Software: We are using Asterisk 1.8 and FreePBX 2.10.0.
Our company develops websites and is doing some business-to-business telemarketing to introduce ourselves and promote our services. A high percentage of our calls result in representatives begin forwarded to a prospect’s voicemail. We think we are not nearly as efficient and effective as we could be with these voicemail situations for two reasons.
- Not every sales agent has the same level of skill and professionalism. Since the person receiving the initial telemarketing voicemail has not spoken to our representative, the optimal solution would be to have our most professional telemarketer leave every voice message.
- Agents are spending a significant amount of time repeating the same information over and over in each of these situations. This is costing us a lot of time the agents could actually be making other phone calls.
Rather than having sales agents repeat the same voicemail over and over, we want to pre-record one highly professional voicemail and then play that recording each time we need to leave a voicemail. Additionally, we want to go ahead and free up the agent to make another call while the recording is being played into the prospect’s voicemail.
We came up with three variations on an approach we thought might work–although none of the variations are quite working correctly. We are not sure what to try next.
Our basic approach is as follows.
- Record a voicemail message and load into Asterisk/FreePBX. (Done)
- Set up 1) an extension/IVR combo, 2) a ring group, or a 3) queue which will play an announcement (i.e. the voicemail). Set up the extension, ring group, or voice mail to terminate the call after the announcement is played. (If using an extension, set up an IVR which plays the announcement and terminates. Forward all calls sent to the extension to the IVR which will play the announcement and terminate the call.)
During the Call
- Telesales agent makes outbound call.
- Agent is transferred to prospect’s voicemail.
- At the end of the prospect’s voice mail announcement (and just prior to the beginning of the voice message being recorded), perform a blind transfer (using ##) to the extension/IVR combo, ring group, or queue where our announcement will be played. (After the transfer, our announcement should play into the prospect’s voicemail and then terminate the call.
In our testing, we came up against a number of issues.
- When testing this functionality with a ring group, we found that if we dialed inbound, we could do a blind transfer (using ## RING-GROUP-NUMBER) but this functionality did NOT work with outbound calls that our telemarketers initiated.
- When testing this functionality with queues, we got exactly the same result as when we tested ring groups. Inbound calls could be blind transferred to the queue but outbound calls could not be blind transferred to the queue.
- When using the extension/IVR combo, the functionality works fine on inbound calls, but blind transfer does not work on outbound calls.
It seems like all of approaches share a common problem. There seems to be an issue with blind transfer on outbound calls.
So, the logical approach is to step back and do a normal transfer. When I am trying to transfer to a ring group, queue, or extension, the call is terminating the connection with the called party and our voice message is not being played for him. So, unfortunately, this is not working either.
Note: As a side note, we were somewhat concerned about using the extension/IVR combo solution even it appears to work. The reason is that we are unsure whether multiple people can be simultaneously routed to/through an extension at the same time. This may be a non-issue.
What can we do to accomplish our objectives? We don’t really care how we do it as long as it works.