dmSwitchboard12 features and buyers guide

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dmSwitchboard12 has all the features you expect from an enterprise grade switchboard. But it's hosted by us in the cloud, rather than on a box in your office, so you don't have to worry about support, maintenance or upgrades: we take care of all that for you.

The dmSwitchboard12 development team's view: We have operated hosted switchboards for over 10 years, and listened to our customers. We never ceased to be impressed by the thought that they put into getting the best out of this vital business tool.

When we started dmSwitchboard12 we evaluated many of the offerings in the market, for our needs, and our customers's needs. Also when we have sold to second-time-around'ers, we have listened to their tales.

We decided to publish the features of dmSwitchboard12 because we wanted to share some of the insight gained, so that you might understand some of the subtleties behind the decisions that we made. There's a set of tick boxes in the feature tables below to help your decision making and you may have some other needs that you would like (we have not listed all the features that we have). The case studies illustrate how the features add value to a business.

Whatever switchboard you choose, we hope that it serves you and your business well.

Switchboard Control Plan: complete and clear control of call handling

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Extension model The switchboard consists of a set of dialable extensions that people can call Yes
DDI to Extension Any Reception, Team or Personal Extension can have an external direct-dialable number Yes
Reception Extension An extension that handles outside calls and allows callers to select a team extension from a set of prompts or dial an individual's extension directly
Team Extension An extension that links to several people available to answer a call, with the common purpose of a function or a department, with an internally dialable 3-digit number.
Personal Extension An extension associated with an individual person, with an internally dialable 3-digit number.
Special Extension An extension that allows a user to test their phone, or perform utility functions (e.g. set their voicemail outgoing message), with an internally dialable 3-digit number.

Your switchboard's 'plan' controls how calls are handled, using a mixture of reception, team and personal extensions. Reception extensions offer a greeting and department choice, team extensions distribute calls to team members, and personal extensions allow everyone to take inbound and make outbound calls. Each extension can have a direct dial inwards (DDI) number allocated to it.

Buyers guide

While there are many features available as add ons, the essence of a switchboard must be simple, so that you can harness it as part of the business process.

Common pitfalls

  • Having an overly-powerful and complicated interface, giving the impression of having been designed by a clever technical person for use by another clever technical person!

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study

Message Taking: capture the caller's business when you are unavailable

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Email delivery Call details, including CLI, delivered to your email address Yes
Call records You can see when you were called if you need to find a voicemail again Yes
Customised Outgoing Message (OGM) Use your voice or a professionals to invite callers to leave a message Yes
Multiple Voicemail boxes Each extension has its own voicemail account with individual settings. This increases the caller's confidence that they are through to the right department, and ensures that the right person gets the message. Yes
dmAnswers integration Send call overflows to a human answering service (an add-on) when getting all messages is important Unique feature

You can't always answer your caller, but each extension can take messages using voicemail or our plug-in human answering service, and deliver them to you within seconds.

Buyers guide

Good message-taking can be vital to your business, especially when you are trying to capture new sales enquiries. We offer voicemail, or a human answering service. Voicemail is best delivered to your email, not left in a voicebox waiting for you to dial in to collect it. You can access it again, if you want to check a detail, and also have the convenience of pause and replay.

Common pitfalls

  • If you give someone a bland/irrelevant/uncaring OGM they may not bother leaving a message.
  • Not responding to voicemails quickly.
  • Not getting your voicemails onto more permanent and searchable storage.

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study - Jane Williams

Hunt: from parrallel ringing to optimal control of answering times and call distribution

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Timed phasing Depending on how long the team extension has been ringing, more people can be included into the team Yes
Parallel calls Several personal extensions can be rung at the same time Yes
AnyTalk This works with AnyTalk>

When you are busy with lots of calls it's important that you don't leave callers waiting too long. The team extension 'hunts' the available team members until one takes the call. Some team members can be held in reserve and phased in if the caller has been kept waiting for more than targeted times.

