Friday, December 19, 2014

Using Dispositions to Further Elevate the Effectiveness of Your Call Center ACD

Dispositions in the contact center ACD can accomplish two things:
  1. They can describe the reason that the call ended, like Renewed Internet Service or Cancelled Landline.
  2. They signify to the system itself that the agent has completed their work on the call and is ready to accept a new call.
In the case of the first reason, it is important for the administrators of the center to configure and customize their dispositions to meet the needs of their particular campaigns. The Q-Suite has some standard out-of-the-box dispositions, but these serve mainly as examples. For instance, the disposition No Answer could definitely be used, but it is entirely possible that a certain campaign may have different types and classifications for non-answered calls, and therefore new dispositions should be created and based off of the parameters of the No Answer.

Call reporting is a crucial aspect of any contact center. Taking advantage of the ability to create and customize the reasons as to why your agents have ended their calls is paramount to generating accurate reports for internal use and can help supervisors and managers track the performance of their teams.

The second reason mainly refers to the backend of the multi-tenant ACD. Without getting too much into the gritty details, when agents disposition their calls, the system registers the events and processes the necessary operations in order to get the agents back into a state where they may receive the next call.

The bottom line is that using well-named and well-configured dispositions can aid in the efficiency of your center.

Switching gears a bit here, but it is quite possible that this may be the last pre-Christmas post here, so here's a very traditional carol to close out the week. Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blog Roundup

Here's a few blog posts that might have interest to readers:

Christmas is just a touch over a week away. Here's one of my favourite non-traditional Christmas songs. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Agent States in the Call Center ACD

Keeping track of agent states in the Asterisk call center ACD can be vital to ensure that the center operates in an optimal fashion. States can be monitored for calling purposes, as well as being used to leverage non-calling states in regards to such things like payroll and agent improvement.

The Q-Suite has a number of system defined agent states. Some are calling related, like Talking, On Hold, and Waiting for Call. Some are specific to non-calling operations, like Break and Lunch. While these are great to have out of the box, it's incredibly beneficial for a center administrator to create custom states that will more accurately reflect the day-to-day workflow for the agents. For example, let's say that every Wednesday an agent has a coaching session. A custom state can be created for this particular activity that keeps the agent logged in to the agent portal and the system can track the time spent in this state.

The custom states that can be configured can be flagged to logout the agent if desired. These types of states can be useful if there's a business rule that may specify that agents should not be logged into the portal unless they are prepared to be calling. They are also handy for accurately controlling the amount of time that the agents are logged in to the system and for validating why the agents are logging out.

Consistent, accurate agent tracking is crucial to maintaining the efficiency of the call center. Creating and customizing the different agent interactions within the system is a ideal way to keep tabs on the workflow and to ensure that the center is operating as smoothly as possible.

On a completely unrelated note, December 25th is approaching, so here's a bit of holiday cheer. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Audio Files in the Call Center ACD

Audio plays an integral part in our lives. It can be a vessel for communication and a source of entertainment, among other things. In a call center ACD, audio is a vital portion of a center's configuration.

Effective use of audio can make the everyday operation of your center more streamlined and pleasant for all parties involved. Let's outline some ways that audio can be leveraged, specifically in Q-Suite:

