Mimicing Traditional "First call comes in line 1, second line 2, etc."

Hey all, wanted to contribute to the community a bit. We often experience frustrated customers when they move to VoIP and can no longer yell across the office, “Hey Bob, call on line 2 for you!”. Impractical, right? But a lot of offices have a certain flow, especially some high pace offices like logistic companies, and being able to have this functionality, instead of having to explicitly transfer a call to an extension, is very important for them.

For a while, we told our customers that it just wasn’t possible, but I have recently come up with a pretty good replacement solution. Here are our internal instructional notes on the matter. I hope it benefits someone out there. Take care.

//The following best mimics the traditional analog “line” setup, where calls come into line 1 first, which everyone shares, then line 2, 3, 4, etc., enabling people to shout across an office space “John, please take the call on line 1”, for example. MANY NEW CUSTOMERS WILL BE COMING FROM THIS TYPE OF SETUP

-Go to Parking, which will open the “Default Lot”
-Set number of slots to number of “lines” desired
*note the slots/lines start at 71 by default, up to the number of slots. 70 is the lot number/name if you will
-Set the Parking Timeout to 0 to disable it
*you can put a timeout if you want the call to go somewhere after the timeout, either Origin or other Dest.
-Use default Music Class
*be sure it is set to silent by deleting all MoH Default songs, or by having a professional MoH
-Pickup Courtesy Tone, None (it’s annoying, it beeps by default when transferred to lot)
-Set alternate destination as preferred, though timeout=0 disables this

-Create “normal” BLF keys with address of 71, 72, etc. on your endpoints, labeling them Line 1, Line 2, etc. or whatever

-For Polycom VVX phones, create a softkey for the “Line Hold” button
-On the web config, download/export the “All Configuration (except Device Settings)” file
-Open it in Notepad++ and add the following lines between
softkey.1.label="LINE HOLD"
*this enables custom softkeys, makes one that blind transfers calls to 70 (the default parking lot), enables the softkey, puts it in the 3rd slot from the left, labels it LINE HOLD, and makes it viewable only during a call, in that order

-Now as calls come in, either direct, or via Ring Groups or Queues, whoever answers it can then put the caller on a “line” by pressing the “LINE HOLD” softkey, which will silently put the caller on the first available slot in the lot, and light up that BLF key for others to see. You can then yell across the office, “Call on line 1 for so and so!”. To take the call, simply press the lit up BLF key. BOOM!


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Those are very nice, thorough instructions, but use the forums as a Resource and search before you “Invent” something - there are LOTS of people here with lots of installed systems - most of the common challenges have already been figured out and posted here in some form or another - like this:

Truly, keep posting things you figure out how to do and post it here for all to use - just save yourself some time in the future and search the forums before you tough it out and engineer it yourself.

I disagree completely with GSnover. We welcome any new ideas and even repetitions of old ideas here. The more ideas we all see, the better. This isn’t a book, and so there’s no worry about wasting paper with ideas that are variations (or even wholesale repetitions) of ideas that have been expressed before.

On the primary isssue you raised, there are two lines of thought. Some people say that the customer is king, and if they want to continue having phones that behave like technology from 1965, and thereby limit themselves to four calls at a time for the entire office even though VOIP can deliver 30 calls at a time, we should accommodate them.

My view is that if people want a key system from the 1960s, they should buy a key system from the 1960s. A VOIP system is going to be way too feature-rich for them, and they’ll likely never be happy with it.

Before I sell a new system, I always advise customers exactly how VOIP is going to be different and why it is better that all calls don’t show up on Line 1, Line 2, etc. Once that’s done, every customer that I’ve signed up has agreed that the new way is better and they are able to make better use of the advanced features that VOIP provides.

It also helps a lot NOT to use Polycom phones. They require way too much user interaction to do a blind transfer (which is the modern alternative to yelling “Bob, you have a call on Line 2”). The Aastra phones can do one-touch blind transfers with a single button that also does BLF. That makes it truly easy to simply send the call to Bob’s phone and let Bob either answer it or let it go to VM.

Polycom can do blind transfers and BLF on a button, but that button won’t do a blind transfer if the phone is already occupied. Instead, it’ll attempt to do a directed call pickup (and fail).

AdHominen, I agree. The nice thing about FreePBX is that you can do most everything a different way and what works for one business will not work well for another.

I chose Aastra over Polycom and some of the others because they can be configured in a simple text file and set to function exactly as you described. When you add a sidecar (60 destinations) or two to the operator station (I know one is not necessary any longer but some insist) then most of the extensions (all of ours) are a simple push button transfer away and also a busy indicator. I settled on this after it became clear that the traditional Park and Pickup function was not something the office people could understand as we came from an old key system.

The bottom line is always “What works for you?”.