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OnSIP Tip: Manage and Screen Calls with Multiple SIP Aliases

by Kevin Bartley

Help your sales and support agents better manage and screen calls from different destinations on their VoIP phone using multiple SIP aliases in OnSIP.

Screening calls for context allows agents and employees to answer callers with the proper greeting and response. Looking at the incoming caller ID and using CRM integrations can help with this, but there are other ways to further refine the calling experience. One option involves creating separate lines for employees on multiple teams, such as sales, support, or product, so that they can effectively screen calls before picking up the phone.

What Is a SIP Alias?

With a cloud phone system like OnSIP, account administrators have several ways of creating direct lines to individual employees. The most common way is to create a new user for each person. Each user can have a personal extension that other team members can dial for direct access, like x7072.

Another way to create a direct line is to create a SIP alias, or sub-user, for an existing user. A SIP alias is identified by a unique SIP address, such as support_john@jenny.onsip.com. A SIP alias is like an extension in that other people can dial it to reach a person directly, but has the added benefit of also being able to initiate calls and log into ACD queues.

A user can have multiple SIP aliases for different roles—for example, John can have a support alias or a sales alias, in addition to his regular line. He can then assign each SIP alias to a line key on his desk phone to effectively manage and screen calls. When an alias is called, the assigned line will ring, and the phone will display the name of the alias, such as "Sales Line". This helps John identify calls from coworkers, sales prospects, and support inquiries.

Who Should Use a SIP Alias?

SIP aliases are primarily used in queues or ring groups, typically for sales and support employees. There's no quality of service differences between users and SIP aliases, but there are logistical considerations. A business that chooses to screen calls with multiple users instead of aliases opens the door to housekeeping issues. The administrative task of maintaining multiple user accounts can pile up. This can clutter up your phone system and might even make your business more susceptible to phone hacking.

SIP aliases allow agents to quickly gain contextual information about a caller. For instance, if someone calls your sales alias, then you know the call will involve sales matters. This allows you to calibrate your response appropriately. Contrast that to a one-sized-fits-all greeting that's too vague to make a connection with prospects. Or answering the phone as if every call is a sales pitch, wearing down your coworkers. In these situations, keeping separate lines in the form of SIP aliases can help distinguish between your callers.

SIP aliases also enable remote working with softphone apps. The OnSIP app allows remote workers to toggle between their SIP aliases when making outbound calls yet remain available to answer incoming calls directed to any of their SIP aliases. This saves the trouble of registering multiple SIP addresses or logging into separate sessions with a different user credentials.

Creating a SIP Alias in OnSIP

OnSIP customers can streamline their inbound and outbound calling operations by creating SIP aliases for users instead of multiple users. Here's how to create a SIP alias to an existing user in the OnSIP Admin Portal.

1. Navigate to the Users tab.

2. Select the user you want to add SIP aliases to. Click modify under the Extensions, Phone Numbers, & SIP Addresses option.

3. Select SIP Address from the drop-down menu next to the + sign. Type in the name of the alias and the associated SIP address for the user. Save the changes.

Add SIP aliases to a user in OnSIP

In our example, we named the aliases "support_John" and "sales_John". Since John knows that the call will be to him, listing the department first is more useful, since line key labels are often quite short in length and may not be able to list all the characters.

4. Next, navigate to the Resources tab. Find the phone that's registered to the user. Click modify on the Line Details section and assign the SIP aliases to the available lines on the phone.

Assign SIP aliases to phones in OnSIP

In our example, we added "support_John" to line 1 and "sales_John" to line 2. Save the changes.

Adding a SIP Alias to a Group

If John's sales team is using a ring group to answer calls, he can add his SIP alias as a group member. When his alias is called from the group, John's phone will display the "John Sales" icon, alerting him that the call is coming from the Sales group. Here's how to add a SIP alias to a ring group in OnSIP:

1. Navigate to the Groups tab. Select the group that you wish to add the SIP alias to.

2. Click modify on the Members section. Select the SIP alias from the Available list and move it to the In Group list using the right arrow button. Save the changes.

Add a SIP alias to a ring group in OnSIP

In our example, adding "sales_John" to the group means that line 2 on John's phone will be now rings when a call is made to the group.

Logging into an ACD Queue with a SIP Alias

If John's support team is on an ACD queue, he can use his support alias to log into the queue rather than his regular user. When the queue places him with a caller, John will see that the call is coming in on the "support_John" line.

Here's how to log into a queue using a SIP alias in OnSIP:

1. Navigate to the Apps tab. Find the appropriate queue in the list of Apps.

2. Gather the Login Extension from the section labeled Login Extensions & Phone Numbers and the Login Password from the section labeled Login Details.

ACD queue login details and login extension in OnSIP

3. To join the queue, select the line on the phone associated with the SIP alias and dial the Login Extension from the previous step. Upon hearing a prompt, enter the Login Password from the previous step. You will hear "agent has logged in" to verify that you are now available to answer calls in the queue.

In our example, John would select line 1 on his phone before dialing into the queue. If John is using the OnSIP app, he would select the alias "support_john@jenny.onsip.com" below the main calling window before dialing the queue extension.

4. To log out of the queue, place a call from the SIP alias to the Login Extension again. You will hear "agent logged off" to confirm that you have left the queue.

Keep Calls Organized with Aliases

For employees who take calls from multiple sources, using an alias in a queue or a group can help screen incoming calls and make the experience more seamless for the caller. Aliases can also enable remote working via softphones by making it easier to switch between lines.

However, aliases might not be ideal for all situations. Some businesses might want to create multiple users for the same person in order to assign multiple voicemail boxes, configure distinct call forwarding preferences, or set unique outbound caller ID displays. A SIP alias is simply another avenue to contact a user, not a different type of user.

It's also important to keep in mind that not every phone system offers SIP aliases. The feature is unique to certain SIP-based providers, and is something you might want to look into when you're researching options. To find out more, ask your VoIP provider what your options are for creating multiple lines per user.

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