Caller ID is a standard Hosted PBX feature which enables incoming calls to be identified by their Caller ID. An incoming caller’s ID is displayed on the users phone screen.
Similarly, all Hosted PBX extensions can be set to display a certain Caller ID when making outgoing calls. This is useful if a particular phone belongs to a particular department or if an individual wishes to display his/her direct number when placing outgoing calls.
This essential phone feature allows users to transfer calls from their phone. Calls can be transferred to another user, voicemail, an external number, and other destinations.
Call transfers can be done in two distinct ways. The first method is called a Blind Transfer and it will connect two calls immediately. The second is called an Attended Transfer, and this method connects the person making the transfer with the intended recipient first. This gives the transferring user a chance to inform the recipient who is on the line before the actual transfer is made.
Call parking enables a call to be placed in a call parking lot with an assigned number. This parked call can be picked up by any user with any phone. The caller who is placed in the call parking lot will have on-hold music played to them while they are awaiting a pick-up. Calls are assigned specific parking lot numbers upon transfer. The parking lot number is essential to this system, so it is imperative that the person transferring the call notes which parking lot number the call is placed in – the number is read to the transferring user after dialling the extension for the parking lot. Calls can be answered simply by dialling the parking lot number.
This system is extremely useful when there are phones located where there may be more than 1 user (e.g. factory floor, newsroom, meeting room, etc…). Calls can be placed in a parking lot, and the receptionist can simply contact who the intended recipient is and tell them the code to access the call (e.g. “Jill your husband is on line 76” – Jill simply dials 76 on any phone and is connected to her husband).
This feature allows calls which would usually originate at a given location to be forwarded to another. Once call forwarding is activated, all calls are redirected to the intended destination immediately. Calls can be forwarded to another extension, phone number (such as a cell phone), an IVR, and more.
An example of this feature would be if a particular user had to leave the office for a given amount of time and wanted to receive their phone calls at another location.
Call recording is a useful feature which enables a calling or called party to record a conversation using their phone. Call recording can be set to always record, never record, or record strictly on an on-demand basis.
Call recording can be useful for training and/or quality assurance. Some jurisdictions/countries do not allow a call to be recorded without prior consent, please check your local laws before recording a phone call.
FreePBX gives you the ability to view all phone calls in a graphical interface. Hosted PBX allows you to filter by date, extension, user, duration, and more. Totals are calculated based on the filter settings, and are displayed graphically in a number of ways.
This is useful for businesses who need to keep tabs on phone calls and certain individuals/extensions who cannot be directly observed or monitored constantly.
Voicemail is perhaps one of the most known and used feature of a phone system. Voicemail allows callers to leave a voice message which can be played back at a later date/time. By default, voicemails have two separate conditions/messages which can be played.
• ‘unavailable calls’ – when calls are un-answered
• ‘busy calls’ – when a user sets their phone to Do Not Disturb mode
When a call reaches a user’s voicemail, the caller is prompted to leave a message after a pre-recorded (or automated) message. Additional options can be set to route calls should they reach a user’s voicemail (see VMX Locater for more information).
Hosted PBX’s are capable of supporting hundreds of separate voicemail boxes. Hosted PBX’s also have voicemail to email functionality, which allows voicemail messages to be delivered directly to a user’s email address where they can be listened to without the use of their desk phone.
Voicemail to Email
The voicemail to email Hosted PBX feature is a subscribed feature which when enabled, sends a copy of a user’s voicemail message to their specified email address. This feature allows users to listen to their voicemail messages via email or smart-phone device without having to physically use their desk-phone.
This feature has many inherent advantages, however due to requirements which necessitate the use of an external email server, subscription to our voicemail to email service may be mandatory in order for this feature to function.
This feature is controlled in the Hosted PBX User Panel.
Once enabled, the follow me feature will direct calls to alternate extensions/external destinations (such as mobile or landline) should a call persist (ring) longer than the defined number of seconds. At first, the system will ring the initial extension for the defined number of seconds (we recommend 15 seconds). Once the defined duration expires, the system directs the call to ring the extension(s) and/or external destinations listed as follow me numbers. The call can be accepted or rejected by an external device (such as a mobile phone) without the caller having knowledge of this. A rejection will ultimately send the call to the first (original) extension’s busy voicemail*.
