You can have it all. Now. A few years ago, things were different. You could have it all, but you would pay dearly for the privilege. Traditional phone switches (PBX) provided extensions and connectivity to your telco.
Once you had paid the price for PBX functionality, you had access to a full set of PBX features, such as
- Auto Attendant - the ability to set and play a greeting for inbound callers. You can specify options that direct the call based on the choice the caller makes.
- Direct Inward Dialing - routing an inbound number directly to an extension or other option.
- Find me/follow me - setting a number to be dialed if the extension is not answered within a set period.
- Voicemail - you know what voicemail is, right?
Many companies required call center ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) functionality in addition to the PBX. Some PBX systems offered a limited set of ACD features. Usually, the ACD was a separate system you had to buy and integrate with your chosen PBX.
The PBX would handle the basic telephony functionality. The ACD system would offer advanced call center functionality such as:
- Skills-based Routing - assignment of skills to agents to ensure calls get handled only by qualified agents
- Queue Priority - letting you specify .calls in one queue as being more important than those in other queues.
- On-hook and off-hook agent sessions - some agents might not get many calls, so leave their phone hung up between calls. Other agents, especially those using a headset, will always have the phone off-hook.
- Supervisor monitoring - letting your supervisors listen in to live calls, or listen to recordings of previous calls.
- IVR/Dialplan builder - giving you a simple way to build the incoming dialplan, play audio prompts to callers, and do whatever you need to before giving the call to an agent.
- Dashboards and Reporting - live reports let you see how you're doing now, and actively manage your floor. Historical reporting lets you see how you've done.
Once, you had to decide if you wanted a PBX system with a bit of an ACD, or a full-blown call center system with a few extra extensions and PBX features for admin staff. Today, with the options available from a full featured hosted call center provider, you don't have to choose. It's all available, at your beck and call.