Simple Windows Desktop Client for FreePBX Queues

tony722

Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
30
Likes
0
Points
0
#1
I'm in charge of technology for a small non-profit organization that reaches out to youth. We have around 10 extensions and are getting started with running Elastix 1.6.

Having a queue for incoming calls seems like a great idea since at any given moment only 2 or 3 people can be answering calls, and having them stack up for a few minutes seems ideal if someone is dealing with someone in person, or is busy and can't answer the phone that second.

However I'm finding it difficult to imagine I can train people to log into and out of the incoming queue(s) every day--I'd like something more foolproof, like something that runs on their (Windows 7 / XP) desktops and when the computer is on and they're logged in, they are also considered available to answer the phones, and when everyone is gone for the day (hours are not always regular) the queue will be able to see that no agents are available and calls can go straight to voicemail.

Seems simple enough, but after spending two or three hours on Google, I'm having trouble finding an app like that (maybe I don't know the right jargon to search for).

I don't need much more than something that will automatically log someone in as a dynamic agent to the simple FreePBX queue system, and log them out again when the app exits.

Anyone know of an app like that?

If not, is there an API that is documented that I could use to write an app like that in .net or something?

Thanks!!

Tony
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#2
I suggest that if you can't train them , then why not annoy them, use static agents, ring all, skip busy agents, timeout to your voicemail of choice and send it through a time group/condition first. If you have a responsible adult there then use an associated day/night condition on the time condition. After a while the peer pressure will let the "agents" know that they should put their phones on DND before they leave, use human engineering, it's easier and usually way more effective, believe me, they will eventually train themselves.
 

tony722

Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
30
Likes
0
Points
0
#3
Yeah, I understand what you're saying, and appreciate the thoughts.

However the phone system here isn't a big deal (it's replacing a Panasonic KSU). I'm not sure we'll generate enough peer pressure to make it work, and more likely rather than getting them to learn the system, the queue idea will die. :-( And that would be sad.

I'm trying to make the system more efficient for our overworked staff here.

That's why I like the more or less fool-proof idea of having a client software do this. Is there documentation somewhere--anywhere--on how to do something like this over TCP/IP if I wanted to write a very simple custom app?

Or is there a desktop client out there?
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#4
I disagree, when those poor buggers are hearing all the other phones ringing and not being answered, they WILL make it happen, everyone wants less stress and less noise, no?

(Please don't over-engineer, you will regret it, been there and done that already :) )
 

tony722

Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
30
Likes
0
Points
0
#5
My goal is to make the phone system less intrusive and interruptive for our wonderful staff!

Some days staff are in until 9pm and other days, they're all gone at 1pm. Perhaps my biggest concern is that they'll leave without signing out of the queue, and callers will be needlessly spun on hold instead of going straight to voicemail.

This seems so simple and obvious. Is it really over-engineering?

Thanks!

Tony
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#6

tony722

Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
30
Likes
0
Points
0
#7
Those links are great!! Thanks so much. I'm pondering the sign by the door too.... :unsure:
 

trymes

Joined
Aug 19, 2009
Messages
228
Likes
0
Points
0
#8
Tony,

The best solution here is to program a speed-dial button on their handsets and make it point to the "toggle" for the queue. It's as easy as it gets. Press the button once, you're logged in. Press is again, you're logged out.

BTW, Dicko is 100% spot-on here. You are describing a management problem, not a user problem, and not a problem that can be resolved with a technological solution. If you can't get them to press the speed-dial button on their phone, what makes you think that they will press the "log out" button on your custom developed application? They're the same thing presented differently.

Thousands upon thousands of companies and organizations are doing the same thing that you are. Why are your users different?

Tom

PS: You might look into a queue management program like QueueMetrics, that lets management see who is logged in, who is answering the call and helping people, who always ignores the ringing phone, and who never remembers to log out at night. It will even let you display a realtime panel byt the door so that people can see that they haven't logged out when they leave...
 

tony722

Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
30
Likes
0
Points
0
#9
Obviously I'm a Newbie to this, so I don't have all you guy's experience. Thanks for the input.

It just felt dead obvious to me (having no experience with these things) that my users are already logging into their computers every day, and logging off (as they turn them off) every night--why duplicate the logging effort logging in and out of the phone system too?

My idea was a behind-the-scenes app that just runs when their desktop logs in, and without any fuss or questions logs them into Asterisk automatically, and then logs them out automatically at the end of the day--without them even having to think about it or click on anything.

Obviously if our primary business purpose was something like a call center, we'd have no difficulty training employees to log in and out and firing those who don't--because that's their job. But in our case, the phones get in the way, and the queue is a way to stave off the callers so we can finish the task at hand before answering the bloody phone.

I would guess that very few companies who use queues are using them in the very small way we would be--and no doubt using a queue at all is overkill!! We are not a call center by any stretch of the imagination. But dreaming big is what gets you places (and into messes when it's IT).

