Asterisk in Federated Contact Center Deployments

Asterisk, from its humble beginning in 1999, has evolved into a strong telephony platform, due to the contribution from thousands of volunteer software and telecommunication experts worldwide. Today, Asterisk is a proven, open source, next-generation telephone switch, that has been tested and implemented by millions of users. It has been successfully used to migrate out of thousands of legacy proprietary telephone switches. Continue reading Asterisk in Federated Contact Center Deployments

Integrating Chat, Email and Twitter into ACD with Skills based Routing

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) has evolved to provide an efficient mechanism for routing and distributing incoming phone calls to the right agent in a timely manner and increase the productivity of the contact center. A sophisticated Call Center ACD offers Skills based Routing where calls are routed into separate queues based on the number dialed by the caller or the options selected through an IVR interaction after the call lands in the phone system.

Continue reading Integrating Chat, Email and Twitter into ACD with Skills based Routing

Visual IVR Builder for Q-Suite ACD

A Visual IVR Builder is an essential part of any call center ACD. The Visual Dialplan Builder within Q-Suite 5.7 allows the user to create and rapidly deploy multi-level interactive voice response (IVR) applications at ease. It is a visual call flow builder with icons to provide a graphical flow of the call. The sophisticated IVR and call distribution functions within the Builder allows vertical and horizontal call-flow development with the ability to transfer control to different pages with the IVR. It also offers revision management. Continue reading Visual IVR Builder for Q-Suite ACD

Visual Tool for Building Multi-level IVRs in Asterisk-based Contact Centers

Every manufacturer has its own unique mechanism to handle human and outside interactions with the telephone switch. In most legacy systems the options are limited, restrictive and cumbersome. The advent of Asterisk changed all this with its “Dialplan”.  It is tool and mechanism within Asterisk with a command language that unleashes unbelievable power and flexibility. Every Dialplan created is a set of instructions to handle inbound calls and outbound dials that come in and go out of this incredible next generation phone switch. Continue reading Visual Tool for Building Multi-level IVRs in Asterisk-based Contact Centers

Visual Tool for Building Sophisticated IVR

In an inbound contact center, calls coming into every DID (or DDI as it is referred in Europe) will typically flow through an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) into the ACD for call routing and distribution. A visual tool greatly simplifies the task of building this IVR especially if it is a sophisticated multi-level IVR.

Asterisk, the a game changing hybrid PBX, comes with a customizable Diaplan that allows control over all facets of inbound and outbound calling. Dialplan, an important functional component within Asterisk, offers an internal mechanism and tool  to introduce, modify and control call-flow through it rich syntax.

Call center solutions for Asterisk will require a full-function ACD to provide essential features like skills based routing, queue prioritization, queue callback, supervisor dashboards, real-time and historical reporting. Larger contact center ACD additionally scale to multiple Asterisk servers in a cluster to handle the maximum concurrent call volume. In this call-flow, the calls will go through an IVR to flow into the different queues of the ACD for skills based routing.

Q-Suite offers a  visual tool for the customers to develop effective and powerful Interactive Voice Response systems. Its Visual Diaplan Builder comes with a large library of functions within an intuitive GUI tool to build call-flows for effective call handling and distribution. This includes the functionality available from the Asterisk Dialaplan as well as the rich call distribution functionality of the ACD. It can be further enhanced with libraries for TTS (Text to Speech) and ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition).

Web Callback within Multi-Channel ACD

Company web-sites provide a unique opportunity to gather expression of interest or inquiries and channel it directly to the sales and marketing operations. This is an excellent source for warm prospects and should be accorded higher priority than the outbound campaign sales operations. In a multi-channel contact center with ACD and Dialer, Web callbacks are unique. Even though they will result in outbound calls, they can be prioritized and channeled through both list based based dialing as well as Skills based Routing to the most appropriated available agent for an immediate callback.

