Call Centers

OpenSpan Releases Integration App for Disconnected Call Center Agents

OpenSpan, a Microsoft partner, rolled out an application integration platform that allows users of Microsoft’s Customer Care Framework (CCF) 2008 — which was also introduced Wednesday — to link older applications and custom-built systems with the front-end agent desktop.

Built on the Microsoft .Net platform, the OpenSpan Platform for CCF 2008’s integration approach is to leverage the interactions between business applications and the Windows operating system.

No APIs Available

Typical integration technology is now delivered at the back end, which is fine when the applications are modern enough to have application programming interfaces (APIs) included — but that is not the case with custom built applications or older legacy systems, explained Francis Carden, CEO of OpenSpan.

“We inject ourselves inside a running application in order to expose an API when none existed,” he told CRM Buyer.

The goal of the OpenSpan Platform is to provide as much functionality to the agent desktop as possible, he continued, by providing faster access to the back-end systems where most customer data resides.

New Version

Microsoft first rolled out its CCF in 2005. It is a desktop application for contact center operators that provides customer care information via e-mail, instant messaging, interactive voice response (IVR) and the partner-dealer channel.

It is designed to address the oft-noted pain point in most contact center operations: a customer service agent who is less than informed about a customer’s call due to limited information about the customer’s history or account.

For instance, a customer might call in about repeated billing to a credit card that he had not authorized, after having logged in the problem through the Web site. Theoretically, the CCF would be able to provide the agent with information about the customer’s previous attempt to rectify the situation — even though it originated from a different channel — by using a mid-tier integration layer based on Web services to connect back-end customer data and better integrate these channels.

This latest version of CCF provides updates to simplifying tasks and workflow processes, integrating customer interaction channels and accelerating the time to market.

New features:

  • A customer self-service portal, now built on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, which allows customers to manage their accounts, check order status, order goods or services, or address other concerns;
  • Windows Workflow Foundation, which helps guide agents to interact with different applications and summon the appropriate follow-up actions;
  • enterprise single sign-on, which allows agents to access the necessary business systems at startup with a single login;
  • interaction server, which integrates communication channels, including the customer self-service portal, telephone, e-mail, fax, instant messaging, chat and interactive voice response; and
  • a hosted application toolkit, installer tools and security extensions.

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