FreePBX 101 v14 Part 17 – Queues


Welcome to crosswalk solutions: my name is Chris, and this is free. Pbx, 101 version. 14 parks 17, where we’re going to be talking about queues. Now, queues are a big big topic, because there’s just so many configuration options that you can do with queues. In most cases.

I try to get away with using ring groups since they’re much much simpler and we’re gon na cover ring groups in our next video. But let’s start with what is a queue. Essentially, a queue is when you call into an auto attendant, and someone says you know: press 1 for sales, you press 1 and then you start hearing hold music or announcements, and it says you know you are the fourth caller in line your approximate wait. Time is 14 minutes and then you’re just hearing music, and you wait for an agent to pick up the call when you’re sitting there in on hold that is waiting in a queue. So queues are very, very useful and let’s take a look at how we set them up so to get to queues, you want to go to applications and queues and then, let’s add a queue.

Now before we actually start configuring. Let’S take a look at where this queue is in our IVR design, so we’re actually going to create two different queues: we’re gon na have a sales queue and a support queue, they’re gon na be identical, maybe I’ll put different users in one queue or the other, But basically, I’m only gon na configure one of them and I’ll do the support queue. You know offline. So basically, when a call comes in we’re gon na hit our IVR. Thank you for calling press 1 for sales press 2 for support.

If they press 1 or 2 they’re gon na drop into these queues and my sales Q is going to be extension 5050 and my support Q is going to be extension 5051 and if the queues are not answered or if they timeout we’ll talk about that. In a second, it’s gon na go to a general sales, voicemail box or a general support. Voicemail box. Oh, I just noticed, there’s a mistake here: it says sales and sales that should be support right there. Okay, so let’s go ahead and go back to our queue.

I’M not gon na cover every single setting in this in all of these tabs, but I’m gon na cover the most important ones. In most cases, you’re not going to need to touch. You know more than 10 % of these settings anyways. So let’s go ahead and start with the most simple and most commonly used settings. So queue number is the extension number of the queue.

If we go back to our diagram, I got 50 50 for the sales queue and 50 51 for the support queue. So, let’s create our sales queue. This is going to be 50 50 for queue, name, we’re just gon na call it sales, and then I’m going to jump down here to call our ID name prefix. This is something that I use pretty often when I’m setting up queues and what it means is. You can prepend the caller ID of the caller with certain information.

So in this case, if we want it to say sales, when the phone number pops up on your agents screen, it’s gon na, say sales and then the phone number or caller ID of the person calling in the reason you want to do. That is, if you have agents that are answering calls for more than one queue. This tells them when they look at the phone or they get a pop up on their screen, which queue this person is calling in from. Likewise, you can put in the wait time of the caller. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used that in production, but it’s the same sort of thing where it will prepend the amount of time that the person ringing on your extension has been waiting in the queue when you pick up that call.

So if it’s been like 45 minutes, it’ll show 45 minutes, you know in front of their caller ID and you can be like boy, I’m sorry about the long wait. How can I help you alright? So it helps your agents, but there’s only so much screen real estate on these phones. So I try to you know not clutter it up as much as possible. I usually do the caller ID name prefix.

I very rarely. I don’t think I’ve ever done. The wait time prefix, okay, so alert info is actually a setting. That’S pretty useful, especially if you have sangoma phones, it’s very easy to use alert info. You can choose a distinctive ring for this cue so that your agents know based on you know what they hear.

Whether someone’s calling in for a sales cue or a support, cue or if they’re, calling extension to extension or just a regular call from the outside world they’re able to differentiate based on the this of the ring and so alert info, is something you might want to. Consider setting up for your cues, okay next we’re gon na scroll down here to agent restrictions, and this is an interesting one. So there’s three settings your call as dialed. No follow me or call forward or extensions only so normally I put this on no follow me or call forward again. This is going to vary from situation to situation, but what this means is, if I’m an agent in a queue – and I have follow-me enabled so basically, I’ve gotten up and I’ve gone to lunch and I’ve set it so that you know, after a certain amount of Time calls start ringing to my cell phone if I’m not around or if I have manually forwarded my phone to some other extension or some other phone number when a call comes into the queue and I’m an agent in that queue.

It’S not going to use. Follow me or my call forwarding to get out to my cell phone or wherever I forwarded that call, and we don’t necessarily want to do that. I’Ve got agents sitting in a call center. I want those call center agents to answer those calls they’re looking at their screen. They’Re working with you know a database app for the customer service line or whatever I don’t want them to accidentally, get a call on their cell phone from a customer when they’re at at lunch.

