by Larry Mead, Kate Kompelien and Kurt Schroeder
As businesses rapidly begin shifting to remote work and empowering their team members to work from home, many contact center leaders are struggling with questions around technical systems implementation. Avtex is proud to partner with our clients around remote work solutions, and we've put together this living FAQ document to help answer some of these questions and provide a resource during this transition. Due to the evolving focus on remote work during the COVID-19 situation, we will be updating this FAQ with additional questions as they emerge from our clients.
Whether you’re currently leveraging Genesys PureConnect or Genesys Cloud, Avtex offers a number of rapidly depolyable solutions that can prepare your contact center team or entire organization to work remotely. If you'd like to learn more about how Avtex can assist you with remote work solutions, contact us today.
Additional details about how Avtex is supporting clients during the COVID-19 situation are available on our general COVID-19 FAQ page.
I have a PureConnect platform and need to send workers home today. What are my options?
You are not alone. We have many customers asking the same question, and the quickest short-term option you have is to use Remote Number stations in the short term with some way for agents to access call control in the client. This could include a VPN from the home computer with Desktop installed, a VDI/Citrix/VMWare client with Desktop installed, or standing up an IIS server for Interaction Connect to be accessed by agents over the internet. Some things to consider:
- Agents will need the full client and not just a phone path like business users.
- Agents will need more than just the contact center apps so make sure the solution will work with all back-office apps.
- The Remote Number option may require extra licensing (see your Avtex Client Account Manager about this, and offers from Genesys).
- The Remote Number option places a call out of the system to the user's external phone, which incurs toll charges on top of the charges for the incoming call. This also uses an external phone line, for the placement of the call to the user's
I know Genesys offers WebRTC for PureConnect. Can I use that with my current environment?
With the Genesys Cloud WebRTC integration to PureConnect, you will need to have the following pieces in place:
- PureConnect on version 2017 R3 or better, but 2018 R2 or better is suggested
- Genesys Cloud ORG (Requires Genesys Cloud EULA) with Genesys Cloud CIC Web-based Phone licenses
- Edge appliances in N+1 configuration installed at premise near the media servers
- Interaction Connect deployed for agent client
- Users have Chrome or Firefox or new Edge browser
Once this is configured and deployed, users can log into Interaction Connect and use the Web-based phone from any location. They still use Interaction Connect for call control through VPN or directly over the internet.
I have another phone system alongside my PureConnect, is there a solution I can use for both of them for at-home workers?
Many of our customers have PureConnect as a contact center in conjunction with another phone system like Avaya or Cisco, and these business users need remote capability just as much as contact center agents. You have a couple of options for this: WebRTC with an SBC or Genesys Cloud with a SIP trunk to an SBC. Most customers have an SBC in place or can easily stand up a virtual SBC rather quickly to allow for both of these scenarios. Let’s look at each:
- SBC with WebRTC – companies like AudioCodes, Ingate, Ribbon, and Oracle all have WebRTC functionality built into their SBC’s and will require a license to activate the functionality. There may also be some extra server or software required on both the SBC and PureConnect, so be sure to get with your Avtex CAM about this solution. This allows outside agents to connect directly to the SBC over the Internet and allows the voice path from the SBC to the agent no matter where they are. Internally, a SIP trunk from the SBC to the PureConnect or other PBX allows that WebRTC phone to be a remote station off the exiting PBX. Please keep in mind that any 3rd Party PBX must, like PureConnect, support remote stations by dialing out via this SIP trunk to establish the remote station.
- Genesys Cloud with SIP Trunk – most companies have an SBC connected to their SIP carrier and in this scenario, a trunk between that SBC and Genesys Cloud would allow for voice traffic to be sent between the internal PBX and agents on WebRTC phones connected to Genesys Cloud. This requires no additional hardware at site, no remote station phones for agents to log into on PureConnect, and no toll charges (with the exception of a Genesys Cloud carriage fee of $.001/minute) as you would have with Remote Number or Remote Station. This option requires a Genesys Cloud Org and corresponding EULA.
The solution you choose will require a bit of planning and research to determine which offers you the continuity and connectivity required. Neither of these solutions remedy the access to other applications that your agents may need, but they can get you up and running fairly quickly, and allows other infrastructure to make use of the WebRTC phones for users.
Can’t I use Forward or Follow-me on my PureConnect?
For business users, yes, you can use Available, Forward and/or Available, Follow-me to allow users to answers calls on their cell or home phone, but agents in an ACD cannot use these statuses. The only way to send an agent's call out to another number is using Remote Number or Remote Station log-in and having call control for agents through a client application (Interaction Connect or Interaction Desktop).
