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Take charge of your 800 calls with primary rate.

The arrival of National ISDN 2 standards for primary rate ISDN promises a wealth of call processing options that will allow savvy users to reduce costs and improve service to their customers.

Some of the features are available today without the D channel intelligence that ISDN brings to the equation. But Ian Dix, senior manager of major accounts marketing for MCI, points out that the D channel will make today's features more efficient and tomorrow's features possible.

For instance, your call center could get by with fewer trunks by easing some of the peak period pressure. Here's how Dix explains it:

"In this scenario, a caller calls an 800 number but the trunk group is entirely busy. Instead of rerouting the call, the user can have the caller's phone number delivered via D channel to their equipment, while the user hears an announcement that they will be called back.

"The real-time ANI (automatic number identification) is marked and sent to a customer service representative, who calls the customer back.

"The benefit to the user is that they need fewer access lines for peak conditions. Also, when you reoriginate the call as an outbound call, those rates tend to be, on the average, about 15% less than 800 rates. There is an efficiency in price as well."

There are applications today that allow callers to input their telephone numbers for later callback, but the ISDN application that Dix describes automates the process.

What ISDN also makes possible is caller segmentation. A company could tout an exclusive 800 number for use only by a select 100 customers, for instance. Thanks to ANI, only the originating numbers of those 100 customers would be allowed to get through. Others would get a fast busy.

You could also be sure to route those top-100 calls to your best service reps, or make sure that the same rep always takes a specific customer's call, to build a relationship.

The user's PBX could be programmed to assign any of several phone numbers (home, office, car phone, etc.) to each customer. That would eliminate the need for the customer to call from a single location.

Segmentation can also take other forms. For instance, you sell luxury cars. You only want to hear from people who are likely to be able to afford those cars. Why tie up your customer service reps with callers whose budgets restrict them to "preowned vehicles" that are on their last legs?

What you do is command the network to allow only calls from certain exchanges to get through. If the 663 exchange serves Moneybags Valley, Calif., you want to hear from those people. If the 238 exchange is in neighboring Povertyburg, you most likely don't want to take calls from there.

Such segmentation also has security benefits as well. Hackers love to call 800 numbers to get their foot in the door and start toying with your voice mail system to do their dirty work. By limiting access to that 800 number to, say, the telephone numbers of your 100 branch offices, you close out everyone who isn't making a call from one of those offices. All others get a fast busy signal, which tells them nothing.

Another feature is called "takeback and transfer." Say someone calls a customer service center in San Diego and the rep realizes they need to be handled by a rep in Boston. The way a non-ISDN system works, the rep can dial a 2-digit code to have the call rerouted. With ISDN, the rep will be able to signal via the D channel for rerouting, which will take less time.

Even today's method is far better than the previous solution, says Dix. Used to be the rep had to outdial to Boston and tie up two trunks - the in-bound 800 and the outbound to Boston - to connect the caller to the right place.

What stands in the way of such ISDN feature functionality is the standards committee process, Dix says. He likened it to waiting for an elephant to give birth. But it is possible that in about six months, the standards will be ready.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National Integrated Services Digital Networks-2
Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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