Again, maybe you do in your environment, but in most cases I have this set to know, follow me or call forward. Then we have our ring strategy so ring strategy. Is it’s an interesting setting and you might have to play around with different settings for the ring strategy, the one that I use most often is round robin with memory. Okay. So basically, the ring strategy means when calls come in to your queue.

How are we distributing those calls to the agents so ring? All is probably a very popular one. If you’ve got a small queue ring all works pretty well, then you’ve got least recent ring agent, which was least recently called by the queue the fewest number of calls. So ring the agent with the fewest completed, calls from the queue. That’S a way to sort of you know, distribute calls very evenly across all of your agents, random and then we’ve got round-robin with memory, and what this means is basically we’re.

Gon na ring our agents in order right, so the first call that comes in is going to go to the first agent and then, whether it’s while that agents on the phone or you know an hour later, the next call that comes in is going to go To the next agent, and then the next agent and the next agent it just round robins through all of your agents, you know very nicely now the reason that you want to do this a round-robin type of cue instead of a ring. All cue is because it gets calls to your agents a lot faster and your agents are less apt to let someone else answer the call okay. So basically, if a call comes in and there’s 10 agents in a queue and all of their phones ring at the same time call center agents are gon na, be very likely to say you know what someone else will get that, but when it’s round-robin with memory They know that when that cue call hits their phone that they’re the only one getting that call, so they better pick it up. It’S their turn to pick up that call. So it’s just more fair in terms of distributing calls to the agents, and you can also see if agents you know are not picking up the calls that are sent to them.

That’S going to be more clear than if it’s a you know ring all type of situation, all right, so similarly, autofill is a really really great setting. I always turn autofill on when I’m using round robin with memory and what autofill does is. It gets calls to agents faster, imagine a scenario where you’re in a queue and it’s ring all right. First call comes in it’s ringing on 10 agents desks and after three rings, one of the agents picks it up and takes that call. Let’S say three calls come into that queue simultaneously: okay, so caller number one that comes in is gon na, be ringing on everyone’s desks and it’s gon na wait until someone picks up that call, then the second call will come through and ring on everyone’s desk and Wait for someone to pick up that call and then the third caller call will come through okay.

So you can see that it’s gon na take the amount of time for the first call to be picked up and the amount of time for the second call to be picked up before the third picked up. However, if you use round robin with memory or one of these other distribution methods, and then you use autofill instead the first call comes in and it goes to agent ones phone. The second call comes in and it goes to agent twos phone, even if agent one has not yet picked up the first call. Okay, so it lets you distribute calls simultaneously to multiple agents. So multiple calls to multiple agents.

It’S just a much more efficient way of routing calls than than not having autofill turned on. Then we have Skip busy agents. This I usually put two yes only, because if an agent is already on the phone, either with a queue call or with you know, someone internally or with an outside call, we just want to skip that that agent, because they’re, you know they’re busy. The only thing you might want to consider is putting skip busy agents only when they’re on queue calls right. So that way, if an agent has picked up the phone and called their wife or something you know that doesn’t count as a we get to skip you from the group right.

So it’s only Hugh calls are skipped. Then we have Q wait. Q, wait is, I don’t use it too often, but in busier call center environments. You can set priorities on your queue, so you can have like a one Q. That is more important.

Maybe you want your sales queue to have higher priority than your support queue so that if there’s one agent available they’re a member of both queues and someone’s been waiting for 10 minutes in the support queue. But they’ve only been waiting for five minutes in the sales queue, but the sales queue has a higher priority that sales call will get through, even though the support queue person has been waiting, you know for longer, so that’s just the queue wait and you can play With that, I don’t use it very often, but it does come in handy when you need it. Then we’ve got our music on hold class. This allows you to set a different music on hold per Q. So a lot of times.

Companies want a sales. You know music on hold where they’re talking about you know. What’S their latest products or you know specials that are going on or if you have a support queue. Maybe you want to talk about hey. You can look up answers in our knowledgebase, something like that.

You might want different recording playing as music on hold, while agents are waiting in a sales queue versus a support, queue versus some other type of queue. Then we have our joint announcement. That’S basically an announcement that plays to the agents when they join the queue call recording is whether we are recording those calls or not, and then we have our failover destination. So where should calls fail to now? If we go back to our diagram here, if someone calls the queue and no one picks up and we’ll talk about that in a second, we want to go to our sales voicemail box.

