Phone channel is an integrated voice telephony service right inside your helpdesk. With the phone channel, agents can route and pick up calls from their desktops or mobile phones, without having to set up any hardware whatsoever.


Freshdesk’s built-in phone channel lets you set up support hotlines that are closely integrated with the rest of your support channels, in a matter of minutes. With this, agents can route and pick up calls from their desktops or mobile phones, without having to setup any hardware.

 

Why use the built-in phone channel?

  • Completely cloud based: You do not require any hardware setup or software installation. It works completely over the internet and it is set up by default in your Freshdesk account.

  • Local and Toll-Free numbers : You can purchase local and Toll free numbers which your customers can call for support. Your customers will be charged when they call your local number. Or you can let your customers call the toll free numbers with charges on the house. You can view the number purchase and call charges here

  •  Direct callers with Smart IVRs : You can create multiple levels of IVRs to collect inputs and streamline callers to the right team, agent or department. You can let your customers pick who they want to talk to using IVRs.

  • Customize Greetings and Queues : When customers call in to your helpline, you can choose to greet them with a custom “hello”. You can record your welcome message, or just convert the text you enter into speech. You can also customize the length of your caller queue and maximum amount of time your customers will stay on hold. 

  • Transfer calls to agents and external numbers : You can transfer calls midway to other agents or any other external number you want. Call transfers are especially useful when callers need additional information, or calls need to be reassigned to a different department or agent. 

  • Answer via browser, or  take calls on a physical phone (mobile or landline) : Your agents get the flexibility of taking calls from the browser, or answer support calls from their phones. Agents can even choose to be “on call” by answering urgent queries on their mobile devices even when they are away from their desks. 

  • Automatic call record You can choose to automatically record all calls made and received in your support desk. While recording calls is a great way to ensure you don’t miss useful nuggets of your conversation later, it is considered slightly offensive in most places if you don’t inform your customers before hand, other than being illegal.

  • Convert calls to tickets : You can choose to convert your recorded calls into Freshdesk tickets. At the end of every call, you have the option to “convert the call into a new ticket”, or “append it to an existing one”. Of course, if you just got a call about a new Credit Card offer, you might just as well ignore it and move on. 

  • Block calls : Promotional calls, prank calls or any number you wish to avoid can be blocked. You will not be notified when you receive calls from the blocked numbers. You can always go back to the logs and unblock them if you want. 

Purchasing your phone number

Phone channel is currently available for businesses in 41 countries. Here's a complete list of countries

If your country’s on the list, all you have to do is

  • Login to your Freshdesk account.
  • Click on Admin > Support Channels > phone channel.
  • Click on Buy Number.
  • You can choose to buy a local number in your country and charge customers when they call. Or you can buy a Toll-free number and bear incoming call charges.
  • Select the Local tab or the Toll-free tab based on your choice.


Local number

  • Pick the country and the corresponding state (in the case of US) where you want your local number to be available in.
  • Note that some countries, like Mexico, have additional requirements and documents that you need to submit before you can purchase a number.
  • You can also use the search box on the left and find out numbers that have specific digits or phrases.
  • Choose the number you want from the list that gets generated below.
  • Click on the Purchase number button that appears when you hover over the number and
  • complete the purchase.


Toll-free number:


  • Select the country and the extension of the toll-free number you would like.
  • You can also use the search box to find numbers with specific digits or phrases you want.
  • Click on the Purchase number button that appears when you hover over the number and
  • complete the purchase.


Once you purchase your phone number, the following takes place:

  • The phone widget appears at the bottom of your helpdesk.
  • The availability toggle appears next to your profile in the top right corner.
  • Your helpdesk dashboard shows a live summary of the number of calls in progress, number of agents online and a Call History button.

You can purchase multiple phone numbers from various countries and set up toll-free helplines inside Freshdesk without using any third party services.

Please note that you will be charged standard rates for incoming, outgoing and forwarded calls from your help desk.


Understanding Phone Channel


Customizing your phone number:

You can configure every phone number separately and let it have its own set of customizations.

  • Click on Admin > Support Channels > Phone.
  • The numbers you have already purchased will be listed here. • Click on the Edit button next to the number to customize it.

