ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center “Change Call Profile” icon

How many people hit the Auto Attendant and then dialed one for Sales? One of the most requested reports from ShoreTel clients is the analysis of Automated Attendant key strokes. With in the ShoreTel iPBX there are probably several ways to implement this, but we prefer the use of “route points” (see past blog). “ Thank you for calling our company during our normal business hours. For Sales Press 1, for Service Press 2 or stay on the line and the next available member of our staff will be right with you”. Typical Automated Attendant? We set the time out value to go to a “hunt group” and each of the menu items to a route point. You can actually run a User Detail report against a route point, as long as that route point terminates on a Shoretel end point other than a TAPI end point. For this reason, you can then run the report and find out exactly how many callers dialed one for sales!

Recently, we had to create an Automated Attendant on an Enterprise Contact Center. At first this seemed almost boring, but then we ran into an issue. You can use the MENU icon to create your Automated Attendant script, with a TRANFER icon to each destination selected by the caller. You can use the SCRIP icon to send the caller on to a script to collect information like the callers account number for a SQL database look up; but how do you send a caller to “service”? Now that was a more interesting challenge and I have to thank Chad Burnett for pointing out the use of what has become my favorite new ShoreTel ECC scripting icon: “the Change Profile” action. This icon is a powerful call profile manipulator and enables the Enterprise Contact Center configuration to explode with call processing options.

Using the Change Call Profile icon you can select various Call Profiles for manipulation. Each system contains a number of mandatory system level call profiles like ANI and Caller ID. You as a system designer can also create Call Profiles to meet the needs of your exacting design requirements. For example, you might add the Call Profile “Account Code” that you might use in a script that prompts the caller to enter digits that you will use to look up a record in a SQL database.

The Change Call Profile icon also allows you to select a previously defined SERVICE. The following video clip reviews how the iPBX and the ShoreTel ECC interconnect. It demonstrates the use of the Change Call Profile icon, by demonstrating the creation of a simple automated attendant!

Deploying the ShoreTel Personal Call Manager through AD Group Policy!

Installing a ShoreTel IPBX solution is a process not an event. I have previously published a book entitled “VoIP System Planning Guide” that can be download from the DrVoIP site. This guide covers the basics for planning and managing a VoIP deployment in general and a ShoreTel solution in particular. The “devil is in the details” however and though the process can be understood, the individual tasks required to complete the process generally prove there is no substitute for hands on experience!

Every installation technician comes to that fork in the road that deals with the deployment of the ShoreTel Personal Call Manager software. Deploying the actual telephone instruments is a pure act of labor, but the Personal Call Manager is an act of commitment! Each desktop in the installation will need to be touched by someone, and I do not consider an installation complete until the Call Managers are deployed and operational. There is a component of this effort that involves interVLAN routing, (e.g. getting from the desktop data network to the phone server), but I am now focused exclusively on the actual installation of the PCM software.

There are three strategies that are generally employed to accomplish this. The first strategy is obviously to visit each desktop with a DVD or Thumb drive and load the software! For the installer this is very labor intensive and requires that the install have administrative desktop privileges or maybe even domain privileges. The second option, is to push the software out to the desktops through and email link set from the ShoreTel Director portal to each ShoreTel user. This is a bit less labor intensive, but it still requires the desktop users to have administrative installation rights to their own desktop computers. Most large IT environments do not grant this privilege to plain vanilla users!

The third option, however, has the most promise as being both labor economical while maintaining network security. We can create and Active Directory Group Policy to push the PCM out to the user and have it installed without user involvement. To do this you will need to create a few objects, modify the organization unit containing the computers and users that will be effected by the new group policy. (Refer to Microsoft Knowledge base article 816102). First you create a Distribution point; the create a Group Policy Object, assign a package and then publish your installation package. This strategy is the preferred implementation practice for deployments of any scale and installation technicians should become familiar with the basics of implementing this solution. We will publish a video on both the blog and the DrVoIP site that will demonstrate this solution.

Is the Economy good for VoIP?

Has the economy hit VoIP? My thinking is that it has and in a very positive way for both integrators and voip service providers. Throughout my career I have always been amazed at the number of traditional key telephone systems sold into the small business segment of the telephone equipment market place. If you added up the numbers as published by the publically reporting companies in this segment, extrapolated an average SBE equipment size requirement you would conclude that every man, woman and child in this country already owns a telephone system! So where do all the new SBE phone system come from? Having said that, this number is getting harder to calculate as the companies that you could track in this segment (e.g.. Vodavi, Comdial, etc) have morphed into something else and generally as a direct result of the increasing acceptance of VoIP in that market segment (e.g. Covad, Packet8, Vonage et. Al). The economy even when it contracts, causes companies that survive to change their shape and size. We have witnessed a growing demand for companies seeking to spin off a branch office as a standalone business. If you have a CISCO Call Manager, for example, and you were running SRST at the branch office, we are servicing requests to convert the branch to a standalone CCME. Business Partnerships dissolve, the partners create new entities and split a perfectly good ShoreTel IPBX in two! Service providers in general, seem to be showing increases in VoIP revenue segments, specifically in the SIP environment. Cbeyond (CBEY) seems to be trading at near its 52 week high. Generally, my thinking is that VoIP is a good place to be no matter which way the economy moves!

ShoreTel Contact Center C2G Interaction Reports

Prior to release of ShoreTel Contact Center Version 5.0, reporting was essentially statistical analysis. The Contact Center had very useful report generation capabilities that included the ability to add and delete columns to existing pre-defined reports. The reports, however, were generated largely as summary reports based on accumulated totals of events. For example, you could generate an Agent Performance report that could report the total number of calls presented; total call answered; average call holding time; average talk time over a specified interval. Though very useful for tracking aggregate call volume, the reports could not track individual agents events. The Shoretel Contact Center had no equivalent of the Call Detail Reporting that you might find in the ShoreTel IPBX database. What information was available, was derived by arithmetic manipulation of totals or the equivalent of “peg counters”. Each agent had a bucket for total calls, but the details of each call were not archived in the database. This led to reports that indicated total calls for the period were 19.2 as calls were averaged over an interval.

ShoreTel Contact Center 5.0 takes a major step forward in the area of reporting. A new feature named variously “interaction reporting” or “cradle to grave” reporting has made a major positive contribution to the contact centers already strong feature set. The database has also migrated from Sybase to MySQL, which completes the database migration strategy that ShoreTel began with version 7 of the IPBX. In the ECC database contains a table structure that can be generally summarized as a configuration database. A second database, named C2G has been created and does not appear in contact centers before version 5. This database contains about 22 tables of which four are effectively the equivalent of “CDR” records. A table named events, tracks all the incoming event detail and includes a GUID that can be used to link back to the CDR record in the IPBX. This database makes it possible to create very detailed reports. For example, assume you needed a report that listed each call handled by a specific agent over an specified interval. Additionally, you want the agent detail to include a call disposition status or wrap code. Prior to the C2G database, this type of report would have been impossible. With the new C2G database, you can generate the report very easily using any MySQL administration tool, like SQLyog. Interaction reporting is a major step forward for ShoreTel Contact Center and one that the market will be very excited to receive. Look for a video update in our online library for a “hands on” look at how to setup configure and make use of Interaction reporting!

ShoreTel Enterprise Contact Center Interation Reporting