Applies to VoipNow Professional 2.5 and VoipNow 3.0.0 - 3.5.0!
On many occasions, our Professional Services team have been asked for advice on how to create a Hunt group functionality with VoipNow. Hunt groups are a method of distributing phone calls from a single phone number to a group of several phone lines. Specifically, it refers to the process or algorithm used to select which line within a group will receive the incoming call.
To better clarify this, let's imagine a sales team of 5 agents. Each sales agent has their own extension. If a customer calls a specific agent in the team, but that agent is not available, the customer's call can still be picked up by any other agent in the office. The Hunt group functionality will call all agents' extensions according to a predefined algorithm so that the call does not end up answered.
With VoipNow, this functionality can be achieved in two ways: either using the Incoming Call Rules, or with the help of Queue extensions. Each option is described in the following documentation: Incoming Call Rules, Queue Extensions.
Incoming Call Rules
The Incoming Call Rules can be found in the Extensions Management page of several types of extensions: Phone Terminal, Queue, IVR, Voicemail, Conference, and Calling Card. This feature allows you to filter an extension's incoming calls. As a result, when a caller is trying to reach the extension, VoipNow can perform a set of predefined actions.
If you're going to use the Incoming Call Rules solution, there are two rules that you can customize: "Transfer To" and "Cascade". These two settings allow you to distribute the incoming call to other extensions.
Each rule has several other options which are described in the Incoming Call Rules wiki page. They allow you to set up options like:
- follow other rules if call is not completed
- call the initial extension as well
- apply the rule only in certain time intervals
- apply the rule only for certain CallerIDs
- A rule like the one below will call both 002 and 003 when extension 0003*001 is called:
- A rule like the one below will start ringing extension 005 after 5 seconds and 007 after 8 seconds. This lasts for 20 seconds, meaning that 001 will ring for 20 seconds, 005 will ring for 15 seconds and 007 will ring for 12:
Queues are another form of distributing a call to other phone numbers. Aside from the call distribution algorithms, it can keep callers on-hold until an agent is available. Queue extensions come with various options that allow you to customize the call flow:
- agents can be local extensions or remote external numbers;
- several call distribution mechanisms;
- music on hold and announcements are customizable from the web interface;
- actions can be defined to handle calls that stay too long in the queue or are not allowed to enter it;
- agents can log in/log out via star codes, the web interface or the Unified API;
- specialized call reports.
Hunt groups can be further enhanced with the help of IVR extensions, which are mostly used when the caller input is required. Also, incoming calls can be managed with an external app such as Call Interactive.
There are many ways to combine all of the features and, in most cases, you'll be able to achieve the Hunt group that you wish to create.
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