Continue reading Web Callback within Multi-Channel ACD

Chat management through ACD Skills Based Routing

Chat as a communication means is not as synchronous as a voice call. The responsiveness of an individual wanting to engage in a chat cannot be controlled. This introduces challenges in efficiency of operation while integrating Chat into the distribution scheme of a Contact Center ACD. In a multi-channel environment within the contact center, Chat can be treated on par with telephone inquiries. This makes Chat an equally expensive channel to man and run in comparison to web self-service options.

Continue reading Chat management through ACD Skills Based Routing

SIP Proxy with Load Balancing for Contact Centers deploying Asterisk Clusters

 

In larger installations with high concurrent call volume, the contact center ACD manages and controls multiple Asterisk servers in a cluster. Since call volume at any given instant can exceed the capacity of a single Asterisk server, a SIP proxy will serve to distribute calls evenly with load balancing.  The ACD maintains the sequence and order of calls coming to the individual queues, irrespective of the Asterisk servers into which the calls come in. It will route and distribute calls to the available agents based on skills based routing, irrespective of where their phones are registered to. Sophisticated call center solutions offer greater flexibility allowing agents to use any external phone like home land-line phone or a mobile phone or a phone behind another PBX. This is ideal for remote and work-at-home options.

Continue reading SIP Proxy with Load Balancing for Contact Centers deploying Asterisk Clusters

Contact Center ACD for managing Asterisk Clusters

High concurrent call volume in large call centers can easily exceed the capacity of a single Asterisk server. The upper limit on the call processing capability of Asterisk is influenced by many factors including “codec” conversions and enabling call recording. For very large call volume, the contact center ACD will require multiple Asterisk servers setup in a cluster to handle the maximum concurrent calls. There are a two important considerations for a clustered Asterisk setup.

Continue reading Contact Center ACD for managing Asterisk Clusters

High Availability with Load Balancing for contact centers using Asterisk

Contact center software is immensely complex for a variety of reasons. The functionality required for efficient operation of modern call centers is immense. The software system needs to be convergent, capable of handling voice and data, while allowing the operators of contact centers to take advantage of the all the information available within the system. In the last decade, technology evolution and economic forces have continually pushed the cost per seat down, while features and functionality have expanded tremendously. Managed and hosted contact center services are slowly becoming mainstream because they offer just in time contact centers with very little up-front capital cost investment. Managed Hosted services also does away with the need to keep expensive in-house dedicated IT resources.

Asterisk, the leading open source hybrid telephony platform has played a central role in all this. Using commodity hardware, Asterisk does all the DSP (Digital Signal Processing) within the motherboard reducing the dependence on expensive add-on hardware. Of course, this and the commodity hardware imposes an upper limit on the total number of concurrent calls that an individual Asterisk server can handle. The ability to cluster Asterisk and scale to handle larger volume of concurrent calls is a necessity when deploying Asterisk for large contact center solutions.

Call center software has an ACD which provides the call flow, Skills based Routing, Queues and call distribution. It also offers the ability to provide IVR interactions with TTS and ASR during the call-flow. Contact center software uses the telephone switch (PBX) as the media server for voice. As one of the most powerful media servers for voice, Asterisk can be leveraged to provide extraordinary amount of features for a contact center. For larger contact center setup, the ACD should be able to scale and cluster multiple Asterisk servers seamlessly.

Once a call center ACD is capable of handling multiple Asterisk servers in a cluster, it requires a mechanism to bring large call volumes (that exceed the capacity of individual Asterisk servers) into the ACD and still retain the ability to maintain the sequence and order of calls coming to the individual queues. Here, the calls may arrive into any of the Asterisk servers in the cluster. A simple round robin load balancing, will distribute the calls evenly among the servers in the Asterisk cluster. Q-Suite, Indosoft’s call center software has a High availability SIP proxy which also provides load balancing to distribute calls to the Asterisk cluster. The call center ACD within Q-Suite controls the switching of calls through the manager interface of Asterisk. The ACD controls the order of calls as they come in, irrespective of the Asterisk server in the cluster to provide Skills based routing and call distribution as per queues.

Continue reading High Availability with Load Balancing for contact centers using Asterisk