Buyers guide

When you are working with a team it is vital to balance having calls answered within target times, having primary and secondary people to answer the calls, and managing the interruption of people who may be concentrating on other matters. This is generally handled by having "phases" of people who are brought into the answering pool as the phone call rings for longer.

Common pitfalls

  • Not having parallel hunting
  • Not having phasing of team members

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study - all users

Caller ID and Enhanced Call Information: better call presentation for a good connection

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Inbound caller ID to PSTN When calls are delivered on your landline or mobile the original Caller ID is passed on Unique feature
Inbound Enhanced Call Information to PSTN When calls are delivered to your landline or mobile we can "whisper" the company and extension the call was to Unique feature
Inbound Caller ID to SIP phone When calls are delivered on your SIP phone Caller ID is included Yes
Inbound Enhanced Call Information to SIP phone When calls are delivered to your SIP phone we can "whisper" the company and extension the call was to Unique feature
Inbound call presentation on the WebPhone We deliver the Caller ID, the Enhanced Call Information, and how the call flowed through the system Unique feature
Inbound Caller ID on unattended transfers We pass on the Caller ID when you do an unattended transfer, even when going to PSTN Unique feature
Outbound Caller ID control by extension You can set the Caller ID for each extension, and you can choose reception, team or personal DDI numbers, or withheld. This feature is consistently available across all access methods. Unique feature

CallerID and enhanced information present your calls in a way that's professional and informative, so that they start on the right foot.

You can select the CallerID used by your outbound calls, so that people know who's calling, and have your number in their phone's memory.

When you receive calls you will see the incoming CallerID and, with enhanced call information ,how the call came through the switchboard, allowing you to answer with the appropriate company and department greeting.

Buyers guide

Inbound: Caller ID is essential to starting the call properly. You need to know who is calling, and where are they calling to within your organisation (was it a sales or support department call?), or if you have several brands in your business, which business were they calling, and how should you answer.

Outbound: Caller ID is very important to have a warm start to outbound calls. If the person you are calling does not see your caller ID (particularly on a mobile), they may well assume it's a nuisance call and leave it to go to voicemail. Also people like being able to call back to the number that called them, and use that number to populate their address book. With AnyTalk our system enables you to have consistent CallerID presentation, no matter where or how you are placing the call.

Common pitfalls without CallerID

  • Inbound
    • Many systems that offer a divert to Landline/Mobile, do not pass on the Caller ID or pass on the destination of the call, so you are not sure who is calling you, or in what capacity you should be answering.
    • Not answering in the right company/department name, because the system did not tell you.
  • Outbound
    • Calling someone with a withheld number
    • Calling someone with an international number
    • Calling someone with an unrecognised number
    • A mobile number may give a wary start to the call, or worse, prompt transfer to voicemail
    • Giving someone a number that they should not or can't call you back on

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study - Jane Williams

Open Hours: appropriate call handling whether you're open or closed

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Bank Holidays You can specify special behaviour for Bank/National Holidays Yes
Multiple matches You can specify several different patterns for open hours Yes
Individual extension overrides Individual extensions can use the company central default, or have their own values Yes
Company central default You create a default for the company, that can be centrally managed Yes

Calls should be handled differently when you're open and when you're closed. You can set a company wide default for your opening hours, then override on a per-extension basis as required.

Buyers guide

Usually when closed switchboards will not try to have the call answered, but will immediately give an out of hours message, and then put it through to VoiceMail or an answering service.

