PABX Features found on switchboards
Pabx features a number of basic and standard options found on most pabx, which most people are unaware of. Below we have some information on various pabx features:
IPBX stands for Intranet Private Branch exchange. An Intranet Private Branch exchange is a phone solution for a business where the exchange of voice by using Voice over IP (VoIP).
Most of these systems have similar features to as the PABX. Many have enhanced features such as integrated voice mail with e-mail.
SIEMENS PABX Standard Capabilities:
Conference call is a telephone call where more than one user talks and/or listens to the caller who initiated the call. The conference call is designed to allow the called party to talk during the call, or the call may be set up so that the other party only listens into the call but cannot speak. Referred to often as a Tele conference call.
Some conference calls are set up where the caller calls the other users and adds them to the call, and in some cases the other users can call into the conference call, by either dialing into a specialized type of telephone that can handle multiple calls, or by using a special telephone number set up for that purpose.
A three-way call is available as an option (usually at an extra charge) for most customers which allows them to add a second, outgoing, call to a call already connected at their number.
DDI or DID Direct Inward Dialing is a feature offered by telephone companies for use with their customers’ PABX system, whereby the telephone company allocates a number range all connected to their customer’s PABX. As calls are presented to the PABX, the number that the caller dialed is also given, so that the PABX can decide which person in the office to route the call to.
This feature enables companies to have fewer lines than extensions whilst still having a unique number for each extension, callable from outside the company.
Each extension of the PABX system may be assigned a seven digit external telephone number. If one knows the internal extension of this person one can dial the seven-digit number and be connected directly to the person called, bypassing the operator or PABX auto-attendant.
Fax servers also use this system.A PC running fax server software and fax modem cards uses the last three digits to identify the recipient of the fax. This allows thousands of people to have their own individual fax numbers, even though there is only one fax machine.
People giving out their work number who tell you it’s a “direct line”, often mean its a DID number.
DID (DDI) and VoIP:
DDI numbers are particular relevant for VoIP communications. For people to connect to the traditional PSTN network to call people connected to VoIP networks, DDI numbers from the PSTN network are obtained by the administrators of the voice over IP network, and assigned to a gateway in the voice over IP network. The gateway then routes calls incoming from the PSTN across the VoIP network to the appropriate VoIP user. Also, calls originating in the voice over IP network will appear to users on the PSTN as eminating from one of the assigned DDI numbers.
Call transfer is a telephony mechanism that allows a user to move (relocate) an existing call to another telephone by using the transfer button and dialing the required location. The transferred call can be either announced or unannounced.
When a transferred call is announced, the desired extension is notified of the impending transfer. This is done by putting the caller on hold and dialing the desired extension number, they are then notified and if they choose to accept the call, it is transferred to them.
Otherwise an unannounced transfer is one which is transferred without notifying the desired extension of the impending call. It is transferred to their extension by way of a transfer key on the operator’s phone or by keying in the relevant digits which achieves the same function.
An automated attendant (AA) system allows callers to be automatically transferred to a user’s extension without the intervention of a receptionist. A receptionist, who acts as the telephone operator, can be reached by pressing 0 or 9 on most systems. The automated attendant features on most modern PABX and key phone systems.
Sometimes a name directory is found on a system. The name directory is usually set up last name followed by first name. As soon as the user name is announced the caller presses # and it will automatically rings the extension, sometimes after announcing the correct extension number for the caller’s future reference.
A do not disturb can also be set up on the extension to forward all calls directly to voicemail without ringing the extension. When the caller does not want to disturb the user, or is calling a guest mailbox without a phone express messaging can be used.
These attendants can be set up also as message-only information “mailboxes” so that a company can give business hours, directions to their office, job offerings, and answers to other frequently asked questions. The calls are then forwarded to the receptionist after each message plays, or the user can return to the main menu.
* Colleges use them for telephone registration where the caller uses the key pad or interactive voice response to register for courses or check grades.
* Transfer a call to another outside phone line, connecting two companies via wide-area networking and voice over IP, and using software like Outlook Express or Outlook to have unified messaging.
*Auto attendants can and often are programmed very poorly by their owners (see “is your auto attendant friendly to customers“, leaving them confused and frustrated, forcing callers through a seemingly endless series of questions and menus before anyone actually answers the call. This can cause a decline in customer service in general.
