Course Content - Intermediate 3.5
Welcome to the online training series from 3CX. This module will take you through the configuration of Call Queues within 3CX.
This module will focus on the correct utilisation of the Call Queue functionality within 3CX.
We will go through the different Polling Strategies which are available, explaining how each one will ring the agents who are available in the queue.
We will describe the various queue options that are available.
We will talk about how extensions can log in and out of queues.This can also be automated, based on the time of the day. This will be a continuation of what is covered in Module 2.4 - Time Based scheduling
We will finish off with a review of the Queue Manager rights, which can be configured for an extension.
In Module 3.3 - Ring Groups, it was mentioned that the list of Ring Group members will only be polled once. After polling the list once, the caller will be transferred to the Destination if No Answer.
In the Call Queues however, the callers will be placed in a queue, they will listen to Music On Hold, and wait for an agent to become available, to answer their call.
The calls are distributed to the agents as they become available, to answer a call, according to the configured Polling Strategy.
The strategies which are available, are 9 in total. There are 3 basic Polling Strategies available in the Standard Edition of 3CX. The PRO Edition has 6 more advanced Polling strategies, to bring the total available strategies to 9.
The Polling Strategies will be explained shortly.
Creating a queue is very straight forward in 3CX. In the Management Console, go to “Call Queues” from within the Call Queue page, click “Add”. This will open the Call Queue configuration.
The first thing that will need to be configured is the Queue Name. This is what will appear on the screens of the agents’ phones when a call is coming in for this queue. Give the queue a descriptive name, so it is clear to the agent, for which queue they are answering the call.
An agent is the user of the extension who is answering queue calls. When an agent is in a queue call, they will not be polled for a second call until they have finished with their active call. This is also valid for calls coming from other queues.
An agent has the ability to login or out from queues. This can also be automated, so at the beginning of the agents’ shift their extension will automatically be logged in to their queues, and at the end of the shift, be automatically logged out. This is achieved by changing the profile status of an extension as covered in Module 2.4 - Time Based Scheduling.
The option to “Log out from queues” is in the forwarding rules configuration of the extension, to achieve this.
If you are using a PRO or Enterprise Edition license, the agents will also be able to log in and out of individual queues. This allows for more flexibility, allowing some agents to concentrate on answering calls for a certain queue, while being able to cover for other queues when the demand arises.
Next, the agents that will be assigned to this queue, will need to be selected. Go to the “Agents” tab, and click the “Add” button.
A list of all the available extensions which can be added to the queue will be shown. Choose the agents which are to be added to the queue and click “OK”
When choosing extensions, only the extensions which are available to be added as queue agents will be shown. If you do not see a particular extension, please check if this extension is not already part of the queue.
Depending on the Polling strategy used by the queue, the order in which the agents are in the list, will affect the order in which the agents’ phones will ring.
The Ring All strategy is one of the strategies available in the Standard Edition of 3CX. When a call comes to the queue with a Ring All strategy, it will ring all the agents’ phones simultaneously. The first agent to pick up the phone will answer this call.
The order in which the agents are in the list of the queue is irrelevant to the ringing order, as they will all ring at once.
Round robin is a PRO Edition polling strategy. It will remember which agent answered the last call, and on the next call will begin the polling from the next agent in the list. This will prevent the first agent on the list from being inundated with calls.
The order in which the agents are listed in the queue settings is important, as the list will be polled in a top down fashion.
The Prioritised Hunt polling strategy is a very simple strategy. It will always poll the first available agent in the list, and work its way down the list of agents, until an agent answers the call.
The Prioritised Hunt polling strategy is available in the Standard Edition of 3CX.
The order in which the agents are configured in the queue list affects the ringing of the call.
There is also a Hunt by Threes Prioritised polling strategy, which will poll the first three available agents in the list. Again, this polling strategy is affected by the order in which the agents are in the list.
The Hunt by Threes Prioritised polling strategy is available in the PRO Edition and above.
The Hunt Random Start will poll any available agent at random. There is no particular order in which the PBX will choose an agent.
The Hunt by Threes Random, will choose any 3 available agents at random and poll them for the ringing time. It will then choose another 3 random agents. There is no particular order in which the agents will be polled. Please have more than 3 agents in the queue when choosing the “Threes” polling strategies, either Prioritised or Random.
Polling strategies can also be configured based on an agent's performance. Depending on the agents’ activity, they will be polled accordingly.
Least Talk Time will count the duration of incoming queue calls, of each agent. The PBX will poll the agent with the least talk time, in queue calls, first before moving to the agent with the 2nd least talk time.
When agents do not have talk time, for example when resetting the statistics of the queue, the PBX will use the Prioritised Hunt strategy until the extensions all have statistics.