This feature ensures that a caller will never reach an external device’s voicemail system. This is extremely beneficial because this ensures that follow me destination voicemails (such as a mobile user’s personal voicemail) is never reached. Keep in mind that once a call is answered on an external device, it cannot be transferred back into the system (e.g. to an extension, ring group, call queue, etc…).
*The phone system is capable of routing the final (unanswered) call to many different destinations (such as voicemails, other extensions, IVR’s, call queues, and more). This is an advanced feature of follow me and requires additional configuration.
This feature is controlled in the Hosted PBX User Panel.
The VMX (Virtual Machine eXtension) locator allows for advanced control of a user’s voicemail system. It is somewhat similar to the Follow Me feature; however it gives callers more control. In essence, the VMX locater is a mini-IVR (interactive voice response) for voicemail.
When a caller reaches a user’s VMX Locater, they are presented with a recorded message. This message would indicate to them that there are options in addition to simply leaving a message. Typically, VMX Locater voicemails would give callers the option of leaving a message OR attempting to contact the intended party. VMX Locater can be configured to work with ‘unavailable’ and/or ‘busy’ voicemails.
For example, a caller reaches your voicemail, and is given the option to: press 1 to call your mobile, press 2 to reach the Vancouver office, press 0 to reach reception, or leave a message. This ensures that the caller is able to contact an appropriate party should they want to, or simply leave a message.
An Interactive Voice Response(IVR)/Auto-attendant feature is perhaps one of the most desirable features for a business PBX. An IVR plays an automated message to all incoming callers. This message plays to the caller, specifies the options which are available to them, and subsequently prompts them to make their selection based on the nature of the call. Once the caller chooses the appropriate option, the call can be routed to the intended party, extension, department, etc. IVR’s are very robust and efficient tools in any business environment, and work to decrease the amount of time spent needlessly on the phone with a caller. Since the entire system is fully automated, calls are routed with more efficiency, and employees are able to maximize their productivity.
Do Not Disturb
The do not disturb feature allows users to set a condition on their handset phones which would automatically reject a call. This is somewhat similar to call forwarding, except that any incoming call will terminate to the users ‘busy’ voicemail (regular unanswered calls terminate to the ‘unavailable’ voicemail). This feature is useful when a user is occupied with an important task and cannot afford to take a call (e.g. important meeting, important task, eating lunch, etc…).
A Call Queue is a feature which places callers into a regulated on-hold system of priority such that the caller with the highest priority (usually the caller on hold the longest) is answered before a caller with a lower one. Call Queues are extremely useful when handling a large number of incoming callers at the same time. Callers can be placed in a queue to be answered by the first available representative (support representative), or placed in a queue which can be answered by a specific agent (sales rep.). While a caller is waiting in a queue, special music on hold and/or messages can be played to them. Users are also able to log in and out of certain queues. This can be useful for users who wish to take lunch and not have their phone ring, or for situations where additional agents can be of use.
Queued calls have numerous options and configurations associated with them. A few of them as follows:
• Call recording
• Agent ring options
o Ring all agents
o Ring available agents only
o Ring certain agents only
o Alert agent how long a caller has been holding prior to answering call
• Call queue ‘weight’ to apply priority to calls from different queues which would be answered by one group of agents (i.e. support calls are higher priority than sales)
• Fully customizable timing and messaging options (how long a caller waits on hold, how often to play a message, automated message which estimates on-hold time, and more…)
Music On Hold
Music on hold is a feature which plays music to callers who have been placed on hold or are currently in a call queue. The music can be customized to play music pertaining to the demographic base of the callers, or simply present the callers with a number of custom recorded messages relating to the potential nature of the call.
An example of this would be to record a message which can then play every X seconds indicating that the call is “important to us and will be answered in priority sequence”.