Voicemail (or voice mail, vmail or EVM) is an organised management system of managing telephone messages for a group of people in the PABX neighbourhood. It is simply an answering machine using a standard telephone handset for the user interface, and uses a centralized computerized system to manage the messages.
Pabx features of Voicemail systems are sophisticated answering machines in that they can:
* answer more than one call at the same time
* store incoming voice messages in mailboxes personalised with the user’s phone number
* enable users to forward received messages to another voice mailbox
* send messages to one or more other user voice mailboxes
* add a voice introduction to a forwarded message
* store voice messages for future delivery
* make calls to a telephone or paging service to notify the user a message has arrived in his/her mailbox
* transfer callers to another phone number for personal assistance
* play different message greetings to different callers.
Voicemail messages are stored on hard disk drives. Messages are recorded in digitized natural human voice similar to how music is stored on a CD. Messages are retrieved by the user calling the system from any phone, logging on and his/her messages can be retrieved immediately. Users can retrieve or store messages at the same time on the voicemail system.
Many voicemail systems also offer an auto attendant facility. Auto attendants enable callers to a main number to access directory service or self-route the call to various places such as a specific department, an extension number, or to a recording in a voice mailbox.
Follow-me is a feature of private branch exchanges (PABXs) that determines the routing of incoming calls. The exchange is configured with a list of numbers for any given person. When a call is received for that person, the exchange routes it to each number on the list in turn until either the call is answered or the list is exhausted (at which point the call may be routed to a voice mail system).
Call forwarding (call diverting) is a feature that allows an incoming call to a called party, which would be otherwise unavailable, to be redirected to a mobile telephone or other telephone number where the desired called party is situated. The forwarded line rings once, to remind the customer using Call forwarding that the call is being redirected. The fee charging structure for a calling party to place a call to the called party which has their number forwarded is usually incurred by the party forwarding the call.
Music on hold (MOH) refers to playing pre-recorded music to fill the silence that would be heard by telephone callers that have been placed on hold. It is especially common in situations involving customer service.
Most MOH systems are integrated into a businesses telephone system via an audio jack on the telephone equipment labeled “MOH”. The source of the music is usually from CDs,radio or MP3.
MOH formats, such as MP3 files can be custom-created to suit the particular needs of a business and can be used to promote special offers give information or promote the business. The announcements can be scripted to emphasize particular attributes of the business such as location, store hours, or special promotions or services. These are typically used for up-selling and cross-selling callers.
Automatic ring back occurs when you call someone and their line is busy, you have to call back every few minutes to check if their line is free yet. With automatic ring back, you just dial a code, then when their line is free, your phone rings with a distinctive ring (so you know it is automatic ring back and not a regular call). When you pick it up, it calls the other number since it is now free.
Night service is a feature of PABXs whereby for a set period during the day (usually for hours outside of normal office or work hours, when normal operator services are not provided) incoming calls are automatically redirected by the switchboard to particular telephones or to an answering machine, a voice mail system, or the duty station of a night watchman.
Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) is a device that distributes incoming calls to a specific group of terminals that agents use. It is often part of a computer telephony integration system.
Pabx features ACD systems are quite often found in companies who have very busy switchboards with lots of incoming phone calls and where the caller has no specific need to talk to a certain person.
Routing incoming calls is the task of the ACD system. The system consists of hardware for the terminals and switches, phonelines, and software for the routing strategy. The routing strategy is a rule based set of instructions that tells the ACD how calls are handled inside the system. Most of the time this will be a set that determines the best available employee for a certain incoming call. To help make this match, extra variables are taken into account, most often to find out the reason why the customer is calling. Sometimes the caller’s caller ID or ANI is used, more often a simple IVR is used to just ask for the reason. ACD servers can cost anywhere between a few thousand dollars to close to millions of dollars for a very large call center handling thousands of calls per day.
Originally, the ACD function used to be internal to the PBX of the company. However, due to the closed nature of these systems, they lacked flexibility. A system was then designed to enable common computing devices, such as server PC’s, to take the routing decisions. For this, generally the PBX would issue information about incoming calls to this external system and receive a direction of the call in response.
An additional function for these external routing applications is to enable CTI. This allows improved efficiency for call center agents because they are offered phone calls with relevant data at the same time on their PC.
