As of August 2008, RingCentral has added ACD(Automatic Call Distribution) Queues to their feature list. This is something their customers have been waiting for, and their competitors have been dreading, we’re sure. While this is a great upgrade to their current offering and a stellar attempt at ACD queuing, there are a few problems that we feel make RingCentral’s offering “almost” an ACD Queue feature offering, but lacks a few key features that ends up religating it to a very sophisticated Hunt Group feature instead.
In this article we will go over how it works, some of the key features, what’s lacking to really make it a true ACD Queue system, and some reported issues they seem to be having. Be sure to read our full review of RingCentral, as well as see side by side comparisons of RingCentral and other top providers.
How it works:
As this diagram shows, a customer calls in using your RingCentral phone number, and the presses 8 to get the Shipping department. From there he waits in the Shipping Department queue, while the system forwards the call to the extensions of the employees who have been assigned to the queue. In this case it’s 2 employees, Andy and Sara. First the system rang Andy’s work phone, and mobile phone, but he did not answer, so the system moved on to Sara, and she answered the call using her softphone.
During the time the customer is waiting in the Queue, he can be listening to either must on hold, or pre-recorded messages letting him know of your upcoming sales, specials, or promotions you may have. The time that the caller waits on hold before being sent to voice mail is also configurable. There is also a configurable “upper” limit of calls for queuing, which when reached, all new calls are routed directly to voice mail until the call volume comes below the limit again.
Now there is much more to it than this, but this is a smple over-view of how a Queue works. We will get into the full list of features in a bit, however, with this overview, you should be able to see the power and flexibility available to you.
Features and Functions:
With Queues you can:
- Forward callers to multiple extensions
- Keep your callers on hold indefinitely or for a set period of time while trying to locate more agents
- Easily communicate to customers – he can press 1 to leave a message, if he doesn’t wish to remain on hold
- With Calling Queues you have more options than simple Answering Rules. See the table below for the differences:
|Call Queues||Answering Rules|
|Sequentially in Fixed Order|
|Sequentially in Rotating Order|
|Fewest Number of Calls|
|Longest Waiting Time|
So what do these features actually mean?
- Sequentially in Fixed Order – When multiple agents are available (not on a call), the system will attempt to reach them in the exact order you specify in the list.
- Sequentially in Rotating Order – When multiple agents are available, the system will rotate (in the order you specify) the first agent that is called (aka “Round Robin”). Great for distributing Sales calls, for example.
- Simultaneously – When multiple agents are available, the system will forward the caller to all of the availableagents at the same time.
- Random Order – When multiple agents are available, the system randomly selects an agent to forward call.
- Fewest Number of Calls – When multiple agents are available, the system will forward the call to the agent who has answered the least amount of calls within a 1 hour period.
- Longest Waiting – When multiple agents are available, the system will forward the call to the agent who whose been available the longest without answering a call.
- Skill Based When multiple agents are available, the system will always forward the call to the agent with the highest skill level (High, Medium or Low) within the queue.
* In all cases, if no agents are available, the caller will wait on hold and will be sent to the first agent that becomes available.
You can also:
- have an unlimited number of Agents and Queues
- have up to 50 callers on hold in each Queue
- forward calls to remote offices and employees
- report on Queue and Agent call activity
- set up skills based as well as rules based call routing
- have custom greetings, as well as music and messages on hold
Here is a screen shot of the setup screen so you can get a good feel for how it looks and a few of the features available:
There is no real time monitoring where managers can see at a glance what is going on with your queuing system – who is on what call, how long a call has been on hold, how long since the last call, which agents have taken how many calls, which agents may be avoiding calls, and which agents are currently on calls.
Along this same line, there is no presence management, in which you manage agent’s current availabillity in queues. You are either in a queue or not.
Because of the above issues, reporting is a bit lacking as well. With True ACD queues, you would expect to be able to track and trend traffic statistics in order to determine staffing needs, which campaigns produce which types of calls, etc. This is currently not available.
Now for the “not so good”…
It appears that some users of the ACD Queue feature are finding issue with the fact that if an agent does not respond to a call from a queue (does not answer a call that’s directed to them), the system will mark them as ‘unavailable’, and will not direct any further calls to them until their status is reset to available.
The workaround from RingCentral for now is to have the agent stay logged into their account extension and keep an eye on the status and change it if need be. They state that they are working on implementing the ability to change the agent status for a queue, into the Call Controller, which will make it easier to manage.
Another issue that has been brought up is the problem of maintaining queues. You can not easily remove a person from a queue, but rather you have to delete the entire queue and rebuild it. This is related to the “no presence” issue above, and makes it literally impossible to maintain large queues, or queues where people may “help out” during peak periods.
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