Witness Adds VOIP Support to Call Center

Eases management of IP-based telephone traffic.

Witness Systems Inc. is enhancing its customer service call center software with new VOIP support.

The addition of voice-over-IP support in the eQuality software, which will be announced this week at the NetWorld+ Interop trade show in Atlanta, will let call centers more easily capture, evaluate and analyze IP-based telephone traffic, said Witness officials.

The support is being added through a partnership with Spanlink Communications Inc., a Minneapolis-based company that has developed a number of VOIP and computer telephony integration-based systems for contact centers.

VOIP will be helpful in call centers in two ways, according to officials at Witness, in Roswell, Ga. First, it will make it easier for IT administrators in customer service organizations to manage interactions with individual customers who seek assistance through telephone calls and Web service options. Because data from such customers will be digitized, it should create a seamless experience for them, officials said. In addition, the administrators will have more flexibility with issues such as routing calls and data to remote call center operators.

Second, VOIP in call centers, as in other settings, is projected to reduce overall network costs by reducing the number of communications technologies a company needs to support.

VOIP has held promise for several years, but widespread adoption has yet to occur. Advocates of the technology have not convinced many companies that the voice quality is good enough or that the return on investment is great enough to justify replacing telecommunications equipment.

Margaret Flink, head of CS operations at CCH Inc., runs a call center that is not rushing to add VOIP support, but Flink said she expects to see it deployed in her office in 2004 or 2005. In addition to her questions about the current technologys scalability, she said she thinks her Chicago-based company is not anxious to spend the money to replace equipment that is working fine.

"We have to let that technology grow up; we choose not to be the forerunners on that," said Flink, who uses eQuality software.

The fee for adding VOIP to a companys eQuality call center deployment is $16,000, officials said.