Sunday, 8 March 2015

Skype Connect and CloudPBX

Skype offers business owners a “Skype business account” called “Skype Manager”. This is different to a personal Skype account you may already use today.

Skype Manager allows businesses to define their users and control each account under one interface. If an employee leaves it is now easier to terminate that account. Setting up a Skype Manager account is a prerequisite to this solution.

Under the Skype Manager a company can subscribe to a service called Skype Connect. This provides for a SIP trunk to be enabled allowing the CloudPBX to be connected to the Skype community thus enabled incoming (only) calls to be received from a Skype user without the Skype user having to use Skype Out, e.g. the call is free and technically between Skype users even though the call is being received by a PBX and not the Skype software you may currently use.
Skype Connect

A business would purchase as many SIP Connect trunks as required, each trunk represents a single concurrent call. Most businesses would find one enough however if you are a heavy Skype user, 3-4 Skype Connect accounts can be subscribed to. The price is around USD$7-8 per month, per trunk. No charge for any calls being placed between Skype and the PBX.

This can be a very powerful feature to enable as all incoming voice communications to your business can now be managed by a single system, e.g. the CloudPBX. Incoming Skype calls can be placed on hold, transferred, recorded and sent to voice mail in the exact same manner as someone contacting your business from a mobile or landline telephone.

Incoming Skype calls can display on your phone the name of the calling Skype user.

Multiple business Skype names can be defined within Skype Manager such as Sales, Support, or Customer Service. The Skype name may look like sales.your-business-Skype-name. This will ensure incoming calls can be directed or mapped to the right people within your organisation. You can of course also create Skype names for individual staff such as stephen.your-business-Skype-name. This would allow Skype users to connect to Stephen directly. Or a conference room, conference.your-business-Skype-name, this would be mapped to a CloudPBX conference room.

Skype “Click-to-Dial” links can be placed on your website or at the footer of your email to allow customers to directly speak with the sender via Skype, however the business user would answer the incoming call on their normal desk phone, not a Skype client.

Skype Connect is online and available 24x7. There is no need for the business user to run Skype on their desktop or have it enabled on any device as the CloudPBX is the Skype client and is also online 24x7. Your business Skype name (e.g. sales.your-business-Skype-name) would therefore always show “available or online” to the calling Skype user. If the call cannot be answered it will simply be sent to voice mail.

For your own staff who travel, they can also use their personal Skype account to connect, for free, back to the office. This allows calls to be placed from a mobile smart phone or a laptop. This would be an alternative to using a SIP enabled client on the user’s mobile device. The only downside of using the Skype client is you cannot receive incoming calls
Skype Manager
Skype Connect with Cloud PBX

Within Skype Manager, there is a need to associate a “number” with each Skype Name created. When Skype Connect communicates with the CloudPBX it passes the number (not the name) to the PBX so the call routing can be understood by the CloudPBX as a PBX can only understand numbers. The above diagram illustrates how this mapping is defined in the Skype Manager and associates a number with a Skype name. When a Skype user clicks on a “Click to Call” web link or simply initiates a Skype call from their Window’s client, the call map will send the number to the PBX and based on the inbound call routing defined, a staff’s phone will ring.

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