Canadian call centre specialist offers Mac option

Call centres around the world are dominated by Windows-based desktop platforms, but a Canadian provider of cloud-based call centre solutions is going against the grain.
Toronto-based Telax Hosted Call Center said Thursday its new Call Center Agent runs on Firefox, Safari and Chrome browsers. The agent is aimed at call centres running Mac OS — a market the company says is small but growing.
Telax provides companies a cloud service alternative to having on-premise call centre equipment. It offers monthly subscriptions according to number of concurrent agents–in other words, companies are charged based on how many agents log in to the system. Adding Mac functionality was necessary, says marketing manager Koray Parmaks, because many companies, especially start-ups, have Mac-only infrastructure nowadays.
He credits HTML5’s innovative WebSocket technology with helping the company develop the new solution, which harnesses the bi-direction TCP communication that the new HTML version provides.

He said that at call centres, in which doing things in real-time is critical, older Web-based technology wouldn’t have worked. Instead companies turned to third-party clients. But HTML5 makes has made cross-platform software development possible.

“For a hosted call centre, specifically, to be robust and to give all the information it needs to the agent and to the team you need two-way communication,” he said.

“You need to be able to send messages to the server—to the cloud, so to speak—and the cloud needs to be able to send messages down to you. The problem with the typical browser, or pre-HTML5, is that it’s a one-way request: the browser does a request and then every X amount of time, it refreshes and does another request, and [then] new information can be delivered.”

“When a call is coming to an agent, the agent isn’t going to get the screen pop data, for example, ahead of the call, because the browser doesn’t know to request that at the time. So you need a server-based notification.

“That’s what drives a lot of the disparity between browser solutions and these rich client server-type solutions where the server can just zip a message over and it will just show up on the screen.”

Parmaks compares HTML5 to Ajax, saying it is akin to“the next evolution” of the web technology, providing a host of new solutions that are both feature-rich and versatile. As well, HTML 5 is more mobile friendly, unlike previous client-based solutions like Adobe Flash or Silverlight.

Call centres are now better described as “contact centres,” Parmaks says. The software Telax develops is intended to juggle multiple requests from many different source, connecting them to the right person.

“People can send in e-mails, chats, comments from Facebook, twitter—all these things get pulled into an engine that says `who’s the best person right now who can handle this?’ And that creates a responsiveness to the organization.

“Whether it’s a few people who can do it, or a few hundred people who can do it, you’re going to get the responses to all those channels faster.”
Parmaks says the company’s pricing structure can vary considerably, but adds that the cost of the Mac solution will be in line with previous offerings.
His company has long been at the leading edge of cloud call centre services, he says. Introducing Mac functionality was a forward-looking business decision.
“We’re the pioneer of cloud computing in call centres in Canada, ” he says. “As a hosted IVR solution, we’ve been doing it since the mid-1990s. The actual call centre piece came about in 2002 and we’ve had a customer onboard since then.”
“We’ve been doing cloud since before cloud was sexy.”

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