Another option is to record a message which can be played to callers to inform them of a potential issue which has been made aware (e.g. “we are currently aware of the escaped monkeys and are working to apprehend them. If this call is not concerning the ravenous monkeys, then please continue holding”).
The Office Hours feature makes it possible to route a call based on the time, day of the week, or month. This feature can be useful for routing calls differently after business hours, during weekends, holidays, etc. A good example of this feature in use would be to play to callers a message indicating that the business is currently closed. The message can then inform the caller of the regular business hours and prompt them to leave a message or simply call back during business hours.
The Call Screening feature, when enabled, prevents a number from calling into the phone system. This is useful to prevent unwanted calling/solicitation, prevent harassment and/or abuse, stop telemarketing companies who just won’t give up, and more.
Instant Call Control
The Call Flow Control feature is a unique feature which gives control over the routing of incoming calls with the use of feature codes. This feature is useful in a situation where an incoming number/route would need to be changed on-the-fly.
A good example of this feature in use would be when an office closes for the day. A receptionist (or user) simply dials the code (or presses the BLF button assigned to it) to enable or disable the Call Flow Control.
• When the Call Flow Control is enabled (green BLF), all incoming calls will be directed to the standard IVR (or extension 200 if no IVR is present).
• When Call Flow Control is disabled (red BLF), all incoming calls will be directed to an IVR which alerts the caller that the office is closed.
This IVR message should explain to the user that they may press 1 to leave a message with reception (extension 200 by default) or call back during regular business hours.
Your Hosted PBX is capable of grouping together many extensions into a single dialled extension. For example, if there are sales agents with extensions 220, 221, 222, and 223, then it is possible to assign a ‘Sales’ ring group which when dialled, will call all of the phones simultaneously.
Additional options can be configured such as: the ring strategy (ring all, ring sequentially, ring first available, and more), max ring time, announcement (to be played to the caller prior to dialling the group), whether to ring or play music, and more.
This feature is useful for IVR’s and call queues as incoming calls can be directed to an entire department with ease. This can also be useful if you wish to contact a group of phones internally (technical support agents). It is as simple as assigning those phones to a ring group (such as 601), and dialling it from any system phone.
The conference room feature of your Hosted PBX works to create a meeting room whereby users (both internally and externally) can call in and talk to one another. Conference rooms can be moderated by an admin user, and as well can be password protected to prevent unwanted callers from accessing it. The conference room can be accessed by users internally by dialing the conference room access number. The conference room can be accessed by external users by entering a numerical code after dialing a number.
For example, your conference room can be linked to your IVR message without anyone ever knowing. A caller would dial your regular business number, and once they reached the IVR message, they would enter the access code (#XXX) followed by the password, and they would be connected to the conference room.
Conferences can easily be setup by contacting one or more parties via extension dialing. This conference, however, has restricted functionality, and may not work with outside parties.
This is a feature which can be accessed both externally and internally. When the directory is called, the caller is prompted to enter the first three letters of a user’s first or last name. The directory will then search and match the input to the most probable user and play back that user’s name for verification.
Intercom & Paging
An intercom is a great feature to have in an environment where messages need to quickly be relayed to users across distances or offices. Paging/Intercom allows users to contact each other directly and immediately through the speakerphone (intercom and paging are automatically answered).
Intercom allows one user to contact another user (or users in a ring group) instantly. All parties are able to speak and listen to each other.
Paging allows one user to contact a group of users simultaneously. This differs from the intercom feature due to the fact that it is a one-way audio signal, meaning that those being paged cannot speak back to the pager.
These two features have many advantageous uses. One such use would be efficient in a large work environment such as a warehouse or large office. If a user had an important message to relay to the entire office, they would simply dial the page code which contacted all departments/offices, and speak the message. Everyone (save for those on the phone) would instantly be notified.
Note: Intercom and paging may not work on certain phones. Intercom and paging are not available on the Hosted PBX phone system.
Busy Lamp Field (BLF)
Busy Lamp Field (BLF) is a lighted (green or red) indicator on your phone (or expansion module) which can be configured to indicate the status of certain conditions/features of Hosted PBX.
