Pega Call and telephony
The Pega Call™ adaptor ensures that your customer service application communicates with your telephony systems for seamless customer experience. When a customer call is routed to an agent, a screen pop provides the caller’s number, the reason for calling, and other information from the computer telephony integration systems (CTI) and interactive voice-response systems (IVRs).
When a customer calls the customer service department, we like to think that it is as simple as our two phones being directly connected as if we have two paper cups with a string in between them.
There is actually a lot going on in order to make the connection when a call is made. When you make a call, it operates over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The PSTN is the aggregate of the world's public telephone networks that are operated by national, regional, or local telephony operators, providing infrastructure and services for public telecommunication. Customers could connect to the PSTN from a traditional phone line, or it could be through a softphone or IP phone using Voice over IP (VoIP) or Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
When you are connected to your desired number through the PSTN typically you are first connected to a PBX or ACD.
So, what is a PBX? PBX stands for private branch exchange (PBX) and is a business telephone system that offers multiple inbound and outbound lines, call routing, voicemail, and call management features. A PBX takes the incoming call and then routes the call to the appropriate business line. You have probably encountered a PBX many times, whenever you have to dial 9 to get an external line you are interacting with your company’s PBX.
Similar to a PBX, corporations may also use an ACD or automatic call distributor. An ACD is a device or system that distributes incoming calls to a specific group of terminals or agents based on customer need, type, and agent skill set.
Routing incoming calls is the task of the ACD system. ACD systems are often found in offices that handle large volumes of incoming phone calls from callers who have no need to talk to a specific person but who require assistance from any of multiple persons (for example, customer service representatives) at the earliest opportunity.
ACDs are commonly used in call centers.
Let us review where we are. A customer places a call, which travels over the PSTN and is connected to a PBX or ACD. Who answers the call? We have all experienced calling a company and then being connected to an IVR or VRU.
An IV-what or a VR-who? IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response, and VRU stands for Voice Response Unit. Most commonly, you have interacted with these systems and have heard “press 1 for account balance, press 2 to dispute a transaction” or “say your account number into the phone”. These systems are responsible for possibly resolving your call without interacting with a human, but at the very least, it collects the information about who you are and what you want to do in a call.
Now, back to our call. The IVR collects information and ideally can resolve the call right then and there. If not a live customer service representative might be needed. When this is the case, the IVR transfers the call back to the PBX/ACD where the call can be routed to a customer service representative. An ACD routes you to a representative with the correct skillset (based on problem you stated in IVR – for example, someone who speaks Spanish and knows how to handle credit card disputes) and selects a person who is available and not already on the phone serving another customer.
With Pega Call, the basics of the call are the same; the difference comes after the IVR has collected information. The information gathered in the IVR is passed to Pega Call, through the CTI Server.
A computer telephony integration (or CTI) is a common name for any technology that allows interactions on a telephone and a computer to be integrated or coordinated.
Common desktop functions provided by CTI applications include:
- Screen popping - Call information displays the caller's number and the number dialed
- Phone control - Includes call control (answer, hang up, hold, conference) and feature control (Do Not Disturb, call forwarding).
- Transfers - Coordinated phone and data transfers between two parties.
- Call center - Allows users to log in as a call center agent and control their agent state (Ready, Busy, Not ready, Break).
- Dialing - Automatic dialing and computer-controlled dialing
When the CTI server communicates with Pega Call, Pega Call gathers data from any backend resources.
After the data is collected and there is a customer service representative available, the call is sent to their phone, and the data is sent to their Pega Customer Service application on their computer.
Pega Call doesn’t just receive calls from the CTI server, it also can send calls to the CTI server. An example of this is when a CSR needs to transfer a call to a different agent. In this case, a CSR can select transfer from his desktop application, this tells Pega Call to transfer the call. Pega Call then tells the CTI server that the call needs to be transferred, the CTI server then communicates with the PBX or ACD, and the call is routed to the new CSR. CSRs can also receive information from the CTI and send requests to it.
As you can see, there are many components involved in a customer support telephony system. Pega Call makes sure that the user of that system, a customer agent, has the relevant customer data available to them when they take the call, answer an email, or correspond through direct messaging. Pega Call integrates these channels by synchronizing the data from each channel and making the data available in the current service context.