Does the Interaction Connect client introduce security problems?
In most cases, the Interaction Connect client hosted on a customer-supplied IIS server has very little risk. Agents would access the client over HTTPS using port 443 and require them to log in with PureConnect credentials and/or SSO credentials. Then communication between the IIS server and the PureConnect server takes place on a separate, secure port and is controlled with URL Rewrite rules, and can be further secured using IP-based access permissions. Essentially, anyone can hit the IIS server to get to the client interface, but only that IIS server can talk to PureConnect and that session requires it only come back to the IIS server through that single pinhole in the firewall.
The advantage is that any agent at home has complete functionality in the client for call control, transfers, and visibility into the queues. Even supervisors can monitor agent and queue activity and do many of the activities they have in ICBM without a VPN connection. Interaction Connect does not require any extra licenses and agents consume the same client license as when they log into the desktop client.
Can I send my agents home anytime with Genesys Cloud?
Absolutely! With Genesys Cloud, agents can securely log into the system from any location using a web browser, and with WebRTC, the phone is built into the browser so they only need a USB headset to be fully functional members of the contact center.
Can agents at home use Genesys Cloud to access local applications?
No, not directly. It is very possible to expose information achieved in a data dip to agents in a script and scripts also allow for database updates if need be. Scripts give Genesys Cloud agents visibility to back-end data and services without having to connect agents to that data directly through VPN or remotely through a browser.
Can agents at home use hard phones instead of a softphone?
Yes, any Avtex remote work solution can support softphone or hard phone as long as the SBC or Genesys Cloud supports the brand and model of phone.
Do remote workers require a VPN into my corporate network?
In most situations, the Avtex remote work solutions require the Interaction Connect client to be used for call control which is usually sitting on the edge of the network that is accessible over the internet without any VPN. The Interaction Connect or Interaction Desktop application can also be access via a VDI session, although running the station audio through VDI sessions comes with certain challenges (see below).
Do any solutions support VDI, or other remote desktop solutions?
Genesys does not officially support soft phones on any VDI solutions, but there are many platforms like VMWare and Citrix HDX that support WebRTC audio through the VDI with handoff to the local USB at the home agent PC/thin station instead of passing the audio through the VDI directly.
Could PureConnect agents still work if they couldn’t access the client?
In theory, yes. PureConnect does have functionality for what are called “Phone-Only ACD” agents. This allows an agent to dial into PureConnect from a remote phone, set their remote number, and become Available to take calls. This configuration, however, comes with a training curve and a need to properly support agents as they learn how to use this. Additionally, if there is no access to the Interaction Desktop / Interaction Connect agent application, then this begs the question of whether agents have access to other Line-of-Business applications that they need in order to properly service customer interactions. If you are interested in discussing this option, please contact your Client Account Manager and schedule a call with an Avtex Solutions Architect.
What additional costs would be incurred with at-home agents?
Aside from setup costs involving SBC, Edge appliances, Licenses, and the equipment for at-home agents, any remote number or remote station user would incur toll changes whenever they are on their phone and if that is a cell phone that is not on an unlimited plan, then that might also have added costs.
Can I use the same headset on my Polycom phones for WebRTC?
WebRTC uses your computer for audio output (via the web browser), so WebRTC users need a USB headset. If you are using a wired headset that connects to your Polycom phone with an RJ-9 connection, you will need an RJ-9 to USB adapter to allow that headset to work with the USB port. If you are using a wireless headset with your Polycom phone, check whether your wireless headset model allows for a USB connection also – many do. As always, if in doubt, please contact your Avtex CAM, who can bring an Avtex Solutions Architect in to discuss all available options and make a best path recommendation for Remote Worker support.
Will reporting and recording still be possible with at-home agents?
Any calls coming into the PureConnect system or Genesys Cloud Org can be recorded and reported on even if it is transferred out to an agent on a remote number or remote station (of course, assuming you are properly licensed for recording). Even PureConnect calls transferred through to a WebRTC phone via an SBC or in Genesys Cloud will also be subject to the policies that are in place for recording. Supervisors will still be able to monitor agents and calls, and any Workforce Management software will still be able to forecast based on these agents are well. The best at-home agent solution that Avtex will suggest will be one that makes working remotely the same as working in-house.
Can my Genesys Cloud agents take their Polycom phones home?
