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By: BTAS Pty Ltd

What is a Contact Centre?
In simple terms, a contact centre, or call centre, is a collection of human and information systems (people, processes and technologies) designed to support contact with customers or support a particular business function. At its most basic, it can mean a handful of untrained people answering simple queries over the phone. At its most sophisticated it can mean thousands of trained agents working in different locations using e-mail, video-conferencing, voice and the Internet to manage a complete customer life cycle.

Often referred to as the "factories of the modern era" they are typically large open-plan areas dominated by rows and rows of computers. Contact centre operations are typically split into inbound (order taking, help desk, response management) and outbound (cold calling, sales, promotions). Over the last decade contact centres have evolved to be a key strategic weapon, enabling companies to competitively differentiate in their ability to attract and retain customers.

Increasingly, customers are using the web, e-mail, voice mail, fax in the way they choose to do business. Each customer contact experience is key to the loyalty of that customer transaction.


What is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol enables transmission of voice traffic over a packet-switched IP (Internet Protocol) network. A VoIP Network carries converged voice and data traffic from a public carrier network, the Internet, or private IP intranets. Companies can develop a Voice over IP architecture in one of three ways:

  • By IP-enabling an existing telephony network
  • By voice-enabling an existing IP or other packet network
  • By building a pure IP telephony network from scratch

VoIP can save toll charges on long-distance and international calls. Today, with rapidly advancing technologies, voice quality on managed VoIP networks can match the public voice network.

The term "Internet telephony" generally refers to Voice over IP services transported over a public Internet backbone but the terms are often used interchangeably.


Why VoIP?
Voice over IP provides major benefits to both service providers and enterprises:

  • Sustainable cost reduction for service providers and enterprises
  • Increased revenues for service providers
  • Enhanced productivity for enterprises.

Traditional circuit-switched telephone networks were designed to carry voice traffic. However, because circuit-switched networks reserve an entire channel for each conversation (even when no-one's talking) they do not use the network's available bandwidth in the most efficient way.

Over the last two decades, both service providers and enterprises have been using packet technologies (such as frame relay, ATM and IP) to transport data. In a packet network, packet switching interleaves bits and bytes of traffic from many users on shared facilities using the network's available bandwidth far more efficiently.

Because these two types of networks have been used for a single service only, service providers and enterprises have had to invest in two separate networks if they wanted to transport both voice and data traffic. Building, managing and maintaining these "overlay" networks has proven to be very expensive.

So what's the answer? Service providers and enterprises agree that the network of the future must offer combined voice and data communications over a single integrated platform built on packet technology. Internet Protocol (IP), the packet technology used on the Internet, has proven its ability to efficiently integrate voice traffic into the flow of data on IP networks enabling voice and data services to be delivered to users from a single multiservice network.


What is Unified Communications?
Unified Communications, or Unified Comms, provides a single point of access to all message types - voice, fax, email and SMS - from virtually any communications device such as telephone, personal computer, PDA or web browser through the Internet. In the user's familiar e-mail inbox, a unique icon identifies each message type. This single point of access and control increases employee productivity while improving communications with both customers and co-workers.