Asterisk PBX in a small contact center?
January 19, 2007 9:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to create a high level overview of the possibility of using Asterisk in a small (30-50 seat) contact center. For the people who know Asterisk and know the needs of a basic call center, what level of custom programming should I expect?

My basic requirements:

- Call monitoring (digital recordings for later playback, as well as realtime)
- Skillset routing
- Realtime and historical statistical reporting
- Call push (not sure what the techical term for this is, it's when the agent hears a couple of beeps in their headset and is then presented the call)

I'm still doing a lot of reading on Asterisk and possibly adding these features somehow but would like to hear the hive mind's opinion. Thanks!
posted by saraswati to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
call monitoring is what's going to be the biggest deal, since it takes alot of IO. Make sure you don't skimp out on the server side, too many people see VOIP and buy the shittiest and cheapest components and wonder why the quality and performance is bad. Join and post your question there and read the archives. Lots of good * oriented info obviously, and you will find your answers.
posted by evilelvis at 6:13 AM on January 20, 2007

A lot of the features have been implemented by particular people already -- call centers is one of *'s big target. However, you'll likely need some beefy server hardware as evilelvis has already said, AND you'll probably need to get a consultant to come set it up -- echo is a serious problem still if you try to configure the full version of * yourself (although *@home has this mostly solved)...
posted by SpecialK at 7:38 AM on January 20, 2007

if you are doing PRI, get one of the new Sangoma or Digium cards with the hardware echo cancellation as well
posted by evilelvis at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2007

Call push is called "predictive dial(l)ing".

I'm a travelling roadshowconsultant who supports/installs the market leader in call center quality monitoring software. Basically, I do #2 and #4 in your list, with the focus on agent evaluation (and, recently, workforce optimization), and deal with all of it every single week.

I, personally, would not take on the workload you're considering without striking #2 and #4, unless you're planning on developing a turnkey, *-based system (in which case, I'd be interested in hearing more in private). If you want a solution that will be repeatable and require little maintenance, I suspect you'll be doing quite a bit of custom programming, especially once the suits catch wind of what the enterprise-level stuff can do. If all you want to do is PDS, call routing, and ACD, * should do just fine, especially in conjuntion with VOIP.

Oh yeah, go VOIP. Infinite flexibility, if a few more headaches, but it really is the future.

I can't speak to Asterisk specifically beyond my own research, but if you have any more questions, ask away.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 4:16 PM on January 20, 2007

Thanks everyone for your answers.

Predictive dialing is an outbound feature that estimates when agents will become idle and begins making the call in advance to connect to whoever's free. I'm talking about an inbound feature that rather than ringing the phone for the agent to answer, it simply notifies the agent that a call is coming (beep, beep) then automatically connects them without their interaction.

TheNewWazoo, incidentally I am one of the suits (a small startup), so if your roadshow comes to Canada I might have some work for you regarding #2 and #4 in a few months. Email's in profile if you're interested.
posted by saraswati at 6:58 PM on January 20, 2007

Oh, I see - the feature you're looking for, then, is auto-answer. Asterisk seems to rely on the phone supporting that feature, but larger PBXen like Avaya support configuration within the switch itself.

Things like ACD/queueing and skillset routing (more commonly referred to as skill groups or hunt groups) are part-and-parcel to PBX functionality. Cursory google searches seem to indicate that it's supported.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 7:47 AM on January 21, 2007

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