GB2481451A - Service provision call with trust establishment - Google Patents

Service provision call with trust establishment Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2481451A
GB2481451A GB201010733A GB201010733A GB2481451A GB 2481451 A GB2481451 A GB 2481451A GB 201010733 A GB201010733 A GB 201010733A GB 201010733 A GB201010733 A GB 201010733A GB 2481451 A GB2481451 A GB 2481451A
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GB
United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
service
telephone call
called party
user
trust
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Granted
Application number
GB201010733A
Other versions
GB201010733D0 (en
GB2481451B (en
Inventor
Craig Scott
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
NETCALL TELECOM Ltd
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Netcall Telecom Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Netcall Telecom Ltd filed Critical Netcall Telecom Ltd
Priority to GB1010733.2A priority Critical patent/GB2481451B/en
Publication of GB201010733D0 publication Critical patent/GB201010733D0/en
Publication of GB2481451A publication Critical patent/GB2481451A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of GB2481451B publication Critical patent/GB2481451B/en
Application status is Active legal-status Critical
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/42025Calling or Called party identification service
    • H04M3/42085Called party identification service
    • H04M3/42102Making use of the called party identifier
    • H04M3/4211Making use of the called party identifier where the identifier is used to access a profile
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/66Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges with means for preventing unauthorised or fraudulent calling
    • H04M1/663Preventing unauthorised calls to a telephone set
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/02Ringing or otherwise calling substations
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/38Graded-service arrangements, i.e. some subscribers prevented from establishing certain connections
    • H04M3/387Graded-service arrangements, i.e. some subscribers prevented from establishing certain connections using subscriber identification cards
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/42025Calling or Called party identification service
    • H04M3/42034Calling party identification service
    • H04M3/42042Notifying the called party of information on the calling party
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/436Arrangements for screening incoming calls, i.e. evaluating the characteristics of a call before deciding whether to answer it
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/57Arrangements for indicating or recording the number of the calling subscriber at the called subscriber's set
    • H04M1/575Means for retrieving and displaying personal data about calling party
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/66Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges with means for preventing unauthorised or fraudulent calling
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2203/00Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M2203/20Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges related to features of supplementary services
    • H04M2203/2011Service processing based on information specified by a party before or during a call, e.g. information, tone or routing selection
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2203/00Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M2203/20Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges related to features of supplementary services
    • H04M2203/2038Call context notifications
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2242/00Special services or facilities
    • H04M2242/22Automatic class or number identification arrangements
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/42025Calling or Called party identification service
    • H04M3/42034Calling party identification service
    • H04M3/42059Making use of the calling party identifier
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/50Centralised arrangements for answering calls; Centralised arrangements for recording messages for absent or busy subscribers ; Centralised arrangements for recording messages
    • H04M3/51Centralised call answering arrangements requiring operator intervention, e.g. call or contact centers for telemarketing
    • H04M3/5183Call or contact centers with computer-telephony arrangements
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/50Centralised arrangements for answering calls; Centralised arrangements for recording messages for absent or busy subscribers ; Centralised arrangements for recording messages
    • H04M3/51Centralised call answering arrangements requiring operator intervention, e.g. call or contact centers for telemarketing
    • H04M3/523Centralised call answering arrangements requiring operator intervention, e.g. call or contact centers for telemarketing with call distribution or queueing

Abstract

When a calling party of a service provision system 100 wishes to call a user terminal 140-144, the calling party’s agent terminal 110 initially transmits a user identifier associated with the called party 140-144 to a trust establishment service 150, which then retrieves an associated stored token from a trust database 170 and transmits it to the called party in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party. Once the token has been transmitted to the called party, the called party is connected with the calling party in order to effect the required service. The stored token may be an audio sample of a spoken word or expression which was recorded or selected by the user prior to the service-provision telephone call, hence the called party may establish trust with the calling party by recognising the stored token. Once trust has been established the method allows further processing of the call (which may relate to personal and/or sensitive information such as banking or credit card transactions) to be conducted.

Description

Method and apparatus for conducting a service provision call

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a method and apparatus for conducting a service provision call from a calling party to a called party.

Background of the Invention

Methods and apparatus are known for conducting a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party.

Such service-provision telephone calls may typically relate to personal and/or sensitive information relating to the called party, such as a bank account, credit card, hospital appointment, etc. of the called party.

The called party typically cannot verify the identity of the calling party in such service-provision telephone calls and so may not wish to take those telephone calls.

If the called party does take such telephone calls the called party risks divulging personal and/or sensitive information to a fraudulent party that is impersonating another calling party.

Prior art systems such as calling line identity, for example, attempt to address these issues by allowing the called party to view the telephone number from which the service-provision telephone call was made. However in many cases no telephone number is provided, the called party may not have time to verify the telephone number provided, and/or the telephone number may be spoofed.

The present invention aims to address the issues associated with prior art systems.

Summary of the Tnvention

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for conducting at least part of a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, comprising: retrieving, on the basis of a user identifier associated with the called party, a stored token; transmitting the stored token to the called party during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party; and passing the telephone call on for further processing after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.

By transmitting the stored token to the called party in the service-provision telephone call the called party may establish trust with the calling party. The stored token may have been recorded or selected by the user prior to the service-provision telephone call, hence the called party may establish trust with the calling party by recognising the stored token. By passing on the service-provision telephone call for further processing the method allows further processing relating to personal and/or sensitive information once the called party has established trust with the calling party.

In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, there is provided a trust establishment service for conducting at least part of a service provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, the trust establishment service comprising: means for receiving a user identifier from a second service node, means responsive to the receipt of the user identifier for accessing a first audio sample associated with the user identifier, means for transmitting the audio sample to the called party during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party, and means for passing the telephone call for further processing at the second service node after the first audio sample has been played back to the called party.

By providing a stored token that is an audio sample that may have been previously recorded or selected by the called party, memorable information known only to the called party may be received by the called party in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party. By providing means for transmitting the audio sample to the called party and means for passing the telephone call for further processing at the second service node, the called party's trust of the calling party may be established by the trust establishment service without the audio sample being accessed and (potentially) compromised by the second service node.

In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for conducting at least part of a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, comprising: initiating from a second service node the transmission of a stored token from a first service node to the called party during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party; and further processing the telephone call at the second service node after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.

By initiating from a second service node the transmission of a stored token from a first service node to the called party during the telephone call the second service node may be prevented from accessing the stored token during the establishment of trust.

In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for conducting at least part of a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, comprising: associating a token with the called party, prior to the initiation of the telephone call; receiving at the called party the telephone call from a first service node; receiving at the called party the stored token during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party; and further processing the telephone call at the called party after the stored token has been received.

Thus a called party may establish trust with a calling party following receipt of a stored token that the called party may have previously associated with himself By further processing the telephone call at the called party after the stored token has been received the called party may choose to engage in further processing relating to personal and/or sensitive information only once trust has been established.

Further features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments of the invention, given by way of example only, which is made with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Figure 1 schematically illustrates the components of a system for conducting a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

Figure 2 illustrates steps performed by the components of the system shown in Figure 1 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

Figure 3 schematically illustrates the components of a system for conducting a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

Detailed Description of the invention

Figure 1 schematically illustrates the components of a system for conducting a service-provision telephone call from a calling party 110 to a called party, according to a first embodiment of the invention.

The calling party 110 may in this embodiment be one of several agent terminals 110, 112, 114 provided in a service provision system 100. The service provision system 100 may be used by agents of a service provider to provide services to a number of users.

The agent terminals 110, 112, 114 may be telephones connected within an internal telephone system provided in the service provision system 100.

Telephone connections between the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 of the internal telephone system may be made via a private branch exchange (PBX) 120. The PBX 120 may allow telephone connections to be made between the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 and devices connected to a telephone network 130. The telephone network 130 may include a public switched telephone network (PSTN), mobile cellular network, etc. Devices connected to the telephone network 130 that the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 may be connected to include user terminals 140, 142, 144, which may be telephony devices associated with users of the service provider.