Record calls


  • You can choose to record all the calls to and from this number (Make sure your customers know that you’re recording their calls. It’s illegal in some countries.).
  • Your call recording can be made visible only to agents or both customers and agents. 
    • When you convert recordings incoming and outgoing calls, that are visible to customers and agents, into tickets, the ticket description will have the recording

    • If it's visible only to agents, the ticket will contain only the description the agents give before converting the call to a ticket. The actual recording will be added as a private note which cannot be seen by the customer.


Business hours:


  • You can choose whether you want to accept calls only during business hours or calendar hours.
  • You can also configure different phone numbers to accept calls at different Business hours
  • so you can have one urgent hotline taking calls 24x7 and the rest operating at standard business hours.
  • If you choose not to take calls during non-business hours, select “no” in the toggle. 
  • Select the business hours when this number has to operate from the dropdown that appears


Call Routing

Call routing is triggered in phone channel when an incoming call is directed to an agent Group. You can choose to route such an incoming call in two ways.


  • Call All Agents: The call notification is sent to all agents in the group. The first agent to answer the call is connected to the customer.
  • Call the Idlest Agent First: The call notification is sent to the agent in the group who has been idle the longest. If that agent does not answer, the call is routed to the second idlest agent, and so on.


Maximum calls in the queue and call wait time

  • Maximum calls in the queue lets you choose how many customers can be allowed to wait in line at any point of time. If you want only 3 people to wait on hold at any point in time, then the fourth person to call will not be able to get through. They’ll just hear a non-availability message.
  • Call wait time lets you choose the maximum wait time i.e the maximum number of minutes that your customers are put on hold before the call gets disconnected.
  • You can also switch on the voicemail option below so that your callers can press * and leave you a message instead of waiting. Make sure that you tell them about that option in the wait message you configure.
  • You can configure the various messages to be played to your callers. You have three options:

    • You can click on the mic icon and record directly.
    • You can upload an existing audio file by clicking on the cloud-like icon.
    • You can click on the ‘abc’ icon and use the text-to-speech feature.

    Assigning numbers to groups
    You can assign phone numbers to a particular group (or groups) and control who makes outbound calls using that number. For example, you can assign the number used for sales calls to the sales group so that agents in support group don't make calls from the sales number.

    In the accessible by section, select the groups which should be able to access that particular number. Please note that, if you have one number and you assign that number to the support group, agents in other groups will not be able to see the phone widget.

    Incoming call flow:


    Advance Feature Sets:

    In addition to the existing phone channel features that we currently offer today, we are pleased to inform advance feature sets as an add-on for current customers.

    • Call monitoring and barging: Admins can monitor ongoing calls without the agent's knowledge - for monitoring how quickly the agent is able to resolve the customer problem, training, providing problem solving techniques, knowledge of the product or service, etc. When you see an ongoing call in the Real-Time Call Dashboard, just mouse over the ongoing call to monitor or barge. The speaker button will be on mute by default once you join the call. All you have to do is just unmute to speak.


    • Call conferencing: Seek assistance from other agents by looping them into the ongoing call. In case additional help is required from other agents, you can simply choose from the list of available agents and add them to the ongoing call. Just select the agent button when you are on call and you will be able to see the list of agents. Simply search based on agent name, mouse over the agent and click Add to Call.


    • Call masking: It is important to ensure that customers do not have to switch providers just because businesses expanded their operations to a new geography. Call masking allows you to expand your presence to practically any country in the world. Typically, call masking is well suited for outbound heavy teams. But even inbound focused teams consider this a good alternative to maintaining two systems or having to learn and adapt to a new system. Choose the number you wish to mask by adding phone numbers under Manage Caller ID in the Admin tab. Here, you can see the list of alternate numbers you can use to mask your phone number with.

    Alternatively, you have the option to also choose the number for masking from the Setting tab once you have selected your phone number.

    • Call lifetime metrics and tracking: View metrics reflecting the entire lifetime of the calls. Once you have these metrics, you can export them into an Excel or CSV file and run analytical functions:
      • IVR time: How much time the caller spent on IVR
      • Queue time: How long was the caller placed in queue
      • Ringing time: How much time was the phone ringing
      • Speed to answer time: How much time did the agent take to answer the call
      • Hold time: Once the call was answered, how long was it put on hold
      • Talk time: How long was the phone conversation
      • After call work time: Once the call was disconnected, how much time did the agent spend on wrapping up the call related work before becoming available again

You are in the Dashboard view once you have logged into Freshdesk. To your right, you'll see a Phone window with a list of customers-in-waiting and in-conversation agents. This window also includes a call history link. Clicking the link will take you to the call history page where you can see the status of all the calls. In the call history page, you will see an Export drop-down. Choosing your desired format will download call details along with detailed metrics for every call.


