We’re delighted to announce another new partner solution has been added to further empower you and your clients with an inbound and outbound calling campaign manager – Elastix Hosted Call Centre. It’s called Elastix which of course is a play n the word elastic. This term doesn’t only mean “returning to its original shape or length, after being stretched or squeezed” (from the Oxford Minidictionary). It also means “adaptable”. So it’s no stretch to extend the definition to include the qualities of a call centre that’s flexible, versatile, and reliable.

And, What’s Elastix?

It’s software; a platform developed in Ecuador by PaloSanto Solutions in 2006 to establish Unified Communications and equip a call centre module with predictive dialling capabilities. The program uses an intuitive Web-based interface to administer Call Detail Records (CDR) reporting, zaptel, asterisk and other functions. Elastix is open-source, like the well-known Linux operating system. In fact, the platform is a Linux derivative, having been developed from CentOS, an offshoot of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. And like Linux, Elastix is free for organisations to download and adapt, to tailor applications for various needs.

Elastix in Call Centres

PBX Hosting has incorporated the technology into its Elastix Hosted Call Centre, a module capable of handling both incoming and outgoing call campaigns. Its Web-based administration system includes a call management interface and agent console that can be manipulated using the ECCP, a proprietary front-end for communications management. The Elastix server natively supports Unified Communications functions like email, fax, collaboration, and IP PBX. An existing PBX can be expanded with Elastix Call Centre, which could typically run on “Line 2” of a softphone or handset, giving access to all the standard PBX features, and allowing agents to transfer calls internally as required.

Planning a Campaign

For both small and large businesses, call centres are increasingly at the heart of customer service, sales, market research, technical support and outreach campaigns. Each campaign will have different requirements, in terms of their target population, type of service, staffing and call volumes anticipated. The Elastix Call Centre module supports the design of forms, and the generation of scripts based on campaign requirements – both ingoing and outgoing. Multiple campaigns can be conducted at the same time. Monitoring results as a campaign proceeds is a key element to success. Reporting tools on the Elastix platform include call details, the number of calls per hour or per agent, time spent waiting, and a tally of successful calls made. Information can be exported in PDF format, or as CSV files for spreadsheet analysis. External applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can be incorporated as well.

Segmentation and Demographics

At local, regional, national, and global levels, markets and target populations need to be sorted by location, customer requirements, and criteria specific to each industry or project. And this segmentation needs to take place on a call-by-call basis, as the campaign proceeds. The Web interface allows campaign lists to be uploaded, and has tools for creating forms for data collection. Agents logged in to the management console can see a display of each responding customer’s details, along with the data collection forms necessary for completion. Predictive dialling allows “objective” phone numbers to be dialled automatically. The console regulates call transfers, and calls on hold can have their waiting time configured to a desired maximum, to guard against calls dropped in frustration. Call scheduling facilities are also available for outgoing campaigns, with schedules that can be assigned to specific agents. Some parts of a demographic may not be included in a given campaign, and customers in this category should be excluded from call-based activities. To allow for this the platform supports Do-Not-Call lists.

Promotions

Occasional or continuous campaigns promoting services or products are an integral part of many call centre operations. Promotions need to target specific individuals, companies, or agencies. With Elastix, calls can be dialled automatically from a list of target numbers. Predictive dialling capabilities are supplemented by support for retries of unconnected calls in outgoing campaigns. Agents also have access to call back login facilities. Monitoring is important here, too. Internally, the agents assigned to each call can be monitored and assessed via the management console. CRM and quality control issues can be addressed also, as there is support for recording of calls based on queues.

Closing the Deal

The specifics will vary, but the number of successful calls coming in or going out will ultimately determine the success or otherwise of a call centre campaign. Statistics on this will need to be collected and analysed – and the Elastix platform provides monitoring and reporting tools, to assist. Reports can be generated on all data collected (call details, calls per hour, agent statistics etc,) and exported for further analysis or presentation via the management console.

Will it Stretch My Budget?

Not necessarily. The Call Centre module’s entry-level is Elastix Starter: an unmanaged starter package costing £79 per month for an unlimited number of extensions. Disk storage space is set at 50 Gb, with a RAM limit of 2 Gb. Greater disk storage and memory combinations are available in the Elastix Pro and Carrier packages. All plans attract a Basic Configuration Setup fee of £100. Interested in signing up for Elastix Hosted Call Centre? Give us a no-obligation call on 0207 0999 930 to chat through your requirements.

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