Getting started

Once you have decided to use the PCT calling system for your campaign, be sure to start early, setting up your network and computers, and testing things out.  Most people find the setup process pretty straightforward and quick.

There are, however, a LOT of variables here – internet providers, modems, firewalls, other software installed on computers, etc. – and in the complicated cases, it can take a while to sort things out.

Sometimes there are problems that are related to how many computers you are connecting to the system at the same time.  Your internet connection or router may be fine when you connect one or two computers, but problems may come up when you try to log in all ten or twenty of your computers.  For this reason, it is very important to test your setup by logging in all of the computers that you plan to use for calling – at the same time.  With all of the computers logged in, you can then make manual test calls from the computers to be sure that headsets and sound settings are ok.

You do not need to wait for your real calling campaign to be ready and loaded into the system.  If you are using the PDI integration, you do not need to wait for your PDI and PCT accounts to be connected.  As soon as we send you the welcome email with your calling system settings and login information, you can set up and test your computers.

Don’t wait until you have phoners coming in later the same day!  Do the configuring and testing well in advance of your first day of phoning.  That way you will be ready for your first phonebank, confident that things will run smoothly.

Do this first, before you set up the computers that your phoners will use. That way, as you are setting up the phoners’ computers, you will be able to look at the admin screen to verify that your phoner computers are being logged in correctly.

Your welcome email will include a link to the login page for the admin system.  Go to your browser (any browser will work).  Click on the link in your welcome email – or type the address into the browser.  Bookmark the login page.

You can now log in with your admin or supervisor username and password.

You will need to use Chrome or any other browser that supports the WebRTC protocol (we recommend Chrome, but other browsers work as well).

On each computer, go to the agent login page that was in your welcome email.  Bookmark the login page.

The first time you log in to the system, the browser will ask if you want to allow access to your microphone. Click on Allow and you are ready to go.

For your phoners, you will need computers (Windows, Chromebooks, or Macs) or tablets – as long as they can run a current version of software, it should be fine.

Phoners will need either a headset to plug in to their computer or a phone (cell phone or landline) to handle the audio.

For one or two phoners at a single location, any modern internet connection should have plenty of bandwidth.  A stable connection is the most important factor.

If you are setting up a phonebank at a central location, each computer will need approximately 125 kb of bandwidth, both upload and download.  This means that each megabyte of bandwidth is enough for 8 phoners.

For the people in charge of running the phonebank, you will need at least one Windows-based computer.

The calling system runs in a browser. Chrome generally works for most people; other browsers work well, too.

The standard way to connect to the calling system is to use the computer for the data – the voter information on the screen and the responses you mark after the call – and the audio, using VOIP.  In some situations, however, you may not be able to use the computer for the audio – particularly if your internet bandwidth is limited or your internet provider blocks the VOIP connection.

You can use a telephone for the audio.  It can be a cellphone, a landline, or an internet phone, as long as the phone has a ten-digit phone number and can receive calls at that number.  To use a telephone for the audio, you will need to change a couple of settings.

At the agent login webpage, click on the Settings button.

Click on Use Dialback: Yes.  In the Dialback box, type the ten-digit phone number you want this computer to connect to.  Click on Save & Close.

With these settings, when the agent logs in, the system will call the ten-digit phone number as part of the login process.  Remember not to hang up the phone in between calls!  If you hang up, you will need to log in again.

Once you have configured the computers that you will be using, you can make manual test calls to be sure that everything is working correctly. Manual calls are also useful to troubleshoot problems with headsets, volume settings, etc.

In the calling system’s admin area, make sure that your “manual” campaign has been started.  Now, log in to the phoner computer.

Leave the status as “NOT READY” and click on the Manual Call icon.

NOTE:  If there is nothing in the Campaign dropdown, that means that the manual campaign has not been started.

Fill in a 10-digit number in the phone number box and click on Dial.  The dialer will call that number.  Be patient – the call can sometimes take a while to connect to the number you’re dialing.

When you are finished with the call, follow the prompts on the screen.  You will be able to choose between staying in “Not Ready” status, or going “Ready” and starting to take live calls.

Make sure that the computer has good internet access

Make sure that you have allowed access to the microphone.

Try a different browser

Try running Chrome in Incognito mode.

Check if the individual computer has a firewall on – try turning it off, if it is on.

Try rebooting the computer.