The internal telephone system of the service provision system 100 may include a communications network allowing Voice over Internet Protocol (V0IP) connections to be established between the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 and the PBX 120. The agent terminals 110, 112, 114 of the service provision system 100 may be configured to receive call control commands from other devices connected to the communications network of the internal telephone system. These call control commands may conform to a protocol such as the Session Initiated Protocol (SIP).

The internal telephone system of the service provision system 100 may include an automatic call distributor (ACD) that is connected to or is included within the PBX 120. The ACD may allow calls received by the internal telephone system from the telephone network 130 to be distributed to the agent terminals 110, 112, 114. This allows, for example, users who wish to contact the service provider to be automatically connected to a free agent of the service provision system 100 that is using an agent terminal 110, 112, 114.

The trust establishment service 150 may be a computer server (or plurality of computer servers) that includes an interactive voice response (IVR) unit that is able to detect and respond to voice and dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) signals received in telephone calls to which it is connected via the PBX 120. The trust establishment service 150 may be configured to communicate with the PBX 120 and/or ACD in order to re-route existing telephone calls and/or to create new telephone calls.

The trust establishment service 150 may include a network interface for communicating with other devices via a communications network. The trust establishment service 150 may for example use this network interface to access a user database 160 and a trust database 170. The user database 160 and trust database 170 may each be hosted by one or more computer servers that are connected to the communications network.

The user database 160 may be hosted by the service provider and may be connected to the trust establishment service 150 via a communications network provided in the service provision system 100.

In alternative embodiments of the invention the user database 160 could be hosted on the same computer server (or computer servers) as the trust establishment service 150, rather than being hosted on a separate computer server.

The user database 160 may include information relating to each user of the service provider. The information stored in relation to each user may include the name of the user, a user identifier that uniquely identifies the user, user authentication information such as a username and/or password that the user may need to provide to the service provider to prove his identity, billing details, products and/or services that the user has ordered, previous enquiries the user has made, and the user's contact details including telephone number(s), email address, and postal address.

The trust database 170 may be hosted by a third party and may be connected to the trust establishment service 150 via a communications network between the service provision system 100 and the third party. This communications network 155 could be the Internet or a secure communications network over the Internet such as a Virtual Private Networking (VPN) connection over the Internet.

The trust database may be configured to communicate with a plurality of different trust establishment services (e.g. 150) that form part of a plurality of service provision systems 100, 102, 104, each provided by one of a plurality of different service providers. Thus the trust database 170 may contain trust information relating to users of a plurality of different service providers.

The trust database 170 may include information provided by users for use in establishing trust between one or more services providers and each user.

The trust database 170 may include a trust table that stores trust information that relates to one or more relationships of trust, where each relationship of trust is between one user and one service provider. Each entry in the trust table may relate to a relationship of trust between a user and a service provider and may include a user identifier that uniquely identifies the user, a service provider identifier that uniquely identifies the service provider, and a stored token selected by the user for use in establishing trust between the service provider and the user.

The trust database 170 may also include a user table that stores information relating to each user for whom trust information is stored in the trust database 170. Each entry in the user table may relate to a single user and include information such as the user identifier that uniquely identifies the user in the trust database 170, trust authentication information such as a usemame and password that the user may use in order to access the user information and trust information held in relation to the user in the trust database, and the user's contact details including telephone number(s), email address, and postal address for use in contacting the user when necessary.

The trust database 170 may also comprise a service provider table that stores information relating to each service provider for which trust information is stored in the trust database 170. Each entry in the service provider table may relate to a service provider and include information such as the service provider identifier that uniquely identifies the service provider, service provider authentication information that the service provider may use in order to access the information held in relation to the service provider in the trust database 170, and service provider contact details for use in contacting the service provider when necessary.

A user registration system 180 may be provided that can access the trust database 170 and provide a registration user interface. The user registration system 180 may be one or more computer servers configured to access the trust database 170 via a communications network. Alternatively the user registration system 180 could be the same one or more computer servers that host the trust database 170.

The registration user interface may allow users of the plurality of different service providers to enter a token that may be received by the user registration system 180. Once a token has been received from a user by the user registration system 180 via the registration user interface, data conesponding to the token may be stored as a stored token. The stored token may for example be stored in the trust database 170 by the user registration system 180.

The registration user interface may allow users to enter a token and associate the token with a selected service provider. The service provider may have a corresponding service provision system 100 that may then use the stored token to establish the user's trust of the service provider in service provision telephone calls made to the user, where the calling party is an agent using an agent terminal 110, 112, 114 of the service provider and the called party is the user using a user terminal associated with the user (e.g. 140).

The registration user interface may allow a user to uniquely associate a stored token with the user's user identifier, so that the stored token could be used by all service provision systems (e.g. 100, 102, 104) of the service providers that the user chooses to be associated with in the trust database 170.

The registration user interface may alternatively allow a user to associate each stored token that the user has entered with one or more service providers.

Thus for example the same stored token could be used by the service provision systems 100, 102, 104 of three different service providers of the plurality of different service providers, or a different stored token could be used by the service provision systems 100, 102, 104, or a combination of both, in order to establish a user's trust of each service provider in service provision telephone calls made to the user.

A service provider may have users who have not associated a stored token held in the trust database 170 with the service provider. The service provider may send new user information to the trust database 170 and/or user registration system 180 to indicate that the service provider has a user that may wish to enter a token and/or associate a stored token with the service provider so that the stored token may used be during telephone calls made to the user in order to establish the user's trust of the service provider. The new user information may include a user identifier that uniquely identifies the new user and/or a service provider identifier that uniquely identifies the service provider.

The service provider may send prompts to users who have not associated a stored token held in the trust database 170 with the service provider, in order to request that they use the registration user interface to enter a stored token and associate it with the service provider. These prompts may be sent via email, text messages, telephone calls, or via the post. These prompts may appear on a website provided by the service provider over the Tntemet. These prompts may include a user identifier that uniquely identifies the user and/or a service provider identifier that uniquely identifies the service provider, and these identifiers may need to be entered by the user when using the user registration system in order to associate a stored token of the user with the service provider.

The registration user interface provided by the user registration system may include a telephony user interface that may be accessed in registration telephone calls between users and the telephony user interface. In order to provide the telephony user interface the user registration system 180 may include an interactive voice response (IVR) unit that is able to detect and respond to voice and dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) signals received in registration telephone calls between the telephony user interface and users.

In a registration telephone call between a user and the telephony user interface, the user may be required to provide trust authentication information to the telephony user interface in order for the user to be granted access to the information stored in relation to the user in the trust database 170. The IVR unit of the user registration system 180 may then, through one or more IVR options, allow the user to enter a new token, edit stored tokens, and/or create and edit associations between stored tokens and service providers.

A new token in the form of a received token may be received from the user as an in-call audio signal during a registration telephone call, in response to the user selecting to enter a new token via IVR options. The in-call audio signal may include the user speaking a message such as for example "Hello, you can trust this telephone call", and/or may include other memorable and recognisable voices and/or sounds the user chooses to provide. The audio signal may be stored as a stored token that is an audio sample.

The registration user interface provided by the registration system 180 may include a graphical user interface. The graphical user interface provided by the user registration system 180 may be provided over a communications network to which the user registration system 180 is connected via a network interface. The communications network may include the Internet.

The graphical user interface may be in the form of one or more web pages that may allow the user to enter a new token for submission to the user registration system 180, edit stored tokens, and/or create and edit associations between stored tokens and service providers. These web pages may be at least partially generated by the user registration system 180 using information stored in the trust database 170. In order to use the graphical user interface provided by the user registration interface 180, the user may be required to provide trust authentication information to the graphical user interface in order for the user to be granted access to the information stored in relation to the user in the trust database 170.