Yes, the phones may require some manual programming to find the provisioning server, but for the most part, agents should be able to take them home and use them on a local home network without any special software or hardware to install. Be sure to remember:
- The phones use DHCP for IP assignment
- Polycom phones require a wired connection to the router or switch
- Polycom phones need power which, in a corporate network, is usually supplied from a Power-over-Ethernet (POE) switch, but at home may require an additional 48V power supply. Please contact your Avtex CAM if you need phone power supplies for home users.
- If the Polycom phones don’t come up and become active immediately once plugged into the home network, the SIP server may have to be set manually. Please see the Genesys Cloud Resource Center for information about this.
- Be sure to set the Codec for the phones to Opus if they support it for better quality and if not available, select G.729
What do the Genesys Loaner Licenses include?
Genesys is offering 90-day temporary subscription licenses for Basic Stations to support Remote Worker station needs. These will expire in 90 days unless renewed or purchased.
Additionally, Genesys is offering discounting on licenses required due to increase contact center volume, such as Basic Session, Media Session and ACD license.
Should I be concerned about having at-home agents take credit card information over the phone?
Yes, you should be concerned and you should consider implementing sufficient controls for PCI and other data privacy for all aspects of Remote Worker systems and data access. There are several concerns specific to home agents’ audio connection to the Genesys PureConnect system or Genesys Cloud Org that you should discuss with an Avtex Solutions Architect. If, for instance, home agents use their home phone line as their station connection, someone could tap into their line (or even just pick up an extension handset on the home line) and capture the information. Also, someone else in the room could be privy to the conversation, nullifying PCI/DSS requirements for the privacy of PCI data. If you take credit card numbers, you should strongly consider using a Secure IVR that takes the agent out of the loop altogether during the collection of customer PI data. This is what the new DSS suggestion will be, to avoid any human intervention in the transmission of PI data.
Will customers know that my agents are at home when taking calls from the queue?
Theoretically, there should be no difference between an agent taking a call in the office and at home, aside from the possible delay in connecting the remote number and the fact that there might be more background noises like dogs barking or kids talking.
What are the pros and cons of using PureConnect Remote Number versus Remote Station?
There are a couple of differences between the two:
- Remote Number requires the agent to hit Pickup for the connection to the remote number to be initiated, and then they will have to pick up (answer) that phone when the call rings in. Remote station can allow Ring Always to ring remote number automatically as the call hits the agent.
- A Remote Station will consume a Basic Station license all the time while a Remote Number uses a concurrent license as needed from the pool of available Basic Station licenses and then releases it when the call disconnects.
- A Remote Station allows the administrator to specify a number that is used on the station dial-out, so the user cannot enter any number as they can with the Remote Number option. This is more secure as it allows a remote station to be used, but only at a pre-specified 10-digit destination that is not changeable by the user.
When using a hardware phone for a Remote Worker that connects to an SBC at my data center, can I just pick up the phone from the desk and take it home, or is there more to configure once it’s at home?
You will need to adjust several settings on the phone so that it knows how to find the SBC when it gets to the agent’s home. Basically, there are three settings that will need to be hard-coded to the address for the SBC. Your CAM and Solutions Architect can provide you with the specific details.
Will the PureConnect Softphone work in a VDI environment?
No, the softphone does not work well and most of the time not at all in a VDI environment. Genesys does not suggest using it on VDI and Avtex can't really support that configuration. When using the PureConnect Softphone at home, you should install it on the home PC and connect to your on-premise PureConnect server through a VPN connection. Also, the PureConnect softphone has to be installed locally as a local Windows Admin.
Are existing PureConnect Edge devices compatible with the Genesys Cloud WebRTC solution, or does the Cloud WebRTC solution require new Edge devices?
Unfortunately no. Although they share the name “Edge”, PureConnect Edge devices and Genesys Cloud Edge devices are totally different appliances.
Would I need an SBC for each user or can I use one for all of them?
SBCs can support from thousands to tens of thousands of users. They come with a basic bundle and then licenses are added for more users as needed. Some SBC vendors are offering 90-day license rentals and discounts for permanent license additions at this time.
When using a Remote Station option (where the PureConnect server dials out to the user’s/agent’s home/cell phone to establish the station connection), what is the ANI that is presented to the customer/member that answers the phone? Is it the remote number or the company outbound ANI?
When you are connected as a remote agent, the company’s (or configured user’s or queue’s) outbound ANI is displayed to the external party (customer/member) being called. The external party (customer/member) never sees the number used to connect to the agent – that is always hidden.