  • Music on Hold (MoH) - Any Asterisk based contact center will mostly likely need to rely on music on hold at some level. There is a default set of music on hold files, but perhaps those files do not suit the nature of the center and may need to be changed. By uploading customized audio files and flagging these files as MoH files, administrators can create dynamic MoH classes, which can then be assigned to inbound queues that are reached via an IVR.
  • Queue Periodic Messages - While callers are waiting in a queue, you may want to notify them that there is a new promotion on your website or that they can direct themselves to the site's FAQ section. These particular audio files can be recorded and then uploaded in the same fashion as the MoH files. The messages can then be configured, for the relevant inbound queues, to play after a defined set of time that the caller is waiting in the queue.
  • Dialplan Menu - Dialplan menus are the components that instruct the callers to press certain numbers to be routed to desired destinations. Having a clear and concise set of options here can be very important. A caller does not want to be confused by your options, so ensure that the menu audio is well recorded. The menu audio is uploaded in the same manner.
  • Agent Notifications on Incoming Calls - It is a very common scenario that many or all of the agents working in the contact center software are skilled for multiple inbound queues. For these instances, it can be handy to play a quick audio prompt to the agent to let them know which queue the incoming call belongs to. This is a clever way of giving the agent a bit of a heads up regarding the new call.
Whether it is from a car stereo, record player, or cell phone, audio files are used everyday by millions of people. They represent a tried and true medium to get messages across, and the audio files in your call center should be no exception. Use them effectively.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Inbound Campaign Scheduling in the Call Center ACD

Configuring an inbound IVR that takes advantage of queues and skills-based routing is a great building block in your call center ACD for Asterisk. Even though the flexibility of the Q-Suite's dialplan builder is high, you may encounter situations where a single IVR just may not handle all of your desired scenarios. Campaign scheduling can help you solve these issues.

Campaign scheduling allows the administrator to set up rules based on time of day, day of week, or even specific days if necessary. The most common use case for scheduling is splitting your inbound campaign between business hours and after hours. In this case, a proper IVR would be built to handle the call routing during the day and a basic IVR would take care of the after hours calls. A standard after hours IVR would contain an audio file that would state that it is indeed after hours, would outline the regular business hours, and could then prompt the caller to leave a voicemail.

Schedules can be used to handle specific days as well. If your operation is fully closed for a certain day, like December 25th, you could configure the campaign schedule to use a one-time IVR that will let the caller know that it is Christmas Day and the center is closed. This would be fairly similar to the after hours IVR described above, and would be incredibly easy to create.

Setting proper schedules when configuring your inbound campaigns for your call center ACD can be an important step in ensuring that your inbound callers are handled in the proper fashion in the cases where it may be off hours or a day that the center is officially closed.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Live Data Collection in the Call Center ACD

The ability to collect data during the client-CSR interaction in the call center ACD is a very powerful feature. This data can be used for quality assurance purposes, can be leveraged in reports to track call progress, and can be used to help confirm or deny any disputed responses. In Indosoft's Q-Suite, this data can be gathered using custom fields.

Custom fields can be of the following types:
  • Textual
  • Numeric
  • Checkbox 
  • List of Values (ie. dropdown)
  • Textarea
  • Date
  • Calendar
When any and all desired custom fields have been created and configured, they can be incorporated into the agent scripts via the script builder. These fields will typically be presented to the agents as questions to ask the caller. The agents then enter the appropriate responses into the fields, which will get stored and related to the caller's history.

Capturing accurate and relevant information during the duration of a call in an Asterisk based call center is paramount to maintaining confidence with your customers. Happy customers are loyal customers and ensuring that their data is properly handled will solidify a long-lasting relationship.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Connecting Agents to the Call Center ACD

When using an Asterisk based ACD product, agents will require a registered device to interact with the call center software in order to properly take and make calls. This post will outline some of the options available to use in the Q-Suite.

Softphones are lightweight applications that run on the agent's local workstation. These are found in free varieties, but there are also paid for versions. The softphone account is configured to match an extension that can be created in the administration portion of the contact center software.

VoIP hardphones are also viable options. Still very common in the call center landscape, these phones can be configured in a few ways, assuming they are reachable on the internal network of the center. Some models have easy to use web interfaces, whereas some rely on some form of auto-provisioning.

External devices, such as a mobile phones or hardphones that are not reachable internally, can be used. These types of devices simply require the phone number of the device and a valid VoIP gateway that allows for the numbers to be dialed externally. This flexibility allows for agents to work from home, or even be on the move using their mobile phones.

The days of agents using physical hardware as their only method of communication in a call center are long gone.