A new token in the form of a received token may be received as textual input entered by the user using the graphical user interface. The textual input may include a message such as for example "Hello, you can trust this telephone call", and/or may include other memorable and recognisable messages and/or words the user chooses to enter. The textual input may be stored as a stored token that is an audio sample obtained from converting the textual input to speech using a text to speech converter in the user registration system 180 or trust database 170. The textual input may alternatively be stored as a stored token that is text that may later be converted to an audio sample prior to transmission to a called party using a text to speech converter in the trust database 170 or the trust establishment service 150.

A new token in the form of a received token may be received from the user as an audio file uploaded to the user registration system 180 using the graphical user interface. The audio file may include audio signals of the user speaking a message, and/or may include audio signals of other memorable voices and/or sounds the user chooses to provide. The audio file may be stored as a stored token that is an audio sample.

The registration user interface provided by the user registration system 180, may allow the user to enter a user selection corresponding to a stored token. The user selection may include a service provider with which the stored token is to be associated in the trust database 170. The user selection corresponding to a stored token that is received from a user via a registration user interface may be stored by the user registration system 180 as data identifying said stored token in the trust database 170. The registration user interface may thus allow the user to select a stored token to be associated with a service provider. The stored token could be a token that was previously entered by the user, or alternatively it could be one of a plurality of pre-defined tokens provided by the user registration system 180 and/or trust database 170. These pre-defined tokens could be pre-defined audio samples.

Once a user has selected a stored token for use in establishing the user's trust during a telephone call from agents of a service provider, the agents may contact the user using the service provision system 100.

Figure 2 illustrates steps that may be performed by the components of the system shown in Figure 1 in order to conduct a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, according to the first embodiment of the invention.

Initially, a calling party may place a telephone call (step 200). The calling party may be an agent terminal 110, 112, 114, such as for example agent terminal 110, hereinafter referred to as the calling party 110. An agent of the service provider may be using the calling party 110.

The telephone call may be placed to a telephone number associated with the trust establishment service 150, for example the PBX 120 may associate the telephone number 123 with the trust establishment service 150.

A first service node may thus receive a telephone call established from a second service node (step 202). The first service node may in this embodiment be the trust establishment service 150. The second service node may in this embodiment be the calling party 110.

The first service node may then receive a user identifier to be used in association with the service-provision telephone call to the called party. The called party may be the user to whom an agent using the calling party 110 wishes to make contact. The user identifier may be associated with the called party.

The user identifier may be transmitted in the telephone call received by the trust establishment service 150 from the calling party 110. The user identifier may be transmitted to the trust establishment service 150 by way of Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals in the telephone call received by the trust establishment service 150 from the calling party 110. The IVR unit of the trust establishment service 150 may be configured to receive the user identifier in the form of these DTMF signals. The IVR unit of the trust establishment service 150 may configured to prompt the calling party 110 to enter the user identifier when the telephone call is established.

The DTMF signals may be transmitted in response to the agent using the calling party 110 to dial the user identifier. The agent may dial the user identifier during the telephone call received by the trust establishment service from the calling party 110.

Once the user identifier has been received the first service node may then, on the basis of the user identifier, retrieve a stored token (step 204).

In order to retrieve the stored token the trust establishment service 150 may access the trust database 170.

The trust establishment service 150 may transmit the user identifier it received to the trust database 170. A stored token may be uniquely associated with the user identifier, in which case the trust database 170 retrieves the stored token and responds by transmitting the stored token to the trust establishment service 150.

The trust establishment service 150 may also transmit to the trust database 170 the service provider identifier of the service provider to which the service provision system 100 belongs. The stored token may then be retrieved by the trust database 170 on the basis of the user identifier associated with the called party and on the basis of the service provider identifier, where the service provider identifier differentiates the plurality of different service providers in relation to whom information is stored in the trust database 170. The trust database 170 may then transmit the retrieved stored token to the trust establishment service 150.

The first service node may establish a telephone call to the called party, e.g. 140 (step 206).

The telephone call to the called party may be made to a user terminal 140, 142, 144 that is associated with the called party (i.e. the user with whom contact is required). For example, the telephone call to the called party may be made to the user terminal 140.

The telephone call to the user terminal 140 of the called party may be made by the trust establishment service 150 placing a new outbound telephone call to the user terminal 140 of the called party using the PBX 120. The telephone call may be made via the telephone network 130.

The telephone call to the called party may be made in response to the first service node receiving the telephone call from the second service node.

The telephone call to the called party may alternatively be initiated in response to the first service node retrieving the stored token.

The telephone call to the called party may be made to a first telephone number associated with the called party. The first telephone number may be the telephone number of a user terminal (e.g. 140) of the called party.

For example a first telephone number associated with the user identifier of the called party may be retrieved by the trust establishment service 150 from the contact details of the user held in the user database 160. Alternatively a first telephone number associated with the user identifier of the called party may be retrieved by the trust establishment service 150 from the contact details of the user held in the trust database 170. In each case, the first telephone number may be different to the user identifier.

The stored token may then be transmitted to the called party during the service-provision telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party (step 208). The stored token may be transmitted from the first service node.

The stored token may be a stored audio sample as described above.

Transmitting the stored token may comprise the trust establishment node 150 playing back the stored audio sample in-call to the called party.

The stored token may alternatively be text as described above.

Transmitting the stored token may then comprise the trust establishment node converting the text to an audio sample using a text to speech converter and playing back the audio sample in-call.

Thus the stored token that the called party previously selected may be played back to the called party in the service-provision telephone call. The called party may then recognise the stored token and establish trust with the calling party.

As, following the receipt of the stored token, the called party has established trust with the calling party, the called party can trust that the telephone call is genuinely from the service provider and not from an impersonator of the service provider.

The telephone call to the called party may be passed on for further processing after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party (step 210).

In order to pass on the telephone call for further processing the first service node may connect the second service node with the telephone call to the called party after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party. For example, the trust establishment service 150 may instruct the PBX 120 to connect the telephone call from the trust establishment service 150 to the called party to the telephone call from the calling party 110 to the trust establishment service 150.

Alternatively in order to pass on the telephone call for further processing the first service node may transfer to the second service node the telephone call to the called party after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.

For example, the trust establishment service 150 may instruct the PBX 120 to transfer the telephone call from the trust establishment service 150 to the called party to the telephone call from the calling party 110 to the trust establishment service 150, so that the trust establishment service 150 is no longer connected to either telephone call.

The further processing that may take place after the telephone call to the called party has been passed on may include collecting password data from the called party.

The agent using the calling party 110 may prompt the called party to speak a password so that the agent may verify the called party's identity. The agent may check that the password is correct by comparing it to user authentication information stored for the called party in the user database 160.

The agent using the calling party 110 may have an agent computer that is connected to a communications network via which the user database 160 may be accessed.

By passing on the telephone call to the called party for further processing after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party, an agent of the service provider of the service provision system 100 may provide services of the service provider during further processing of the telephone call to the called party, after the called party has established trust with the calling party.

A second exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The second embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the first embodiment of the invention described above. However in the second embodiment the calling party 110 may place a telephone call to the called party in step 200, rather than making a telephone call directly to the trust establishment service 150.

The telephone call may be placed to a first user telephone number of the telephone network 130 associated with the called party.

The PBX 120 and/or ACD may be configured to intercept telephone calls that are placed from the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 to the user terminals 140, 142, 144 via the telephone network 130. Intercepted telephone calls placed by the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 may be routed by the PBX 120 and/or ACD to the trust establishment service 150 rather than to the user terminals 140, 142, 144.

Therefore the telephone call placed by the calling party in step 200 may be transferred to the trust establishment service 150. A first service node may thus receive a telephone call established from a second service node in step 202.

