Allison Smith FreePBX World Interview and 50% off Professional Voice Recording Promo!

Allison Smith FreePBX World Interview and 50% off Professional Voice Recording Promo!
 

 We recently interviewed Allison Smith during FreePBX World in Vegas!

Best known for her work as “The Voice of Asterisk”, and the professional voice talent behind the standard voice prompts bundled with FreePBX, Allison also speaks and blogs about ways to design telephone call flows which won’t drive callers crazy. Watch the interview here, and read her latest IVR Blog below for tips and best practices for creating IVRs.

 

We have added Allison’s Professional Voice Services to our line up of Add-Ons for FreePBX.  You can now purchase custom prompts directly in the Schmooze Portal.  

As a promotion to welcome Allison to the FreePBX Team, Use the PROMO CODE: “ivrvoice” from now until Friday September 19th at midnight central time to receive 50% off professional voice recordings!

  • 10 First-Last Name Recordings –$35.00 $17.50
  • 30 Word Recording $49.00 $24.50
  • 50 Word Recording $75.00 $37.50
  • 80 Word Recording $125.00 $62.50
  • 800 Word Recording – On-Hold w/ optional musical background $350.00$175.00

 Schmooze Portal

IVR design hints and tips, direct from Allison:

You’ve unpacked and installed your shiny new PBX – it’s an exciting time to be you!

Everything’s configured; you’ve updated the modules – you’ve even explored the modules. You’ve got this. You’re primed and ready to enjoy the ease and flexibility that your new FreePBX affords….and then it dawns on you.

This thing is the *gateway* to your company.

You will have *actual* callers accessing your company via your PBX. It’s the entryway; it’s the launch pad for interaction. Their first impression of you.

It’s your “welcome”.

It’s very likely that *zero* thought has been given to the fact that the IVR that your callers will hear – this mechanism which sorts people into various “categories” so that their concerns can be most efficiently dealt with – is the first clue callers will receive about your company. It’s the first inkling of what you’re about; it’s about who you are.

Yet, this crucial detail gets overlooked in the overall set-up of a typical new PBX install. In my daily work of voicing IVR systems – not only for Asterisk, but countless other systems, I’m amazed at the panicked state some people are in when they contact me. Here’s how it typically goes: “We need to get this system live as soon as possible – and I guess we need someone to voice the opening greeting. Maybe the after-hours message too. Oh! And mailboxes….we haven’t even thought about that….” I mean, they’re completely blindsided!

While possibly the most overlooked aspect of your system, getting your prompts voiced by a pro is essential. And although – in the interest of saving time and cutting costs, it might be tempting to grab someone in your office and put them in a quiet boardroom with a rough phone menu jotted on a legal pad, it can’t be over-emphasized how essential it is to hire a voice-over pro to voice your system. Our core competency is consistency (keeping everything smooth and fluid), discipline (to keep energy and sound quality matching from session to session), and a pro sound set-up (nothing has ever sounded great recorded direct-to-phone with background noise. Ever.) Not to mention the ability to add an unmistakable tone of professionalism and authenticity to your front-end.

There you have it! The first roadblock to a professional-sounding IVR is tackled: hiring a pro.

In order for your IVR to flow logically, you need to have a basic understanding of just *what* goes *where*. You require a good handle on how many extensions you have at your disposal; how many extensions you should realistically actually *use*, and – most importantly – you need to confirm that there will be *service* at the end of those extensions.


Whether you use a traditional call flow schematic to map out what you need (I call it “The Corleone Family Tree” due to its complicated, convoluted nature):

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…or you simply sketch it out freestyle, it’s important to map out where each extension goes, what happens when the call is picked up, and how to escalate something of higher priority.

Here are some basics to keep in mind:

You Need to Use as Few Options as Possible

I try to tell clients to trim their opening menu down to five options, max. Attention spans being what they are, and retention of what people hear being quite limited, it’s important to pare down the choices to the essential “top five.” Once a selection has been made, a sub-directory should only have about three choices. Any more than that, and the customer isn’t getting anywhere.

Make Sure Urgent/Most Used/Safety-Related Prompts are First

I always tell the story of the cardiology clinic’s IVR I voiced, when – after 10 menu choices (five too many), the *last* prompt in the lineup was “If this is a medical emergency, dial 911…” Anything life-threatening, mission-critical, or time sensitive – front-stack that at the beginning of your IVR. Also, most commonly-pressed choices should be out of the way early; the deeper callers drill into the menu choices, the more specialized the request.

Provide an Opt-In

There’s a popular line of thinking that if you provide a “Press 0” option which routes to an actual person, that it will be abused. Not true. People are becoming more and more fiercely turnkey. They *want* to solve their dilemma on their own. It’s a part of life now, and the way – especially younger consumers – are used to doing things. Sometimes, none of the choices in a phone tree apply to what they’re calling about – and live assistance should always be an option – eventually. (I recently talked a customer out of putting “Press 0 for a live operator” at the *beginning* of their IVR – in that case, that’s *all* they would press. It should be a last-ditch attempt – at the *end* of the menu choices – as a way of providing one-on-one service if all other self-serve avenues fail.)

Of course, it goes without saying that once an extension is assigned, it needs to actually *go* somewhere – a mailbox which is assigned and attended to. Occasionally, I will voice prompts for a small entity who wants to sound larger than they really are – to the point where fake mailboxes were created to fuel the illusion of having reached a multi-national. If – upon frequent calls to the company – the customer figures out that Joe from accounting is also Joe the CEO, it reflects badly; also hugely undesirable is a mailbox which grows and festers unchecked; someone having created it but has not appointed it to be anyone’s responsibility. “Mailbox full” can be a death knell for a customer to hear.

That should get you started thinking about the framework for your IVR, and how all-important it is to set that solidly before writing your script.

