Artisoft develops one of our favorite products in the
communications industry -- TeleVantage. The reason we
like TeleVantage so much is that it is a comprehensive
PC-PBX system that is very easy to use and administer
and offers many useful features. These features
include VoIP, call follow-me, caller ID screen-pop,
desktop call control, visual voice messaging retrieval
TeleVantage is an open-platform software-based
PC-PBX system running on Windows NT/2000 with
telephony hardware for trunk and extension
termination. The TeleVantage Client has been rewritten
using a collection of COM objects, allowing
third-party developers to use them to build custom
applications. TMC Labs test-drove TeleVantage 4.1,
which has several new features, including enhanced
call center functionality and now supports up to 96
trunks and 264 extensions.
We were shipped a turnkey system with the telephony
boards and server software pre-loaded. However, we've
installed TeleVantage server a number of times in the
past, so we know it's a snap to install. Also, since
TeleVantage is sold through channels, end users won't
have to deal with installation. Nevertheless, we've
always been quite pleased with the ease of
installation of the TeleVantage system. Also, the
initial configuration of this PC-PBX is uncomplicated
utilizing TeleVantage's user-friendly graphical user
This product features excellent online help that
includes traditional Windows help files as well as
HTML help files. Both are very well organized and
simple to navigate. The manuals are superb, featuring
plenty of screenshots, a well-organized layout and
detailed step-by-step instructions. We couldn't find
much to complain about, other than the admin manual
being 379 pages long, which is to be expected for such
a comprehensive phone system.
TeleVantage has too many features to list here, but we'll
highlight some of the important ones, particularly the
call center functionality. First, we should mention
that v4.1 has a "hands-free answering" mode that lets
you leave your phone off-hook while waiting for calls
without hearing a dial tone. When a new call arrives,
you hear a zip tone and you are connected to the call.
This is perfect for call centers, since agents can
simply receive one call after the other without
lifting the receiver.
Call centers will enjoy the new "account codes"
capability that lets you track calls back to one or
more "accounts," such as clients or customers who need
to be billed. You can even have users enter account
codes for every call on a per-user basis.
It goes without saying that a call center is not
complete without some type of call recording
capability, and TeleVantage has this covered. For
quality assurance purposes, call centers can turn on
automatic call recording for every 1 out of every nth
agent call, every 1 out of nth queue call, or both. In
addition to recording capabilities, supervisors can
monitor the call, coach the agent (whisper mode) or
join the call in progress.
TeleVantage supports full ACD functionality with
several routing methods, including round robin,
longest idle, fewest calls, least talk time,
simultaneous ring and top down. A nice feature is that
TeleVantage will automatically set an agent "On Break"
if the agent doesn't answer a predetermined number of
calls. Call center managers will appreciated
TeleVantage's easy-to-use Call Center Reporter, which
can be used to analyze ACD workgroups, queues, agents,
hold time and more.
A TAPI Service Provider is included to allow for
support with Act!, Outlook, GoldMine, GoldMine
FrontOffice 2000 or other TAPI-compliant applications.
Utilizing TAPI, you can place calls from TAPI
applications and receive screen-pop identification
when someone calls you.
Other features include:
- Call logging lets each user see a record of his
or her own calls, while giving administrators
access to the company's complete log.
- E-mail and pager notification of incoming voice
mail lets you attach voice files to the
- Smart Do Not Disturb sends your calls straight
to voice mail -- while letting important calls
from specific individuals or groups ring your
- Platform-independent Web-based client enables
users with a browser to access voice mail or
manage personal settings.
- "Follow-me" call forwarding features routing
lists that try several locations to find you.
- Create personalized routing lists for specific
- Built-in Internet H.323 gateway saves money by
routing calls over the Internet or your Intranet.
It supports tie-lines between branch offices and
even allows your customers to call you from a Web
- Extend TeleVantage with IVR plug-ins that
seamlessly integrate IVR and other call-control
applications and pass caller input or database
information to TeleVantage users.
- Support for CLASS feature phones with caller ID
displays, caller ID on call waiting, and message
- Prompt users to leave a callback number if
caller ID is not available.
Administrative duties have been improved since we last
tested TeleVantage. TeleVantage has a new Roles
feature to provide administrators with a way to assign
permissions to a group of people. Similar to Class of
Service, utilizing Roles, users can now inherit
permissions from one or more roles, such as
Administrators or Users.
We liked the Personal Status feature, which lets
you indicate your availability to other users. You can
create personal status settings (lunch, vacation, out
of the office, etc.) that can change all your
customized settings "on the fly," including your
forwarding number, your active greeting, your routing
list, or prevent your phone from ringing. This can all
be done in one step as opposed to changing your
greeting, forwarding number and other settings one at
On a similar note, Call Rules let you change the
way calls are handled based on who calls or a
particular date or time. For example, you can
automatically send specific calls to voice mail during
lunch or change your personal greeting after hours and
Of the most interest to us was TeleVantage's new
call center support. Artisoft's licensing model allows
each licensed agent to participate in an unlimited
number of queues. TeleVantage's previous support for
ACD-type features, now called ACD Workgroups, is still
supported and is included at no additional cost.
Customers who do not need the extensive functionality
of call center queues can use ACD Workgroups.
