24 Mobile CTI
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Betty is a sales representative for a sportswear company that specializes in short-run custom manufacturing She spends all of her time traveling and meeting with prospective customers Her office literally is her notebook computer and the nearest phone She does all
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of her work from hotel rooms, airport lounges, and taxicabs When she's lucky enough to be at home, she works from her spare bedroom Her telephone system changes with her location and include pay phones when she's on the run, a cellular phone when she's in motion on the ground, the phone at her airplane seat when she's in the air, and whatever is installed in a given hotel room at night While Betty enjoyed the pace of her job, loved the travel, and relished the challenge of working with new people every day, this array of different telephones and ways of dialing numbers was the one sore point In fact, she often delayed returning phone calls for this reason, despite the importance of the telephone to her job The sales process involved meeting with prospective clients, leaving samples, working out the purchase details over the telephone, faxing or e-mailing a proposal, and getting a confirmation of the sale When her prospects wanted to reach her with questions, requests for additional information, or were ready to place an order, they left her electronic mail or paged her She would call back from wherever she was, answer their questions, take down their requirements, and then follow up with information or a proposal using the customer's preference of fax or e-mail Every time she placed a call, sent a fax, or connected to her electronic mail service she had to enter up to 36 digits For example, to return a call to a customer in San Jose from her hotel in Boston she had to dial the following: 9 to get an outside line 1-800-MYT-ELCO to call her long-distance telephone company 408-555-1234 to call her customer's number 666-777-8888-9999 to enter her billing number If she made a mistake at any point in the sequence, she had to start over Though she was very good at punching in all of these numbers, the minute or so that it took still distracted her from thinking about what she wanted to say to her customer
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If this weren't bad enough, the numbers to dial also differed depending on where she was and what kind of phone system she was using This meant that she always had to think about (or actually look up) the right way to dial a call from her current location For example, in Toronto she had to remember that to call Hamilton (area code 905) to the west was a longdistance call, but dialing east to Pickering (also area code 905) was a local call Needless to say, Betty was very excited when her company had a system integrator develop a sales-force automation solution that included a CTI component The new system dramatically simplified every aspect of using communications technology in her job, and let her really focus on the time she spent with her customers With the new system, a typical sequence of events when Betty arrives in her hotel room might be as follows: She attaches the modem in her notebook computer to the hotel phone line and tells the software what city she is in and what hotel she is calling from (if it is one where she has stayed before) If it is a new hotel, she enters the information for placing local and long distance calls and saves it for the next time She instructs her computer to retrieve her outstanding electronic mail while she unpacks The dialing software knows that her Internet service provider has a local number, so it dials that one rather than placing a long-distance call If a new piece of electronic mail from a customer requests a phone call, she simply drags the phone number from the electronic mail to the screen-based telephone application she is using Placing the call is fast, effortless, and error-free regardless of where she is She lets her computer dial the number and then lifts the handset to wait for the customer to answer Whenever she calls a customer, a special sales-force automation application developed by the system integrator pops up on the screen It is aware of who she is calling because it monitors use of the screen-based telephone application and provides context-
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based assistance Before the call is even completed, this software has retrieved all of the information about the customer she is calling, based on the phone number called If during the course of her telephone conversation a customer asks for information about a particular product (such as the price), Betty just presses the ''product info" button in the salesforce automation application window and enters the product code Because the application already knows which customer is on the phone, it can produce the correct pricing information for that particular customer If the customer wants a hard copy of the information, she selects the "send fax" option; her computer generates an appropriate cover letter to go with the product information and places the resulting fax in queue, from which it will be sent as soon as the phone line is free The system knows the fax number already because it is in the customer database When a customer wants to place an order, Betty presses the "place order" button An electronic form is presented with most of the fields already completed, based on the customer context She completes the rest of the form according to the customer's request The form then is automatically sent to the customer by electronic mail or fax for confirmation When the customer wants to schedule a meeting, Betty presses the "set up meeting" button and is presented with her calendar As with the other automated functions, once she agrees on a meeting time, a confirmation letter is automatically generated and sent via fax or e-mail The software works in any place she can connect her notebook computer to the phone line This includes her hotel rooms, the frequent traveler lounges at the airport, her cellular phone, and the phone in the airplane Betty has already customized the solution to use a commercially available screen-based telephone application that has a smaller window (The one provided by the system integrator supported many features for use with the company's office system, but because she never visits the office, these features were never
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active) Betty is now looking forward to being able to use the infrared port on her notebook computer to control pay phones, and to use simultaneous voice and data (SVD) technology to be even more responsive to her customers In summary, Betty's new CTI solution transformed her job It took the technological drudgery and communications nightmare out of her job and actually put her notebook computer to useful work Dialing not only is fast and easy, but calls are always placed correctly the first time and always through the least expensive carrier Overall, Betty enjoys every aspect of her job and her customers see much greater professionalism, consistency, and responsiveness
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