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Enabling interaction between callers with calls positioned in a queue in the off-line operation of an e-commerce environment

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004400D
Publication Date: 2000-Nov-03
Document File: 2 page(s) / 23K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a caller-interactive phone system enabling interaction between callers with calls positioned in a queue in the off-line operation of an e-commerce environment.

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Enabling interaction between callers with calls positioned in a queue in the off-line operation of an e-commerce environment

Successful e-commerce strategies require that a telecommunications ordering option be available for those that are unfamiliar or unsure about the security of on-line ordering options. Given the number of customers either actively purchasing goods and services online, there exists a considerable motivation for developing a system of queuing a large number of callers that also includes ways of passing the time since typical phone queuing systems offer callers little choice other than to simply listen to time expire until an agent is ready to serve them. At the very least, the desire to have customers entertained while waiting so that they do not decide to disengage before completing their order is key. The use of an interactive call queuing system is one way to accomplish such a purpose. If done so correctly, such queuing systems will also provide an e-commerce entity with a way to entertain and capture more business in its off-line operations.

Figure 1 illustrates a caller-interactive phone system enabling interaction between callers with calls positioned in a queue in the off-line operation of an e-commerce environment. Figure 1 includes a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) 10, an Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) 12 and an interactive voice response unit (IVRU) 14. PBX 10 receives incoming calls via trunk 11 and is, via trunk 20, connected to a plurality of agent terminals 16. PBX 10 further provides caller data to ACD 12, which handles queuing management of the calls and further controls the operation of IVRU 14. IVRU 14 communicates with the callers by passing/receiving audio signals through ACD 12 to/from PBX 10 and the connected calling party whose call has been placed on hold.

In operation, it will be assumed that all agent terminals 16 are busy and that PBX 10 cannot respond to an incoming call by making a direct connection to an agent. As a result, PBX 10 is forced to place an incoming call on hold and to provide data regarding the call to ACD 12. In response, ACD 12 places the incoming call in a queue, in the order received. Thereafter, when PBX 10 determines that an agent terminal is available, it so instructs ACD 12, which removes the call at the top of the queue and provides it to PBX 10, which then takes the corresponding incoming line off hold and connects the caller to the available agent terminal 16. Once ACD 12 has placed the incoming call in a queue, it transmits a message to IVRU 14, which, in turn, plays a message for the caller whose call has been placed on hold. That message provides the caller with the option to "listen-in" on other customer service calls that are already in progress and that are directly related to the subject matter of the caller's query as determined from already gathered information. Should the caller accept the offer, ...