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Asher IVRCase Studies
Case Study: Java and BREW´┐Ż Mobile Phone Development

Business Opportunity:

When the country's most hip on-line entertainment information provider, Clubfone, needed to provide their up-to-the-minute happenings listings on Java-based cell phones across the country, they looked no further than the talented developers at Ashergroup.

Key Requirements and Challenges:

In the key mobile phone application space, early adopters have the best chance at a commanding market share. But they also face the greatest risks since new technology is often incomplete or does not behave quite the way it is documented. Clubfone needed to mitigate risk while committing to an aggressive release timetable.

Another major challenge was the incredibly wide variety of mobile phones, each with its own special way of interpreting the specifications for running software applications. The Clubfone application needed to be robust enough to run, not merely on a host of currently available cell phones, but on phones that were not yet invented, let alone available at the store!

Last and most importantly, the mobile application needed to use all the dynamic content that is currently being maintained both for the Clubfone web and IVR applications.

Application Solution:

The Clubfone Java application was a stunning success! And it is now generating subscription and advertising revenues.

Similar applications have been developed for other mobile customers.

Clubfone updates a single content database daily, and each portal, web, IVR, and mobile application, accesses that data for up-to-the-minute listings on clubs, parties, music, dancing and comedy in 36 cities across the USA!

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Case Study: Hosted Real-Time Lead Generation System

Business Opportunity:

Lead generation using IVR had not changed for over 10 years. Most LG systems were nothing more than glorified answering machines with a fax-back capability. The opportunity existed to leapfrog those technologies with a system that could interconnect leads and clients virtually instantly, using the web, fax, and mobile phones.

Key Requirements and Challenges:

The system needed to work fast- when a caller called about a product, that caller's telephone number, name, and address needed to be transmitted within seconds to the appropriate sales person. 

The system needed to be completely configured and controlled by the customer, even though it was hosted at Ashergroup's new, state-of-the-art hosting facility. Features such as fax-back of product literature needed to be provided for backward compatibility.

Application Solution:

A system was developed to provide customers with the ability to have a private toll-free number, load product information, audio prompts, fax-able literature (including dynamic coupons and promotions), and be alerted almost instantly via mobile phone text messaging of the presence of a caller, along with their name and address.

The name and address data are not input by the caller. Rather, a reverse telephone number lookup is done on the caller's telephone number, using the most up-to-date database in the country.

Application Benefit:

The application has allowed salespeople to capture customer data and respond to them, even when casual callers don't leave their names. Their sales completion levels have increased substantially, without having to invest in any hardware or software, and without paying the hefty fees of a call center.

One customer remarked, "Last year, we did a promotion with a nationwide 800 number. We lost 50% of the calls that came on that number. If we could have converted just 5% of those, it would have paid for the whole campaign. Now we are converting 20%."

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Case Study: IVR/Web High Volume Systems Development (VoiceLogTM )

Business Opportunity:

A Federal mandate was implemented to regulate Slamming, the practice of a local telephone company changing a subscriber's long distance carrier without the subscriber's permission. These regulations required that long distance companies get an independent 3rd party to verify a subscriber's choice of long distance service. Using the base of IVR and database systems provided by Ashergroup, VoiceLog(R) has become the nation's largest provider of automated services for performing this legally required task.

Key Requirements and Challenges:

There were a number of challenges. First and foremost was the legal aspect of this service, which provides recorded documents that must be able to be retained, in some cases, for more than a year. These recordings must play what the subscriber heard, even if the call flows and prompts have been changed since their initial recording.

System requirements included:

  • Automated call/email to long distance users to verifyand record that they had agreed to change their long distance provider
  • Capability of storing terabytes of information with the ability to search for and play individual recordings over the web
  • The system had to be multi-lingual and be able to have customer specific prompts
  • VoiceLogTM needed to have transcribers listen to the information on the recordings and enter that into the database
  • Scalability to handle volumes in excess of 100,000 3-minute calls per day

A major challenge was linking the IVRs to an Oracle database without compromising the performance of the IVR, while still having real-time updates of the main database. Finally, the system required a dynamic reporting capability, as well as the ability to administer it remotely.

