Mitel Buys ShoreTel

For those of you who may not have heard: Mitel recently completed its acquisition of ShoreTel for $530 million.

Since this was first announced at the end of July, I’ve been asked repeatedly what I think about this deal.  What does it mean for Barry Communications as a partner?  And what does it mean for both existing and potentially future customers?

Although I knew there was a high likelihood that ShoreTel would be sold, it was still a shock to hear the news. And I must admit that my first reaction was not positive. Like most people, I can be uncomfortable with change, especially big change. Having the manufacturer of our premier product line and a core technology of our cloud strategy be purchased qualifies as a big change!

However, as I read about it and had some time to think, I quickly realized that this is a completely positive change.

Over the past 15+ years, ShoreTel was a disruptive player in the business communications market.  Their original premise-based product brought enterprise-grade unified communications (UC) to the general marketplace. They delivered “Brilliantly Simple” products and software that were easy for all parties to understand and adopt. It was easy to understand, easy to implement, easy to use, and easy to maintain.  And all of that made it (relatively) easy for us to sell.

As the cloud phenomenon began to emerge, ShoreTel virtualized their software, allowing us to migrate customers to cloud data centers. With the migration of ShoreTel to the “Connect” platform, they became the first in the industry to have a single application that could run in a premise, cloud or hybrid implementation. ShoreTel continued to grow, both in market share and financial results.

All their success, however, made them a target for acquisition. In an industry that is continuing to consolidate, it became inevitable that ultimately, they would be acquired. Two years ago, Mitel made an unfriendly bid to buy ShoreTel. At the time, the Board of Directors rejected the offer, but set up a committee to review their strategic alternatives. Ultimately, the decision was made to accept an offer from Mitel.

For those who have been in the industry for a long time, Mitel is a well-known and well-regarded entity.  They have been a major global player in the telecommunications world since the 1970s. Barry Communications had significant experience with Mitel back in the 80s and 90s, and I personally worked with them into the 2000’s. Their products were always of the highest quality and reliability. They have always been a dominant force in the hospitality and education sectors, and among the top five in the general business marketplace.

From my standpoint, however, they fell behind as the UC market evolved.  This is why we adopted ShoreTel, which was a pure UC product.  ShoreTel was not burdened with having to maintain legacy phone systems and migrate old technology to new, which made them far more agile and gave them the ability to start with a “clean sheet of paper”.  In side-by-side comparisons, ShoreTel was always a better fit for business customers — compared not only to Mitel, but to any of the competitors — which is how they achieved such significant market share starting from zero.

Clearly, Mitel (privately) understood this, which is why they made such a strong effort to purchase ShoreTel.

When I look at the alternative potential acquirers – data networking companies, carriers, other cloud companies or private equity – I see no other company that would immediately understand the true value of ShoreTel, have such a deep knowledge of the UC marketplace, and have the manufacturing capability and historical commitment to quality that Mitel brings to the table. Any other acquirer would have had a long learning curve, which would have made all of us extremely uncomfortable.

Instead, Mitel has made it clear that they have a plan and a place for ShoreTel in their product line and that it is highly synergistic. They have a history of acquisitions that have been very successful — for them, and more importantly for the customers of the companies that they have acquired. They have made significant efforts to reassure us that our investments and our customers’ investments are not only secure, but that the long-term return on these investments will be improved.

With this acquisition, Mitel is now the number two company globally in the UC business and they have set their targets on being number one!

At the end of the day, businesses are truly made up of people. I have always been impressed by Mitel’s people. I have now been through several presentations and have met directly with executives and local representatives from Mitel. I have not only been impressed by their depth of knowledge and professionalism, but as importantly, by their longevity with the company. This gives me a sense of stability; the people who are making promises today are most likely going to be the people who will be around to deliver on those promises tomorrow, next year, and in the years to come.

As I have told the customers who have reached out to me directly: this is all good. For those who were concerned that Mitel might “phase out” ShoreTel’s technology, my reply is: “Why would a company spend more than half of a billion dollars to destroy what they purchased?” And if they were not going to develop the Connect platform, why would they put their name on the platform within 24 hours of purchasing the company?  It is now “Mitel Connect”.

Which leads to my only real problem with all of this. After 10 years of talking about ShoreTel, I now have to retrain myself and start saying Mitel! And that’s a problem I can handle.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you would like to discuss any of this.

Andy Mehlman
amehlman@barrycommunications.com
508-926-7142

4 Reasons You Need BrightMetrics to Maximize Your ShoreTel Investment

Your ShoreTel system collects data about your communications usage. But without an easy and powerful tool for organizing, tracking and reporting all that data, it can be difficult to make informed business decisions and maximize your ShoreTel system’s potential. This is why we have begun installing BrightMetrics on the backend of all our clients’ ShoreTel systems.

BrightMetrics is the most powerful web-based reporting and analytics tool built specifically for Shoretel VoiP. It pulls and organizes your phone data in any format you need, and allows you to drill down to access as much detail as you want. It functions as a plug-in to the ShoreTel interface, and makes current and historical data easily accessible.

So, BrightMetrics’ analytics and reporting functionality is likely already running in the background on your system, helping us to track down and resolve problems on your system and deliver you even better customer service.

