[label type=”important”]Retail Services[/label]
Customers currently place catalog orders by mail and telephone, but new methods using Computer Telephony systems are under development. One method is to provide telephone access to an inbound telemarketing service center with a voice response unit. Callers name the item they are interested in and hear more information about it before they are transferred to an agent to place an order. Agents do not have to spend as much time with each customer.
Another method is to print a code next to each item in the catalogue. When callers dial in they are prompted to enter the catalog number, the page number, and the item number of the product they want. They hear a recording describing the product including available models, sizes, and colors. A more sophisticated system allows regular customers to place orders automatically by entering an account number. Their address and credit card number are retrieved automatically from a database by matching their account code.
Because many stores that rent videos already have their inventories computerized, a Computer Telephony system can add an extra level of customer service by allowing renters to dial in to determine if a movie is in stock.
Cable television systems that offer home shopping can use Computer Telephony systems to automate the order taking process. Callers who see an item they are interested in are prompted to enter a product identification number that has been shown with the item. The system plays a recording describing the product and any other pertinent information. Callers are transferred to telemarketing agents to complete the purchase or the system can be configured to take orders automatically.
If a customer pays by check, a salesperson can dial a Computer Telephony system to verify that sufficient funds exist to cover the amount of the payment. The system prompts the caller to enter the customer’s bank, account number, and the amount of the check. It searches a current database of account balances and indicates whether the customer is creditworthy. The system can be used even when the bank is closed.
A store provides a dial-in information service that allows customers to select from a spoken menu of options by entering touch tone digits. Topics include special sales, prices, available items, credit card acceptance, account balances, store location, and hours of operation.
CD Demo And Purchase
Callers dial in and listen to samples of the latest CDs. If they wish to buy one, they press a touch tone digit and are transferred to an operator. A more sophisticated system can automate the ordering process by prompting callers to enter their address and credit card number. Credit card validation can be done automatically.
[label type=”important”]Social Services[/label]
Many local citizen’s groups have formed neighborhood watch associations to guard against crime. Computer Telephony systems can be used to coordinate these efforts and to report trouble when it occurs. Members of the watch group call a number to listen to a report on problems experienced in the neighborhood. If information needs to be circulated quickly to a large number of homes, the system dials numbers automatically and plays a recording.
A community job line can speed up the search for employment and provide an easy means of accessing information for the unemployed. The system is programmed to take input from employers indicating the type of job, job description, salary, and other pertinent information. Job seekers dial the system and search for jobs by category, following system prompts.
People receiving unemployment benefits are required to report their job-search efforts periodically to unemployment agencies. A lot of time is wasted waiting in line, answering questions, and filling out forms. A Computer Telephony system can help automate some of these procedures. Each person receiving unemployment compensation is required to call the system at the end of each week and enter his or her Social Security number for verification. They are prompted to enter the telephone number of any business where they had been interviewed that week. They are then asked to record a message indicating if they worked that week and on which days. Caseworkers transcribe this information into their records during the week.
Computer Telephony systems can be used in conjunction with emergency telephone systems to detect the incoming telephone number of the caller and to look up the address automatically. This helps the operator determine the location of the caller as soon as the call comes in so that emergency vehicles can be dispatched immediately, even when the caller is unable to provide a location.
Computer Telephony systems can be used to automatically call the elderly and homebound on a regular schedule. If the call is not answered, a social worker or volunteer can be dispatched to check on the person.
Community Voice Mail
Computer Telephony systems can be used to provide telephone services for the homeless or other groups who do not own telephones but need access to telephone services. Individuals can receive messages at any time at private voice mailboxes and can use the system to check on job opportunities or stay in touch with family members.
A seaside community audiotex application gives the time of ocean tides that day, as well as temperature and general conditions for swimming and surfing.
A Computer Telephony system provides information on skiing conditions, weather, and travel accommodations. The system is programmed to accept status reports from numerous ski resorts. Callers are prompted to enter the resort and slope they are interested in so they can hear a report on current conditions.
Golf Tee Time Scheduling
Call process systems can provide flexible scheduling for golfers and help to match up players in search of partners. Club members call the system and enter the day, time, and number of persons in their party. A party with an odd number of players is asked to respond if they would like to add another player. Single players are matched to this party when they call in. A similar service could be developed for tennis players.
Callers interested in finding out the latest sports scores call a Computer Telephony system and select from a menu of current events. Scores are updated several times an hour. Results of events that have a global following, such as the Olympics or World Cup Soccer, could be provided in multiple languages.