Thursday, 30 April 2009

Using our telephones in different ways

Exactly a year ago this weekend we upgraded our telephone system - lots of people worked very hard over the Bank Holiday Weekend, and when staff and students came back, no-one noticed any difference. That's exactly the way we wanted it. A very successful upgrade, which gives us the potential to do so much more with the system. All new buildings are already running with VOIP, and I have a shiny new IP phone on my desk - the best new feature on it is a call log so I can see what calls I've missed.

Today we met our suppliers to discuss what new developments we can now implement - all looks very exciting. We're looking at unified communications - one phone number for outgoing and incoming calls, no matter what device you're using to make the call on or where you are. One in-box for messages - emails, voice mails, sms etc. Softphones - ie a phone on your desktop, accessed via our portal from anywhere with access to all the phone functionality including directories, call logging etc.

We're also looking into recording some calls - particularly those to our Helpdesk. This will be for training purposes, as well as to protect our staff who sometimes have to deal with quite rude and ocassionally abusive callers. Currently we have no way of proving anything and get into the "your word against mine" syndrome which this should stop.

We also looked at voice recognition for some self service functions - my experience of this in other areas isn't great but I'm told the technology has got better. I remain to be convinced that it can cope with the huge range of accents and foreign languages that we have in our multi-national University.

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