So, what exactly does this mean for you? Let’s look at four ways BrightMetrics can benefit ShoreTel customers…

1. Expand ShoreTel’s Limited Reporting Options

Standard ShoreTel reports allow you to choose times, users and groups but offer little else in terms of customization. If you want to know how long it takes to answer calls, how much time your staff spend on each call, how many calls go unanswered, and what the most common topics are on calls, you will need an analytics tool like BrightMetrics to access this data in a useful way.  BrightMetrics’ reports can be scheduled to run daily, weekly or monthly and can be automatically sent to defined email addresses.

2. Better Troubleshooting

Track your systems’ capacity and get a notification when you’re running out of resources. Map call flow so you can understand how calls are routed through ShoreTel and identify ongoing issues. Make changes without interrupting your call routing practices. BrightMetrics uses your ShoreTel data to help you quickly and accurately identify problems like these, and more. The tool provides data on jitter, latency, and what times the servers are reporting to help you prevent or reduce down-time, improve customer service, and quickly resolve problems.

3. Improve Staff Productivity

To help your staff become more productive, you need to understand the current productivity level and identify opportunities for improvement. This will likely involve analytics on call volume, staffing levels, call duration, and number of call transfers. This kind of information can help keep labor costs down by preventing overstaffing, while ensuring your staff have the tools necessary to efficiently and effectively assist customers.

4. Increase Customer Satisfaction

Do you know what your customers experience when they call your company? Data analytics can provide insight into how long your customers wait on hold, how many times they are transferred, and how long they speak with a staff person to resolve their need. Improvements in these critical interactions can make a significant difference in customer satisfaction.

For our customers who use BrightMetrics, I have seen them gain valuable insight into their productivity and better understand how to make improvements that align with their business goals.

Find out how Bright Metrics could work for you. Register for our webinar:  5 Metrics Every Contact Center Manager Should Know

If your business can benefit from BrightMetric’s analytics and reporting tools, please contact  us to discuss fees and how this tool can support your business decision-making process.

Are Cloud Voice Services Really Right for You?

It may seem like everything related to communications is moving to the cloud. So of course, your business should be in the cloud too, right? Maybe not.

While cloud voice services offer a lot in the way of exciting functionality, and it can be appealing not to have to own or manage your company’s communications systems, the cloud isn’t necessarily the right solution for everyone.

In fact, in my personal experience, about half of the people who purchase a cloud solution aren’t really the best fit for it. Let me explain why.

Cloud voice services were built to provide highly functional, interactive suites of services. These unified communications solutions deliver instant messaging, web conferencing, video messaging, and other advanced communications capabilities all within a single application. This functionality can be fantastic for companies that use and need it – those with multiple locations, many remote workers, and high call volumes.

However, if your company is a more static business model, all of that functionality may actually slow you down. For businesses that have used the same phone system for the past 15 years and are now looking into new options because your old system is no longer serviceable, the cloud is likely not the right solution.

Cloud voice services were not built to function like traditional phone systems. That is one thing they do not do as well.

Your Business May Be Better Off with a Traditional Phone System If…

Are you trying to decide whether your company can benefit from a cloud-based communications system? Consider the following factors. You may be better off with a traditional phone system if you:

  • Have no (or few) mobile/remote workers
  • Have minimal phone usage
  • Still use pagers or fax machines
  • Do not have a customer service department
  • Use key system appearances to answer calls (put a call on ‘line 1’ and use an intercom to tell someone that their call is holding on line 1)
  • Could be considered a traditional, low-tech business

If you answered yes to more than one of the above points, your business will likely benefit more from a new phone system rather than cloud voice services.

Cost Comparison: Traditional Phone System vs. Cloud Voice Services

What about the cost differences? The cloud systems look comparatively inexpensive when you look at the monthly fee versus an investment in purchasing an entirely new phone system. So, let me break down the cost considerations:

  1. Call Volume: Most hosted cloud solutions include unlimited calling. That is ideal for companies with high call volume, like call centers and customer service departments. But for a company with minimal phone usage, you’re paying for those unlimited calls. And consider a company that had 50 phones with their old system, but only five lines on all of them. In the past, they only paid for the five lines. But with a new cloud service, they would be paying for 50 cloud users – one for each phone — each with unlimited calling. It is likely less expensive to have monthly service costs rather than burying those costs in an unlimited solution.
  2. Up-Front Investment: The minimal up-front cost and low monthly fees of cloud products can be appealing. However, it’s worth considering how long you expect to use the solution. For companies that used their last phone system for 10-12-15 years (or more!), the long-term cost benefit lies with purchasing a system outright. However, if you don’t want to invest the upfront capital, or don’t want the responsibility for managing a phone system, you have the option to lease (or lease-to-own) a phone system as well.
  3. Service Responsibility: Unfortunately, many cloud providers have immature customer service organizations. So, while you may spend less up front on a product that you don’t have to own or manage, you’ll likely spend a significant amount of time and effort managing your vendor’s customer service team. The person in your business who is charged with managing the vendor relationship will require time to track down the appropriate customer service contact, struggle with how to resolve issues that arise, and deal with potential down-time.

At first glance, cloud voice services appear to be the simple choice. But it needs to be the right choice for your business. If you want help deciding what communications solution – and which provider – would be the best fit for your business, we’d like to help. Barry is committed to an agnostic view of the market: we know all the players and their products, and help our customers identify what will work best for their needs. We understand small and medium sized businesses, and have solutions that include simple, basic telephony as well as cloud-based communications, and everything in between. