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Create a Virtual Call Center?

Posted on 2007-11-20
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Any recommendations of how to create a call center without buying lots of PBX equipment?  I know there are hosted VoIP services available that can help do this, and I am familiar with them, but what are some recommendations based on personal experience?  Are there any small office VoIP PBXes that can do what we need (below)?

The project is to have multiple tech consulting companies to share some resources.  Goals are:

-To rotate an emergency tech on call.  "Press 1 for emergency" can forward to the extension designated for that day, and then to an emergency voice mail box.
-Possibly to have extensions or mailboxes for techs who mostly work at home (each tech is at different site)
-Spell by name directory
-Advanced features a plus, find me/follow me, ACD, calling groups, etc. might be useful
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Question by:dempsedm
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grblades earned 500 total points
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I use Asterisk (http://www.asterisk.org) and you can get it with a web based configuration utility such as Trixbox (http://www.trixbox.org) or AsteriskNOW (http://www.asterisknow.org/).

> -To rotate an emergency tech on call.  "Press 1 for emergency" can forward to the extension designated for that day, and then to an emergency voice mail box.
Yes you can either program it with the days/weeks in advance or let someone switch between the number to be dialed for the person on call. If anyone does leave a voicemail you can even have a notification sent by email though a email-SMS gateway so the on call get a notification of a waiting voicemail.

> -Possibly to have extensions or mailboxes for techs who mostly work at home (each tech is at different site)
Its a standard feature

> -Spell by name directory
Standard

> -Advanced features a plus, find me/follow me, ACD, calling groups, etc. might be useful
follow me is implemented as an agent. Someone cal log in as an agent on any phone. Often however given the system is Voip many people just dial the desk phone and simultaneously dial the voip account at the same time. If the user is running the software voip client they get the call.
Calling groups are standard aswell.
I am not sure what ACD is.
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by:dempsedm
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Anyone else?  Packet 8?  Any other comments?
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by:grblades
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I have heard 3COM do some small office pbx equipment but I havent used them myself.
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by:Rick_at_ptscinti
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Well, you are asking a double edged question.....  A call center is not a simple thing, but you want a simple solution. ;-)

If you can provide a little more information then I might be able to provide some better suggestions.  Here's some information you need to gather.

How many simulateous calls
How many stations (physical telephones)
How many ACD users?
Are the ACD users local or teleworkers?

Equipment is nearly inevitable, and management of that equipment can be time intensive.  If your scale is small enough then you might be able to use an offsite vendor who provides the can handling and routing remotely and that would prevent you from having to deal with equipment issues.  i.e.  Log onto a website, signin, give the number you are located at, then calls will be "transfered" to that number as they come in.  This really wouldn't be an ACD, but it might get you by.

If you need more than 1 PRI to support your call volume I would get a professional hardware vendor involved.

Hope that helps
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by:dempsedm
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We are talking very small scale.  Like 5 or less people, at home offices.  I'm also talking relatively simple call routing.  For example, an on-call person that could answer phones for the day, and an emergency mailbox.  Would be nice to be able to forward calls back and forth, and maybe voice mail.  I've set up full-scale voip systems, and am familiar with how it works, but I was looking for general feedback on hosted voip PBX providers.  I saw some info about Packet 8, and was hoping to see if anyone has experience (in general) with these types of services, how well they work, and so on.
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by:dempsedm
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Will look into trixbox/asterisk.  Also looking at a solution from iptimize.
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