The first service node may in this embodiment be the trust establishment service 150. The second service node may in this embodiment be the calling party 110.

The trust establishment service 150 may receive from the PBX 120 the first user telephone number that was used to place the telephone call made by the calling party in step 200. The trust establishment service 150 may then use the first user telephone number to retrieve the user identifier of the user associated with the first user telephone number, rather than receiving the user identifier by way of Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals in the telephone call received from the calling party 110. The trust establishment service 150 may do this by querying the user database 160 or the trust database 170 for the user identifier of a user whose contact details include the first user telephone number.

When the first service node establishes a telephone call to the called party in step 206, the telephone call may be made to the first user telephone number. For example, the trust establishment service 150 may use the first user telephone number rather than retrieving a telephone number associated with the user from the user database 160 or trust database 170.

Alternatively the trust establishment service 150 may receive from the PBX 120 the first user telephone number, however it may not then use the first user telephone number to retrieve the user identifier of the user associated with the first user telephone number. Instead the trust establishment service 150 may receive the user identifier by way of Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals in the telephone call received from the calling party 110, as described in the first embodiment. The trust establishment service may still use the first telephone number to establish a telephone call to the called party in step 206 however, by making the telephone call to the first user telephone number as described above.

The second embodiment may otherwise operate according to the first embodiment.

A third exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The third embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the second embodiment of the invention described above. However, the telephone call between the calling party (e.g. agent terminal 110) and the trust establishment service 150 may be initiated in response to a request from an agent computer in step 200.

Each agent using the service provision system 100 may have access to an agent computer as well as an agent terminal. Each agent computer may be connected to a communications network via a network interface, and may be able to communicate with the PBX 120, ACD and/or user database 160 via the communications network.

The agent computer may be configured to access information in the user database 160 relating to users of the service provider. The agent computer may be configured to provide a graphical user interface allowing an agent to initiate a telephone call to a selected user of the service provider using the agent terminal.

When an agent initiates a telephone call to a selected user using the graphical user interface provided on an agent computer, the agent computer may communicate with the PBX 120 and/or the ACD in order to place a telephone call from the agent terminal of the agent to the selected user. The telephone call may be placed to a first telephone number associated with the selected user. The first telephone number may have been retrieved from the user database 160 by the agent computer and may be communicated to the PBX 120 and/or ACD in order to initiate the telephone call.

The PBX 120 and/or ACD may then initiate a telephone call from the agent terminal 110 of the agent to the selected user, in response to the communication from the agent computer.

The PBX 120 and/or ACD may be configured to intercept telephone calls that are placed from the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 to the user terminals 140, 142, 144 via the telephone network 130. Intercepted telephone calls placed by the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 may be routed by the PBX 120 and/or ACD to a trust establishment service 150 rather than to the user terminals 140, 142, 144.

Therefore the telephone call from the calling party to the called party in step 200 may be transferred to the trust establishment service 150. A first service node may thus receive a telephone call established from a second service node in step 202. The first service node may in this embodiment be the trust establishment service 150. The second service node may in this embodiment be the calling party 110.

The trust establishment service 150 may receive from the PBX 120 the first user telephone number that was used to place the telephone call made by the calling party in step 200. The trust establishment service 150 may then use the first user telephone number to retrieve the user identifier of the user associated with the first user telephone number, in accordance with the second embodiment.

When the first service node establishes a telephone call to the called party in step 206, the telephone call may be made to the first user telephone number, in accordance with the second embodiment.

Alternatively the trust establishment service 150 may receive from the PBX 120 the first user telephone number, however it may not then use the first user telephone number to retrieve the user identifier of the user associated with the first user telephone number. Instead the trust establishment service 150 may receive the user identifier by way of Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals in accordance with the second embodiment.

Alternatively the trust establishment service 150 may receive from the PBX 120 the first user telephone number, however it may not then use the first user telephone number to retrieve the user identifier of the user associated with the first user telephone number. Instead the trust establishment service 150 may receive the user identifier by way of Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals from the ACD in the telephone call received from the agent terminal.

The ACD may receive the user identifier from the agent computer as an extension identifier dialled after the telephone number used to place the telephone call initiated by the agent computer. The ACD may be configured to transmit the extension identifier (containing the user identifier) to the trust establishment service 150 once the telephone call initiated by the terminal computer is connected to the trust establishment service 150.

Alternatively the trust establishment service 150 may receive from the PBX 120 the first user telephone number, however it may not then use the first user telephone number to retrieve the user identifier of the user associated with the first user telephone number. Instead the trust establishment service 150 may receive the user identifier by way of a computer telephony integration link between the ACD and the trust establishment service 150 when the trust establishment service 150 receives the telephone call from the agent terminal.

The ACD may receive the user identifier from the agent computer as an extension identifier as described above. The ACD may be configured to transmit the extension identifier (containing the user identifier) to the trust establishment service 150 over the computer telephony integration link once the telephone call initiated by the terminal computer is connected to the trust establishment service 150.

Alternatively the trust establishment service 150 may receive from the PBX 120 the first user telephone number, however it may not then use the first user telephone number to retrieve the user identifier of the user associated with the first user telephone number. Instead the trust establishment service 150 may receive the user identifier from the agent computer that initiated the telephone call from the agent terminal. The agent computer may be configured to transmit the user identifier to the trust establishment service 150 via the communications network to which the agent computer is connected.

The third embodiment may otherwise operate according to the second embodiment.

A fourth exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The fourth embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the first embodiment of the invention described above. However, in the fourth embodiment of the invention the telephone call between the calling party (e.g. agent terminal 110) and the trust establishment service 150 may be initiated in response to a request from an agent computer in step 200. The trust establishment service 150 may establish a telephone call between it and the agent terminal in response to the request from the agent computer in step 202 instead of the trust establishment service 150 receiving a telephone call from an agent terminal.

Each agent using the service provision system 100 may have access to an agent computer as well as an agent terminal. Each agent computer may be connected to a communications network via a network interface, and may be able to communicate with the trust establishment service 150 and/or user database 160 via the communications network.

The agent computer may be configured to access information in the user database 160 relating to users of the service provider. The agent computer may be configured to provide a graphical user interface allowing an agent to initiate a telephone call to a selected user of the service provider using the agent terminal.

When an agent initiates a telephone call to a selected user using the graphical user interface provided on an agent computer, the agent computer may transmit a call request to the trust establishment service 150 in order to request that a call to the selected user be established.

The agent computer may transmit the user identifier of the selected user in the call request. The user identifier of the selected user may have been retrieved from the user database 160 by the agent computer.

The agent computer may transmit the service provider identifier of the service provider of the service provision system 100 in the call request.

In response to receipt of the user identifier and/or service provider identifier, the trust establishment service 150 may establish a second telephone call to the calling party in order to put the agent using the agent terminal 110 and associated agent computer in contact with the trust establishment system 150.

The second telephone call may be established between the trust establishment service 150 and the agent terminal associated with the agent computer that sent the call request. The call request may include an agent telephone number that the trust establishment service 150 may use to place the second telephone call to the agent terminal associated with the agent computer via the internal telephone network of the service provision system 100.

Once the user identifier has been received and/or the second telephone call has been established the trust establishment service 150 may then retrieve a stored token in step 204 in accordance with the first embodiment.

The trust establishment service 50 may then establish a telephone call to the called party in step 206 in accordance with the first embodiment.

The stored token may then be transmitted to the called party during the service-provision telephone call in step 208 in accordance with the first embodiment.

The telephone call to the called party may be passed on for further processing after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party, in step 210.

In order to pass on the telephone call for further processing the first service node may bridge the second telephone call with the service-provision telephone call. The calling party is thus placed in contact with the called party after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party. The first service node may in this embodiment be the trust establishment service 150.

