Frequently asked questions
If you can't find the answer to any of your questions here, please contact us.
Callstera Interaction Platform
The Callstera Interaction Platform (CIP) is a unified communications service platform. CIP applications are designed to help people and organisations communicate efficiently 24/7 using a combination of interaction channels.
What do you mean by "Unified Communications"?
Unified communications is the combination of different channels of communication, such as telephony, email, SMS, back-office integrations and mashups. With a unified approach new types of services can be built using a single, coherent platform, using the appropriate communication channel at the right time.
What is an "Interaction Channel"?
We use this term to describe the various ways CIP communicates with people and organisations. Some channels, such our interactive telephony channel, allow two-way interaction with instant rich feedback. Others such as SMS, by their nature, allow more limited one-way notifications.
What do you mean by "Rich Feedback"?
Rich Feedback is the act of gathering detailed information from people and distributing this to interested parties instantly. With rich feedback it becomes possible for organisations to respond quickly to peoples needs and understand how to provide better, more cost-effective decisions in the future.
What are inbound & outbound telephone services?
We use the term inbound to mean a telephone call made by a person to a CIP service. Inbound services are useful in situations where you want to offer 24/7 information services such as helpdesks.
Outbound services involve CIP making a call to a person at a scheduled time. This style of application is particularly useful where you need to proactively gather information from people or where you want to remind people of important events.
Of course with CIP you can combine inbound and outbound services to create a uniquely efficient range of services tailored for the needs of your organisation.
How does the CIP work?
The Callstera Interaction Platform comprises two main parts:
- Application server
- Telephony server
Like the web, CIP servers are hosted in secure data centres and controlled by user-friendly call management tools:
CIP can also be accessed using third-party tools via W3C standards based interfaces.
How are CIP applications created?
CIP applications are built using the Callstera interaction development process. The process involves modelling the interactions between people and organisations using the Callstera Interaction Language, which is then used to create W3C standards based applications.
Can anyone build a CIP application?
At the moment CIP applications are built by Callstera's Interaction Services team. Due to the nature of CIP, complex, interactive applications can be built in ultra-fast timescales. In the future we intend to make CIP application development accessible to third-parties to create their own applications.
What equipment do we need on site to run CIP?
None. As standard we offer a 24/7 hosted service. Callstera fully manages the CIP service platform in state of the art data centres.
Can CIP be hosted at our site?
Yes, we also offer Premise solutions. Please contact Callstera for more details.
What is Call For You?
Call For You is a CIP service customised for small and medium sized businesses.
What are the different Call For You editions?
We provide a number of versions of Call For You, both inbound and outbound:
Can Call For You be integrated with other applications?
Yes. Every Callstera product provides standards based interfaces to enable third-party, back office integration.
What is Call For Health?
Call For Health is a CIP service specially customised for healthcare providers.
What are the different Call For Health editions?
We provide a number of versions of Call For Health targetted at specific types of healthcare provider. Currently we have versions available for:
- Call For Health: N3 Edition
- Call For Health: Urgent & Unscheduled Care
- Call For Health: GP Edition - Coming Soon
Do you support N3 connections?
Yes. We offer N3 connectivity as part of our hosted Call For Health service.
Why is your automated telephony different?
Just as not all cars are the same quality, not all automated telephony services are the same. We've all experienced poorly structured automated systems and we concur that they are painful if badly designed. We believe when you have had a chance to interact with one of our services you'll understand just how much attention to detail has gone into our services. For instance, we place great importance on graceful degradation. If we detect a person is having difficulty responding to the service we seamlessly switch to use other techniques designed to further maximise the opportunity for everyone to complete the required conversation satisfactorily.
Another area CIP has focussed on is ensuring easy integration with other systems to form even more powerful processes. Please ask Callstera for more details on our process.
What happens if the person called hangs up?
This is certainly something that can happen and it is important to know when it has happened. All our services detect caller hangups and report this back via Call Manager and optionally via one of our back office integrations. How you respond to this depends on the conversation you were trying to have. In the case of a health related conversations you may need to manually intervene, or have CIP alert a member of staff via SMS, email or even a redirected telephone conversation.
What happens if the phone line is busy?
Our standard process will try again later if it finds the phone is engaged. The process for each type of conversation your service operates can be customised to your needs.
What about answerphones and voicemail?
Our services can detect answerphone and voicemail systems and leave an appropriate message. In addition we realise that in some situations it is important for you to know you have not actually contacted a person, so as standard we make this knowledge available through our management tools.
What happens if the wrong person answers an outbound call?
Outbound services tend to be most effective if the person is primed to expect a call and Callstera strongly recommend this practise. In many cases, this in itself is sufficient to ensure an appropriate person answers the call. If you do need your service to validate the person, depending on the domain, there are a number of standard approaches to identifying the target. Talk to us about your situtation as we can normally find an elegant way to maximise the benefit of your service.
Are different accents available?
Yes. There are many different types of automated voices – male or female with national or even regional accents. While the quality of modern synthetic voices is excellent, for maximum voice clarity we recommend using professional voice-over artists. In our experience it is best to do this once you have finalised your call scripts using synthetic voices.
Do you support foreign languages?
Yes. Synthetic voices are available in over 30 languages and using professional voice-over artists any language can be supported.
What telephone numbers do CIP services use?
As standard CIP applications get allocated a telephone number with the geographic area code of your choice. There are a number of other options as well, so the best thing is to ask Callstera for more details.
So what happens if someone calls back my outbound service?
The simplest option is if someone calls back, a message of your choice is played to the caller. There are a several other options, including transfer to another number or service. Again please ask Callstera for more details.
How much does CIP cost?
Clearly it depends on your exact requirements, but here is a summary of our pricing model:
A one-off charge covers the cost of setting up your service. This includes customisation of call scripts and includes configuration of any additional third-party services. Any training you require is also covered here.
We operate a 24/7 capacity charging model where we guarantee you can make up to a specified number of calls per hour. Plans are available to suit different volumes. We believe in passing on the benefit of economies of scale, so as your call volumes increase so the platform price decreases. Each CIP plan comes with a number of free call minutes. Calls outside of the free quota are charged at our standard tariffs. CIP services are monitored 24/7 and full technical support is included.
For a detailed quote please contact Callstera.
How do I work out which price plan is right for my service?
Callstera's interaction consultants will work with you to help you determine the right capacity levels for your service. Where you have existing data this can be used to estimate the peak demand. It is important to think in terms of peak capacity rather than average capacity so that you can always meet demand.
What happens if our service has higher than expected demand?
We guarantee that your service will have sufficient capacity to make the number of calls specified in your service plan. Should you surpass the limits of your service we endeavour to make those calls as capacity becomes available. To cover the additional costs you will be charged for any excess use of the system at our Bronze CIP plan rates. It is therefore best to ensure you are on the right capacity plan to meet the demands of your organisation but also to be able to access more favourable service rates.
If telephony costs come down, will Callstera's prices reflect that?
Absolutely. We are continually working to ensure we get the best possible tarrifs and already offer bundles of free call minutes to UK landlines with all our services. Ideally we want to be able to remove additional call charges from our capacity charge completely. We can't do that just yet due to the level of termination charges imposed by mobile phone operators, but the good news on this is that Ofcom have declared that costs will come down.
Can we choose which hours of the day a CIP service is available?
At the moment all CIP plans are based on 24/7 usage. In the future we do want to be able to offer even more flexibility by allowing customers to choose which hours they wish to operate their service during.