Monday, February 6, 2012

Building Workflow Solutions with the UCMA Workflow SDK



You use the UCMA Workflow SDK to build communications-enabled workflow solutions such as IVR systems and virtual personal assistants. You typically use an IVR system to gather information from a caller such as the customer account number and reason for the call before connecting him or her to a live agent. A virtual personal assistant, on the other hand, provides services to the caller such as the ability to reserve a conference room from a mobile phone.
For a more concrete example, consider this scenario. In the legal industry, potential cases need be vetted for any conflicts of interest that could prevent the firm from being able to take on the case. This process is referred to as new matter intake, and each potential case is called a matter. Most law firms have software in place to streamline this process; however, such a solution can be extended to provide users with the ability to call in and check on the status of a new matter.
For example, an attorney could place a call to the New Matter Intake application contact in Microsoft Lync from her mobile phone. Using text-to-speech technology, the IVR prompts the attorney to enter her identification PIN and validates her identity. The IVR can then execute code to access the database, retrieve a list of outstanding matters for that attorney, and prompt her to select one. After the attorney selects a matter, the IVR can again access the database to identify the conflicts attorney assigned to the matter. The IVR can now check the presence of the conflicts attorney, and if he is available, ask the caller whether she wants to be transferred. The IVR can then perform a blind transfer of the call and disconnect itself from the call.
The UCMA 3.0 Workflow SDK enables developers to visually construct communications-enabled workflows by dragging workflow activities onto a design service, arranging and connecting them to form the workflow solution. You can construct workflows to accept audio or instant message calls, or both.
In the case of audio calls, input from the user can be in the form of dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) tones (choosing an option by entering its corresponding number using the phone's keypad), speech recognition, or both. The text-to-speech engine, available in 26 different languages, converts text to prompts that the caller hears during different activities of the workflow. You can also substitute professionally recorded audio prompts to give the IVR a more polished feel.
The previous attorney example represents an incoming communications workflow; however, developers can also build outgoing communications workflows. For example, a person might receive an automated call from the Service Desk asking him to rate his experience with a ticket he recently opened. The communications workflow can ask him several questions, such as his satisfaction with how the ticket was handled, and then save the results of the survey to a database when the call is completed.
Workflows are a critical part of a communications solution, allowing the software to provide services to a caller and only transferring the call to a live customer service agent — the comparatively more expensive resource — if necessary and only after providing the agent with all the relevant information about the caller.

2 comments:

  1. Hi, great to see another Lync Development blogger out there! I blog at CodeLync.com, and i'm building a community page that will contain a list of active Lync dev bloggers (there's really not that many of us...) Can I include you? And would you mind providing a couple of sentences about what you blog offers to the community - sort of a mini-bio? you can get me at paul at codelync.com. Cheers :)

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