For example, the trust establishment service 150 may instruct the PBX to bridge the telephone call from the trust establishment service 150 to the called party with the second telephone call from the trust establishment service to the calling party 110. The second service node may in this embodiment be the calling party 110.

Further processing may take place after the telephone call to the called party has been passed on, in accordance with the first embodiment.

A fifth exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The fifth embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the fourth embodiment of the invention described above. However, in the fifth embodiment of the invention the trust establishment service may place the second telephone call to any agent of the service provision system 100 rather than to a specific agent such as the one associated with the agent computer from which the call request is sent.

As in the fourth embodiment the trust establishment service 150 may establish a second telephone call, however the second telephone call may be placed from the trust establishment service 150 to an agent terminal (e.g. 110, 112, 114) selected from a plurality of agent terminals of the service provision system 100.

In order to establish a second telephone call with an agent terminal of the plurality of agent terminals, the trust establishment service 150 may place a telephone call to the ACD of the PBX 120 of the service provision system 100.

The ACD is able to distribute telephone calls to the agents of the service provision system 100. The ACD may automatically select an agent terminal that is not currently in use from the plurality of agent terminals and transfer the second telephone call to the selected agent terminal.

The second telephone call may be placed by the trust establishment service 150 in response to the trust establishment service 150 receiving the call request including the user identifier from the agent computer that sent the call request.

Alternatively the second telephone call may be placed by the trust establishment service 150 in response to the trust establishment service 150 transmitting the stored token to the called party in step 208.

The telephone call to the called party may then be passed on for further processing in accordance with the fourth embodiment of the invention.

A sixth exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The sixth embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the first or fourth embodiment. However, in the sixth embodiment of the invention the calling party may not be located within the internal telephone system of the service provision system 100.

For example, the calling party may be a home agent terminal connected to the telephone network 130. An agent of the service provider that provides the service provision system 100 may use the home agent terminal in order to perform their role as an agent when they cannot use an agent terminal 110, 112, 114 of the internal telephone system of the service provision system 100, e.g. The home agent terminal may be used by an agent to place a telephone call to the service provision system 100 via the telephone network 130 in step 200. The PBX 120 and/or the ACD (if present) may be configured to transfer incoming calls from home agent terminals to the trust establishment service 150.

A first service node may thus receive a telephone call established from a second service node. The first service node may in this embodiment be the trust establishment service 150. The second service node may in this embodiment be the home agent terminal.

An agent using the home agent terminal may have access to an agent computer as well as the home agent terminal. Each agent computer may be connected to a communications network via a network interface, and may be able to communicate with the PBX 120, ACD and/or user database via the communications network, for example by connecting to the Internet and/or a virtual private network (VPN) provided by the service provision system 100.

The agent computer may be configured to access information in the user database 160 relating to users of the service provider and display this information in a graphical user interface.

The sixth embodiment may otherwise operate according to the first or fourth embodiment.

Figure 3 schematically illustrates the components of a system for conducting a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, according to a seventh embodiment of the invention.

The calling party 110 may in this embodiment be one of several agent terminals 110, 112, 114 provided in a service provision system 300. The service provision system 300 may be used by agents of a service provider to provide services to a number of users.

Other service provision systems e.g. 302 configured in the same manner as service provision system 300 may be provided. These service provision systems may each belong to a different service provider.

The service provision system 300 in this embodiment includes an internal telephone network, PBX 120, ACD, user database 160, and communications network that operate in accordance with service provision system 100 the first embodiment.

The PBX 120 may allow voice connections to be made between the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 and devices connected to a telephone network 130. The telephone network 130 may include a public switched telephone network (PSTN), mobile cellular network, etc. Devices connected to the telephone network 130 that the agent terminals 110, 112, 114 may be connected to include user terminals 140, 142, 144, which may be telephony devices associated with users of the service provider.

The service provision system 300 in this embodiment differs from the service provision system 100 of the first embodiment in that it may not include a trust establishment service 150, and that the PBX 120, ACD and user database may not be connected to the trust establishment service 150.

In this embodiment a trust establishment service 350 is provided that may be hosted by a third party outside of the service provision system 300. The trust establishment service 350 may also include a computer server (or plurality of computer servers) that includes an interactive voice response (IVR) unit that is able to detect and respond to voice and dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) signals received in telephone calls to which it is connected.

The trust establishment service 350 may be connected to the telephone network 130 and may be configured to place and receive telephone calls using the telephone network 130. In order to place and receive telephone calls using the telephone network 130 the trust establishment service 350 may include a PBX and/or ACD.

A plurality of service provision systems e.g. 300, 302 each belonging to a different service provider may be configured to communicate with the trust establish establishment service 350 via the telephone network 130.

The trust establishment service 350 may include a network interface for communicating with other devices via a communications network 155. The trust establishment service 350 may for example use this network interface to access a trust database 170. This communications network 155 could be the internet or a secure communications network over the internet such as a Virtual Private Networking (VPN) connection over the Tnternet.

The trust database 170 may operate according to the first embodiment.

However the trust database 170 may be configured to communicate with a plurality of different trust establishment services (e.g. 150) that form part of a plurality of service provision systems e.g. 100, 102, 104 that operate according to the first embodiment, as well as being configured to communicate with the trust establishment service 350.

A user registration system 180 may be provided that can access the trust database 170 and provide a registration user interface. The user registration system 180 may operate in accordance with the first embodiment.

The steps that may be performed by the components of the system shown in Figure 3 in order to conduct a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party according to the fifth embodiment of the invention shall now be described within the context of Figure 2.

Initially, a calling party may place a telephone call in step 200. The calling party may be an agent terminal 110, 112, 114, such as agent terminal 110. An agent of the service provider may be using the calling party 110.

The telephone call may be placed to a telephone number associated with the trust establishment service 350, for example the trust establishment service 350 may be accessed via the telephone number 123456789 on the telephone network 130. The PBX 120 may establish an outgoing telephone call to the trust establishment service 350 and connect the calling party 110 to the outgoing telephone call.

A first service node may thus receive a telephone call established from a second service node in step 202. The first service node may in this embodiment be the trust establishment service 350. The second service node may in this embodiment be the calling party 110.

The trust establishment service 350 may then receive a user identifier to be used in association with the service-provision telephone call to the called party in accordance with the steps performed by the trust establishment service in step 202 of the first embodiment.

The trust establishment service 350 may receive a service provider identifier to be used in association with the service-provision telephone call to the called party. The service provider identifier may identify the service provider of the service provision system 300.

The service provider identifier may be transmitted in the telephone call received by the trust establishment service 350 from the calling party 110. The service provider identifier may be transmitted to the trust establishment service 350 by way of Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals in the telephone call in accordance with the first embodiment.

The DTMF signals may be transmitted in response to the agent using the calling party 110 to dial the service provider identifier in accordance with the first embodiment.

Alternatively the trust establishment service 350 may receive a service provider telephone number in the telephone call it receives from the calling party 110. The service provider telephone number may be received as a calling line identifier for the telephone call from the calling party 110 that the trust establishment service 350 receives from the telephone network 130. The trust establishment service 350 may request the service identifier of the service provider associated with the service provider telephone number by transmitting the service provider telephone number to the trust database 170 in order to access the service provider table. The trust establishment service 350 may then receive the required service provider identifier from the trust database 170 in response.

Once the user identifier and service provider identifier have been received the first service node may then, on the basis of the user identifier and service provider identifier, retrieve a stored token in step 204.

In order to retrieve the stored token the trust establishment service 350 may access the trust database 170.

The trust establishment service 350 may transmit the user identifier and the service provider identifier it received to the trust database 170. The stored token may then be retrieved by the trust database 170 in accordance with the first embodiment. The trust database 170 may then transmit the retrieved stored token to the trust establishment service 350.