We tested the queue feature by dialing into the
Sales Queue that we created at extension 500. After
dialing extension 500, we were immediately put into
the sales queue. The call was then directed to an
agent logged-in to this queue according to the pre-set
routing rules, i.e., longest idle agent, round robin,
etc. A comprehensive Queue Monitor view shows detailed
agent status information and queue statistics broken
down by day, custom shifts and periods including which
agents are available, on a call, on break or signed
While the caller is in the queue, "on hold"
messages can be customized to repeat or not repeat at
specific intervals and can change in real-time based
on caller data or other variables. Messages can
include average wait time or the number of other
callers ahead of the current caller. In addition,
queues can prompt callers for customer ID numbers or
other custom data which are stored in variables that
can be displayed in the Call Monitor, sent to an IVR
plug-in for processing, or used to affect the queue's
hold messages, such as "top priority customers." Also,
TeleVantage provides an "overflow" feature that allows
you to configure one or more agents into overflow
groups so that calls will only go to them after all
the primary agents are busy. For the really
productive, hard-working agent looking to increase his
or her call volume, a click on the Wrap-up icon on the
status bar (a clock) will terminate the wrap-up time
early if the agent is ready for the next call.
A useful TeleVantage function is that if agents
leave their stations without signing out, TeleVantage
can optionally put them "On Break" when they do not
answer calls. Another helpful feature is that the
agents do not need the TeleVantage client application
running to change their status. Agents can sign in,
sign out or go on break by pressing *51, *52 and *53
respectively on their phones. Also, agents can see
calls waiting in a queue and take them before the
calls are offered. Supervisors can change an agent's
personal status in the Extensions pane for when the
agents forget to do so. Another nice feature is the
ability to log-on to the TeleVantage client from any
desk and receive calls at that location. This is great
in environments where the seating arrangement is not
static, such as organizations with three work shifts
and where the workspace is shared.
TeleVantage supports VoIP via the H.323 standard.
We made a VoIP call from NetMeeting to the IP address
of the TV server and it performed flawlessly with
excellent voice quality. Artisoft told us they have
worked with PolyCom and E-Tel to get their H.323
phones to work with TeleVantage, so that you can
actually have VoIP phone extensions, which is great
We should mention that Artisoft features
third-party support, including support for Digisoft's
CRM application, which includes scripting and
real-time reporting. By utilizing Artisoft's COM
objects or TAPI support, third-party developers can
integrate their application into the TeleVantage
Desktop call control within TeleVantage has always
been a strong suit. TMC Labs has long believed that
TeleVantage has the cleanest and easiest to use
interface of any PC-based PBX platform. For instance,
using the Extensions pane in the Call Monitor view,
you can transfer a call by dragging it onto an
extension. Similarly, you can call an extension by
dragging it from the Extensions pane into the Call
Monitor. To create a conference, press SHIFT and drag
and drop a call or extension onto another call. With
caller ID available, you can drag a voice message or
Call Log entry into the Call Monitor to call it back.
You can even pull callers out of voice mail. We also
liked the Extensions pane, which shows the current
status of the people you define in specific tabs, such
as the "All" tab, "Sales Queue" tab, etc.
Receptionists will like this status feature since they
will know if someone is out of the office, on
vacation, on the phone or some other status.
A nice usability improvement is that if you monitor
calls from different users or queues, you can define
specific incoming call notification for specific types
of calls. For example, you could have the client's
title bar flash for queue calls, but not for your
Finally, Artisoft TeleVantage supports one-number
follow-me so callers can reach you no matter where you
are. You can even define special greetings that play
between routing list actions, such as "Attempting to
call my cell phone, please stay on the line."
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
We could not figure out if TeleVantage allows you to
pre-specify a maximum queue wait time before
automatically directing callers to leave a message.
This might be especially important for 800 numbers
where the company is paying for the call. Thus, we
would like to see the caller automatically directed to
voice mail if the queue time reaches a certain
threshold, such as 30 minutes.
Although a caller can manually abandon the queue
via DTMF and leave a message in the specific queue
inbox, we have a suggestion for this feature as well.
We would like the voice message to be automatically
directed to the next agent according to the specified
routing rules. Essentially, it would ring the next
agent's desk as though it were a live incoming call
and then play the voice message. This would prevent
voice mail from sitting in the queue unanswered in the
event calls keep coming in and the original agent
doesn't have a chance to check the voice messages. It
also improves the appearance of "good customer service"
since the voice message can be more quickly returned.
One minor usability complaint is that you cannot
highlight a phone number typed into the Notes field
associated with a voice message and then perform
right-click, "Dial number." You can, of course,
copy/paste the number into the Dial field, but that's
an extra step. Another suggestion is to have the
ability to drag and drop a voice message into Outlook.
Finally, we would like to have the ability to
search the Notes field where the voice messages are
stored, which would then highlight the voice mail
based on the keywords to find it quicker. This is
particularly useful in situations where the voice mail
box grows larger than 50 messages, such as the General
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Artisoft has taken an already feature-rich product and
added call center functionality to make this product a
perfect fit for the small to medium business, whether
or not they have a formal call center. When you
consider the costs of the TeleVantage software, Intel
hardware, a server and phones, you find a system will
run about $500-$600 per user (excluding installation
costs). Then when you take into account the $250 per
agent price, the price is $750-$850 per agent. This
means that TeleVantage delivers call center
functionality for less than the de facto "$1,000 per
agent" price point. With its extensive feature set,
easy-to-use graphical user interface, ease of
administration, and support for third-party
development, TMC Labs would not hesitate to recommend