Four Simple Ways to Annoy Your Callers

Yesterday, the Indosoft blog posted an article on how to turn your call center ACD into a time machine. It listed ten things you can do to make sure time passes as easily as possible for your callers. When it was being written, I thought it was a comprehensive look at the biggest issues you can face when settting up your IVR.

Then I called my cell phone provider. Continue reading Four Simple Ways to Annoy Your Callers

Building A Scalable Contact Center ACD on Asterisk

When Asterisk came along, it was exactly the sort of thing many were looking for. Telephony had been the purview of the giants like Mitel and Nortel. If you wanted a telephone system, you had to pay a lot for a fixed set of functionality. Asterisk gave similar functionality on commodity hardware and much cheaper telephony hardware developed by Digium. Continue reading Building A Scalable Contact Center ACD on Asterisk

The Startup Call Center – Be Nimble, Be Quick

“Moving at the speed of business” is a cute slogan, but if you’re trying to get your venture off the ground quickly, that may be too slow. You’ve got dozens of things you’re trying to get going at the same time, and you can’t wait. Odds are you’re using the Cloud for a large part of your infrastructure. Your customer service line shouldn’t be any different.
Continue reading The Startup Call Center – Be Nimble, Be Quick

One Way to Stop Overloading Your Telephony Server

There is a subset of your staff doing most of the work. This is the well-known Pareto Principle, where 80% of results are achieved by 20% of causes. 20% of your employees are doing 80% of the work. 20% of your clients are responsible for 80% of your profits. Understanding how this works in your cloud-based call center can help you be more efficient. Having 20% of your telephony servers handling 80% of the calls can be a recipe for disaster.

You may have one number that comes in on one trunk, and use smart IVR routing to get calls to the right spot. That’s pretty common. Your SIP provider may only allow one IP to communicate with it. That’s also pretty common. If you just point it to the first of many telephony servers, though, that server is going to be doing a lot of work. One strategy is to have agents distributed across multiple servers to spread things out. Another is to have multiple trunks. None of these solutions is ideal for heavy usage cases. On commodity or Cloud hardware, you will reach the capacity of a server, and be stuck. It’s worse if you have occasional bursts of activity over one trunk or another.

Load balancing is very important under heavy call volumes. For telephony, this is usually accomplished by having a load-balancing SIP Proxy in front of your telephony servers. Handling the media (voice, usually) is the hard part of a Voice over IP (VoIP) call. Signalling is fairly lightweight. Telling the server a call is coming in, accepting it, saying “Yes, I’m still here” is really just some text being passed back and forth. Taking the audio, encoding it, breaking it into packets and sending it off, possibly recording it, is the hard part.

One interesting fact about most VoIP traffic, such as SIP, is the signalling and media can happen on different servers. In the case where only one server is allowed to connect to the provider, this almost always means the signalling. The media can, and often does, connect to a different server.

On inbound, a SIP proxy handles the easy part. It can also decide which of the available servers will take the next call, and arrange the details between your server and your service provider. This way, there’s not one single server in a multi-server call center that’s struggling with 80% of the call volume.

For outbound, the usual solution is to have your trunk proxied, and the outbound load distributed evenly. This usually means spreading your agents out so the outbound call volume doesn’t overwhelm the server. Again, your SIP proxy looks like the trunk provider to each of the servers using the proxy. The call gets dialed, then the media is processed as normal.

In either case, whether inbound or outbound, you can avoid having the Pareto Principle cause disruption. The better you do with call distribution, the fewer complaints you’ll have with call problems.

Thousands helping Millions, Helping Your Federated Call Center Deployment

Thousands of volunteer experts have worked on Asterisk since 1999. This has made it into a powerhouse platform for telephony that you can use in your own system. Today it is a proven technology used by millions of users. Call centers and major PBX users are abandoning their legacy proprietary telephone switches to get the benefits offered by this Open-Source system. Continue reading Thousands helping Millions, Helping Your Federated Call Center Deployment

Call Center Load Balancing with Kamailio

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) hasn’t officially been crowned king of call center technologies, but it has become ubiquitous. The wide availability of SIP service providers and the way Asterisk is pushing Open Source technologies into the call center has made it undeniable. Especially now with the widespread adoption of Cloud-based call center software and remote agents, SIP is cementing its importance. Continue reading Call Center Load Balancing with Kamailio

Maximizing Call Center Software Performance With Load Balancing

When adding capacity to an Asterisk-based ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) system, the desire is to increase the throughput of the system in a linear fashion.  Choosing call center software that allows the addition of servers to increase capacity is an essential step.  However, one must take certain steps to ensure that individual servers don’t become a choke point for performance.  This is where load balancing comes in. Continue reading Maximizing Call Center Software Performance With Load Balancing

Monthly Licensing Allows Flexibility on a Budget

When Indosoft first entered the telephony world, near the turn of the century, most of our deployments were small. Two-server predictive dialer or Do Not Call blockers ruled the day, and usually involved a lot of work to get integrated with the call center.  As a result, we had an inflexible pricing and payment policy, with the costs coming upfront.  Since those days, the IT and telephony world have undergone a dramatic change, as has our product line.  Over the last year Indosoft has experimented with monthly per-port pricing.  This option has been a hit with our clients, and is more frequently expected by new clients.  The widespread acceptance of on-demand pricing for hardware has led a push for on-demand pricing in other categories, and the software that runs on those servers is an ideal candidate. Continue reading Monthly Licensing Allows Flexibility on a Budget

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

Setting up Managed Hosted Contact Center Service

The expansion and evolution of managed hosted data services and SIP trunking has contributed to the growth of call center as a service. Businesses want to avoid capital investment in purchasing technology platforms to run their call center software. The cost of managing such sophisticated infrastructure is not cheap. The new generation telecom providers who provide SIP trunks and internet services are eagerly capitalizing on this opportunity to offer ACD and Dialer solutions to expand into call center services. The hosted data center providers also see this as a chance to expand into a new service area and offer contact centers on demand.

Continue reading Setting up Managed Hosted Contact Center Service