Use of Asterisks - Disabling Machine Recognition

In Talkdesk, the asterisk (*) symbol is used to bypass automated answering mechanisms, like IVRs or voicemail systems.

Answering Machine Detection (called AMD for short) listens to the first few seconds of a call and analyzes the audio.

There is no consistent signaling difference between a call picked up by a human or a machine, so our system relies on analyzing the sound patterns of the first few seconds of a call.

When a human answers a call, the typical pattern is to say “Hello” and then wait for the other party to respond “Hello”. Basically, you can think of it as sound, followed by silence.

However, the typical pattern for voicemail is to continue speaking and say something like “Hi, you’ve reached so-and-so…”. This is constant sound with no silences. It is this pattern that AMD is listening for. Sound followed by silence means human, constant sound means voicemail.

AMD relies on measuring a greeting against typical speech patterns. Because of this, it will not work 100% of the time. 

If-No-Answer and External Phone Mode

If-No-Answer or External numbers by default have AMD enabled. The idea being that, if a machine answers the call, calls get routed back to Talkdesk (ie. voicemail) instead of ending on the agent’s personal mobile or external phones’ voicemails.

By placing an * symbol into the extension field of an external number or IVR, agents and admins  can disable AMD for that number and, as such, "force" calls onto that external number, regardless of any machine answering it.


Agent IVR

Agent IVR is a feature whereby we play an IVR prompt to the external number. This allows us to collect digits (DTMF) to confirm 100% that a human is answering. Before agents answer a call forwarded to their external phones, a message lets them know that the call is being forwarded by Talkdesk. We play this default prompt message (not changeable):

"A customer is calling <account name>. Press 1 to answer the call; press 2 to ignore."

By pressing 1 the agent accepts the call, by pressing 2, or if no digits are pressed, the call will be ignored (the default behavior in terms of routing is applied, and if no other agent is available to handle the call, the caller will be redirected to voicemail). This provides a full proof machine detection option.

To enable this feature, please follow the instructions in the article Routing Settings.

Note: Adding one asterisk (*) into the extension field (Ext.) of the external phone number does not have any impact when the Agent IVR is enabled. If two asterisks (**) are added, this will disable the Answering Machine Detection (AMD), which means that the Agent IVR prompt will not be played when the agent presses the “Answer” button on the external phone.  

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