Setting up Digital Receptionist

The Digital Receptionist / Auto Attendant

Introduction

The digital receptionist feature allows you to answer phone calls automatically using 3CX Phone System and present the caller with a list of options. The caller can then choose the appropriate option using the numbers on his phone key pad.

 

Using this feature you can implement a menu, for example: “For sales press 1, for support press 2, or wait on the line to be transferred to the operator”. A digital receptionist is also known as an auto attendant.

 

You can configure different menu options and text for the menus based on which line the call comes in, as well as based on whether the call is received within or outside office hours. This way you could have a different answer outside office hours and de-activate menu options accordingly.

Recording a Menu Prompt

Before you create your digital receptionist, you must first write down the menu options you wish to offer the caller and then record the announcement. A simple example would be “Welcome to Company XYZ, for sales press 1, for support press 2 or stay on the line for an operator”

 

Note: It is generally recommended to put the number the user should press after the option, i.e. “for sales, press 1”, rather than “press 1 for sales”. This is because the user will wait for the desired option and only then “register” what number to press

 

Once you have devised the text you can create the prompt. To record the prompt:

  1. You can use the Record button to record the prompt via the phone. You will be prompted for your extension number and the system will call you and prompt you to record the prompt
  2. Alternatively, you can use Windows Sound Recorder or a 3rd party voice talent service to record the prompt. You must save the file in WAV format in PCM, 8 kHz, 16 bit, Mono format. (In Windows Sound Recorder you must use the ‘Save As’ option to save this format) Do not use MP3 format.

Creating a Digital Receptionist

Screenshot  - Configuring a Digital Receptionist

 

You can create multiple digital receptionists and link them to a particular line. To create a digital receptionist:

  1. In the 3CX Phone System Management Console menu, select on Add > Digital Receptionist.
  2. Specify a name and virtual extension number for the digital receptionist.
  3. Now click on the record button and enter your extension number. You will be called so that you can record the prompt. Alternatively click on the browse button and specify a file that you previously recorded. The file will be copied into the <%allusersprofile%\3CX\Data\Ivr\Prompts> or <C:\ProgramData\3CX\Data\Ivr\Prompts> directory depending on your OS.
  4. Specify the menu options. Select the appropriate key, and then select from the available actions. Then specify the extension number or virtual extension number (virtual extension number in the case of Ring Group, Call Queue or to another Digital receptionist)
  5. The last option, Timeout, allows you to specify how long the system should wait for an input. If it receives no input, it will automatically perform this action. This is handy for callers who did not understand the menu or who do not have a DTMF capable phone. When ready, click OK to save the digital receptionist.

Allowing Callers to Dial a Known Extension Directly

Whilst a digital receptionist prompt is playing, a caller can enter the extension number directly to be connected to an extension immediately. This allows callers who know their party’s extension to avoid bothering the receptionist. This option is enabled by default. If you wish to make use of this feature simply instruct your callers by explaining this in the voice prompt. For example:

“Welcome to Company XYZ, for sales press 1, for support press 2. If you know your parties extension number, you may enter it now”

Call by Name

Using a Digital Receptionist, you can also direct callers to the call by name function. This allows them to find the person they wish to speak to by entering the first letters of the person’s last name on the phone dial pad. The call by name function requires:

  1. A self-identification message for the user. Users without a self-identification message are not accessible via the call-by-name feature.
  2.  User can not have a last name with Unicode characters
  3. The Call-by-name menu feature must be made available from a Digital Receptionist as one of the menu options.

Self-Identification Message

To record your self-identification message:

  1. Go to your voice-mail menu (Default 999).
  2. Enter your Voice Mail PIN number
  3. Go to the options menu (‘9’ key).
  4. Press ‘5’ key to record the self ID message.
  5. Record your name only, i.e. ‘Sarah Jones’

How it Works

The Call-by-name feature uses the last name of the user and compares it with the input (that has been entered on the phone keypad). The following rules are used:

 

  • The last name is converted to upper case.
  • All symbols except [2-9] and [A-Z] are ignored.
  • The following translations for symbols are used:
  • 'ABC2' => '2'
  • 'DEF3’ => '3'
  • 'GHI4' => '4'
  • 'JKL5' => '5'
  • 'MNO6' => '6'
  • 'PQRS7' => '7'
  • 'TUV8' => '8'
  • 'WXYZ9' => '9'

 

The caller has to type a minimum of three digits (‘0’ – ‘9’) to call to a user. Digits ‘0’ and ‘1’ are ignored, but can be used to call to users with short last names (for example, to access someone with the last name ‘Li’, you can type ‘540’).

 

After the user has entered three digits, IVR queries the phone system database for matching users. If there are no matching users, it plays “extension not found”. If there is only one matching user, the IVR plays “Please hold while I transfer your call” and redirects the call to the user. If there is more than one matching user, the IVR will wait for additional digits from the user for 2 seconds.

If IVR waits for additional digits (more than one matching user) and user presses any digit, the IVR will add this digit to the current input and check currently matching users. If there are no matching users, it will play “extension not found”.

 

If the user does not input any more digits (2 seconds elapsed or ‘#’ has been pressed) and more than one user is matched, then the IVR will play: “To call to Van Damme press 0. To call to Van Halen press 1. To exit press pound”. In this example ‘Van Damme’ and ‘Van Hallen’ are the self-identification prompts of the matching users.

Exchange Server IVR Integration

This feature requires the PRO edition!

 

Exchange Server 2010 and 2013 include a voice mail and an IVR feature that can be interesting to use for companies that deploy Microsoft Exchange Server. The Exchange IVR feature allows you to leverage speech recognition in your company IVR. The Voice Mail feature allows you to convert voice mails to text and forward them via email.

 

Please see this article how to configure 3CX and Exchange for this integration:

http://www.3cx.com/blog/docs/exchange-server-2013-config/

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