Common pitfalls

  • Not handling Bank Holidays
  • Making everything on the switchboard use only one set of open hours

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study - Priya Williams

AnyTalk: freedom to use traditional and internet telephony, whenever and wherever

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
SIP phones Several Internet telephony (SIP) phones can be connected on one personal extension, they can be handsets or softphones (PC/smartphones) Yes
PSTN phones You can use mobiles or landlines to work with your switchboard, unlike other switchboards, it's not a second class citizen World-first feature
WebPhone You can use our WebPhone to work with the switchboard, with zero configuration.
See the WebPhone section
World-first feature
Caller ID and Enhanced Call Information Essentially, all phone types are fully supported.
See Caller ID and Enhanced Call Information
World-first feature
MidCall Menu Essentially all phone types offer all features and are consistent.
See MidCall Menu
World-first feature
PSTN call phasing You can have calls delivered to your mobile or landline as a backup, with a delay behind in internet phone Unique feature
CLI authenticated login You can dial into the switchboard from your landline or mobile phone with automatic authentication, to access any extension, or to make outbound calls World-first feature
Disaster recovery If your office or internet is out of action, fall back to mobile phones, with full business functionality, at the touch of a button.
See plan manager
World-first feature

You have complete freedom to use internet and traditional telephony with your switchboard, giving the cost-savings of VOIP and the reliability of the PSTN network.

Buyers guide

In reality most businesses have people with different needs and skill levels, but who nonetheless need to be part of the team when away from the office, or remote working. While Internet telephony offers free calls and advanced features, it is not ubiquitous, and is vulnerable to internet outages.

AnyTalk offers you the freedom, ubiquity and ease of setup of traditional pstnPhones, along with the cost savings and sophistication of internet telephony. dmSwitchboard12 is a 'true hybrid phone system' — the only true hybrid in the world.

Common pitfalls of VOIP only systems

  • Some people in your company don't like being forced to use new phones.
  • Your Internet supplier has a bad hair day and your business stops.
  • When you are away from the office and don't have the ability to use the switchboard as a member of the team.

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study

Plan Manager & Editor: agile, resilient switchboard management

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Plan Manager A webapp allowing you to manage a set of switchboard plans. You have options to edit, activate, and delete plans World-first feature
Plan Editor A web control that allows you to build and change the plan for your switchboard Yes
Plan Editor tooltips All elements of the plan have mouseover tool tips with handy advice Unique feature
Rapid plan creation You can build a plan from scratch in a matter of minutes World-first feature
Plan report A report of your plan, that can used for documentation, and an extensions handout to the company Yes
Plan auto-save Automatic saving of your changes as you edit. Unique feature
Plan version retention We retain all versions of your plan for at least 2 months, so that if you make a edit error, you can go back, even it it is weeks later. World-first feature
Responsive editor and manager All these controls are done using Web 2.0 ajax technology, to give desktop application type speeds of use. World-first feature
Disaster recovery plan You can set a specific plan to be your disaster recover plan, should your office or infrastructure have problems. World-first feature
Plan activator When the plan is activated, all related services are automatically updated in a consistent manner, and any audio resources are uploaded. World-first feature
Rapid deployment When you activate your plan, everything deployed and configured automatically in less than a minute. World-first feature
Integrated VoiceOver Works in an integrated way with your voiceover system, to make it easy to have your own voice on the switchboard.
See VoiceOver

Business call handling can be updated at any time through a simple and responsive web interface. When you introduce new business processes, or your company changes, your switchboard keeps pace.

Plans are stored with full version control, so you can revert to any previous plan at any time. There is even a special DR (disaster recovery) plan for companies who must be continuously available despite natural disasters or acts of god.

Buyers guide

As a switchboard may be part of your company's "Business Process" for many years, there will plenty of changes that you need to control and manage. It is very important to be able to save and modify plans.

Common pitfalls

  • You muck up your new switchboard configuration, and you can't go back to the previously working one.
  • You buy a system that requires intricate manual work, so that you are demotivated from adapting your switchboard so that it matches your business needs as they change.
  • You are so exhausted by getting anything working properly, that you never use the advanced features, as you dare not change it "look it's working at the moment, don't touch it"