The “Fewest Answered” polling strategy will count the total number of answered queue calls for each agent. It will initially poll the agent with the least amount of calls answered, irrespective of the talk time of these calls. If the agent does not answer, or is busy with another call, the PBX will poll the agent with the second least amount of calls, and so on.
The “Longest Waiting” polling strategy will count the amount of time an extension is idle after hanging up after a queue call. When the agent hangs up the phone from a queue call, a timer will start ticking. The agent with the longest time off the phone will ring first, then the agent with the second longest waiting time.
The timer is reset after each call. This will not accumulate.
The “Maximum Queue Wait Time” is the amount of time a caller will remain in the queue until the call times out and goes to the Destination if no Answer.
It will ring each agent for the configured ring time, according to the polling strategy chosen, until the Maximum Queue Wait Time is reached. If, within that time an agent does not answer the call, the call will be transferred to the Destination if no Answer.
The Destination if no Answer is a preconfigured destination on the PBX where the call will be transferred to in case the call is not serviced by an agent.
The call can be transferred to the Destination if no Answer, when the Maximum Queue Wait Time has been reached. No agent has answered the call in the allotted time.
A call will also go to the Destination if no Answer if no agents are logged in to the queue. Without any agents available to service calls, the calls will immediately be forwarded to the Destination if no Answer.
During the waiting period, the caller can go to the Destination if no Answer at any time, by pressing the * button on their phone. This will need to be recorded in the intro prompt of the queue, to make the caller aware of this option.
In a queue, you can configure the maximum number of callers which can wait in the queue. This can be used as a mechanism to minimise the impact on your PBX license, by not allowing too many queue calls to use up the license of the PBX, as well as using the Destination if no Answer as an overflow mechanism. Once the maximum number of callers in the queue defined is reached, they will go to the Destination if no Answer.
When a call comes to the Queue and rings an agent’s phone but doesn't get answered, this will not be registered as a missed call on the extension individually.
This will be shown in the 3CX Client and Web Client, under Call History. There is a separate section called “Abandoned”, where all abandoned queue calls can be seen.
In the Switchboard, you will be able to see the total number of Abandoned Calls of the queues, both individually and as a whole.
A call is considered abandoned if a call reaches the Destination if no Answer, or if the caller hangs up the call before it can be answered by an agent.
A Queue can have it’s own Music on Hold, which will be played to the callers as they wait in the Queue. This could be an audio file with music, an advertisement, a jingle or any other message you might want to convey to the caller. You may have a different message, for example, to someone calling for technical issues, and another message for someone calling about account issues. Please note that this Music on Hold file will only be played while the caller is waiting for their call to be answered. Being put on hold by an agent will play the default Music on Hold of the system.
An intro prompt can be recorded which will welcome the caller, inform them where they have called and possibly provide them with a list of options available with the queue, for example to leave a message, please press *. This example assumes that the Destination if no Answer is a Voicemail box.
There is a choice available where the intro prompt will be played in its entirety to the caller before beginning to poll the agents.
Alternatively, the intro prompt can be played while the agents are being polled, if the intro prompt message is not required to be heard in it’s entirety.
The Queue can provide the caller with an audible notification of their position in the queue. The numbering is based on the polling method. Some polling strategies poll more than one caller to the agents. In this case the calls being actively polled on agents phones will be informed that they are at position 1. If a Queue is using the Ring All polling strategy, only one call will be ringing all the agents at a particular time, and only this single caller will hear that they are at position 1.
The proper audio format for all audio files in 3CX, which includes the intro prompt and Music on Hold is WAV, PCM, 8 kHz, 16 bit, Mono.
We will now look at some of the more advanced capabilities of a call queue.
If a caller does not wish to wait on the line, but would prefer to receive a callback when it is their turn for their call to be serviced, this is possible.
The Callback feature, once enabled, can be triggered by the caller, by pressing 2, while waiting. This will need to be recorded in the intro prompt of the queue informing the caller of the available option.
The callback option can also be triggered after a timeout, if a call is in the queue for too long. This will also have the added benefit of not clogging up the PBX with queue calls. The PBX will call the original caller back after the agent has answered the call.
The wrap up time is a timeout configured on the PBX to allow the agent to finish off some data entry duties of the previous call before being available to answer the next call. This may be an entry into a CRM application, or even paperwork which may need to be completed. The extension of this agent will not ring for the configured wrap up time, to allow the agent to complete their duties without the need to logout and log back into the queue.
The minimum configurable wrap up time is 2 seconds.
It is possible to limit the number of callers waiting in the queue. When a call comes in to the queue and exceeds the maximum callers defined for the queue, the call will go to the Destination if no Answer.
A queue can be defined as a priority queue. This means that calls coming to an agent, who is a member of 2 or more queues, the call coming from the priority queue will always be polled first.
