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Poor Man's ACD

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Objective: Use the existing capabilities of the 3Com NBX system to emulate Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)

Background: Dealer Members telecomworx and Commander Australia Limited contributed to this application.

Other: this application serves as a backup to the 3Com NBX Call Center

Using an Automated Attendant to route Calls to a small Call Center emulating Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) in the 3Com NBX system will provide the following Features:

  • Agent Login / Agent Logout
  • Management Reporting
  • Primary Delay Announcement
  • Stroke Count
  • System Wide Music/Message On Hold
  • Time of Day Routing
  • Virtual Queue
  • Visual Call Manager - Poor Man's Style

The company call center in this example will consist of three ACD Groups: Customer Service, Sales, and Technical Support. The company uses an Automated Attendant 505 to answer all incoming callers. This solution will work with PRI and T1 using PreTranslators in the Dial Plan.

In NetSet, select 505 and then click on Menu Tree. Select the option Single Digit Transfer for Buttons 3, 4, and 5. The value for Button 3 is 506, Button 4 is 507, and Button 5 is 508. The Prompt for 505 will be recorded with the message "Thank you for calling xyz company. For Customer Service press 3, For Sales press 4, For Technical Support press 5.

Note in this example that Buttons 1 and 2 are "Reserved in Dial Plan." We are using internal extensions 100 through 299 and this allows callers to dial by extension. Also note that Button 9 is defined as dial by name (name directory), Button 0 is defined as Single Digit Transfer to extension 100 (Operator/Receptionist), Button # is defined as system disconnect, and Button * is defined as Tansfer to Voice Mail which allows users to access their voice mail boxes remotely. The T/O setting is "Time Out" when callers do not press a button after hearing the recording for two times, they will Transfer to extension 100 (Operator/Receptionist).

You will need to create three additional Automated Attendants- 506, 507, and 508. Name them as Customer Service (506), Sales (507) and Technical Support (508). DO NOT record Prompts for each of these three Automated Attendants. Next, Disable ALL the Dial Options for ALL Buttons except 0 and T/O. Set the 0 Button for all three Automated Attendants as Single Digit Transfer to 505. This will allow callers to transfer back to the Main Automated Attendant if they end up in the wrong ACD Group. Next, set the T/O (Time Out) for transfer for each new Automated Attendant (506, 507, and 508) to a new HUNT GROUP. The Hunt Group assignments are Customer Service (450), Sales (451), and Technical Support (452).

Now, only record the TD Greeting (Time of Day) for each of the the three Automated Attendants- 506 (Customer Service), 507 (Sales) and 508 (Technical Support) which act as the [Primary Delay Announcements]--

(initial pause) "Thank you for calling XYZ Customer Service. If you are wish to return to the Main Greeting (505), please press 0 now. (pause) Your call will be handled in the order in which it was received. Please do not hang up." [TD Greeting (Time of Day) 506] (ending pause)

(initial pause) "Thank you for calling XYZ Sales. If you are wish to return to the Main Greeting (505), please press 0 now. (pause) Your call will be handled in the order in which it was received. Please do not hang up." [TD Greeting (Time of Day) 507] (ending pause)

(initial pause) "Thank you for calling XYZ Technical Support. If you are wish to return to the Main Greeting (505), please press 0 now. (pause) Your call will be handled in the order in which it was received. Please do not hang up." [TD Greeting (Time of Day) 508] (ending pause)

DO NOT define the PROMPTS or RECORD the PROMPTS for 506, 507 and 508.

Also note: when recording the TD Greetings, keep them short and concise. Before recording dialogue, you may want to record 20-30 seconds of silence before you begin with dialogue. (initial pause) This creates an effect of being in a queue. Before stating "Your call will be handled in order in which it was received. Please do not hang up." allow two or three seconds of silence (pause) simply by staying on-line and not saying anything. The Automated Attendants 506, 507, and 508 are used to timeout to a Virtual Queue. You may also want to end the recordings with 10-20 seconds of silences. (ending pause) This is for effect.