Examples of BLF which can indicate status are:
• Whether an extension is in use (whether a user is on the phone or not)
• Speed-dial when key is pressed
• Whether or not there is a call parked (awaiting retrieval by someone)
• Whether Call Flow Control has been enabled/disabled (useful for turning on/off open/closed IVR – with a simple button press)
A good example of the ‘extension in use’ BLF would be if someone calls in and wishes to reach Jim at extension 220. The receptionist would take a look at the BLF panel on their phone and see that Jim is on his phone (the light next to Jim’s name is RED), the receptionist can then ask the caller whether or not they would like to leave a message, or try back later. If the caller wants to leave a message, the receptionist simply transfers the call directly to Jim’s voicemail (*220).
The Call Spy feature enables certain privileged users to listen in on any phone call. This feature does not allow the user using call spy to interact with any member of the call being spied on. This feature also does not alert the party being spied on that someone else is listening.
This feature can be useful if an executive wishes to listen to an active call live without the call party knowing.
Direct Inward System Access (DISA)
Direct Inward System Access (DISA) is a system feature which allows a user to access the phone system from external sources. This feature allows users (for example, on a mobile device) to connect into the phone system in order to check voicemail, place calls, dial extensions, and more. This feature works by prompting users to first dial an applicable number (this can be your regular business number or a special number specifically for this purpose), then (this is strongly recommended) dial a special feature code which will then prompt the user to enter a special PIN code. After entering the credentials, the user has access to your system almost as if they were at their desk.
An example of this would be if an employee needed to contact a client when they are not currently in the office. The employee could dial the special number, enter the feature code (#XXXXX), enter the PIN (XXXXX), and proceed to place a call. This is beneficial if the employee (or employer) only wanted clients to see the work caller ID number, and not the employee’s personal or work mobile caller ID. Another unique benefit to this feature is that the caller can use the phone system’s long distance service without worrying about paying ridiculous mobile long distance per-minute fees. In effect, DISA can work to be a calling card for employees.
The browser application of certain phones allows for extreme IP phone functionality and flexibility. In essence, the browser application screen on your phone works like a web-browser, with some limitations. These browsers connect to the Internet to provide users with information such as weather, traffic, finance, world news, and more. These browsers are fully customizable, and be configured to display a vast array of information to users.
An example of this would be if a travel agent wished to provide forecast information to a particular destination. The user could simply select their browser while on the phone with a client, and read back the information in real-time without having to use a computer. There are many distinct advantages of the browser feature; however, it is only accessible on certain phones.
Dictation is a useful feature which allows a user to record audio from their phone. The recording can then be sent to any email address specified to be listened to later.
This can be useful for many scenarios such as:
• Legal Proceedings
• Dictation to be typed out at a later date
• And more
Hosted PBX’s support the ability to add Remote Users. A Remote User is a phone system user who is not located in the office, yet still connects and has the same functionality of an office user. The Remote User must have their remote phone configured to connect to the Hosted PBX located at the central office.
Remote Users allow an individual to work from anywhere in the world, and calls can be placed and received just as if they were sitting at a desk in the office. This is an extremely useful feature which can be taken advantage of in a multitude of situations and scenarios (e.g. employees working from home, employees who are often travelling, employees in another city, country, and more).
Many businesses have multiple offices. Whether separated by large geographical areas, or by several floors, and depending on whether there are numerous employees at each office, it can be necessary to provide a Hosted PBX to each office. Multiple Hosted PBX’s in multiple offices are able to work in tandem, and is recommended in situations where there is a large employee base (usually 15-20+) in each individual office. This is highly recommended if offices are separated by large geographical margins (e.g. 3 offices with 20+ personnel located in Toronto, Los Angeles, and Miami – it is highly recommended that there be 3 separate Hosted PBX’s).
The beauty of multiple Hosted PBX’s, is that they can be configured to work together flawlessly. Almost every Hosted PBX feature can work between offices (e.g. conferences can be held between offices, calls can be transferred from one office to another, employees can call each other free of charge, and more).