How to gather caller information before answering?

The ideal solution for call centres and multiple businesses on one phone system

Many call centers provide services for several companies at a time. Entrepreneurs often have several businesses on the same PBX. Crucial is that the person answering the phone needs to know for which company the call came in for, in order to answer the phone with the right company name and give callers the feel that they are calling a sole company. Some phone systems play a recording to let the callee know for which company the call came in for. However, I believe it is even better to display the name of the company together with the caller ID, as this saves the callee the time to listen to the recording.

Some time ago, I already posted how to archive this with AskoziaPBX. However, this scenario described was meant for small companies sharing the same phone system. The call flow editor helps you to archive this much easier and even allows you to collect more user details on the way. In the first step, we are going to add the name of the company the caller called to the caller ID. This way agents can answer the phone with the right company name.

To get started, create a new call flow and add the modules like shown on the screen shot below. You need to duplicate this call flow for every company you want to manipulate the caller ID for. In this example we are forwarding to a central call flow with a queue where all calls are handled centralized. This also has the advantage that agents only need to sign into one queue, even though they might be answering calls for multiple businesses.

set caller id with extension

For call flow A you need put the following line into the Command module:

for call flow B:

and so on.

After prepending the company name, all calls are forwarded to a second call flow with one queue (screen shot below). This keeps things easy to maintain. Of course you can also create an individual queue per company.

pbx welcome message

Now, that we know for what company the call came in for, we can enhance the caller ID. Wouldn’t it be nice to add the information we’ve collected from the customer on the way through the call flow and make them available to the agent too?

collect pre-call information

To add more information to the caller ID, we use the Command module again, this time with the following command:

Set(CALLERID(name)=${CALLERID(name)} more_Information)

It adds any string to the caller ID. You can do this at various points in the call flow.

This way you can already ask for things like the preferred language or a customer number and the agent already has access to all these things before even answering the call.

Have fun playing with this. 🙂

Askozia extends provisioning support for IP phones

AskoziaPBX 2.2.3 supports auto-configuration for Gigaset IP 310,410,700 and 900

gigaset ip 900 ip phone

In the upcoming 2.2.3 release, we’ve included Gigaset IP phone provisioning support. Gigaset is after Snom the second German IP phone manufacturer AskoziaPBX supports auto-configuration for. Gigaset is particularly targeting small and medium sized companies. With four new models, Gigaset is covering the whole range from basic (IP 310) to professional (IP 900). In addition to a very clean design, the phones have everything you expect from a 2013 IP phone.

As usual, the AskoziaPBX auto-configuration is covering the configuration of speed dial buttons including Busy Lamp Fields (BLF), centralized phone book, all function keys and of course, Message Waiting Indication (MWI).

Wallboard call queue monitor now customizable

Change important parameters directly on the board

The wallboard is a status web page provided for every ACD call queue within Askozia. In 2.2.3 we’ve enhanced the wallboard with a little toolbar at the bottom of the page. It allows you to change the font size, but also allows you to add and remove certain information from the wallboard. Addtionally, you now have control about the refresh time of the wallboard. This is particularly important if you have multiple wallboards or an embedded system with limited CPU power. Watch the video for more details.

Night switch with holiday calendar

Askozia phone system now includes automated calendar

A holiday calendar has been reoccurring on the feature request list for a long time. Thanks to Praktijkcoach from Belgium who sponsored the development, it now has become an exciting new feature of upcoming 2.2.3.

phone system calender

When you have used AskoziaPBX before, the configuration shouldn’t be a big mystery for you. The way the night switch worked before has not changed. You can still use it manually with a speed dial button on your IP phone or automated with the times of the week. As the “action” you can either upload an audio file or forward calls to a certain extension (e.g. a mobile phone).

ip phone system calender options

New is that the manual and automated night switch options now include holidays, if defined in the menu below. By clicking on the plus, you can add a new holiday. Enter a name and select start and end date and hit save.

configure ip phone system calender

The number of holidays is not limited. This might be especially important to you if you live in Japan or India. For those of you who don’t live there: Those are the countries with the highest number of holidays worldwide.

Automatic provider switching when all lines are busy

Extend provider feature in AskoziaPBX 2.2.3

Recently a lot of people were asking us to allow an automatic switch once all lines of a provider are in use. Or in other words, once all lines of provider A are busy, the phone system should switch to provider B, once all lines of B are busy switch to C etc. and of course all of this without the user noticing.

The most obvious solution would be to allow the same dial prefix (outgoing pattern) for multiple providers. However, this is not possible in AskoziaPBX for a good reason, as this leads to undefined behavior in Asterisk. In some cases one provider is used and sometimes without any clear reason the other. Most of you will agree that you usually have preferences which provider should be used first, which second on so on.

To provide a clean solution for this, we’ve extended the provider failover feature in software version 2.2.3. It’s now possible to select an alternative provider, when all lines of one provider are busy. The main difference is that you can also do that with the alternative provider and with its alternative provider and so on. Basically, you can built an nested list of providers which are used in the definded order. All alternative providers can either have their own outgoing pattern OR the option “no outgoing calls via this provider” (which is equal to no pattern at all) activated.

primary provider phone system

The failover feature is still available as a sub option within the new “extend provider” feature. Select “play tone” if you like to hear a tone signal before every call once you are not using the default/first provider anymore. When updating from 2.2.2 this option is automatically selected.

alternative provider settings phone system

Only one question remains. When will 2.2.3 be are available? We are currently testing the release candidates. If everything goes as expected, the release should within the next 10 days or so. I’ll be back in few days with another fresh new feature.