The first service node may establish a telephone call to the called party, e.g. 140, in step 206.

The telephone call to the called party may be made to a user terminal 140, 142, 144 that is associated with the called party (i.e. the user with whom contact is required in accordance with the first embodiment.

The telephone call to the user terminal 140 of the called party may be made by the trust establishment service 350 placing a new outbound telephone call to the user terminal 140 of the called party via the telephone network 130.

The telephone call to the called party may be made in response to the first service node receiving the telephone call from the second service node.

The telephone call to the called party may alternatively be initiated in response to the first service node retrieving the stored token.

The telephone call to the called party may be made to a first telephone number associated with the called party in accordance with the first embodiment.

The stored token may then be transmitted to the called party during the service-provision telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party, in step 208. The stored token may be transmitted from the first service node. The trust establishment service 350 may transmit the stored token in accordance with the steps performed by the trust establishment service 150 in step 208 of the first embodiment.

The telephone call to the called party may be passed on for further processing after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party, in step 210.

In order to pass on the telephone call for further processing the first service node may connect the second service node to the telephone call to the called party after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.

For example, the trust establishment service 350 may instruct its PBX to connect the telephone call from the trust establishment service 350 to the called party to the telephone call from the calling party 110 to the trust establishment service 150. Thus at least a portion of the service-provision telephone call may be connected from the second service node to the first service node via a Public Services Telephony Network (PSTN) link provided by the telephone network 130.

Alternatively in order to pass on the telephone call for further processing the first service node may transfer the telephone call to the called party to the second service node after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party. For example, the trust establishment service 350 may instruct its PBX to transfer the telephone call from the trust establishment service 350 to the called party to the telephone call from the calling party 110 to the trust establishment service 350, so that the trust establishment service 350 is no longer connected to either telephone call.

Further processing may take place after the telephone call to the called party has been passed on, in accordance with the first embodiment.

An eighth exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described. The eighth embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the seventh embodiment of the invention described above. However, in the eighth embodiment of the invention the telephone call between the calling party (e.g. agent terminal 110) and the trust establishment service 350 may be initiated in response to a request from an agent computer in step 200. The trust establishment service 350 may establish a telephone call between it and the agent terminal in response to the request from the agent computer in step 202 instead of the trust establishment service 350 receiving a telephone call from an agent terminal.

Each agent using the service provision system 300 may have access to an agent computer as well as an agent terminal. Each agent computer may be connected to a communications network via a network interface, and may be able to communicate with the trust establishment service 350 and/or user database 160 via the communications network, which may include the Internet and/or a VPN connection over the Internet.

The agent computer may be configured to access information in the user database 160 relating to users of the service provider. The agent computer may be configured to provide a graphical user interface allowing an agent to initiate a telephone call to a selected user of the service provider using the agent terminal.

When an agent initiates a telephone call to a selected user using the graphical user interface provided on an agent computer, the agent computer may transmit a call request to the trust establishment service 350 in order to request that a call to the selected user be established.

The agent computer may transmit the user identifier of the selected user in the call request. The user identifier of the selected user may have been retrieved from the user database 160 by the agent computer.

The agent computer may transmit the service provider identifier of the service provider of the service provision system 300 in the call request.

In response to receipt of the user identifier and service provider identifier, the trust establishment service 350 may establish a second telephone call to the calling party in order to put the agent using the agent terminal 110 and associated agent computer in contact with the trust establishment system 350.

The second telephone call may be established between the trust establishment service 350 and the agent terminal associated with the agent computer that sent the call request. The call request may include an agent telephone number that the trust establishment service 150 may use to place the second telephone call to the agent terminal associated with the agent computer via the telephone network 130. As a result at least a portion of the service-provision telephone call is connected from the first service node to the second service node via the telephone network 130, i.e. via a PSTN link.

Once the user identifier and service provider identifier have been received and/or the second telephone call has been established the trust establishment node 350 may then, on the basis of the user identifier and the service provider identifier, retrieve a stored token in accordance with the seventh embodiment.

The trust establishment service 350 may then establish a telephone call to the called party in step 206 in accordance with the seventh embodiment.

The stored token may then be transmitted to the called party during the service-provision telephone call in step 208 in accordance with the seventh embodiment.

The telephone call to the called party may be passed on for further processing after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party, in step 210.

In order to pass on the telephone call for further processing the first service node may bridge the second telephone call with the service-provision telephone call. The calling party is thus placed in contact with the called party after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.

For example, the trust establishment service 350 may instruct its PBX to bridge the telephone call from the trust establishment service 350 to the called party with the second telephone call from the trust establishment service 150 to the calling party 110. Thus at least a portion of the service-provision telephone call may be connected from the second service node to the first service node via a Public Services Telephony Network (PSTN) link provided by the telephone network 130. The second service node may in this embodiment be the calling party 110.

Further processing may take place after the telephone call to the called party has been passed on, in accordance with the seventh embodiment.

A ninth exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The ninth embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the eighth embodiment of the invention described above. However, in the ninth embodiment of the invention the trust establishment service may place the second telephone call to any agent of the service provision system 300 rather than to a specific agent such as the one associated with the agent computer from which the call request is sent.

As in the eighth embodiment the trust establishment service 350 may establish a second telephone call, however the second telephone call may be placed from the trust establishment service 350 to an agent terminal (e.g. 110, 112, 114) selected from a plurality of agent terminals of the service provision system 300.

In order to establish a second telephone call with an agent terminal of the plurality of agent terminals, the trust establishment service 350 may place a telephone call to the telephone system of the service provision system 300 via the telephone network 130.

The second telephone call may be received by the PBX 120 of the service provision system 300. The PBX 120 may include or be connected to an ACD that is able to distribute telephone calls to the agents of the service provision system 300. The ACD may then automatically select an agent terminal that is not currently in use from the plurality of agent terminals and transfer the second telephone call to the selected agent terminal.

The second telephone call may be placed by the trust establishment service 350 in response to the trust establishment service 350 receiving the call request including the user identifier from the agent computer that sent the call request.

Alternatively the second telephone call may be placed by the trust establishment service 350 in response to the trust establishment service 350 transmitting the stored token to the called party in step 208.

The telephone call to the called party may then be passed on for further processing in accordance with the eighth embodiment of the invention.

A tenth exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The tenth embodiment of the invention may proceed according to the seventh embodiment of the invention described above. However, in the tenth embodiment the second service node may receive the stored token from the first service node and transmit the stored token to the called party.

Each agent using the service provision system 300 may have access to an agent computer as well as an agent terminal in accordance with the eighth embodiment of the invention.

The agent computer may transmit the user identifier of a selected user and the service provider identifier of the service provider of the service provision system 300 in a call request in accordance with the eighth embodiment of the invention.

Once the user identifier and service provider identifier have been received the first service node may then, on the basis of the user identifier and the service provider identifier, retrieve a stored token in step 204.

In order to retrieve the stored token the trust establishment service 350 may access the trust database 170 in accordance with the seventh embodiment of the invention.

The trust establishment service 350 may then transmit the stored token to the agent computer.

The agent computer may then communicate with the PBX 120 and/or the ACD in order to place a telephone call from the agent terminal of the agent to the selected user. The telephone call may be placed to a first telephone number associated with the selected user. The first telephone number may have been retrieved from the user database 160 by the agent computer and may be communicated to the PBX 120 and/or ACD in order to initiate the telephone call.

The stored token may then be transmitted to the called party during the service-provision telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party, in step 208. The stored token may be transmitted from the second service node in the service-provision telephone call. For example, the agent terminal may be instructed to play the stored token received from the trust establishment service 350 by the agent computer. Alternatively the agent terminal may be placed on hold whilst the stored token is transmitted to the called party from the agent computer in the service-provision telephone call.

