Build Low-cost Call Center using Elastix and Asterisk (Part 2)

This post is continuation of the previous post: http://blog.secaserver.com/2012/10/build-low-cost-call-center-elastix-asterisk-1/

Now we should have our PBX ready to receive call. But we are not yet configure on how to manage calls and agents. We should have a system to monitor agent’s activities. We can achieve this by using Call Center module inside Elastix. Install it by go to Elastix > Addons > Call Center > Install. Wait for a while until the process finish.

Configure Call Center

1. Create agent. Agent is the person who will need to login into the call center system and answer the call in queue. Go to Elastix > Call Center > Agent Options > Show Filter > New Agent. Enter agent’s details, example as below:

Agent Number: 501
Agent Name: Mark Derp
Password: 123456
Retype Password: 123456

Click Save and add another agent details:

Agent Number: 502
Agent Name: Karim Benz
Password: 121212
Retype Password: 121212

2. Create Group. We need to allow agents to login into our Elastix system to view the agent’s console. This console will tell the agent which incoming queue coming from, how long is the call durations, what type of calls that coming in and much more. This will be configured later. Go to Elastix > System > Users > Groups > Create New Groups. Enter information as below:

Group: Agent
Description: Call Center Agents

3. Assign Agent Console to Agent group. Go to Elastix > System > Users > Group Permissions > go to page 4 > tick on Agent Console > Save Selected as Accessible.

4. Create user. This will be used by call center agents to login into Elastix system to view campaign, calls and also view the phone book. Go to Elastix > System > Users > Create New User and enter agent #1 details as below:

Login: mark
Name: Mark Derp
Password: q1w2e3
Retype Password: q1w2e3
Group: Agent
Extension: 201

Click Save and create another user for Agent #2 as below:

Login: karim
Name: Karim Benz
Password: hgp4ss
Retype Password: hgp4ss
Group: Agent
Extension: 202

5. Create Form. This form will be used to enter customer’s details when they call in. This is required for reporting. We will do this so agent can fill up some details on the call description and remark. Go to Elastix > Call Center > Forms > Show Filter > Create New Form. Enter details as screenshot below:

 

6. Select Queue. We need to select which queue that will be used inside our call center and activate it. I will activate my SalesCallQueue which has been created on previous post. Go to Elastix > Ingoing Calls > Queues > Show Filter > Select Queue > Select Queue > 301 SalesCallQueue and click Save.

7. Now we can create campaign. Every incoming calls and outgoing calls that agents will call/receive need to be through a campaign. Inside this campaign, we will insert which queue, which form and some description for the caller’s type. Go to Elastix > Call Center > Ingoing Calls > Ingoing Campaigns > Show Filter > Create New Campaign and enter required details as screenshot below:

Click Save and you are done on configuring call center agents, call route, IVR and call queue. We can now proceed to this call center with our call center agents.

 

Install & Configure Softphone (SIP Client)

There will be a lot of SIP clients available which you can used for this purpose. I am going to use X-Lite. You can download the software here: http://www.counterpath.com/x-lite-5-for-windows-download.html

1. Login into the call center agent’s PC and proceed to download and install the software. We will be using this application to connect to PBX server which it will route the call to your PC based on extension number. For agent #1 PC, login as extension 201 with password [email protected] as below:

For agent #2 laptop, login as extension 202 with password [email protected] similar to screen shot above. You should now has log into your extension (consider your phone) into the PBX system.

NOTES: You are not login as agent yet in this step! You just login your phone. Just think that this softphone as your normal phone.

2. Login into Elastix’s Agent Console at https://192.168.0.70 and use login as created in step #4 under Configure Call Center section.

3. Now select the Agent Number and Extension number that has been setup in the PC for agent #1 as screen shot as below:

4. After you click Enter, you should receive a call from the PBX server (the Caller ID will be Anonymous) and you will be asked to enter the agent’s password. Now enter the password that you have setup for this agent as in step #1 under Configure Call Center section by pressing the PC keyboard and press ‘#’ (shift + 3) button. You will now login as agent and will be redirected to the console as below:

 

Testing and Costing

Now call the number that associated with the direct line from mobile phone. You will then be entertained by a digital receptionist with IVR menu. Select the appropriate options and your call will be put on queue. Then automatically your call center agent will get the respective call and hear your voice. The ‘Hangup’ and ‘Transfer’ button in agent console will only available if the agent is having active calls.

As for total cost of this call center, here is my calculation:

===================================
Stuff                |   Cost (MYR)
===================================
Phone line setup fee |   50 x 4
Phone line rental    |   800/month (200/month x 4)
Server Hardware      |   1400
Telephony Card       |   1980
Agent's Phone        |   0
Agent's Headset      |   250 x 2
PBX system           |   0
Call center system   |   0
===================================
Total                |   4080
===================================

As what I stated in the subject of this post, I have achieved my objective in building a call center/centre with lowest cost possible using mostly open-source tools. My total setup cost is only MYR 4080 or around ~USD $1330 with monthly cost for calls by telco which is MYR 800/month or around ~USD $261/month.

5 thoughts on “Build Low-cost Call Center using Elastix and Asterisk (Part 2)

  1. Would it be possible to use PCI modems, provided you have enough slots, rather than going for such an expensive card? Are there cheaper alternatives available?

    Reply

    1. I am afraid that the PCI card will not be detected by Elastix/Asterisk as described in part 1 under Telephony Interface Card section and Configure Elastix section on step #2. You may refer here for more information on supported hardware in Elastix

      Reply

  2. Cannot start agent login – (internal) getagentstatus: Failed to authenticate to ECCP: Invalid username or password

    I get the above error while i login to the agent console, please help

    Reply

  3. when i login to the agent console the xlite popup a call after answering the call it ask for the password at that time i dont know where and how to put the password.can anyone tell me what to do.

    Reply

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