Deploying what it says is a technology that could revolutionize the call centre, Toronto-based CallCast Inc. has developed the Agent Access Remote Network – a way for contact centres to execute their own remote programs.
As long distance rates become less expensive and high-speed Internet connections more reliable, there will soon be a fundamental change in how the contact centre distributes its staff, said Brian Pritchard, president and CEO of CallCast.
“This technology has been discussed for years – it’s nothing new – but now, finally, with all the elements in place, [it’s ready to go],” he said.
The system revolves around the Linux-based Agent Access OS, which can be booted from disk onto any computer, turning a person’s PC into a workstation with call-centre functions, Pritchard said. The system includes a firewall, VPN functionality and a fingerprint reader for security.
The core of the technology is a fully managed voice-data network, an end-to-end system that is scalable to 9,999 agents per queue. It has a T-1 connection or 1800 routing from the agent to the CallCast central office. Agents use “softphones” on their computers to make and answer calls.
“The nice thing is there is no voice over IP,” Pritchard said. “It’s total, solid, PSTN (public switched telephone network) connectivity so the quality of voice and the connection is beautiful.”
In March, Toronto-based Priszm Brandz Inc. became CallCast’s first remote call centre customer. An operator of quick service restaurants in Canada, running more than 760 KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants in the country, Priszm already had a call centre in Edmonton, supporting the company’s B.C. and Alberta markets.
The company was looking for a way to allow its Ontario-based restaurants to focus on food preparation and delivery – leaving order-taking to someone else, said Katy Cook, Priszm’s director of call centre operations.
“CallCast became a desirable solution,” Cook said, because the technology eliminated the high cost of building a new facility and also eliminated the cost of expanding the Edmonton facility.
The remote system provides easy expansion for Priszm if business grows, “because the onus is on CallCast to do that expansion,” she added.
Having agents choose their own hours – scheduled in 30 minute increments – was a bonus, Cook said, explaining that this lets Priszm offset call volume peaks and valleys.
According to Roberta Fox, president and senior partner with Fox Group Consulting in Markham, Ont., the CallCast technology is a good fit for a business that is trying to establish itself in a new area, using the technology as a testing ground or a way to handle overflow from a call centre.
“Remote agents are a growing trend and a good alternative for disaster recovery,” she said.