ShoreTel Legacy Integraiton: ShoreTel as Voice Mail!

One of the more interesting aspects of PBX system installation in general and ShoreTel in particular, is the subject of Legacy PBX integration. There are a variety of reasons that a new ShoreTel installation might need to integrate with the old, in place or “legacy” PBX phone system. You might be installing the ShoreTel at the first location of a multi-site installation with the rest of the sites coming on line as older equipment leases expire. PBX’s typically use a tandem tie-line to join systems together. The ShoreTel, in this instance, would know the dial plan of the other PBX extensions and know which users lived in which PBX. If a ShoreTel user dials and extension number or receives a call for an extension known to live across the tie-line, the call is sent to the other PBX. The tie-line is typically define as part of a trunk group that outlines a list of “off-premise extensions”. The ShoreTel can also provide digit translation and manipulation to accommodate over lapping dial plans.

Increasingly, as ShoreTel grows in popularity and increased market acceptance, it is being asked to be the Voice Mail system for the legacy PBX. If you think about it, legacy PBX systems have traditionally been installed with separate Voice Mail systems. As it relates to market share, large corporate clients often have OCTEL voice mail systems that are now coming up on ten years after service life! Perhaps the telephone system is not ready for replacement quite yet, but the VM is about to die under its own weight. The ShoreTel makes for a great solution! Install the ShoreTel as a voice mail system for the legacy PBX. Then, as the opportunity allows, let it grow up and strangle the PBX as its obvious replacement.

We have been involved in the integration of Nortel, Avaya, NEC, Mitel and even a Toshiba key system to the ShoreTel as a PBX. We are now seeing growing demand for the ShoreTel to do both functions! The ShoreTel not only integrates as the new PBX with the old, legacy PBX to smooth client migration and transition; but it simultaneously provides VM for the users on the legacy PBX. Now how kool is that? ShoreTel as VM is a powerful migration strategy and a win/win for both client and vendor. Finding someone, however, that has a demonstrated competency in legacy integrations for both ShoreTel as PBX and ShoreTel as VM , complete with a client list that can be referenced is an essential element of a successful solution and implementation.

ShoreTel Contact Center Call Select or Agent Select

Agent Call Select OptionsConfiguring a ShoreTel ECC is better understood if we start from the Agent and work back to the caller. In the ShoreTel Enterpriser Contact Center we first define Agents whom we then assign to Groups which are generally the “destination” of a Services. Services are reached through entry points referred to as an IRN or Internal Routing Numbers. The IRN is connected through the PBX via TAPI to the DNIS dialed by the caller. Services can also have Destinations of Scripts which might be an IVR application or database dip to obtain additional customer or routing information.

Agents have both a Call Answer Strategy and a Call Select Strategy. We can search for an Agent based on which Agent has been idle the longest; Terminal, Circular or Best Skill Fit. This is defined at the Service level as “Agent Search Criteria”. What happens, however, if an Agent is a member of multiple Groups and an opportunity exists to have a called present to that Agent from all the Groups that the Agent is a member of? How do we determine which call from which Group should be presented to the Agent? This is where the “Call Select” strategy kicks in. We can assign a primary rule and a secondary rule. The rule can then define if the Call should be selected by the Longest Wait Time; by the Priority of the Call (set as the result of a previous Script or as assigned by the IRN when the call entered the system); and lastly by the “Best Skill Fit”.

Skills-based routing will be discussed in a later blog, but suffice it to say that the Enterprise Contact Center has a superior feature set at a price point that puts this contact center in its own product space. Knowing how to implemented the Call Center should not be left to OJT personnel! Get an implementation team that knows the difference between a ‘dress rehearsal’ and a ‘take’.