Easy On Hold Provides Innovative Message On Hold Solution MOH For ASTERISK
Easy On Hold®, based in Portage, Michigan (USA) produces custom audio messages that can be deployed on phone systems to inform, educate and influence callers while they wait. In recent years, a proliferation of VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone systems meant Easy On Hold®’s customers were requesting audio delivered as files to be installed directly on the phone system itself. There are drawbacks to this type of message on hold (MOH) deployment, however. In many systems the on hold audio will play from the beginning every time the hold button is pushed, limiting the amount of information that can be shared with callers. There is also the problem of user intervention needed to install the audio files, often resulting in out-of-date content, or the use of ineffective generic scripts (“Your call is still on hold, please stay on the line.”).
Easy On Hold® asked, “Can we find a way to help businesses and I.T. both–by coming up with a hands-free solution to on hold messaging?” The thought process turned to streaming audio.
The streaming audio world is here.
Streaming technology has been a game-changer in audio delivery for a few years. Live streaming audio and video has been made possible by greater internet bandwidth, and standardization of protocols, including http. Audio streaming is the preferred method of distribution of copyrighted material, since it cannot be copied or “pirated”, among other advantages.
The live audio stream can be controlled from a single access point, which empowers managers to control content over a wide network of listening stations. Changes to the stream are heard immediately. Streaming audio comes directly from a server, which allows programmers access to multiple tools for monitoring and measuring performance. Reporting features provide valuable information such as uptime and content use.
Streaming MOH For Asterisk: What’s different? What’s better?
- Streaming audio reduces end-user intervention, as there are no audio files to manually download and install on devices.
- No physical media is required, which reduces cost.
- A live stream can be easily managed by an authorized user via a control portal, which eliminates onsite equipment manipulation and complicated programming software for MOH devices.
- Streams offer the opportunity to build in reporting and monitoring features.
- Scheduling can be done on a granular basis, even to the hour of the day, and changed at will.
- Programming changes take place immediately, as the listener hears the stream live.
- Users can log in to a control panel to monitor the stream, giving managers “as-it-is-happening” quality control for multiple locations.
- ASTERISK phone systems typically can use a stream URL directly.
Innovator in MOH For Asterisk
Easy On Hold® began offering streaming music on hold messages in response to demands from customers with Asterisk and OnSip phone systems. As told in Wikipedia:
“The trend toward hosted IP telephony for business phone systems is demanding changes in music on hold message technology.  In November, 2013, EasyOnHold.com introduced custom messages on hold streams for use with Asterisk and OnSIP phone systems.”
Easy On Hold® Vice President Tim Brown explains, “We devised a unique programming technique that encodes playback instructions into each of a series of custom-scripted topical announcements. Then we set a sequence of rules to manage message repetition and customer preferences. A weighting system controls message frequency, so the most important announcements play more often.”
Examples of MOH For Asterisk Programming:
- A restaurant has lunch specials that callers hear about in the morning, and dinner specials in the afternoon.
- A credit union with a limited-time interest rate that gets more “ear time” than other announcements in the rotation.
- An automobile dealer promotes weekend hours to callers on Friday.
- A doctor’s office that uses “good morning” and “good afternoon” phrases to make patients feel welcome.
Modifications to the message rotation are easily and quickly made, with the results being heard immediately.
“Since it is a live stream, customers never have to wait for changes to kick in. There’s no media to handle, no file to transfer. Streams can be monitored live via the customer portal at easyonhold.com,” Brown said.
A call center manager who switched to the Easy On Hold® streaming solution recently remarked at how simple the set up was. The 128k .mp3 stream is a light load on bandwidth, which is already busy streaming video, Pandora personal internet radio, overhead music or other content at many businesses.
IP telephony techs from New York to Honolulu participated in the streaming service rollout, quickly arriving at the same conclusion: The stream is a piece of cake.
Mack Hendricks, Asterisk Support Manager at dOpenSource says, “I like the way the streaming solution is solving the MOH problem. This year we are focused on partnering with companies that provide complimentary services and Easy On Hold® looks like it fits the bill. 80% of our business consists of supporting Asterisk based systems. So, we can definitely promote the product to our customers.”
Easy On Hold® is an official sponsor of ASTRICON15, a three-day exhibition and conference exploring “all things Asterisk” October 13 – 15, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.