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

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.

Crunch Time is Coming

Crunch time is coming. You can prepare for it and sail through it, or you can let it overwhelm you and lose the respect of your clients. Some call centers handle crunch time poorly, no matter how far in advance it’s known. April 15 comes at the same time each year, after all. So does Christmas, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day weekend, Labour Day, the end of the year. Continue reading Crunch Time is Coming

Your Call Center MVP

Your MVP has been a topic of discussion in startups and small business for a few years now. The phrase usually means “minimum viable product” – the smallest set of features and functionality that can get you off the ground and have customers buying your product. There’s an MVP for your call center as well. Continue reading Your Call Center MVP

Decision 2015: Call Center in the Cloud?

In Decision 2015: On-Premise Call Center? we looked at some of the trade-offs with on-premise call center solutions. At one time on-premise was the only viable solution, but in the last few years the march to Cloud solutions has had the momentum. Continue reading Decision 2015: Call Center in the Cloud?

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. Continue reading Audio Files in the Call Center ACD

Influence of Asterisk on Cloud call center landscape

Cloud based managed service providers are rapidly growing. The most recent financial statements from inContact and Interactive Intelligence point to this trend. Most call center software vendors are making a concerted effort to move from selling hardware and software as a product to selling an on-demand service. This move is being thrust upon them by the rapid change in networking and infrastructure. But the biggest threat to their survival comes from technology companies that leverage Asterisk and other open source elements for the technology stack.

Continue reading Influence of Asterisk on Cloud call center landscape

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.

Continue reading Auto Provisioning VoIP Phones for Contact Center ACD

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. Continue reading Call Survival and Contact Center ACD

Warm Leads and Outbound Dialing in Today’s Environment

Outbound dialing in the call center has undergone a revolutionary change in the past decade.  In October of 2004, the Supreme Court of the United States allowed a ruling from a lower court to stand that enabled the FTC Do Not Call regulations.  The widespread registration of home phones, along with restrictions on dialing cellphones (and their increasing share of the number of phones outstanding), signaled a massive shift in the way outbound contact centers would operate.  Automatic or predictive dialing was not killed off then, but it has been in critical condition since. Continue reading Warm Leads and Outbound Dialing in Today’s Environment