Friday, October 24, 2014

Auto Provisioning VoIP Phones for Contact Center ACD

Unlike a standard telephone, voice over IP (VoIP) phones require special configurations to connect to the telephony server across your network. These settings can either be entered manually, or through a process called auto provisioning. Auto provisioning provides a central location for all the phone to access the configuration files necessary for them to register to your local telephony server, whether the server is on premise or in the cloud. This adds to ease of administration and reduces the overall cost of maintaining mission critical infrastructure for an Asterisk based call center.

Many popular phones come with auto provisioning capabilities, including many Polycom and Cisco models. When selecting which phones to use, it is best to choose from a reputable vendor and ensure all phones on your network are identical. This add simplicity to the auto provisioning process.

Auto provisioning VoIP phones works similarly to how the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) functions and even makes use of DHCP options. Each phone begins by contact a DHCP server to identify itself and receive the location of the provisioning server through option 66. The phone then contacts the provisioning server which provides a set of configuration files for the phone to use. These files contain everything from the bootrom necessary for the phone to operate to the graphic files that will be displayed on any visual interfaces attached to the phone.

Depending on the type of VoIP phones being used, provisioning is commonly done using the file transfer protocol (FTP) or the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP).

Configuring many VoIP phones manually is a time intensive process that can be prone to user error and often requires the attention of administrators. Having a central location to administer the configuration saves both time and money. From the perspective of the employee, they are simply handed a phone that will function no matter where they plugged into the network.

Additional benefits to administration come into play if the phones require a firmware update or change in basic functionality; which can be easily applied the next time the phone provisions itself.

Advanced Contact Center ACD products, such as Indosoft’s Q-Suite, includes features for auto provisioning many types of phone. The process is as simple as uploading the provisioning files to the server, configuring DHCP option 66, and assigning each phones MAC address to a specific employee or extension.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Building a Basic Inbound Contact Center ACD

Implementing an inbound contact center using Asterisk can be simple or difficult, depending on the needs of the center. This post is going to focus on creating a basic inbound campaign that will incorporate a direct inward dialing (DID) number, an IVR, and a few queues.

First, you will need to acquire your DID from a provider. The provider should also supply the inbound gateway or trunk, so that phone number gets routed properly to the ACD. Once you have obtained the DID, you can then assign it to your desired inbound campaign.

We are going to need an IVR now. Using the Q-Suite's visual dialplan builder, we can quickly and easily construct an elementary call flow. All we need is a type of menu component that plays an audio file outlining the available choices to the caller, which will redirect the caller into an appropriate queue based on their selection.

The queues that we create will be the end points of the IVR. Combined with skills-based routing, your inbound agents will receive the queued calls once they are or become available.

The complexity of your inbound contact center depends on many factors. It is very possible that an IVR could contain hundreds of components, multiple dialplan pages, and numerous queries to external sources. On the extreme end of the spectrum, sometimes all you need is a menu of options and a couple of queues to send callers to. If you have the means to keep it simple, keep it simple.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Call Survival and Contact Center ACD

The rapid pace of innovation in Voice over IP (VoIP) technology and telephony software has been a blessing to contact centers around the world and has spurred a surge in deployment. The advantages of fully featured applications and low costs have been offset by the possibilities of service interruptions. The US patented Q-Suite Call Survival feature allows deployment of Asterisk based contact center ACD in a mission-critical and high value environment.

Call Survival and the Overseer Watchdog have been introduced by Indosoft, allowing contact centers to continue production in the instance where a portion of a site's local or cloud based infrastructure may be compromised. Combined with database replication, multi-server ACD, and load balancing of SIP trunks via the HAASIPP product, the Call Survival feature allows center reliability to go hand in hand with scalability.

When the availability of your contact center ACD is of the utmost importance, call survival is a must-have feature.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Contact Center ACD and Call Recordings

Contact center ACD and call recordings go hand in hand. Call recordings are an invaluable tool for center operation. They can be relied upon for training purposes and they can be referred to for accuracy and completeness if any sort of customer dispute may arise.

Asterisk has built-in recording functionalities and is typically quite adequate for what most centers may need. However, Asterisk in no way, shape, or form is 100% guaranteed to capture any and all recordings. Certain factors may contribute to this, such as higher than expected call volume or extremely slow write speeds of the hard drives on the server. In these cases, where recordings are crucial, a separate third-party solution may be a viable option.

Indosoft's Q-Suite has accommodated this type of situation and has the built-in functionality to support OrecX out of the box. OrecX is an open source recording suite that is housed on a stand-alone server that listens and records all calls. With a separate recording device in place, it is possible to completely turn off Asterisk recording, which leaves all of the available server resources to handle taking and making calls.

Friday, September 26, 2014

VitalVox Chooses Q-Suite

As mentioned in a previous post, it has now been officially announced that the hosted provider VitalVox has chosen Indosoft's Q-Suite as its contact center software.

The press release detailing this newly formed partnership can be seen here.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Housing a Contact Center ACD on a Hosted Platform

As mentioned in a prior post about softphones, cutting the initial startup costs of a contact center can be a crucial step in getting your operation off the ground. While some may find it favourable to buy, maintain, and store their own server hardware in a nearby location or even on site, this might not always be possible due to the relatively enormous costs of purchasing and housing said hardware. This is where hosted platforms come into play.

A hosted platform, commonly referred to platform as a service, is a type of cloud computing service that provides the network, storage, and servers for the customer. The beginning costs of a hosted service are typically far less expensive than it would be to purchase all of the required hardware from a vendor. The hosted equipment is also maintained and monitored by the platform's experts, which will remove any overhead from your IT staff.

Indosoft's Q-Suite product has had great success in using hosted platforms. With this in mind, the hosted platform VitalVox has chosen Q-Suite as its contact center ACD. The dynamic monthly pricing model allows for expansion and reduction of desired services depending of the needs of your contact center. As the landscape of the contact center world can shift at any time, having the flexibility to increase or decrease your available resources on a monthly basis can be a huge benefit to the bottom line of your business.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Softphones for Contact Center ACD

In the ever-evolving realm of contact centers, minimizing startup and operating costs should be high on the list of items that a center should want to accomplish. There are numerous way to go about this, such as buying used office chairs instead of new ones, but if you are looking to cut costs without sacrificing functionality, using softphones instead of physical phones can be a good start.

Softphones are the functional equivalent of physical phones, but are typically lightweight applications that get installed on CSR workstations. Some of these are free, some of these are not. Since cutting costs is the main focus here, we will stick to three of the more popular free Windows versions, that work quite well with Indosoft's Q-Suite: Zoiper, 3CX, and X-Lite.

Each of these clients has its advantages and disadvantages over one and other. Zoiper consumes the smallest amount of available resources, but does not have the most eye-appealing interface. 3CX allows numerous accounts and is easy to use, but can have audio issues from time to time. X-Lite has the best looking application and is the most well-known, but is much heavier on workstation resources and can bog down less powerful desktops.

There will always be a place for physical VOIP phones, but in the rapidly changing environments of Asterisk-based ACD contact centers, there may be a desire to limit spending and space. Making the conscious decision to implement softphones is one way to help succeed in that goal.