Use case: LiveAgent & software phones clients & apps
New features, fixes, interface changes, guides, and documentation will follow faster than ever before and we will update our knowledge base accordingly, counting in this very guide you are reading. Now, let’s get to it!
When we decided to build our own call center, we did so with important principles in mind: flexibility, customizability, openness. Which means, the decision on how to use our feature set is in your hands – our vision is that the customer should decide on what usage-style suits his specific use case – not us. Now there’s no right or wrong way to with use this set of features; you have options. Many different options. One of them is using softphone software to handle incoming and outbound calls with ease. Let’s have a look at how to configure this scenario and use it in real life. Read along.
1. Why is using a softphone software a good idea?
Softphone clients have been around for years and many of them are open source and free with amazing support from developers and the community around them. Your agents might find it easier and more convenient to have a clear differentiation between good old “ticketing” and calls. Softphone clients like X-Lite and MicroSIP (that we’ll use for our setup demonstration) do just that.
2. Using softphone does not take the call feature out of context of LiveAgent’s functionality, it compliments it.
Let’s put a very important notice out there straight away: when using a software phone, integration with LiveAgent stays in place and not a single call can be done without our helpdesk solution noticing it and doing its job. You can still count on precise reporting, call recordings, ticket creation and a full managerial overview.
The softphone is a nice addition to LiveAgent; not a “must have” 3rd party software that you need.
With all the formalities cleared up, let’s have a look at how to proceed with an actual software phone setup within LiveAgent and let’s add few best practices into to the mix to make call center usage as seamless and effortless as possible.
Working with software phones clients
As previously mentioned, softphone is an addition to LiveAgent’s call center feature and It has to be treated that way. Therefore, integration is always done on a “device level”; never via direct connection to your provider. Adding SIP provider to your LiveAgent is a pre-requisite to the successful setup of a software phone client. To be absolutely precise and get technical, adding SIP trunk is mandatory if you want to receive or make calls from and to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Calls are still being handled, recorded and tracked by LiveAgent itself and our robust network infrastructure.
For adding your own SIP provider into LiveAgent, please refer to the guide: Integration of SIP provider for hosted licenses
Once done, the path forward is pretty straightforward. LiveAgent will handle softphone as another device and can be seamlessly used along IP phones or browser calls based on user preference.
Best practice: The Softphone option should be treated as a preferred way of using phone functionality, rather than handling calls on a browser level. The WebRTC framework that is responsible for voice functionality in the browser is everchanging and sometimes it might affect user experience and be the root cause of small bugs or instability, because of changes to the code that are being done by browser vendors like Google, Apple, Mozilla or Microsoft. Please, bear in mind that this is just a suggestion and we are fully dedicated to keeping WebSIP client functional, stable and reliable via constant monitoring, listening to feedback and consequential software updates.
Adding a device to LiveAgent’s Call Center:
The Devices section can be found under Configuration->Call->Devices and is used for connecting software phones as well as hardware IP phones with LiveAgent. Only admins have access to this section.
To add a device click on the ‘Create’ button and you'll be asked to define a unique number, that will serve as an indicator to identify a specific paired device. As an example, you can go with 001, 002, 003, etc. naming scheme to keep things nice and simple. Also, very soon you’ll be able to define a name for a device for sake of easier identification of associations between particular devices and agents using them.
After you've picked a number, click Create and you will be presented with the details you need to configure for your hardware or software phone.
To integrate the software phone, please open the configuration window of the client (we are using MicroSIP for this demonstration) and add the presented credentials into account configuration.
After you fill in all the required fields, you will be presented with a dial pad which should clearly indicate “Online” status, meaning the device addition process has been successful.
Pay close to attention to the required fields in the softphone client; since this whole process is “just” a device configuration, you can safely ignore any advanced settings, codecs or other menus that serve for direct integration with the SIP provider.
In most cases, putting data into the fields below will result in a working integration:
The naming scheme in other popular 3rd party software phone solutions might slightly differ, however it’s safe to assume that SIP Server, User, domain and Password fields would be common and present in whatever client you go for.
Also, let us remind you that the described configuration can be seamlessly used even on mobile platforms i.e. iOS and Android. Some of the Android devices might even have SIP functionality at your disposal, by default, on the system level. As a result, your smartphones can keep you and your agents online and ready to receive calls meant for them on the go no matter where they are. Please see some of the examples of tested & working softphones apps below:
Once you have successfully added the device(s); your agents will need to choose the device they will use to answer calls in their agent panel by clicking on “Phone” icon in the upper right corner of their agent panel and then on clicking on “set my phone field”. Afterwards, they need to check the radio button labeled as “phone” and pick a unique device number that has been previously defined by the system administrator.
Afterwards, just click save and the software phone client will become fully usable for receiving and even making phone calls. All the phone calls received or made by the softphone client will be recorded and tracked in real time directly in LiveAgent’s interface.
Complete guidance on how to choose a device as available is in the article: Choosing the device to answer the calls
Even while using softphone as the primary communication tool related to Call Center, your agents can still use the “call back” feature directly from LiveAgent’s interface. This is very useful since there is no need to import/re-create the contact list. If an agent needs to call back to a missed call, they can do so “as usual”; directly from LiveAgent’s interface. This action will trigger the softphone to “ring” and after clicking on the Answer button in the client itself; the call will go straight to the customer.
Dialing phone numbers via softphone client or app
Notice the dial-out prefix that is set to 01 for this specific number. So if you decide to dial a number from your softphone desktop client or mobile app, please do not forget to use it before you proceed. Later on, we will add a feature to set a default number(s) for outgoing calls that will effectively eliminate this added complexity.
For the sake of this demonstration, we will use the combination of Slovak country prefix (00421) and dial out prefix set to "01":
Format 01 00421 914160166 -------> Works with no reported issues.
Format 01+421914160166 -------------> Does not work with no additional consequences.
Format 914160166 -----------> Does not work and results in "stuck" call inside LiveAgent's interface.
This is how MicroSIP's dial pad screen should look like if I decide to use the client itself to do an outgoing call to cell phone number in Slovakia: