can be given to allow for further investigation eliminating the need to check bulletin boards, newspapers and other media. Another method that can be an option is to get into one of several conferences on the subject of housing where parties with rooms to rent and students needing rooms can discuss possible arrangements.
- Tutors may be located using lists in various subject categories where telephone numbers can be provided to make any arrangements that are necessary. The student may also enter one of a few conferences where tutors and students seeking tutors can make arrangements.
- Parents can check on student progress and financial status using a secure database path with password and/or PIN protection. This can be a very valuable feature, if provided, for the parent investing a small fortune in their child’s future.
Field Personnel ProtectionThere are a variety of companies who have people in the field who go to remote sites that are unmanned. Examples include mobile phone carriers such as Cingular, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, etc.; the field personnel must go to the repeater sites and check equipment on a regular basis. There are other types of remote site checking situations, but this will serve as our example.
Historically, there have been tragedies that have occurred at some of these remote sites; these include agents being attacked and badly injured with some killed and also heart attacks incurred with no one knowing. As a result, some of these companies have required applications to be developed that would create active contact between the agent and the IVR with check in times starting a clock. If no input were received after a predetermined time then a series of events would be triggered by the IVR. These are described in this section. In addition to entering an agent ID, the agent would also enter site, switch, alarm, city and state information.
When the agent initially logs into the site with the agent ID, s/he is asked a series of questions by the IVR. The site, switch city and state information can be programmed for an automatic response in the agent’s cell phone and the agent will then be asked if an alarm will be generated so that an operations center can be alerted.
Should the agent not properly log out before the pre-determined time, a series of calls will be triggered to be dialed out from the IVR that could include the regional operations center followed by legal assistance from the local authorities to conduct a search of the remote site expediently. Since some of the companies in this arena have thousands of agents, this type of application is essential based on the types of things that can occur to an individual who is in the field alone.
Additionally, there are several reports generated by the application about the daily activities of the agents. These will show trends, average times, sites in need of a visit, dial-out records and a variety of other pertinent data customizable by the system administrator.
Nationwide Mall InformationMCCT has written a Plan that makes available a database and interface to allow callers to check on any of hundreds of malls in the U.S. and any of the stores within that mall. The customer who manages all of this has been provided an easy to use interface to update the MySQL tables containing message prompts, promotions, address and telephone number information, etc.
Callers can call a main number and select one or more of hundreds of malls. Once in the mall main menu, they can search for stores by category or name and find all the information they would need such as:
- Mall and store open & closing times for each day of the week
- Store search by name, type or category
- Special events
- Jobs that are available
- Directions to malls and parking information
- Residential information about general area
- Call transfers to operators and stores/restaurants
- Mall security
- Management office
- Public transportation
- Sponsor information
- Take a survey
This is a working application and is dynamic in that the database is regularly updated. Callers planning trips can “plan ahead” if shopping is on their activity list; many people like to buy local products and can “pre-shop’ using this application. In many metropolitan areas, there are several malls that can be easily researched while sitting in the comfort of your home.
Special AlertsThere are many possibilities for applications that provide alerts to a variety of customers – businesses, government, individuals, medical, educational and so on. The possibilities embrace features that have already been created in different “flavors” for customers; these features include:
- Voice Mail
- GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
Using any or all of the features shown above, users with accounts may sign up for the many possible services that are available. The GIS feature includes zip code, telephone number, address and geographical coordinate information that is needed by law enforcement and other government customers. Conferencing can be set up by individual selection based on invitations or searches or may be automated in the event of emergencies such as amber alerts or major weather events, as examples. Some of the many available services include:
- Amber alerts
- Baseball scores
- Flight information
- System alarm alerts
- Traffic reports
- Weather conditions