Telephone Reporting

Telephone reporting is used to determine what telephone calls are made to, from and within a telephone system.

Typically, telephone providers only provide reporting on the telephone calls your business makes. They record information such as the number dialed and the duration of the call so they can bill you.

Information about who called you is generally not reported even though your telephone provider may supply caller identification information to your phone when you receive a call.

Telephone calls that you make from one handset to another, an internal phone call, never reaches your telephone provider so there is no way they can provide a report about those calls.

Call reporting

To properly report on what happens on a business telephone system, a PBX or PABX, a call reporting system is usually attached to your phone system. A call reporting program is run on a computer and connects to your phone system by a computer cable, sometimes a serial cable, sometimes an internet cable depending on your phone system.

Every time a telephone call is made your phone system sends a message to the call reporting program saying things like "extension 101 called 212 555 1212 and spoke for 10 minutes" or "you received a phone call from someone, the phone rang for 12 seconds before it was answered by extension 102 and the call lasted 3 minutes".

The call reporting program saves this information with all the other messages. When you want to know what happened on your telephone system you can run the reports provided with the call reporting program.

You can work out things like which extension (and person) spends the most time on the phone. Do you miss phone calls (and business) after hours? Does it take you too long to answer the phone? Do customers spend too much time on hold? Do your customers give up and go somewhere else?

Call accounting

A call accounting program does the same things as a call reporting program plus one extra, important thing: it can work out how much the telephone calls cost. And not just the total amount but which extensions in your business costs the most.

This is also known as telecom expense management.

Call accounting systems let you define what a call costs per minute, what a local call costs, what a long distance call costs. Whenever a call is finished the call accounting program uses these definitions to calculate the total price of the call.

Rather than waiting for your telephone bill you can maintain control of your costs and not be surprised (or shocked) at the end of the month.

Automatic reports

Having to use the call reporting or call accounting program all the time can be annoying and time consuming. Telephone reports can usually be automatically sent to you by email on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

If something important happens, like lots of international phone calls, the telephone reporting system can email you straight away to tell you before it gets out of control.

You've probably read news articles about businesses discovering their telephone system has been hacked and tens of thousands of dollars of phone calls have been made to foreign countries over the weekend? This is known as telephone toll fraud.

Automatic reports notify you about things as they happen, not weeks later when you get your phone bill.

Old telephone reporting

Older telephone reporting systems require a new computer be installed to connect to your PBX.

The computer requires a database program to store the call records, a reporting program to create the reports and an email program to automatically send you the reports.

This sort of system often recommends you fix problems by deleting call records when there are 'too many'. Deleting the information you want to see in telephone reports is not a solution. Some systems even warn you about running some types of reports as they can take too long to run and can affect the system.

Of course you need to pay someone to administer the system, to keep the database operating, to create backups, to keep the system updated. This may be one of your own employees or you may need to pay for ongoing support.

If you are wondering if your current phone report solution is maintained by the people that provide it, look at the release date on the program, look at the copyright date on the program or website... just how old is it?

If the people that provide your telephone reports can't update the copyright date on their website once a year how much work are they doing on the call reporting program you use every day?

New telephone reports

Newer telephone reporting systems such as TIM4biz are provided as a small appliance the size of a paperback book or the telephone reporting program can be run as a virtual machine on Hyper-V, VMware or Xen Server.

Instead of having a complicated database engine and other modules running in your office, call information is collected by the network appliance, encrypted and sent to a bigger computer that lives on the internet.

The hosted system is maintained by dedicated staff and all the database maintenance, database performance tuning, database backups, software upgrades and security updates are performed for you.

Being a large, dedicated system, telephone call records do not have to be deleted when there are 'too many' records. There is no 'too many'. Tens or hundreds of millions of phone records is standard.

A small business with 10 extensions gets to use exactly the same software with all the features that a multi-million dollar enterprise with 1000s of extensions uses without the cost, complexity or maintenance required of an old, legacy 'solution'.