Opinion: Telephone management systems

Rob Lith gives us his opinion on Telephone management systems, and compares whether they’re cost cutting or business enabling

September 26, 2011

By Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom

“Telephone management systems (TMSs) have been largely under-utilised by many companies,” says Rob Lith, Director of Connection Telecom.

These applications are often procured, sometimes at considerable cost, with only one objective in mind – to identify and cut unnecessary costs, while ignoring the invaluable business intelligence they can deliver.

TMS systems as cost cutters

TMS systems are most often used to identify when a call is being made to a Telkom or mobile number, and to route it via the appropriate call origination device – a cellular or VoIP gateway or even an analogue switchboard.

It is a legitimate use of the software as it gives companies a proper appreciation of their call patterns and helps them identify what they need in terms of least-cost routing infrastructure and solutions that guide calls down the cheapest channel.

However, when their use is limited to cost-cutting, such applications don’t reach their full potential.

TMS as policing agent

Another cause of high enterprise calls costs that can be stopped with TMS systems is an excessive incidence of private calls using company telephony.

Again, identifying the culprits of such incidents is a legitimate use of TMS systems, but in many cases, companies can achieve much more by using it to go beyond policing and policy enforcement.

Instead, such solutions can used as a basis for offering staff discounted private calls – a far friendlier approach, enabled by business intelligence.

Better decisions

Indeed, business intelligence or analytics is the main value of TMS systems, as it can help companies make more scientific decisions, for example concerning customer interaction, marketing, product launches and so forth.

A retailer with multiple branches proved a case in point. Instead of clamping down on misuse (pure monitoring), the company used its TMS to manage phone calls.

–          By integrating telephony with its HR system, the company began requiring PIN-code entry with every call and was thus able to monitor private calls and deduct their cost from salaries. In addition, they were able to offer discounts on private call costs and incentives on telephone-based customer service, thus turning a negative experience into a positive one.

–          In addition, the company integrated its telephony system with its retail point-of-sale system, which helped the POS support company to sharpen up its workforce management, based on the calling trends from certain retailer locations.

–          The retailer further used caller identity to ascertain the probable destination of calls from within the retailer to the switchboard of the group financing provider, thus leading to a change in normal IVR processes to facilitate in-house credit authorisation.

–          Finally, TMS is used by the retailer in the ordinary way, to effect least-cost routing.

In the final analysis, TMS systems can be the source of rich, valuable data, which should be used by companies to influence business direction.

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