Computer Telephony Applications
The use of computer telephony applications by businesses is steadily on the rise. If you're not sure what these applications are, here's a quick explanation: they are automated telephone systems that integrate computer software and telephon hardware. These systems can be used to answer and distribute calls throughout a company, and they can also be used to make outbound calls.
Not to get off track, but for those of you who are wondering why the word "telephony" is used, don't feel bad -- I didn't get it either at first. It turns out that it's just the tech world version of turning the noun "telephone' into an adjective. Now back to the subject at hand: computer telephony applications are used for a number of different business tasks. A "tasks and time" application, for instance, works like a time clock that can be accessed via the telephone. This means that a construction worker could phone into a "tasks and time" application from his or her actual job site and "clock in" for the day.
Another type of application functions as a notification system for medical offices and certain Human Resources programs. Let's say, for instance, that a busy medical office wants to reduce no-shows in order to maximize its physicians' (and patients') schedules. One way to do that is to remind patients of their appointments a day before they are supposed to come in. Using office staff to make those calls would be time consuming and not cost effective.
One time-and-money saving answer to the patient notification issue in an automated telephony application. This type of system can be programmed to automatically dial patients 24 hours before their scheduled appointments and confirm them. The computer software is what keeps track of the office's calendar, and the telephony hardware is the means by which the notification system is put into effect.
Computer Telephony Integration
The term "computer telephony integration" refers to the system by which telephone lines and answering services are combined with computer software programs (usually based in VoiceXML) to create a new type of technology. If that sounds like mumbo jumbo to you, don't panic -- it took me quite a bit of research to understand this stuff myself.
This technology is directed specifically at the type of businesses that have a high density of inbound and/or outbound calls. And although they may not need to understand the inner workings of a computer telephony integration system in order to use it, they do need to understand what it does in order to decide whether or not it will benefit their company.
Another option that has been available for a few years is to go online and check the carrier's website (again, using my tracking number) to see if any package has been delivered. That is computer technology at work. When you combine the telephony and computer solutions listed above (using VoiceXML and IVR systems), you get an integrated network will allow customers to access a web-based tracking service through their phone instead of a computer.
Computer Telephony Solutions
One of the computer telephony solutions offered by a good IVR provider is the tasks and time teleportal. A teleportal is a gateway through which information can be given out and/or retrieved. A tasks and time telportal can perform many functions, including notifying employees of assignments, functioning as a time clock, and caluclating hours worked in a given pay period. The technology that makes this all possible is called interactive voice response (IVR) and it is changing the way people do business.
Many mobile workers have different tasks every day. For instance, a plumber may go on several different calls a day. The traditional way of handling these assignments is to have a supervisor distribute the workload and inform each worker individually of his or her tasks for the day. With computer telephony solutions, an automative system can be created wherein mobile workers dial into a certain number and retrieve their work assignments for the day (including job details and customer addresses).
Task and time teleportals can also function as time clocks for mobile workers in the field. Many construction jobs pay on an hourly basis, as per union rules, and it is therefore crucial that workers have accurate timecards. Setting up an accurate timecard system can be a bit tricky amidst the chaos of a construction site, but with the help of computer telephony systems, workers can clock in over the phone.
Finally, tallying up each employee's hours every pay period is a time-consuming, repetitive task. This is the type of task that is perfect for an IVR system, because it can automatically tally timecard hours and deliver that information to payroll. Employees themselves can even access this information over the phone, which is helpful when one needs to know how many hours one is actually getting paid for.
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