  • Warm transfer: In the event of transferring a customer call from one agent to another, you can ensure you provide enough context about the customer issue to the new agent through a warm transfer. You can either stay on the call till a resolution is passed or drop off and allow the other agent to close the customer issue. 

Just like call conferencing to add agents, follow the same steps and mouse over an agent name. You can perform various actions with one of them being warm transfer. In addition to the add-on price, customers using call monitoring, call barging, and call conferencing will be charged a very nominal pulse for the duration for which an agent/supervisor was part of the call.


Understanding the phone widget:

Phone widget appears at the bottom right corner of your browser after you purchase your phone number. The options available in the widget change with the activity taking place in your phone channel.

When there is no live call taking place in your account, your phone widget will have the following options:

A dialpad to make outgoing calls.

Recent calls shows the last 5 calls to and from your helpdesk.

When you receive a call, the widget allows you to see the contact, and options to attend or cut the call. 


During the call, the widget changes and gives you the following options:

Add notes : Your agents do not need to have a pen and paper or a word document open when they are taking calls. They can add quick notes about the call by clicking on Add notes . Later, when the call ends, if they choose to convert the call to a new ticket or add to an existing ticket, these notes get added to the ticket as.. well, notes. 

Dialpad : The agents can make use of the dialpad when the outgoing calls reach an IVR.


Call transfer : The call transfer button comes in handy when you know that another agent can handle this problem better than you do or you might end up taking a call that is relevant to some other department. Agents can just transfer the call to other agents and other groups by clicking on the call transfer button and selecting the agent/group name from the list of all agents/groups available online. 

You can also transfer calls to an external number. This way, you can transfer calls to agents whose number is not updated in their profile, or to non-agents to whom the call is relevant. For example, when agents receive a call about job opportunity in the company, they can transfer it to a HR person who is not an agent in your helpdesk.

To do this, click on the dropdown on the top left of the transfer screen and select the dialpad option.

Every agent will be able to see the recent external numbers they transferred calls to. You can choose one of them or type a new number and click on it to forward the call.

The agent who attended the call first will not be able to convert the call to ticket or add the call to other tickets.


Mute option : The agent side of conversation can be muted at any point during the call.


Timer : Keeps track of the time duration of the call.


Customer information : You can see all information about the customer who is on the call with you by hovering over the customer image. You can also see his recent tickets here, this will give you more context during the call.

End call option : Make sure you click this before you start bragging about how you successfully solved your customer problem to the agent next to you. When you click this button, you will be taken to the convert call to ticket page. 


Browser notification: You can enable browser notification while on a call to get notified when someone calls your helpdesk even when you are working in other tabs in your browser. You can do this by clicking on the bell icon in the widget, while on the call.


Converting calls into tickets

All the calls to and from the phone channel can be converted to tickets. All your support calls will be accounted for. When you receive a call regarding the same issue the second time, the old tickets will give you context and save time.

  • After the call ends, the the “Convert to ticket” window appears. 
  • The notes you added to the ticket during the call appears in a text box to which you can add more points. 
  • You can convert this into a new ticket or add this as a note to the existing ticket. 
  • When you want to add it to an existing ticket, you can search the old tickets by the ticket id or the subject or the requester of the ticket.
  • You can even choose to not convert the call into a ticket.
  • You can always go back to the call history and convert your old calls to ticket.


Call history archives

The details of all the incoming and outgoing calls will be available in the call history page. You can access this from the phone channel dashboard shown in the Dashboard tab and to your right. 