Further processing may take place after the telephone call to the called party has been passed on, in accordance with the seventh embodiment of the invention.

An eleventh exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described. The eleventh embodiment of the invention may proceed according to any of embodiments one to ten. However, in the eleventh embodiment the service provision telephone call may be passed on for further processing before the stored token is transmitted to the called party. The trust establishment service may remain connected to the service-provision telephone call during the further processing that occurs before the stored token is transmitted to the called party.

During the further processing of the service-provision telephone call the calling party may instruct the trust establishment service to transmit the stored token to the called party by providing a transmit stored token indication to the trust establishment service.

The transmit stored token indication may be sent from the agent terminal in the form of one or more Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals to the trust establishment service in the service-provision telephone call.

The transmit stored token indication may alternatively be sent from the agent computer (if present) to the trust establishment service via an appropriate communications network, which may include via the Internet and/or a VPN connection over the Tnternet.

In response to receiving the transmit stored token indication the first service node may then receive the service-provision telephone call using a call transfer procedure. The first service node may be the trust establishment service in this embodiment.

For example, the trust establishment service may mute the agent terminal in the service provision telephone call. Alternatively the trust establishment service may place the agent terminal on hold in the service provision telephone call.

The stored token may then be transmifted to the called party during the service-provision telephone call in step 208 in accordance with any of embodiments one to ten.

The telephone call to the called party may once again be passed on for further processing in accordance with any of embodiments one to ten.

The above embodiments of the invention allow a service provider flexibility in implementing a method for conducting at least part of a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party within a service provision system and for integrating the present invention within existing systems in order to benefit from the advantages of the present invention.

A twelfth exemplary embodiment of the invention will now be described.

The twelfth embodiment may proceed according to any preceding embodiment of the invention. However, in the twelfth embodiment, different types of user identifiers may be used to identify each user within the user database 160 and the trust database 170.

The user database 160 of the service provision system 100 may be configured to store, for each user, a service provision system user identifier (SPS user identifier) that uniquely identifies the user within the service provision system 100, and a trust database user identifier (TDB user identifier) that uniquely identifies the user within the trust database 170 as described in greater detail below. The SPS user identifier may be an account number or similar that identifies an account the user has with the service provision system 100. The SPS user identifier and TDB user identifier may be stored in addition to the information stored in relation to each user in the user database 160, as described above.

The user database 160 may be configured to link the SPS user identifier used to uniquely identify each user within the user database 160 (and the service provision system 100 in which the user database 160 is included) and the TDB user identifier used to uniquely identify each user within the trust establishment system 190 and translate between them. The user database may therefore offer flexibility in terms of user identifiers.

Each entry in the user table of the trust database 170 may relate to a single user and may include a trust database user identifier (TDB user identifier) that uniquely identifies the user within the trust database 170.

Each entry in the trust table of the trust database 170 may relate to a relationship of trust between a user and one or more service provision systems (e.g. 100, 102, 104, 300, 302) and may include the TDB user identifier that uniquely identifies the user within the trust database 170, one or more service provision system user identifiers (SPS identifiers) that uniquely identify the user within the one or more service provision systems, service provider identifiers that uniquely identify the one or more service provision systems, and a stored token selected by the user for use in establishing trust between the one or more service provision systems and the user.

The trust database 170 may be able to use the trust table to translate between the TDB user identifiers used to uniquely identify users within the trust database 170 and the SPS user identifiers used to uniquely identify users within different service provision systems (e.g. 100, 102, 104, 300, 302). For example each service provision system may use a different SPS user identifier for the same user who has one TDB user identifier in the trust database 170, and the trust database 170 may be able to use the trust table to link these different user identifiers together and translate between them. The trust database 170 may therefore offer flexibility in terms of user identifiers.

When, in embodiments one to eleven of the invention, communication of a user identifier is required, for example within the service provision system 100 or 300, between the service provision system 100 and the trust database 170, between the service provision system 300 and trust establishment service 350, and/or between the trust establishment service 350 and the trust database 170, the user identifier may in this embodiment be a SPS user identifier or a TDB user identifier as described above.

Where a user identifier is communicated between the service provision system 100 and trust database 170, between the service provision system 300 and trust establishment service 350, and/or between the trust establishment service 350 and the trust database 170 is a SPS user identifier, that SPS user identifier may be accompanied by a service provider identifier in order to indicate the service provision system 100 or 300 to which that SPS user identifier relates.

The twelfth embodiment may otherwise proceed according to any preceding embodiment.

The above embodiments are to be understood as illustrative examples of the invention. Further embodiments of the invention are envisaged as follows.

The fifth embodiment of the invention may alternatively operate in accordance with the eighth embodiment, i.e. such that the service provision system does not include a trust establishment service 150 as described in the first embodiment, but rather that the service provision system connects to the trust establishment service 350 of the eighth embodiment.

The tenth embodiment of the invention may alternatively operate in accordance with the first embodiment, i.e. such that the service provision system does include a trust establishment service 150 as described in the first embodiment, and does not connect to the trust establishment service 350 of the eighth embodiment.

In an alternative to embodiments one to six of the invention the trust database 170 may be hosted by the service provider and may be connected to the trust establishment service 150 via a communications network provided in the service provision system 100. In this embodiment the trust database 170 may only contain trust information relating to accounts of users of the service provision system 100. Rather than being hosted on a separate computer server, the trust database 170 could alternatively be hosted on the same computer server (or computer servers) as the trust establishment service 150.

In an alternative to embodiments five and nine of the invention, the service provision system (100 or 300, as appropriate) may include a scheduler system. The scheduler system may include one or more computers connected to the user database 160 via the communications network provided in the service provision system. The scheduler system may be configured to initiate service-provision telephone calls from the service provision system to users. The scheduler may initiate a telephone call to a user in response to detecting information relating to the user in the user database 160 that indicates that a telephone call to the user may be necessary. In order to initiate a telephone call to a user, the scheduler system may transmit a call request to the trust establishment service (150 or 350, as appropriate), rather than an agent computer sending such a call request, as in embodiments five and nine. The call request may include the user identifier of the user to call.

The graphical user interface of the user registration system 180 may be provided within a social networking service, such as for example Facebook.

Stored tokens may be stored in relation to a user by a social networking service, such as Facebook. The user registration system 180 may allow a user to grant the trust establishment service and/or trust database 170 access to one or more stored tokens held by the social networking service so that this one or more stored tokens may be used in service-provision telephone calls. The trust establishment service and/or trust database 170 may access the stored tokens held by the social networking service using a protocol for publishing and interacting with protected data, such as for example OAuth.

It will be appreciated that the user database 160 and trust database 170 are illustrative examples of methods for storing the information described.

Collecting password information during further processing of a service-provision telephone call may alternatively include the agent using the calling party 110 to prompt the called party to enter password information as DTMF signals by using a keypad of the user terminal 140. This password information may be checked against the user authentication information in the user database by the agent, agent terminal or agent computer associated with the agent terminal (if present).

The trust database 170 and trust establishment service 150 (or 350) may be connected via a communications network that is a local area network (LAN), rather than over the Tnternet e.g. via communications network 155.

The agent terminal may in alternative embodiments of the invention include the agent computer.

The agent terminal may in alternative embodiments of the invention comprise an agent computer configured to place and receive telephone calls.

These telephone calls may be VoIP telephone calls made via a communications network and/or telephone calls made via fixed telephone lines.

One or more actions performed by the agent in any of the above embodiments may be automated by the agent terminal and/or agent computer.

Actions that require interaction with the called party such as collecting password information from the called party may be performed by an FVR unit included in the agent terminal and/or agent computer.

It is to be understood that any feature described in relation to any one embodiment may be used alone, or in combination with other features described, and may also be used in combination with one or more features of any other of the embodiments, or any combination of any other of the embodiments.

