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UnifiedTechs-Brian

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I am replacing a clients old POTS based Panasonic PBX with a new Kerio Operator SIP based one and have a request for a weird feature the system does not support, but it sounds like they type of thing we can hire a service for.

A client calls outside of business hours and chooses the option they have an emergency (at this point we would forward to the new service) they are then prompted to record a voicemail. After they leave a voicemail the service calls a series of employee phone numbers one at a time until someone answers and presses a key to acknowledge they answered and play back the message.

I know they can hire a answering service where they get a human but they are expensive and an automated service should be much cheaper.

I am open to other options to solve this but it must ring phones and be able to confirm a actual person received the message, no email or text based notifications.

P.S. Great opportunity for a new feature Kerio... hint, hint.

- Brian
Kerio Preferred Partner, Reseller & Hosting Provider
Unified Technology Solutions
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Brian Carmichael (Kerio)

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Normally I would suggest having the voicemail sent as an SMS message, however you indicated that the notification cannot use email or SMS because there is some requirement that the receiving party must acknowledge that they can listen to the message and this acknowledgment must be using a DTMF tone. Based on this very specific description and set of requirements I presume that this is for some particular industry and is a requirement for compliance within that industry. Is that correct?
Why does the notification have to be based on an inbound phone call?
Is there a service that they were using previously for this, or was this a feature of the previous system?

Brian Carmichael
Senior Technical Marketing Engineer | Kerio
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UnifiedTechs-Brian

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It is not a compliance requirement, but the best way they found to inexpensively fill a contractual requirement. I'll give more details and consider other options as long meet requirements without producing shortcomings.

The potential client is a property management company, they are responsible for arranging maintenance repairs at multiple communities. An after-hours emergency would consist of something like a burst water pipe, damage to a community building that needs to be boarded up, building or apartment specific power outage, access gate not working, burning electrical smells (after they call 911 of course), or any other situation where property damage or loss of the occupants ability to access or stay in the property needs to be responded too immediately.

They have a system where 1 employee has a payment arrangement where he is paid a flat monthly amount to take these calls any time day or night when the office is closed but they do not actually stay awake 24/7 to do this. Text or email would probably not reliably wake him up at 2am so it needs to be a phone call. There are times he may not get the call because phone died, isn't on him, at the movies, etc.. so we don't want to just forward the original caller to him because they may just get his cellphone voicemail, and if he doesn't get the message someone else must be alerted he didn't receive the call and hopping a caller through forward after forward could take a while. Of course we also don't want to wake up everyone at 2am, so this is why it must be in order and must have a way to acknowledge the call was received and stop it from trying to keep calling others.

Usually a company would hire an after hours answering service where a person at a call center takes the message and then work down a phone tree until the message is confirmed as passed on to an employee of the company, but this only happens a few times a month and live answering services are expensive. This clients current Panasonic Phone system has a "Virtual Answering Service" feature that replicated a normal answering service doing what is mentioned above but without an actual human answering the phone originally.

I can think of many other companies that hire live answering services that I could sell this as a major cost savings feature if it was to be implemented in Operator directly, but for this situation an inexpensive service would do.

- Brian
Kerio Preferred Partner, Reseller & Hosting Provider
Unified Technology Solutions
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Brian Carmichael (Kerio)

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Why not give to the client the cell phone number of this individual who is being paid for this emergency service?
Otherwise, would it be possible to use the Panasonic system for this specific scenario? You could get an ATA to interface to that system. Unfortunately I'm not able to imagine any flow that would meet your requirements.

Brian Carmichael
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UnifiedTechs-Brian

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Brian Carmichael (Kerio) wrote on Mon, 24 October 2016 11:17
Why not give to the client the cell phone number of this individual who is being paid for this emergency service?
Otherwise, would it be possible to use the Panasonic system for this specific scenario? You could get an ATA to interface to that system. Unfortunately I'm not able to imagine any flow that would meet your requirements.


Because there is no way to fail over if the original person does not answer, and the person being paid. Also people have crazy ideas of what is an emergency, we are not talking 1 company we are talking 1000s of individual home owners and renters. If it is not really an emergency you don't want them blowing up a cell phone all night arguing with the employee.

Using the old Panasonic system defeats the whole purpose of replacing the old system and brings up the obvious argument of why replace the system at all or just replace it with another Panasonic.

I guess I'm just amazed with all the expensive live answering services out there that a virtual service seems so far fetched. No one must have Doctors, Dentists, Plumbers, Electricians, Lock Services, A/C & Refrigerant Services, Bails Bondsman, or any other 24/7 based emergency service companies as clients and see how they all would love such a feature. I can think of a ton of companies this would save money for over traditional answering services.

- Brian
Kerio Preferred Partner, Reseller & Hosting Provider
Unified Technology Solutions
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Brian Carmichael (Kerio)

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I researched "Virtual Answering Service" and all results seemed to promote answering by a live person. The part which is challenging based on your requirements is having a voicemail trigger an outbound call. The other challenge is the playback of a message and the use of DTMF to accept the message. This sounds like a functional workflow developed around an analog phone system. Have you seen this in other IP PBX systems? Perhaps you might consider using Google Voice for this emergency number. In Google Voice you can enable call screening so that the caller must state their name, and the receiving party must key a number to confirm that they want to accept the call. You also have forwarding options so that you can use other backup numbers.

Brian Carmichael
Senior Technical Marketing Engineer | Kerio
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