|Fastlink and Cisco introduce customer contact center
|This week’s opening of Fastlink’s customer contact center would certainly add to the quality of telecom services in different aspects. The center has been launched on September 1, and is considered the biggest and most advanced of its kind in the Middle East.
Being an Internet-based facility, it can handle more than 500,000 calls on a daily basis. It is part of the Internet Protocol (IP) telephony solutions that provide scaleable, distributable and easy-going services. In other words, the center is a cost-efficient for Fastlink and its customers.
Mobile users can easily access services by calling the contact center whether by telephone or through the Internet. Fastlink (Jordan Mobile Telephone Services Co) is the Kingdom’s biggest GSM operator with more than 900,000 subscribers. The center is a joint venture between the company and the US-based Cisco Systems and employs up-to-date technology and software solutions.
Fastlink’s CEO Mohammad Saqr believes the center introduces tangible benefits to mobile users in time and service. "It is essential that our IP contact center solution promises maximum flexibility and could support a variety of new applications and services," Saqr told reporters in a press meeting at Le Royal Hotel. "Cisco’s converged network can be managed efficiently and also allows us to leverage our investment for rapid growth."
He said the contact center was a combined investment of technology and human resources. "We brought the latest in telecom know-how and employed it by recruiting the best of our human qualifications," Saqr explained.
The contact center solution was designed and deployed by Jordan’s United Business Machine Co (UBM), which is Cisco’s premier channel partner and the only company in the Levant to have gained the IPCC specializations. The project required engineers from UBM to work side-by-side with Cisco, Fastlink and IBM services for over a year to accomplish the center.
The customer contact system allows Fastlink to implement a single solution to transparently blend multiple communication channels, including voice, web and e-mail. As an open software-based routing solution, information becomes more timely, accurate and accessible. And with IP contact centers being based on open-industry standards, it would be easier to extend their capabilities with many innovative add-on offerings.
"There is a significant and growing mobile community in Jordan," stressed Yasser Elkady, director of operations at Cisco Systems for the Levant, North Africa and Egypt. Elkady sees in the fast-growing capacity of Fastlink’s customer base "a proof that mobile service provision is an important industry in Jordan."
He pointed out that Cisco’s strong interaction with the telecommunication sector in Jordan provides the company the opportunity to retain its leading presence on the long run. "Jordan has the region’s most fitting infrastructure for IT-based telecommunications," he said. "There are plenty of potentials in Jordan to build up the required calibers and develop good quality infrastructure for technology-based investments."
Neither Elkady nor Saqr gave details about the real cost of the project, but Elkady noted that Cisco’s commitment towards Jordan to develop its IT-based infrastructure would increase the company’s volume of sales in the Kingdom to more than $12 million by the end of this year.
It is widely believed that Fastlink’s main shareholder; the Kuwaiti Mobile Telecommunications Co (MTC), would accelerate the development of Fastlink’s facilities to meet the mounting public demand on GSM services. MTC has acquired 96.5 percent of Fastlink’s shares at the landmark $424 million in January 2003.
"Cisco is interested to take part in Jordan’s economic and social development programs," Elkady told The Star. "We are working in the Kingdom through direct and indirect investments that can benefit all the economic sectors. Cisco aims at extending its experience to recruit Jordanian human resources in one sector in a way that can expand development in other sectors."
Fastlink’s new contact center is more than a voice handling service, but rather a whole package of services for voice management. An IVR (Interactive Voice Response) service is now available at the contact center where customers can access their account details and make basic service requests.
The IVR solution provides an open, flexible architecture using common Internet technologies and practices. The Fastlink service averts using time-consuming and expensive method of traditional telephony switching systems and increases the capacity of the contact center to make it manage up to around 500 calls at the same time.
This solution was only available through Cisco’s AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data) solution, which provides the framework for combining business and technology strategies into a cohesive model.
Cisco’s technology also provides Fastlink operators the chance to detect a continuously evolving suite of innovative, multi-channel services and customer management applications. These services, said Tony Ghattas, Cisco’s territory manager, enhance responsiveness and streamlined customer exchanges among the center’s employees and helping them deliver superior customer service.
One of the actions that Fastlink’s contact center is working on is the Customer Interaction Network. This network extends customer service capabilities across the entire company, giving its businesses a more integrated and collaborative approach to customer satisfaction.
Ghattas, meanwhile, praises Jordan’s advanced regulatory policies in the telecom sector, saying that they facilitate the growth of investments in the sector on the long run. "Jordan is the only country in the Near East that develops telecom regulatory regulations. It gives impetus for world investments to come in and set up businesses here."
In the meantime, Elkady denied recent reports suggesting that Cisco has offered bids to develop Iraq’s telecom infrastructure. Asked if Cisco would think of making Jordan a launching pad for its future investments in Iraq, Elkady said the company is evaluating its process in the region.
"Having business in Iraq requires a long-term strategic planning, increased productivity and good generation of revenues. All these must be available before setting up businesses there," he added.