December 5, 1996 2:00 PM ET

Lucent adds video to call centers
By Tom Davey

  Lucent Technologies Inc. is about to release into beta testing software that allows customer service representatives to "meet" with customers by exchanging voice, video and data via public kiosks.

Lucent is targeting the software at technical support help desks and at travel, financial services, health care and retail markets.

"The killer app seems to be banking. The people who do these things in regional branches are not well utilized," said Sheila McGee-Smith, director of analysis for The Pelorus Group Inc., in Raritan, N.J.

Bell Atlantic Corp. and Teloquent Communications Corp. are working on a similar project with Mellon Bank, McGee-Smith noted.

"When you're spending money, you like to see the person you're talking with," said Lisa Neal-Graves, Lucent's general manger for multimedia customer sales in Basking Ridge, N.J.

Lucent's Video MultiMedia Call Center comprises a hardware adjunct to a PBX switch, called a video control module; server software for the module that enables the PBX to stream video to the kiosks; client software for the customer service representatives; and customization services.

It will be available commercially during the second half of 1997 starting at $16,000 per agent.

The components, which integrate the PBX with the LAN, enable the PBX to route calls according to agents' areas of expertise, said Neal-Graves. Another key value of the product is the ability of agents and customers to share screens of information, she added.

Separately, in the first quarter of next year, Lucent will expand the capabilities of its LAN-based Multimedia Communications Exchange server to support H.323 and T.120 video standards for WAN communications. The server can be integrated with Lucent's Definity PBX switch to give call center agents videoconferencing and video transfer capabilities.

Lucent can be reached at

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