Ports are the resources needed to process a contact. Voice contacts require voice ports and email contacts require email ports. An agent who is sitting there, connected to the system but processing no contacts, does not consume a port, but the moment they make an outbound call or receive a call or email or chat, a port will be needed.
Determining the number of ports needed is not a one size fits all equation. Some business models dictate that calls are throttled others allow for large numbers of callers to be processed. Determining the right number of ports for your business is beyond the scope of this short discussion, but we can discuss some concepts that may be helpful.
First, it is important to understand call treatment when port max is reached. With a voice call, inContact will indicate to the PSTN that there are no lines available. This should result in a busy or some other similar message treatment. This prevents call charges. Email is different. Mail can actually queue up in the mail server. It is possible for you to have no configured email ports, and still have mail queued in the mail server. You can see the number of queued emails by using Webmanager. If you process email contacts, you should check in Webmanager to see if you have emails that are queued up and adjust your email port counts as needed to process them. Knowing when you are at or near max ports can be done a couple of ways. You can use Webmanager tools to view port usage. Another more dynamic method, is to include in your script a port count check routine. The objective of a port checker routine is to notify you if you reach a certain count or percentage of your total available ports. This notification can be via email or even an automated call. To increase or decrease your port counts you should contact your CSM and they can effect that change in minutes.
As for port size planning… Some thoughts and tools. First, I recommend you look in to an Erlang Call Center Calculator which is a tool for calculating the number of agents needed to handle a given volume of calls. Next, consider how many max agents you have or can have. 24 agents, will need at least 24 voice ports. Additional ports are needed to process transfers or queue calls. Whether or not to allow calls to queue and how many calls to queue is a decision based upon your business. Most callers won’t wait in queue forever, plus a call in queue will incur per minute charges. One way to keep a caller in ‘queue’, but not incur per minute costs is to use the Callback feature. Rather than waiting on the line, a caller can opt to have the system call them back when an agent is available. While this still requires a port, you will not incur per minute phone charges until the customer is called back. Schemes for managing ports can be very diverse. I recommend that you contact your CSM. They can engage a Business Analyst to help determine the right number of ports and recommend port alerting schemes.
At inContact, we have developed a system that can support your contact center needs, from 1 port to 1000 ports or more. We can help you develop the plans and means to create the best contact center for your business.