Define the HUNT GROUPs for Customer Service (450), Sales (451) and Technical Support (452) as a CIRCULAR Hunt Groups and disable LOGOUT IF NO ANSWER. Set the TOTAL TIMEOUT for 999 seconds and the PER DEVICE TIMEOUT for 12 seconds. Set CALL COVERAGE for PHONE NUMBER and enter in the Hunt Group Number of each Hunt Group that you just created, for example- Customer Service CALL COVERAGE is PHONE NUMBER 450 and Technical Support CALL COVERAGE is PHONE NUMBER 452. Assign the Feature Mapping to the Hunt Groups. Now, assign the members to each Hunt Group but DO NOT lock them in. Then, assign a Hunt Group Log In/Log Out button to the Agent phones for members (agents) of all three ACD groups. [Agent Login / Agent Logout]

Now, ensure that Music On Hold and Music On Transfer is CHECKED in System Configuration / System Wide settings, so callers do not hear continuous ringing. [System Wide Music/Message On Hold] You may need to adjust the Total Timeout Value higher or lower in each Hunt Group. DO NOT add any other APX Automated Attendants to this configuration. If you do, the callers will route out of this "Virtual Queue" they will lose their priority in the queue. New callers arriving can bump existing callers since this queue is a Virtual Queue and not a real ACD Queue. Use generic Message-on-hold mixed with Music for the Music-on-hold device to add more flavor to the system.

Time of Day Routing is accomplished by setting the AutoExt for Lines or PRI/TI channels to different Automated Attendants for different times of the day established in NetSet in System Configuration / Business Hours. The Dial Plan can also be modified to accommodate Time of Day Routing by using Timed Routes.

Another option is to use a Music/Message-on-Hold system and not use any APX Automated Attendants. Have callers ring directly to the Hunt Group in the Line or Channel AutoExt settings. Be sure to activate Music on Hold and Music on Transfer in the System Configuration so callers do not hear constant ringing which will annoy them. Be sure to use a good Music and Message on Hold digital player to ensure continuous operation.

Stroke Count

Help Desk personnel like to keep track of call types that they answer and resolve. A feature in the NBX is Account Code. Account Code is not forced and can be entered anytime during the call. Setting up a list of codes for a Help Desk can help Technical Support staff. For example, decide upon a coding scheme to track your Help Desk calls routed to the Technical Support ACD Group (452) as shown in the example below:

1100Software BUG
1200Documentation Problem
1300Network Problem
1400Installation Problem
1500PC Problem
1600User Error

The Feature [Stroke Count] is used by mapping the Account Code to a button on the NBX telephone. During the call, the NBX Technical Support agent depresses Account Code then enters in the code 1200 to indicate the caller had a problem with 'documentation.' You can create, develop, and change numerous account code schemes as needed. Then the power of the NBX CDR application will help you document and sort the call records. Wouldn't it be nice to know (for example) that 70 percent of the Help Desk calls in May, could have been avoided with proper documentation of a new software release?

Companies that run Help Desks know or should know what it costs to operate the Call Center and by call types. When Help Desk calls for a certain area show a substantial cost, then you can use this knowledge to improve your product or service which will lower their costs for the Help Desk and improve customer satisfaction. NBX CDR [Management Reporting] is an excellent tool that every Dealer and NBX User needs to be familiar with to leverage these benefits.

Visual Call Manager - Poor Man's Style

Call Center managers and supervisors that are not open 24x7 need to know how many calls are in queue to predict how many people are needed to empty out the Virtual Queue. Using the former Adjunct or now named Attendant Console (3C10123/3C10124) to map analog lines and NBX telephones will assist managers and supervisors in determining which lines are busy and who is using the telephone. It's a good visual tool. Please note that you cannot map PRI/T1 channels to the Attendant Console. You can access NetSet and under Device Configuration / Digital Line Cards, select ISDN PRI or T1 channel list and then click apply to take a snapshot of channels in use. Using your browser, you can click on REFRESH to renew the data. Please note that in most releases you may not capture the true status of the channels. This is a Poor Man's tool.