BACKGROUND: Inc. provides products and services via the Internet to leisure and business travelers as well as operates an Internet travel fulfillment center for home-based agents and online companies.'s customers are supported by live agents via e- mail and an 800 number available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Its largest shareholder, Uniglobe Travel (International) Inc. is the world's largest single brand travel franchise organization with 1,100 locations in more than 20 countries.

PLATFORMS: CentreVu Internet Solutions from Lucent Technologies is integrated with's DEFINITY ProLogix communications server and Compaq Pentium IIs and Pentium IIIs running Windows NT operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The travel packages and services sold on the Internet by carry a high customer service requirement. The company needed the ability to communicate with its customers in a variety of ways including voice, fax, e-mail and text chat. wanted these capabilities to be fully integrated with its phone system.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Visitors to's Web site can click on an icon or hypertext link for options allowing them to communicate with agents. Visitors select different functionalities for different reasons. For example, a person who is browsing the site without a clear idea of what they're searching for may select the text chat or call-in functions to have an agent walk them through the process. Alternatively, those who know what they're seeking and/or want a price quote may chose to send an e-mail or request a call back. Custom travel arrangements require a few minutes to produce a price quote, and returning calls and e-mails within a short time is more customer friendly than keeping them on hold. set service- level objectives for returning calls and e-mails at under 20 minutes. With a very few exceptions, those service objectives are being met. In the very near future, the company will turn on CentreVu Internet Solution's voice- over IP feature allowing customers to audibly interact with agents in real time from the Web site using a single connection.

STRENGTHS: The major strength of CentreVu Internet Solutions is the ability to fully integrate the phone system with text chat and e-mails, and to take advantage of many of the applications that already support traditional forms of communication. Regardless of the form ­ text chat, e-mail or phone call ­ all are treated equally in queue and routed to the next available agent. In addition, is working on applying skills-based routing to all communications. This will mean that when the customer clicks to chat, sends an e-mail or makes a phone call, the agent receiving the communication will already know what the call is about and be knowledgeable and ready to help. The system also integrates with the call management system, allowing to obtain fully integrated analysis and reports using numerous parameters.

WEAKNESSES: The biggest weakness is that the chat functionality is not quite as advanced as some standalone packages. For example, after selecting the chat function, the customer must repeatedly recall the chat window from the bottom of the screen since it tends to pop behind the browser. The user interface is not quite as developed as some others.

SELECTION CRITERIA: There were four primary reasons selected CentreVu Internet Solutions. First, it was the only application with the ability to fully integrate with the phone system. In addition, it had all the communication options, including chat and voice-over IP and browser sharing, in a single package. Third, had a greater comfort level buying from a large, well-known and respected company. Finally, Lucent offered strong local customer support.

DELIVERABLES: CentreVu Internet Solutions is such a new application to us that we haven't taken advantage of the reports that it provides. It also fully integrates with its CentreVu Call Management System, which is capable of providing over 100 real-time and historical reports.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Lucent provided great support all the way through the process. Having Lucent representatives on site regularly was very important. We can always get in contact with Lucent and get the help we need.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for CentreVu Internet Solutions was definitely lacking. The process of adding to a Web site and how to provide service to a customer did not have enough information for us to do it on our own. Although it was an easy installation, it could have been easier if documentation was more thorough.

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