So let’s go ahead and say we’re gon na go to voicemail and we’ll say sales unavailable message. Then we’ll go to a greeting. That says sorry: all of our agents are currently unavailable. Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you above about. We can record that later, okay, so let’s move to the next tab, and that is our cue agents, tab and there’s two types of cue agents.

You have static agents, those are extensions that are always in the queue and then you have dynamic agents, dynamic agents, our phones and agents that have to log in and log out in order to receive cue calls in larger call centers. It’S always better to use dynamic agents rather than static agents, because of call efficiency, if you have 20 agents in a queue and only 15 agents are currently available, you don’t want calls ringing at the desk like if you’re using round robin with memory. You don’t want round robin to send calls to the desk of people or agents that aren’t actually sitting there, so those extra five agents you know if you leave those as static agents, calls, will just go to their phone and ring until the timeout period and then Go back into the queue and find the next agent right, so you’re kind of just wasting the time of the people that are calling into the queue in that situation. So dynamic agents you can log in and out with either a feature code. So you dial star 45 to log in or out, or you can log in and out with a button on the phone.

So we have the free PBX phone apps and you can use that as a button to log yourself into one or more queues. Whereas the feature code – star 45, I believe it just logs you into all your Q’s and then logs you out of all of your Q’s, whereas if the. But if you use the button in the free PBX phone app button, you can selectively log into one or more queues. It gives you a little bit more control. Okay, so let’s put some dynamic agents into this sales queue we’ll say: 2000, 2001, 2001 and 2002.

There’S three agents that we put into the queue you can also use the agent quick select here on the corner and then, if you notice like when you use the quick select, it says: 2000, comma, 0, 2000, 1, comma, 0, 2000, 2, comma 0. This is another type of priority, so it’s a way that you can have calls passed out to agents with you can give agents priority within a single queue. So if I have 2000 and 2001 as 0 and then I put 2002 to 1, that means that the queue will always send calls to 2000 and 2001 before it sends calls to 2002, even if its round-robin with memory right. So, basically, if these people are both busy, that’s the only time that round-robin will send calls to 2002 ok. Now we get to our timing and capacity options in a queue.

There are two different ways to get to the failover destination. You can failover, you can get to the failover destination by timing out. So if you set a amount of time that a caller can wait in the queue or you can get to a failover destination by capacity, the number of callers that are currently waiting in the queue. So let’s talk about the timing first, so we’re gon na set our max wait. Time say we want to set that to 5 minutes and then, if anyone is on hold for more than 5 minutes, we’re gon na go over to our sales voicemail.

Another thing you can do here is have stacks of queues right, so you can have one queue where it’s. You know 10 different agents and, if someone’s waiting for 5 minutes with those 10 agents – and they haven’t been picked up – then we’re going to go to a secondary queue which has sort of extra agents or supplemental agents where their phones only gon na ring. If all of the agents in the first queue are busy – and now we’ve rolled over to a second queue right, so that’s kind of a indicator of you know basically we’re busy, and now we have our second string agents answering calls okay. So you got your first string agents when they’re all busy rolls over to a secondary cue. That is our second string agents.

So yeah, that’s a really nice nice setup. I don’t use that a lot, but it does work if you need it to okay. So then, we’ve got our agent time out agent time out is how long can an agent’s phone ring before that call? It’S assumed that the agent isn’t there, and then we put the call back into the queue 15 seconds is about three rings. So that’s a good amount of time.

Then you’ve got your retry, so you’ve got your agent time out it’s 15 seconds and then you’ve got your retry. So the retry is, let’s say a call, is ringing for 15 seconds on an agent’s desk. The call is brought back into the queue. How long is it going to be before we try to send that call to an agent again, so in this case it’s 15 seconds, and then I’m going to turn the retry down really low, we’re gon na put it down to 2 seconds. So basically, we want to try to get calls to agents as quickly as possible, so we’re gon na ring for 15 seconds and an agent desk if they stepped up to use the restroom or something and they’re not there, then we’re going to send the call back To the queue for 2 seconds and then try a different agent next, we have wrap up time.

Wrap up time is basically after an agent has finished, with a caller. How long do we give them before they are available to accept the next cue call? Sometimes you want to use rat. Sometimes you want that to zero right as soon as you hang up immediately. Send another cue call through, but sometimes wrap up.

