My quest for relevant beta testers and what I have learned so far

Looking for beta testers within a niche

Ten days ago I sent an open invite to would-be beta testers of SAM Reports to some Asterisk related sources:

The goal was to reach highly targeted audience, something like a pseudo-private beta.

Traffic sources for SAM Reports beta test

Traffic sources for SAM Reports beta test

Most of my traffic came form three sources:

  • Asterisk mailing list (probably the part with direct traffic)
  • LinkedIn
  • voip-info.org

There were 130 Absolute Unique Visitors of which I ruled out 4 from my friends at  micropreneur.com (I was asking for their opinion of the site), so that summed up to 126 uniques.

I started submitting the links on February 7th, and today is 17th, so that makes it 10 days. I’ve had 32 sign-ups for a beta test, that is 25%. A very good conversion but not that uncommon for a niche product.

Lesson learned : relevant traffic is much more important that volume.

Where do people click

People clicked the most on the “Tour” button. “Signup for beta” is the biggest button on the page, but I guess people first wanted to see what it’s all about.  The “About” section was also popular. I guess visitors want to know who are they dealing with. That made me rethink my about page, and I will be adding more content.

SAM Reports content traffic

SAM Reports content traffic

The funny thing is that I have put six video demonstrations of the product on the first page, but just a handful clicked on those:

Video Presentations On SAM Reports From Page

Video Presentations On SAM Reports From Page

I have even added the appropriate hint for the buttons:

SAM Reports Hint Screaming: VIDEO

SAM Reports Hint Screaming: VIDEO

Even though the hint is screaming “VIDEO” almost no one bothered to pass the mouse over the buttons.

Lesson learned : if you want visitors to see you Camtasia screen cast, why don’t just say so.

Where do the people come from

When I attended the AstriCon conference in London in 2006, Mark Spencer said that on their first conference a guy came all the way from Nigeria to attend. It was his first visit to the United States. And in London it seemed like  a mini UN meeting. Asterisk is truly a multi-national product, connecting people all over the world.

SAM Reports has visitors from all over the world

SAM Reports has visitors from all over the world

Northern America does take take the single biggest space, but it’s only 26%. We had visitors from over 40 countries.

This sums up my quest for relevant beta testers and what I have learned about them by looking at Google Analytics. There’s still a lot to be done. The actual beta test is yet to be conducted , so is this post to be continued…

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Why SAM Reports?

I’ve been involved with Asterisk since 2006. In 2007 my husband and I started an Asterisk integration shop in Croatia. We cater to small businesses, because we are small.

Some of our clients that have small call centers needed a reporting solution. Also some of our other clients expressed a need to see more information about their call traffic. After some consideration I decided to build it using Delphi. I wanted something easy to install, with no maintenance and no pre-install software requirements. It was not meant to be “All-In-One” solution that does configuration, monitoring, click-to-dial, provisioning, etc. Neither was it meant to be a real-time reporting.

It was envisioned to do just one thing, show the call records, for both queues and CDRs, without presuming anything about the underlying system. The main goal of the application is to  leverage what is already there in your Asterisk box, thus it operates on log files and not the database that you might have installed, or not.

The goal is also to show the information, as opposed to data, in an orderly and easily understood format. To be able to see multiple information displayed at once without any noise (information overload). Ease of use was also high on my list, therefore I opted for a “drag and drop” approach.

The application is currently used by the two of my clients. (Beta is about to start in 9 days) It was important to make it as simple as possible for them to update their reports when needed. Therefore I included a small SFTP client. Introducing the end users with  WinSCP would complicate things too much for them. It’s much easier to click on the “Transfer files” icon from within the application.

SAM Reports is aimed at small businesses using Asterisk.  I built it to solve the pain that I had : provide my clients, small businesses, with a reporting solution without the need to make any changes to their Asterisk boxes. And also to give them reporting that’s easy for them to use. I wanted to be able to offer it to both my call-center clients and those without, therefore the application handles both CDRs and queues.

This is a short overview of why we did SAM Reports and how. I’ll be posting here on the development process (changes, what features are planned, what’s coming). I’ll also desrcibe use-cases, real and virtual (aka, what’s possible, what might be a good use of).

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Top 5 Trunks By Day (CDR Reports)

You might want to know about your trunk‘s load. This view shows you top 5 trunks by the number of calls.  Both incoming and outgoing calls. They are sorted descending from the one with the most load. The number of calls is presented by weekdays, each in its own column , both in  grid and  chart respectively.  The top 5 selection is made with the “TopN” filter . To learn more about CDR Reports click here.

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Top 7 Channels By Direction (CDR Reports)

This view shows  top 7 channels (extensions) by  total call duration. Here is the inverted view where the channels make the columns instead of rows accentuating the  direction of calls in the row area. So the first thing we see, when looking at the chart is the ratio of incoming to outgoing calls. And on the second look we can dive into each one of those to see how the channels are doing in each category. To learn more about CDR Reports click here.

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Calls By Hour / Quarter (CDR Reports)

On this view wee see the overall call traffic displayed by hours and quarters. All four quarters follow pretty much the same hourly curve, but some are more  loaded than others. The area chart smoothly depicts the rising  of traffic by quarters as well as the hourly bell like curve. Since this is a CDR report view we can see how the entire traffic of our PBX behaved in terms of quarters and hours too.

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Top 10 Unknown Numbers By Day (Queue Reports)

Here we see top 10 unknown callers distributed by weekdays in an inverted view. We can see the caller’s daily calling patterns and if the number of call is significant for our business, learn more about them and make them contacts in the application. To learn more about queue reports click here.

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Top 5 Queues By Exit (Queue Reports)

Here we see how the calls ended for any of top five queues. By displaying both answered and unanswered calls on the same axis, we can see their ratio. When we look closer we see how each of the queues behaved in answered and unanswered categories. That can be a useful way of looking at several related information at once. This queue report is on queue level only. More details about agents is visible from the agent view.

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Top 5 Contacts by Day (Queue Reports)

Here we have top 5 contacts that called our call center and talked to our operators the longest. Total call duration by contact is distributed by weekdays and we can see on the chart that their call patterns differ. That information might be useful to offer our clients services tailored to their specific needs.

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Top 5 Agents By Quarter (Queue Reports)

This view displays top 5 agents by quarter with the rest of agents accrued into a single value. That lets you see the relations between top performers and the rest. Each pie diagram shows two types of information  : relations between top performers and the ratio between top performers and the rest. To learn more about queue reports click here.

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Calls By Hour / Day (Queue Reports)

Here you can see overall call center performance by weekday and then by the hour. This provides you immediately to  see which weekday / hour combination has the least/most calls. It also shows hourly patterns per days of the week.  The column diagram makes it easy to see the distinct hours in a day and grouping by  days on the x axis depicts distinct weekdays.

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