Thanks again for the input. I'm seeing a trend in these answers and I'm considering all you've said!
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#10
Then as a fellow minimalist, I would suggest you get rid of the bloody phones that you find so intrusive :) (surely telephones are intrusive by simple definition, if they weren't they would not work very well would they? )

So just install a decent soft-phone (usb warm-phone if that concept is too alien for your employees) on your un-fired employees machines, have it start up on login, when they log off, the phone will de-register. no login/out needed.

again, whilst I suggest you don't over-engineer, you can easily write scripts that will do the same for a hard-phone that you can easily synchronize to your users machine login/logout.

dicko
 

tony722

Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
30
Likes
0
Points
0
#11
Killer idea! (What decent soft-phone do you recommend that does G.729 and BLF?)

Incidentally, by intrusive, I meant "things that intrude when you're trying to get something else done", not "things that ring loud enough to be noticed". ;-)

Thanks again--I really appreciate the advice coming from experience.
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#12
You will have to pay for g729 (these guys can't afford to steal) but really you don't technically need it, use g711 on your LAN for best quality, let the server transcode as necessary, but 20 or 30 buck each will get you a very usable device from CounterPath, BLF probably not, but lets be honest, you have a few people in one office, use human communication perhaps?, but another 40 bucks will get you FOP2, with that everybody can get to see everyone else's knickers.

To cut down on intrusions, when you don't want top be disturbed, there is luckily a DND button on many phones :)
 

tony722

Joined
Sep 23, 2010
Messages
30
Likes
0
Points
0
#13
Yeah. But in spite of our small staff size, we have people on multiple floors in 3 different buildings, so BLF is very helpful.

Are there no soft phones with BLF that works? (I don't mind paying a reasonable amount) I'll look at FOP2 too.

Thanks again. :)
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#14
Consider FOP2 as a big BLF that can control your soft-phone, and the calls it is involved in.
 

danardf

Joined
Dec 3, 2007
Messages
8,069
Likes
10
Points
88
#15
Hi Dicko, hi everybody

I don't know how many FOP session you could use in same time?
XLite can use the BLF function, but it's not enough practical than FOP of course.
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#16
Hello Franck.

How many BLF's opn an Xlite?

FOP2?, me neither :) as many as the box can handle, (actually FOP2 is way lighter than FOP when it comes to that), I try and encourage it's use by only the receptionist type user, truthfully most find it to be way too much for a human brain, so after the novelty wears off, it's use tends to decline to a "not a problem" level, even on the smaller systems.
 

danardf

Joined
Dec 3, 2007
Messages
8,069
Likes
10
Points
88
#17
Not the BLF, but How many FOP2 session, how many users can use FOP2.
Each user have a station, and can use FOP2.
I could think that if 10 or 15 users launch FOP2 in same time it could have a problem.
 

dicko

Joined
Oct 24, 2008
Messages
4,099
Likes
0
Points
0
#18
I have one particular client (biggish machine IBM two xeon 2.2 G, 8G memory) 200 agents, maybe 40-50 concurrent calls, each agent has access to FOP2, (few actually use it maybe 10-20 at any one time) top shows typically 0.9-1.4 at peak use, that's with lmost all calls being recorded but no trancoding (all slin/g711) (that doesn't worry me at all) true this is just anecdotal,

But yes it might kill an underpowered system

dicko
 

danardf

Joined
Dec 3, 2007
Messages
8,069
Likes
10
Points
88
#19
Ok Dick.

Indeed, it's a good reference :laugh:
 

trymes

Joined
Aug 19, 2009
Messages
228
Likes
0
Points
0
#20
Tony,

I better understand your theory on the automatic log-on/log-off now, and the Asterisk Manager interface would likely be your best method of accomplishing that. It's a cool idea in some ways. Having said that, most people avoid this route because it is more complicated and the existing method (speed dial button on phone) is so much more elegant and simple. It also presumes that a users should never be logged in to the queue if their computer is not on, which may or may not be true for all companies.

While you may not run a call-center, your users are engaged in telephone customer service, and as such, it's part of their job and they should be able to remember to log in and out. It *WILL* require management oversight and attention. As for how many small companies are using queues as you are, I think you would be surprised by how many do just that, especially in the Asterisk community.

Also, I can't help but mention that IMHO, as long as you and your company view the phones as an intrusion and a distraction from the "real work", it's likely that the customer/client experience when calling your company/organization/group will be sorely lacking.

You might seriously consider having a subset of people who do nothing but answer the phone, while the rest are only going to have their phone ring when those people are busy. If the telephone calls weren't important, after all, then you would just disconnect the lines.

Just my $0.02,

Tom
 

Members online

No members online now.

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
30,902
Messages
130,886
Members
17,563
Latest member
dineshr
Top