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study - Ray Smith

VoiceOver: greet and inform your callers with your 'voice' and brand

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Auto Catalog On request from the plan editor, the system generates a comprehensive catalog of sound files to be recorded. Unique feature
Template recording files When the catalog request is prepared, there are also template sound files that have the correct name and audio format, that you can record over. Unique feature
Integrated into deployment It will automatically load the sound files when deploying the plan, different plans can use different sources Yes
Progress reports Whenever there is a catalog prepared, a check done, or an activation, there is a record on the file system, so that you know how well everything went. Yes
Cloud data It uses your cloud space, that you can manage (we have a free service that we have tested and recommend). Uses the WebDav standard, which you can access as a directory from any of your computers. Unique feature
ProVoiceOver available if you would prefer our voiceover artist to record your voiceovers we can arrange it Yes

VoiceOver allows you to record your own switchboard scripts. If callers hear a friendly and relevant message more calls get through, and caller’s are more inclined to leave voicemail when you’re not available.

Buyers guide

VoiceOver allows you to replace all the greetings and prompts on your switchboard. You can use the voice of someone within your company or choose to have your voice-overs prepared by a voice-over artist (e.g. ProVoiceOver).

Common pitfalls

  • Some switchboards can make it hard to upload audio files.
  • It is important to have good documentation on what the various prompt files are for, and what script that they should contain.
  • Not keeping a good backup of your prepared sound files.

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study

MidCall Menu: makes good teamwork with phone calls easy

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
Unattended transfer Transfer a caller to another extension or PSTN number, wihout any introduction or checking that the call is put through Yes
Attended transfer Transfer a caller to another extension or PSTN number, with a briefing / consultation then handover, or return to caller Unique feature
3-way conference Call a 3rd party extension or PSTN number and all confer together. The original recipient can leave the conference and the call will continue Unique feature
AnyTalk MidCall Menu options, with consistent control across PSTN phones, SIP Phones and WebPhones World-first feature
AnyTalk Provides the Caller ID when doing an unattended transfer, across PSTN phones, SIP phones, WebPhones, and to 3rd-party PSTN calls World-first feature
On Hold When the original caller is on hold while performing mid-call actions, hold music will play. Yes

With the MidCall Menu you can transfer calls around your company quickly and effectively, or initiate conference calls.

Buyers guide

MidCall Menu offers you call-on-hold, unattended transfer, attended transfer and 3-way conference. This is done in a consistent way, across all the phone types, with guided menus. These are really important as you pass inbound calls around the company. If you don't get this right your callers will be annoyed with you.

Common pitfalls

  • Many VOIP switchboards can not handle unattended transfer at all. As a result you hope that your handset does it, and have to learn on the individual handset.
  • Many VOIP switchboards while they have conferencing, have a very complicated process for transferring an inbound call to conference (a lot of VOIP handsets handle this themselves, but it can be clunky, is non standard, and consumes double the bandwidth).
  • Unhelpful and unguided menu systems, can result in frustration and embarrassment in front of customers: "I would like to transfer you to Bill, but I just can't get the hang of this **** new phone system!".

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study

WebPhone: internet phone calls on your PC with zero setup

Feature Description SB12 Competitor
6x simultaneous calls The WebPhone can take up to six simultaneous calls, and has the ability to put calls on hold Yes
10x accounts

Zero setup automatic provisioning All credentials and setup information is automatically inserted World-first feature
Separate ringing and audio You can have ringing (e.g. loudspeaker) on a separate device from the call reception (e.g. bluetooth headset) Unique feature
Jump to front The WebPhone can be in the background while you are working, but jumps to the front when a call arrives Unique feature
Enhanced Call Information All call information, including the path that the call has taken through the switchboard World-first feature
Free with SB12 Normally you would have to pay for such an advanced soft phone Yes

All extensions come with a free WebPhone, which allows you to take and make calls using your PC and a connected headset.

Buyers guide

The WebPhone allows you to have a powerful internet phone. We have targeted the simplicity of Skype's setup and usage. * Currently windows only, other platforms will be supported later.

Common pitfalls

  • Setting up SIP phones can take time, and getting them 'tuned' to the LAN can be a skilled job.
  • Avoid the hassle of research and selection of softphones.

See also:
'William's Widgets' case study - Ray Smith

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