Also, these protocols enable call centers consisting of PABXs from multiple vendors to be treated as one virtual contact center. All real-time and historical statistical information can then be shared amongst call center sites.
Call waiting. If a calling party places a call to a called party which is otherwise engaged, and the called party has the call waiting feature enabled, the called party is able to suspend the current telephone call and switch to the new incoming call, and can then negotiate with the new or the current caller an appropriate time to ring back if the message is important, or to quickly handle a separate incoming call.
Call waiting alleviates the need to have a separate line for voice communications.
Call pick-up allows one to answer someone else’s telephone call simply by pressing a special sequence of buttons on the telephone set.
Call pick-up can be directed and is used for picking up a call that is ringing at a specific extension number; this feature is accessed through a different sequence of buttons than normal “call pick-up”.
Only one call can be picked up by the same telephone set at one time. If there are many incoming calls at the same time, “call pick-up” will pick up the call that rang first unless the pick-up is directed.
Uses of call pickup:
If a colleague’s telephone set is ringing, one can answer that call by picking up one’s own set and then using the “call pick-up” feature, instead of going all the way to the colleague’s desk.
Call pick-up is often used in workgroup settings, for example offices that answer customer enquiries. In such settings, it usually does not matter who picks up a call.
Useful in large offices with more handsets than staff.
Call park is a feature of some telephone systems that allows a person to put a call on hold at one telephone set and continue the conversation from any other telephone set.
Call park is activated by pressing a preprogrammed button or a special sequence of buttons. This transfers the current telephone conversation to an unused extension number and immediately puts the conversation on hold. (This is called parking the call; and the call is said to have parked onto a certain extension. Essentially, call parking temporarily assigns an extension number to an incoming call.) The telephone system will then display the extension number of the parked call so that the call can later be retrieved.
At this point, the telephone system will often provide an option for the person to make an announcement through a public address system (often consisting of some or all of the telephone sets controlled by the telephone system). Making such announcements in such a way is referred to as paging.
A set time is then provided for any person to retrieve the call by dialing the extension number of the parked call on any telephone set.
If no one picks up the parked call within the set time, the telephone system may ring back the parked call. This transfers the parked call back to the person who originally parked the call.
Uses of call parking
Call parking is often useful in buildings with many offices or with more than one floor, and with most of the areas having access to one or more telephone sets.
If the desired called party is not the person who picked up the call, and the desired called party is at an unknown location, the person who picked up the call may park the call and then use the public address system to page the desired called party to pick up the call.
During a conversation, a person may need to go to another office for some reason (for example, to retrieve an important file); parking the call allows this person to continue the conversation after arriving at the other office.
TMS Telephone Management System is the practice of accounting for the cost of all billable telephone calls made from within an organization. The accounting includes determining the total cost of all telephone calls for purposes of comparing with the phone company’s invoice, and identifying the proper entities (person or department) to be charged back for each unique call.
A TMS is an information systems solution in the form of software that collects data from an Internet Protocol server, PABX or Key system when a call is made and attaches a cost and a location to the call.
Most PABXs have the capability to send call information out of a serial port or via a proprietary network service. The call accounting has a capturing module or capturing device that is then able to store the data from the PABX.
This data is sometimes called Call Detail Recording (CDR) or Station Message Detail Recording (SMDR).
The CDR may contain the following information:
1. The Extension or User that made / received a call.
2. The Trunk Number or PBX trunk equipment number where the call originated.
3. The Time of day of the call.
4. The duration of the call.
5. The dialed number if outgoing or the CallerID if incoming.
6. An Authorization Code for calls via certain users.
7. Transfer or conference information.
8. An Account Number.
The TMS MAN3000 Call Management software is a reporting has the following features:
* Billing per departments or individual users for calls made within companies.
* Using account codes to bill back clients for calls made on behalf of the clients.
* To find abusive calling patterns.
* To check voice network functionality.
* In the Hotel industry, to bill back guest calls made from within rooms for the time the Guest stayed (usually with a markup of some sort).
* In multiple carrier environments, the reports are used to check best rates for carriers used by the clients.
* To identify peak periods of activity and inactivity.
There are many vendors on the market with call accounting solutions that cater to general business, professional and the hospitality industry. (MAN3000)