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Senior Project - OPUS I


Automatic Call Distribution Notification and Screen Popping for Hotel Reservations

Senior Project: 1996-1997
Todd Maaske, Michael McDonald, Thomas Pennell and Ryan Waxler
Boulder, CO

Express Reservations is a leading hotel reservation service, providing reservations for many hotels in New York City to clients around the country. Express Reservations utilizes a networked database to maintain hotel and client information, a Fujitsu PBX to handle incoming calls from clients, and a network of PC workstations on reservation agents' desks to provide this service. This project involved getting the PBX to usefully communicate with the database server and through to the agents' PCs using TCP/IP connected by ethernet. The implemented functionality includes an Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) Notification System and a Client Information Screen Popping System. These systems were written in a combination of C and C++, and run in both UNIX and Windows environments.

The ACD unit, a component of the PBX, distributes incoming calls to agents and, in conjunction with other software, also provides information about the state of the PBX, e.g. the number of calls waiting to be answered, longest wait of a call to be answered, number of agents available to take calls, etc. One aspect of running a quality service of this nature is to make sure that incoming calls are handled in a timely manner. For example, a manager may notice that a large number of calls are waiting in the Spanish language queue, and ask that Spanish-capable agents come off break to handle calls. The ACD Notification System component of this project allows a manager to specify a variety of logical situations that are to trigger an alert condition. When such a condition occurs, user-specified text messages can be made to appear on workstation screens, and user-specified audio messages can be made to play over the company PA system.

When an incoming call is received by an agent, the typical approach is to determine the caller's name, enter that into an onscreen form, and, if the caller has used the service before, their database record is brought up. This takes time, and introduces the possibility of error, e.g. if the agent spells the name of the client incorrectly or provides different variants of a name (e.g. Rick vs. Richard). The Client Information Screen Popping System is meant to alleviate this situation. When an incoming call is routed to a particular agent's station, the PBX, in conjunction with the ACD unit, informs the database server of the station and incoming phone number. The system can then pull up records for clients who have called from that number before and communicate information about them to the workstation of the agent receiving the call before it is even answered. The agent then can easily bring up the appropriate database records when the caller has been identified.

Administrative Interface
Administrative Interface
Screen Pop
Screen Pop
See also:
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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