Furthermore, equivalents and modifications not described above may also be employed without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined in the accompanying claims.

Claims (26)

  1. Claims 1. A method for conducting at least part of a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, comprising: retrieving, on the basis of a user identifier associated with the called party, a stored token; transmitting the stored token to the called party during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party; and passing the telephone call on for further processing after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.
  2. 2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the stored token is a stored audio sample, and wherein transmitting the stored token comprises playing back the stored audio sample in-call to the called party in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party.
  3. 3. A method according to claim 1 or 2, wherein said stored token is uniquely associated with the user identifier.
  4. 4. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein said further processing of the service-provision telephone call comprises collecting password data from the called party.
  5. 5. A method according to any preceding claim, comprising, prior to the service-provision telephone call, receiving a token from a user via a registration user interface, and storing data corresponding to said received token as said stored token.
  6. 6. A method according to any of claims ito 4, and claim 5, wherein said registration user interface is a telephony user interface and said received token is received from the user as an in-call audio signal during a registration telephone call.
  7. 7. A method according to any of claims 1 to 4, and claim 5, wherein said registration user interface is a graphical user interface and said received token is received from the user as textual input.
  8. 8. A method according to any of claims 1 to 4, and claim 5, wherein said registration user interface is a graphical user interface and said received token is received from the user as an audio file.
  9. 9. A method according to any of claims i to 4, comprising, prior to the service-provision telephone call, receiving a user selection corresponding to a stored token from a user via a registration user interface, and storing said received user selection as data identifiying said stored token.
  10. 10. A method according to any preceding claim, comprising receiving the user identifier, to be used in association with said service-provision telephone call, at a first service node, transmitting the stored token from the first service node during the service-provision telephone call, and connecting said service-provision telephone call to a second service node after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.
  11. 11. A method according to claim 10, comprising initiating at least a leg of said service-provision telephone call using a call establishment procedure at said first service node in response to a request from the calling party.
  12. 12. A method according to claim 10 or 11, comprising establishing a second telephone call to the calling party, and bridging the second telephone call with the service-provision telephone call to place the calling party in contact with the called party after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.
  13. 13. A method according to claim 10 or 11, comprising transferring said service-provision telephone call to said second service node after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.
  14. 14. A method according to claim 10, comprising receiving said service-provision telephone call using a call transfer procedure at said first service node.
  15. 15. A method according to claim 10, comprising receiving a telephone call established from said second service node at said first service node, establishing a telephone call from said first service node to said called party in response to receipt of the telephone call from said second service node, and transmitting said stored token to said called party from said first service node.
  16. 16. A method according to claim 15, wherein said user identifier is transmitted in the received telephone call by way of Dual Tone Multiple Frequency (DTMF) signals.
  17. 17. A method according to any of claims 10 to 16, wherein said service-provision telephone call is connected from said first service node to said second service node via a Public Services Telephony Network (PSTN) link.
  18. 18. A method according to any of claims 1 to 9, comprising transmitting a user identifier in association with a request from a second service node to a first service node, receiving the stored token from the first service node in response to the request, and transmitting the stored token to the called party from the second service node.
  19. 19. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein the first service node is configured to communicate with a plurality of different service nodes, each of said different service nodes providing services from a respective one of each of a plurality of different service providers.
  20. 20. A method according to claim 19, wherein said stored token is retrieved on the basis of the user identifier associated with the called party and on the basis of a service provider identifier that differentiates said different service providers.
  21. 21. A method according to any preceding claim, comprising connecting said service-provision telephone call to an agent terminal selected from a plurality of agent terminals by use of an automatic call distributor after said stored token has been transmitted to said called party.
  22. 22. A method according to any preceding claim, wherein the service-provision telephone call is placed to a first telephone number associated with the called party, and wherein the user identifier is different to said first telephone number.
  23. 23. Apparatus adapted to perform the method of any preceding claim.
  24. 24. A trust establishment service for conducting at least part of a service provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, the trust establishment service comprising: means for receiving a user identifier from a second service node, means responsive to the receipt of the user identifier for accessing a first audio sample associated with the user identifier, means for transmitting the audio sample to the called party during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party, and means for passing the telephone call for further processing at the second service node after the first audio sample has been played back to the called party.
  25. 25. A method for conducting at least part of a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, comprising: initiating from a second service node the transmission of a stored token from a first service node to the called party during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party; and further processing the telephone call at the second service node after the stored token has been transmitted to the called party.
  26. 26. A method for conducting at least part of a service-provision telephone call from a calling party to a called party, comprising: associating a token with the called party, prior to the initiation of the telephone call; receiving at the called party the telephone call from a first service node; receiving at the called party the stored token during the telephone call in order to establish the called party's trust of the calling party; and further processing the telephone call at the called party after the stored token has been received.*::r: INTELLECTUAL . ... PROPERTY OFFICE Application No: GB 1010733.2 Examiner: Mr Jared Stokes Claims searched: ito 26 Date of search: 26 October 2010 Patents Act 1977: Search Report under Section 17 Documents considered to be relevant: Category Relevant Identity of document and passage or figure of particular relevance to claims X 25 EP0802661 A3 (Lucent) See column 5 line 45-column 6 line 3 X 25 US2009/0270073 Al (Ling et al.) See paragraphs 41-52 A -U52006/0034287 Al (Novack et al.) Categories: X Document indicating lack of novelty or inventive A Document indicating technological background and/or state step of the art.Y Document indicating lack of inventive step if P Document published on or after the declared priority date but combined with one or more other documents of before the filing date of this invention.same category.& Member of the same patent family E Patent document published on or after, but with priority date earlier than, the filing date of this application.Field of Search:Search of GB, EP. WO & US patent documents classified in the following areas of the UKCX Worldwide search of patent documents classified in the following areas of the IPC HO4M The following online and other databases have been used in the preparation of this search report EPODOC, WPI International Classification: Subclass Subgroup Valid From HO4M 0003/42 01/01/2006 HO4M 0001/66 01/01/2006 Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office www.ipo.gov.uk
GB1010733.2A 2010-06-25 2010-06-25 Method and apparatus for conducting a service provision call Active GB2481451B (en)

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GB1010733.2A GB2481451B (en) 2010-06-25 2010-06-25 Method and apparatus for conducting a service provision call
EP11733821.0A EP2586188A1 (en) 2010-06-25 2011-06-27 Method and apparatus for conducting a service provision call
PCT/EP2011/060753 WO2011161269A1 (en) 2010-06-25 2011-06-27 Method and apparatus for conducting a service provision call

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EP0802661A2 (en) * 1996-04-16 1997-10-22 Lucent Technologies Inc. Interactive call identification
US20060034287A1 (en) * 2004-07-30 2006-02-16 Sbc Knowledge Ventures, L.P. Voice over IP based biometric authentication
US20090270073A1 (en) * 2008-04-29 2009-10-29 Jin Ling Authenticating identity of caller

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US7644166B2 (en) * 2003-03-03 2010-01-05 Aol Llc Source audio identifiers for digital communications

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EP0802661A2 (en) * 1996-04-16 1997-10-22 Lucent Technologies Inc. Interactive call identification
US20060034287A1 (en) * 2004-07-30 2006-02-16 Sbc Knowledge Ventures, L.P. Voice over IP based biometric authentication
US20090270073A1 (en) * 2008-04-29 2009-10-29 Jin Ling Authenticating identity of caller

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EP2790394A1 (en) * 2013-04-12 2014-10-15 Unify GmbH & Co. KG Method and device for managing a repeat call to a call centre
US9438735B2 (en) 2013-04-12 2016-09-06 Unify Gmbh & Co. Kg Procedure and mechanism for managing a call to a call center

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GB201010733D0 (en) 2010-08-11
GB2481451B (en) 2017-08-02
EP2586188A1 (en) 2013-05-01

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