Each record of the call will contain the following details in this order:

  • Name/number of the customer who made or received the call.
  • Status of the call. Whether the call was completed/unanswered/abandoned/transferred.
  • Agent/Agent group that made or received the call.
  • When the call was made.
  • The cost of the call.
  • Recording of the call (if call recording has been for that particular number). Call recording can be deleted by clicking on the trashcan button that appears when you hover over the recording. Calls/Voicemails that lasted for less than 5 seconds will not be recorded.
  • Option to convert the call to ticket or link to the ticket if the call was already converted.
  • Option to call the customer again.
Transferred calls
When a call has been transferred to other agents one or more times, you will be able to see it below the call status. The count of the number of transfers will be displayed, clicking on which will bring up the details about the call after the transfer.

Call filters 

You can filter the calls based on the phone number, call type, business hours and more.

Different call statuses and what they mean


Call blocking

You can block the numbers you do not want to be receiving calls from through your call history. You just need to hover over the caller information, and a block icon appears over the caller's profile picture. Click on that icon to block the number.

Now every occurrence of that number in your call history will be marked with a blocked icon. Any attempts to call your helpdesk through the blocked number will be listed in the log. However, no agent in your helpdesk will be prompted to answer the call.

How do I set up an IVR?

IVRs are ideal for support portals with various departments and specializations. Since IVRs help callers navigate to the agents most likely to have a solution to their problem, they reduce call times and improve call centre productivity in support teams with a large number of groups and departments. Phone channel currently allows you to create 2 nested levels of IVRs.


Quick guide to set up an IVR

  • Click on Admin > Support Channels > Phone.
  • You will see a list of all numbers you have purchased.
  • Click on the Edit button next to the number which has to be configured with an IVR.
  • This will take you to the manage numbers page.
  • The IVR configuration can be done in the Greetings tab.
  • You can set up a whole system of Keypress options and call redirects or you can just set up a simple welcome message to be played when people call.
  • Choose Interactive voice response (IVR) radio button to set it up.
  • The Welcome message should list down all your keypress options. For example, if you want all your customers calls to be forwarded to your Support team when they press 1, and to somebody from Sales when they press 2, the message could say “Welcome to Freshdesk phone channel. Press 1 for Sales. Press 2 for Support”
  • Now, that you’re done with a welcome message, you can assign an action to each key. Using a keypress option you can perform the following:

Action

How-to

Redirect the call to an agent

Select the key, choose the action as “Call agent” and pick the agent from the dropdown.

Redirect the call to an agent group

Select the key, choose the action as “Call agent group” and pick the agent group from the dropdown.

Redirect the call to a number

Select the key, choose the action as “Call number” and enter the number to be called in the text box

Redirect the call to another IVR menu with another set of keypress options that will redirect your calls further.

To do this, you need to first click on the “Add new menu” option and configure the welcome message and keypress option.

Give a name to each menu you create and configure another set of Keypress options

Here you can redirect the call to another agent or group.

Remember to assign the “Back to Main menu” action to the last key in every menu to bring back your customers to the welcome menu when they want

Then, come back to the Welcome/Start menu and select the key, choose the action as “Jump to”.

The names of the new menus you created below will be listed in the dropdown. Pick the menu to which the calls need to be redirected when the press the corresponding key.

  • You can check if your IVR configuration works fine by clicking on Preview.
  • Click on Save to start using the IVR right away.


Quick guide to configuring a simple welcome message

  • Go to Admin > Support Channels > Phone.
  • You will see a list of all numbers you have purchased.
  • Click on the Edit button next to the number which should play the welcome message when customers call.
  • This will take you to the manage numbers page.
  • Click on the Simple message radio button under the Greetings tab.
  • You can record a new message/ upload an audio file.
  • You can also type in the Welcome message text box and use the text-to-speech option to configure your welcome message.
  • You can direct the call to a particular group of agents after the message is played. If you want all your agents to receive the call, pick "All groups" from the dropdown.
  • Hit ‘Save’ once you are done.
  • Now the welcome message is played to every incoming call to this number.


SSL settings while using Freshdesk phone channel in Chrome browser

When you use phone in Chrome browser, you will be prompted to "Allow Microphone" during every call if you have not enabled secure connection in your portal. To overcome this, you have to enable https in your portal. Here is how you do it:

  • Login to your support portal as an administrator.
  • Go to the Admin tab.
  • Under the Customer portal section, click on the Security icon.
  • Use the toggle to enable Secure connection using SSL.
  • If you need secure connection for your custom domain, go to the Security tab under Admin and enter your custom URL to purchase a custom SSL.