Application Solution:

There are several entry points to the IVR (Call Processor): e-mail, FTP file, and telephone dial-in. From the DNIS (or e-mail header, etc.) the IVR determines the call-flow, customer, and language to use. The system prompts the calling subscriber for information that is either recorded as audio or detected as DTMF. All the data is gathered and stored locally on the IVR as a call record. An independent process on the main server exists for each configured call processor. This process collects the call records, including all audio data, and puts it into an Oracle database. The Oracle database is then accessed by customers, reviewers, or regulatory agencies. Customers (the long distance companies that are required to perform the verification) access usage reports and do their own spot-checking of their sales agents' recorded interactions with the subscribers. Reviewers and transcribers listen (over the Web) to recordings and transcribe information directly into the database. Regulatory agencies are able to get immediate access to verify the merits of customer complaints.

Application Benefit:

The application has reduced substantially the cost for VoiceLogTM to provide its services, while increasing substantially the reliability over its previous system. The ability to add call flows dynamically and to edit prompts and other configuration information dynamically has reduced dramatically theient time it takes for VoiceLogTM to respond to it customers' requests. VoiceLogTM is now using the same system/solution to pursue other business, such as third party verification of credit card transactions and customer changes in the deregulated gas & electric industry.

Application Features:

The application allows VoiceLogTM to control a dynamic number of call processor front-end computers from a single administrative machine. All administration is done with a web-based Java application. This includes the management of prompts in multiple languages. Changes made in the main server are dynamically distributed to all call processors. Additionally, the system is highly fault tolerant, in that the call processors can operate completely independently from the main server. The system provides for dynamic report generation, and, with the option of PGP encryption, the e-mailing or FTP of daily, weekly, or monthly reports. The app currently handles over 100,000 calls per day. It has options for highly compressing the audio data. It also has options for performing dual-channel (two-sided) recordings. Entirely new call flows and new reports can be added without additional programming or restarting the call processors.

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Case Study: Multi-Continent IVR System (PharmionTM Risk Management System)

Business Opportunity:

When an international consultancy needed a partner to develop the IVR component of a complex pharmaceutical system that could manage the registration of physicians, patients, and pharmacists for the education, prescription, and dispensation of a highly controlled cancer treatment drug, they called on Ashergroup.

Key Requirements and Challenges:

Foremost among the challenges was the necessity to control the dispensation of the drug only to patients that fit and maintained the required profiles. Also critical was the necessity to distribute this application among IVRs that were located in 8 countries on 4 continents, with callers in 23 languages, all tied to call centers around the globe. 

In addition to the substantial requirements of the application, the IVRs needed to adapt to telephone switches, dialing patterns, and telecommunications regulations from around the globe!

System requirements included:

  • The ability to inter-operate with a complex drug-safety system that was already designed and built, using a common relational database and browser-based controls 
  • The ability to connect drug safety call centers seamlessly from places as diverse as England, Thailand, Turkey, Australia, and Spain
  • The ability to incorporate complex language grammars while still using a single, centralized database for data content, controls, and transaction storage.
  • In addition to processing complex surveys, presenting authorizations, and connecting to drug safety operators, the system had to store and forward recorded messages based on operator language, skill set, and country-specific hours of operation.
  • Scalability to handle call volumes in excess of 20,000 per day with sub-second delay for the callers, regardless of their location world-wide.

Application Solution:

The basis of the system is the TelSOTM system, developed by Asher and proven to handle most of the rigorous requirements presented.

Application Benefit:

The application has allowed the customer to process thousands of orders daily while maintaining a high degree of accountability, thus, reducing the number of personnel required to staff this world-wide operation.

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