Some more advanced queue options.
Sometimes people, when they call in to a call centre will not want their calls to be recorded, especially when the information exchanged is of a sensitive nature. A caller has the capability to opt out of recording their call, by pressing 3 before the call is answered by an agent. This option, after being enabled, will need to be recorded in the intro prompt, which informs the callers of their options.
The “Service Level Agreement” time, or SLA time, is the amount of time the call centre will commit to answer a call. This is defined in seconds. All agents will need to answer the queue calls within this timeframe, otherwise the call will be considered as having breached the SLA.
The queue statistics which are shown in the Switchboard and the wallboard, can be reset either on demand or on a scheduled basis.
Within the queue settings, the statistics can be reset on demand.
The statistics can also be reset on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. These statistics are important for the agent performance based polling strategies. If the queue statistics are reset then the polling strategy timers will also be reset.
A Queue can have one or more extensions acting as Queue Manager. This is available under the “Notifications” tab of the Queue settings. Choose which extensions you wish to add as Queue Managers.
The Queue Managers will receive notifications regarding the queue.
SLA time breaches are sent via email to the Queue Managers.
A Queue Manager will also be able to see when a callback is made.
A failed call back will also notify the Queue Managers. The caller may have called from a private number and not verified their number correctly, or requested a call back to an invalid destination, whether this is an erroneous number or a number not allowed by the outbound rules of the PBX.
Any queue call which is lost, either by the caller hanging up or the Destination if no Answer being triggered, will be sent as an email to the Queue Managers.
Agents have the capability of logging in and out of Queues.
The various methods of logging in and out of the Queues globally are:
Using the 3CX client or 3CX Webclient, pressing the Q button will log agents in and out of the Queues.
Using an IP Phone, you can also enter the dial codes which, by default, are *62 to log in and *63 to log out from the queues
Also using an IP Phone, BLF keys can be assigned to the extension, to log in and out from the queues. More information on the configuration of BLF keys can be found in Module 2.1 Extension Settings.
If a user has access to the Management Console, to manage their own extension, they can log in and out of queues from the Extensions page of the PBX. If they have access to manage a group of extensions or any extension on the PBX, they will be able to log these extension in and out of the Queues on their behalf.
With a PRO or Enterprise Edition 3CX, the agents and the queue managers have the option of logging agents in or out of individual queues as well.
This is achieved from within the switchboard of the 3CX client for Windows as well as the 3CX Web Client.
In the 3CX Client for windows switchboard, just click on a particular queue and right click an agent to log them in or out. When an agent is logged out from a queue with this method, they will not be logged in to the queue when they use one of the global login methods stated earlier.
With the 3CX Web Client, the list of agents on the right hand side of the switchboard, will provide the queue manager, with a Q button for each agent. They will now be able to log agents in and out of Queues as required.
This is especially helpful for logging agents in and out of queues when demand for one queue may be higher at certain times of the day, or allowing the manager to have an agent concentrate on a certain queue.
More information can be found on the link provided.
An extension can automatically log in or out from Queues if the automatic profile switching is configured. This is covered in more detail in Module 2.4 Time Based Scheduling.
For each profile, choose the desired Queue login or logout status. The global Queue status will change with the extension profile status.
Let's assume extension 100 is logged in to 2 queues, A and B. The agent at this extension has explicitly logged out of Queue B.
At the end of the shift, the agent logs out of the queue A using the Q button their 3CX web client.
The next day at the beginning of the shift the agent logs in to the queues globally.
As the extension is explicitly logged out from Queue B, the agent will not be logged in to that particular queue. In order to log in to Queue B, the agent will need to explicitly log in to the queue from the switchboard of the 3CX Windows or web client.
A Queue Manager will be able to monitor the Queue or Queues they are responsible for via the Switchboard.
They will be able to monitor the Queue statistics for their agents. A Queue Manager can see the statistics for all agents. Agents who are not defined as Queue managers can only see their own statistics.
A Queue Manager can also log agents in or out from the queues on their behalf. Agents can only log themselves in or out.
A Queue Manager does not need to be a Queue agent. Any extension on the PBX can be defined as a Queue Manager.
3CX Webmeeting can also be used as a support resource. Just like an extension, a queue can have its own webmeeting room. Only in this case it is not personal, but the agents will all be notified of a caller waiting in the webmeeting room.
The webmeeting will be in a private webmeeting for each caller.
The Queue agents, who have a valid email address defined in their extension settings will receive an email notification of a caller waiting, as well as a chat message on their 3CX client.
Support can be provided in 3CX webmeeting via chat messages, or audio and video.
A support agent can also share documents, for example manuals, guides, and how to’s.
A participant can also request remote assistance via remote control of their computer directly from within the meeting.
Thank you, and goodbye!