To learn more about planning IVR’s and professional voice recordings make your plans to attend Astricon in October, where Allison will be presenting The New Rules for IVR, and Using Asterisk to create “Her”.

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Allison Smith, The IVR Voice

Certified FreePBX Partner

Queue Call-Back BETA Free Trial and New Software Bundles!

Announcing Queue CALL-BACKS for FreePBX®! TRY IT OUT FOR FREE!

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vqplus-icon.pngFreePBX now has call-back solutions for call centers, or any businesses that get more calls than they can handle at one time! One of the biggest complaints most contact centers receive are from callers upset about hold times. With the new queue call-back functionality built into the Virtual Queue Plus FreePBX Module, your customers will never waste their time on hold again!

When enabled on a queue, call-back frees a callers time by letting them “press 1” to exit the call queue, and receive an automated call back. The call-back can go to the number they called in with, or one of their choice. When they are next in line to speak to a representative, the system will place an outbound call, and once accepted by the caller route them to the agent. Not only are your customers happier, but so are your agents, as they don’t have to handle as many disgruntled callers! System administrators and managers can also rejoice as abandon rates drop, as well as telco cost, since lines are not tied up with people waiting in queue!

For a very limited time, this new feature is available in the Schmooze Portal with a Free 30 Day BETA Trial! Simply log into your account, (or create one) click on the store, and add the BETA VQ PLUS Free Month Trial License to your cart, assign it to one of your FreePBX deployments, and check out!

Join the BETA

 

We have created some new bundles that include some of our most popular add-ons for FreePBX. This is a great way to get BIG DISCOUNTS on our most popular software!

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System Builder Basic- $200 USD

This bundle includes key add-on modules that we recommend for every system.Endpoint Manager– easily manage and auto provision hundreds of supported devices directly from the FreePBX Administration GUI. FreePBX Phone Apps (RESTAPPS) IP phone apps that tightly integrate dozens of supported phones with FreePBX features (Visual voicemail, transfer to voicemail, time conditions management, queues, queue agents, presence, parking, login/logout, follow me, do not disturb, conference rooms, call forward, call flow control.)SysAdmin Pro– a power tool for administrators, allows complete system update management directly from the FreePBX GUI as well as management and configuration of system tools such as: intrusion detection, DDNS, DNS, email setup, FTP, abnormal call volume notification, network settings, port management, power options, storage notifications, time zones, UPS and VPN to FreePBX Support.

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System Builder Plus-$500 USD

Fully deck out your FreePBX installs with our most popular add ons all in one package for a great price. This bundle includes EndPoint Manager,FreePBX Phone AppsSysAdmin ProPark ProPaging Pro,Class of ServiceConference ProCall Recording Reports,XMPP Management and Fax Pro.

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Call Center Builder-$1275 USD

Take your contact center to the next level with the Call Center Builder Bundle. This bundle provides advanced reporting tools: QXact ReportsCall Recording Reports, Call Management tools such asClass of ServicePinset Pro,Conference ProCaller ID Management, and Advanced Queue Enhancements, including Outbound Call Limiting and VQ Plus, which now includes Queue Callbacks (see above)!

 Schmooze Portal

 

 

FreePBX 12 RC Release

I hope everyone in the United States had a happy Labor Day weekend and for those of you outside the US I hope you had a happy Monday (or Tuesday for those of you living a day ahead of us) just the same. In case you haven’t been keeping an eye on FreePBX’s Module Admin we have made public the “FreePBX Upgrader” for all 2.11 systems that are not a FreePBX Distro based system. This give you the ability to be able to upgrade to FreePBX 12. But before you do that I advise you read the rest of this post (and make a backup… You did make a backup right?). If you don’t know why you should upgrade to 12, I highly recommend checking out our previous blog about the beta cycle: http://www.freepbx.org/news/2014-06-23/freepbx-12-beta-1-and-some-really-cool-stuff

A few of the features included in the FreePBX 12 release are:

  • Asterisk 12 Support Allow a system to run both chan_sip and pjsip
    • Allow Extensions to be able to be switched between the two
    • Added an Asterisk Rest Interface Manager module to add users to be able to utilize Asterisk’s new Rest Interface
  • New User Control Panel that replaces ARI “UCP” (Please check online and download the module *after* upgrading to FreePBX 12)
    • Presence
    • Call History
    • Widgets/RSS Feeds
    • Modular design allows FreePBX hook into UCP
    • Settings
      • Find Me/Follow Me
      • VmX Locator
      • Call Waiting
      • Call Forwarding
      • Do Not Disturb
      • Voicemail
      • WebRTC
      • Conference Pro
      • Fax Pro
      • SMS Support in UCP for SIPStation customers  
  • Brand New Dashboard
  • Updates to Module admin 
  • CDR Reports now support html5 playback, no need to have quicktime player
  • Parking now supports direct slot parking (Meaning you can transfer a call directly into a slot)
  • Secure Module Signing (http://wiki.freepbx.org/display/F2/Module+Signing)

The full list of features can be viewed here: http://wiki.freepbx.org/display/DC/12+Planned+Changes+and+Features 

The requirements for FreePBX 12 are simple:

  • Asterisk 1.8 through 13
  • PHP 5.3.3 or higher

Upgrade and Download Plans

The easiest way to get access to the Release Candidate is by downloading the FreePBX Distro at http://schmoozecom.com/distro-download.php and following the steps in http://wiki.freepbx.org/display/HTGS/1.+Install+FreePBX. You can also download the tarball of just FreePBX manually from http://www.freepbx.org/download-freepbx and run through the setup processes documented in http://wiki.freepbx.org/display/HTGS/Version+12.0+Installation.

Andrew – On Behalf of the FreePBX Team!