Time is used for like if you have a CRM app and you want to give your agent. You know 60 seconds after a call to you know, get a drink of water and put some notes into the CRM right. So that’s where you might want to use wrap up time. Agent announcement is a system recording that can be played to your agents when a call comes through now. The only time I’ve ever seen, agent announcement used is, for instance, if they’re answering calls for multiple queues, and you want to give them a little audio cue to which queue call is ringing through.

So like. You could just record something that says sales or you can record something that says, support that way when a call, an agent picks up the call, it’ll, say sales, and then there live on that call. As so, then they just know it’s a sales call versus a support, call something like that same thing with rapport whole time. This is reporting the whole time in the ear of the agent before they start. You know taking the call, so it’ll actually tell the agent how long that caller has been on hold, which again I don’t turn that on because they’ve they’ve already been hold on hold for a long time.

The extra few seconds that it takes to read off that information to the agent is time that the agent could be speaking to the customer. So I usually just leave that off. Then we have Auto pause and this basically puts an agent takes an agent out of the queue if a call is sent to them and they don’t answer it right. So if the call comes to an agent’s desks it desk, it rings three times and the agent doesn’t answer that call. Then we’re gon na put that agent on pause, meaning they can’t accept any other cue call until they unpause themselves and the reason you would want to do.

That is, for instance, if an agent got up and went to lunch and they forgot to log themselves. Out of the queue, then you don’t want calls to be ringing at their desk constantly, while they’re out at lunch, because you’re just wasting your caller’s time. So in this case you can choose. Do we want to Auto pause? No or do we want to Auto pause?

An agent out of the this queue only or do we want to auto pause that agent out of all of their queues. So in most cases you would want to pause them out of all of their queues. So, let’s now move on to our capacity option. So again, there’s two ways that you can limit to queues. You can limit queues by how long the caller is on hold in the queue, and you can limit by how many calls are in the queue so capacity options means.

If I set the max callers here to 10. That means that if, as soon as 10 calls are on hold in the queue, the 11th call is going to fail over to my failover destination right. So in this case, it’s our voice mailbox, but it could be a secondary queue or something like that as well, and that’s all there really is to the capacity options. Okay. So now, let’s move on to the caller announcements tab, the caller announcements.

Tab basically allows you to play a greeting periodically, while someone’s on hold so normally I put the frequency to 2 min because it’s pretty annoying if you’re on hold and every 60 seconds you hear it all agents are still busy. Please continue to hold right. So if you hear that too often it gets super annoying so try to not to put the frequency up too high. I find two minutes works pretty well and then you can choose to announce the caller’s position in the queue and their approximate hold time. There’S also a setting for the whole time where you can announce it once, meaning that it will only announce it the first time it plays, and then it won’t say it.

You know any more times right. So basically announce position is you are currently the fourth person waiting on hold your approximate hold time is four minutes and 22 seconds right and it gets those statistics based on you know past history right how what’s your average call answer time? How many agents are in the queue etc so uses basically a bunch of different metrics to figure out the amount of whole time that is estimated and the longer the queue has been live without the stats being cleared, the more accurate your hold time or you get The whole time announcement is going to be. You also have this IVR break out menu. So this is a pretty interesting option.

If you want to say, have a call come in and then in your announcement say if you would like to leave a message and have us call you back, please press one now right and then press one. They go to this IVR that you’ve set up, and I don’t have any IVR setup yet because we haven’t gotten there yet, but that’s where you would use the IVR breakout menu. Okay. Next we have the advanced options, tab and the advanced options. Tab is your service level, so the only reason the only thing that this is used for is for reporting.

So if you put your service level at one minute and then you run an SLA or service level report, it will basically show you the percentage of calls that were answered within your service level right so 95. If your SLA is 95 percent. That means that 95 percent of calls were answered within one minute, so this is a metric that call centers like to use for how you know how busy or not busy they they currently are. Finally, you can reset your queue stats. You can do a stats reset and clear out all of the all of the stats of the queue you can run it.

You know weekly or something like that schedule it so that you know every week you get new stats or every day you get new Q stats, and this is useful if you’re like using a wall board or something that you want it to be fresh information. You know per week or per day, okay. So I’m happy with all of the options that we have put in here and I’m gon na go ahead and click Submit and now my queue is created. I’M gon na add one more queue for support 50:51 support and then I’m gon na go through and basically make this all the same settings. Okay.

So in our next video we’re going to talk about ring groups which are similar to queues but they’re much much much simpler. Okay, so we will see you guys in the next video [ Music ]

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