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(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (io) Pub. No.: US 2003/0026414 Al
Baker et al. (43) Pub. Date: Feb. 6,2003
Patent Application Publication Feb. 6,2003 Sheet 1 of 2 US 2003/0026414 Al
(54) SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR
DISTRIBUTING CUSTOMER CONTACTS
(76) Inventors: Daniel Baker, Rolling Meadows, IL
(US); Anthony J. Dezonno,
Bloomingdale, IL (US); Craig R.
Shambaugh, Wheaton, IL (US)
Welsh & Katz, Ltd.
120 South Riverside Plaza
Chicago, IL 60606 (US)
(21) Appl. No.: 09/918,902
(22) Filed: Jul. 31, 2001
Publication Classification (51) Int. CI.7 H04M 3/00; H04M 5/00
(52) U.S. C I 379 265.13
Disclosed is a method for distributing customer contacts to a transaction processing entity ol a transaction processing system. The method includes determining a media type for a customer contact in the transaction processing system and finding a transaction processing entity that is capable of handling the media type. In addition, the method includes routing the customer contact to a transaction processing entity that is capable of handling the media type. In one embodiment, a transaction routing table is used to perform the distribution of customer contacts. It is emphasized that this abstract is provided to comply with the rules requiring an abstract that will allow a searcher or other reader to quickly ascertain the subject matter of the technical disclosure. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims. 37 CFR 1.72(b).
Patent Application Publication Feb. 6,2003 Sheet 2 of 2 US 2003/0026414 Al
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DISTRIBUTING CUSTOMER CONTACTS
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 This invention relates generally to communication systems, more particularly, to transaction processing systems.
 Communications systems with customer contact centers are known. Such systems are typically used as a means of distributing customer contacts, such as telephone calls, among a group of agents of an organization. As customer contacts are directed to the organization from a communications network, such as a public switch telephone network (PSTN), the communications system directs the customer contacts to its agents based upon some algorithm. For example, a communications system such as an automatic call distributor (ACD), a private branch exchange (PBX), or a central office exchange service (Centrex) may recognize a call target based upon an identity of an incoming trunk line and route the call accordingly.
 Businesses, service organizations, and other entities may use customer contact centers to handle the daily influx of telephone calls, email messages and voice mail contacts for marketing, sales, product support, and other customer service functions. Agents of the communications system may provide product support, take sales orders, and handle inquiries. In essence, the agents provide the wide array of services that the companies that use them require. Thus, the effectiveness and efficiency of a communications system may depend on the performance of the agents.
 However, the present format is limited. Currently, an unlimited number of customer contacts may be delivered to any one agent. For example, an agent may be handling a telephone call and simultaneously "chatting" with an Internet customer. In such a situation, the agent may not be able to handle another customer contact, however, another customer contact may be sent to the agent. Sending too many customer contacts to any one agent may degrade the quality and effectiveness of the communications system. Accordingly, a need exists for a system and method for routing transaction types.
 Under one embodiment of the invention, disclosed is a method for distributing customer contacts to a transaction processing entity of a transaction processing system. The method includes determining a media type for a customer contact in the transaction processing system and finding a transaction processing entity that is capable of handling the media type. In addition, the method includes routing the customer contact to a transaction processing entity that is capable of handling the media type. In yet another embodiment, a transaction routing table is used to perform the distribution of customer contacts.
 Other embodiments, features, and advantages of the invention will be apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional embodiments, features, and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
 The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. In the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.
 FIG. 1 illustrates a block diagram of a transaction processing system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
 FIG. 2 illustrates a table that may be used by the system of FIG. 1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION  FIG. 1 depicts a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of a transaction processing system 10 which may be used to route customer contacts across multiple access channels to a customer contact center 12. The customer contact center 12 may be defined as a communication technology that enables customers and agents of an enterprise to communicate across multiple access channels, including but not limited to telephone, Internet, radio, cellular, satellite, cable, facsimile, email, web and video. As shown in FIG. 1, the customer contact center 12 may be described with reference to an automatic call distributor (ACD) 18. As is known in the art, a PBX, Centrex system or other system capable of incoming and/or outgoing communications may also be used in place of the ACD 18. Implementing a customer contact center 12 with any suitable switching system is considered to be equivalent and variations will not be further discussed. In addition, the customer contact center 12 is also often identified by other terms including call center, connected call center, customer care center, customer communications center and services center.
 As used herein, a customer contact may be based on any suitable communications connection including, but not limited to, a switched circuit connection (i.e., through the PSTN) or a packet connection (e.g., through the Internet). A switched circuit connection (also sometimes referred to simply as a "telephone connection" in the telephony arts) refers to a dedicated channel existing between two parties. As used herein, a packet connection does not necessarily represent a physical connection, but may simply be the possession and concurrent use by two users of the other user's identifier (e.g. IP address).
 In the illustrated embodiment, customer contacts may be received from customers 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56 and may be routed to a selected transaction processing entity (e.g., agent stations 20,22 or interactive voice response units (WRs) 72, 74) of the transaction processing system 10. For example, each agent station 20, 22 may include a telephone console 24, 28 and a terminal 26, 30. Switched circuit customer contacts with customers 48, 50, 52, 54, 56 placed through the ACD 18, may be routed by matrix switch 36 of the ACD 18 to a console 24, 28 of the agent station 20, 22 or to an appropriate IVR 72, 74. Customer contacts through the Internet 44 may occur as any Internet communications including email, chat sessions, file transfers, and teleconferences. Further, the customer contacts may process voice over IP (VOIP). In any case, a host 34 may route the customer contact to a terminal 26, 30 of an agent station 20, 22 or to an appropriate IVR 72, 74. As shown in the art, the host 34 and ACD 18 functionality may also be controlled by the same processor.