Agent Capabilities | Call Center Telephone System


Agents may serve more than one group and may rotate among several workstations during a shift or during a week. In order to monitor and evaluate agent performance, it is important to be able to track which agent is at which telephone. Each time agents make a change, they are asked to sign on and sign off the group they are serving. Automatic sign on/off processes save time and prevent abuse of the system. Using screen-based software programs, supervisors may also move agents from one group to another.


Agents may sign on using an identification number, with or without a password. The ID and password should be viable from any agent workstation, freeing agents to work at any desk during any shift. When agents serve multiple groups, tracking requirements will determine whether or not the agent uses the same or different ID and password for each group served.

Auto Answer/Auto Release

Automatic Answer and Automatic Release are features frequently used together and in conjunction with headset operations. With Auto Answer, agents receive calls without lifting a handset or depressing a button on the telephone. Agents may be alerted to the incoming call with a ring, beep, message, zip tone or other indicator. Auto release terminates the call when the local or long distance carrier disconnects. Thus, the agent is immediately freed to move on to other activities such as follow-up paperwork or receiving the next call. This feature also prevents agents from adding seconds or minutes to each call by delaying release. Auto release serves as a productivity tool for the agent and as an anti-abuse measure for management.

Call Alert

Work conditions in a busy Call Center would be unbearable if all telephones rang with every incoming call. Silent room conditions (where telephones do not have an audible ring) improve morale and productivity. Alternative means of alerting agents to incoming calls include:

  • Audible ring, ring-beep, zip tone (sounds a like a zipper being opened quickly, heard only by the agent) for agents with a headset.

  • A brief announcement, which may relate to call origin or may prompt the agent for a unique greeting. Also used for agents with a headset.

  • Visible indicator such as a flashing lamp or phone display, typically with incoming line or caller information.


Call Center managers must be careful to balance pressure for agent productivity against increasing agent stress and frustration. Wrap and Work are features that allow the agents some period of time between calls to complete call-related paperwork.

Management may predefine the wrap period, or may allow agents to invoke Wrap as needed.

Work is a similar feature, allowing agents time to complete call-related tasks. Unlike Wrap, Work is not an automatic feature. Agents place themselves in and out of Work as needed. While some systems may combine these two features, they should be defined and reported/displayed separately for better evaluation of agent performance.

Transaction Code

In addition to any database information agents may enter into the caller's profile, there may be a need to collect other call-related information. For example, agents may collect information on "method of payment," "how caller heard about the company or offering", etc. This information may be used for specific reports to evaluate marketing activities, meet accounting requirements, etc.

Agents are able to enter transaction codes at any time during or after the call. Codes should be flexible, allowing for multiple fields, and should provide a display so that the agent can verify the input before completing the data.

Emergency Record

Some Call Centers are susceptible to harassing or threatening calls. It's important to be able to document these calls without alerting the caller. Agents should be able to immediately conference-in a centralized recording device as soon as they recognize a call of this type.

Supervisor Alert

When agents receive threatening, harassing or other problem calls (difficult question, hostile caller) they may need supervisory assistance. With Supervisor Alert, agents are able to get their supervisor's attention without interrupting the call in progress. Supervisor Alert may have these features:

  • Transparent to caller.

  • Alerts designated supervisor; then, if not available, hunts for first available supervisor in management-defined sequence.

  • Informs supervisor of agent calling and reason for the alert.

Calls in Queue Display

Agents need to balance providing polite and friendly service against the need to answer as many calls as possible. A "calls in queue display" notifies agents if there are any calls waiting, and alerts them if the queue builds beyond a management-specified threshold. Thus, agents are prompted to shorten calls during busier periods.

Agent Statistics Display

Typically, when agents are able to monitor their own performance they become more productive. Agent station sets can provide immediate feedback for agents who want to evaluate their own productivity. Some of the statistics that might be displayed include:

  • Time on line (since signing in)

  • Number of Call Center calls handled (inbound/outbound)

  • Average time to answer

  • Average talk time

  • Time in wrap/work idle time (time between calls)

  • Number of non-Call Center calls

Agent at Home

Just as management may want to send calls to remote Call Centers, they may want to send calls to individual agent homes or small storefront locations. This capability is particularly applicable for accommodating employees with special needs. In addition, it may be useful in disaster recovery situations. The work at home solution should be nearly transparent for both agents and supervisors, meaning they have the same features, regardless of location.

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