1. WombatDialer 0.8.0 - it’s rough work to make things smooth

    It’s been a long ride, but WombatDialer 0.8.0 is finally out. The theme of this release was to make the experience of running WombatDialer smoother and to integrate the feedback coming from our users.

    WombatDialer is currently used in a good number of call-centers worldwide implementing scenarios of all kinds - from recalls of lost calls in inbound call-centers, to massive telecasting, to “classic” outbound scenarios like automated dialing and preview dialing with hundreds of live agents.

    The high flexibility of WombatDialer makes it easy to adopt it in existing call-centers and to easily create high value added services for proactive customer care - you call the customer to remind and help him, so he does not have to. This means customers are happy and the call center can organize its works on a predictable workflow.

    There are a good number of changes worth mentioning in version 0.8.0:

    • WombatDialer is future-proof by supporting Asterisk 12 and the upcoming Asterisk 13 right out of the box. It works on any version of Asterisk since 1.4.
    • WombatDialer now runs more quickly - we did a number of optimizations on the database layer. The dialer starts automatically when the system is already configured, so you don’t have to remember to do it.
    • The layout was notably improved - now it looks way better and there is more information available, especially on the Reports and Live pages. We did a large number of tweaks to improve usability - for example, when you are looking at a campaign run, the run refreshes automatically.
    • WombatDialer is able to send e-mails on campaign completions - this feature makes your life easier when running large campaigns that take days to complete.
    • Improved reverse dialing mode - it is possible to set a completion code when rejecting a call, and the agent’s channel is automatically disconnected if the call fails.
    • The APIs were improved to set completion codes when rejecting calls, to set extStatus codes through the HTTP interface and to report system health.
    • We have an automated test suite. Before releasing, we test Wombat with over one million calls in telecasting, direct-to-queue and reverse modes. This may not make a direct difference to you but it means we have a way to run predictable stress tests and make sure WD will handle real-life workloads.
    • We also fixed a large number of little bugs here and there - over 80 items were addressed. Together, these fixes make the experience simpler and smoother.

    WombatDialer can be installed through yum or it can be installed as a standalone Docker app. The User Manual has a chapter on how to run it under Docker, reaping the benefits of a hassle-free installation and upgrade path.

    What comes next?

    The upcoming version 0.9 will cover:

    • Internationalization. WombatDialer will be available in the most common languages.
    • Fax and AMD detection, with user-configurable appropriate behavior (for example, when you connect to a Fax, you might send a default fax page, or leave a default message in the voicemail)
    • Improved time-scheduling for runs (e.g. dial from 9 to 5 from Monday to Friday, dial 9 to 11 on Saturdays but don’t dial at all on Dec 25 and Jan 1).
    • More powerful reschedule rules, with HTTP notifications and the ability to add the current number to a list or blacklist

    We welcome comments and ideas - what is the killer feature you’re missing that would make a difference to you?

    If you want to try WombatDialer now, you can install it automatically on most existing PBXs - see http://wombatdialer.com/installation.jsp - and get it up and running in a few minutes. So you can stop worrying about the subtleties of implementing real-life outbound dialing in Asterisk and make your call-center agents more productive.

    Plus, Erwin is super-cute - try it today!

  2. A WombatDialer roadmap - reverse dialing, AMD/fax detection and more

    We have been quite busy working on a number of themes that will make WombatDialer better and more useful, so we thought we’d better share them with you.

    Busy Wombat

    The first theme we have addressed is improved flexibility in dialing to agents. A number of users asked for ways for agents to be already connected when the callee is rung. This led to the developement of Reverse Dialing and Reverse Stepwise Dialing. With Reverse Dialing, the agent is rung first and then the call is attempted. This makes sure that when the callee answers, the agent is already on-line and ready to talk. The agent must be a member of an Asterisk queue, so that we get presence information (log in, log out, pauses and current status) right out of Asterisk. This also lets you share an agent on multiple queues with different dialing policies.

    With Reverse Stepwise Dialing, we go a bit further - we use an API so that an agent can reserve a call, preview it and decide whether to actually dial it or to mark it as processed without dialing. If the agent does not want the call processed, you can reschedule it or mark it as not to be processed. If the agent does not make a decision within 10 minutes from reserving, the call is put back into the dialing pool. All call variables are passed to the agent, so you can display them or link to an external CRM.

    The second theme is security - we are adding a security model that matches the one used by QueueMetrics, so that you can make different trunks, end-points, campaigns and list visible to some users only. This also affects Live viewing and campaign reporting and will make WombatDialer completely multi-tenant (like QueueMetrics is).

    After this, we plan to address two major themes - AMD/Fax detection and Black lists / Robinson lists. For AMD/Fax, we plan to use the facilities Asterisk offers in order to detect whether the call is answered by an Answering Machine or by a fax machine. This has the major advantage of not tying you to a specific solution, but lets you use a plethora of third party modules that are available for Asterisk in case you should find the default ones not good enough for you. WombatDialer will run the channel detection scripts and will react by sending either a pre-recorded message (for AMD) or a fax page in case no human caller is detected.

    As per black lists, we plan to offer both a way to check numbers against a set of internal lists or against an external server using an API. A number will be checked against all lists for a campaign and will be processed only if all call lists allow it.

    We plan to release the first two features - Reverse and Reverse Stepwise - in about one week. Work is already ongoing for security, so this should be available in 0.7.0 by the end of June. AMD/Fax and black lists will be implemented by the end of the summer - as they in the planning stage, we would like to hear from you about what you would need. We have a Sugegstions forum on UserEcho at http://wombatdialer.userecho.com where you can propose new improvements and vote on what other people proposed, so make sure your voice is heard.

    (Source: wombatdialer.com)

  3. Version 0.6.13 - A taste of things to come

    We have a new version of WombatDialer available on the public repo. This version adds a few interesting things to WombatDialer and should make your life easier when running it in production.

    First, WombatDialer has a better status view of queues: it now prints out the agents present on a queue and their current state, plus the calls (if any) currently queued.

    New dialer status

    This way it is easier to understand what is going on in real-time. Also, when a call is connected to an agent, the agent being used is shown on the Live page. WombatDialer also tries to sync the queue as soon as it is brought up, so you always see all queues for your running campaigns even if you restart the dialer.

    The second major change is that call lists are now dynamic. You can pause and add lists on running campaigns, and WombatDialer will immediately respond to the changes you make.

    List manager

    You can even add lists to idle campaigns, and they will start dialing immediately. For each list, the current high-water mark is displayed. The Live page also includes a check so that you cannot send commands to the dialer if the dialer is currently down.

    One last important change is that the infamous DTSC bug was fixed, so you do not need to restart the dialer multiple times. This will make installation of the system easier.

    We look forward to your comments - we have a feedback system available at http://wombatdialer.userecho.com so the community can propose new features and discuss them before we implement them. And do not forget to follow us on Twitter or Facebook so you can be updated when we have something new for you!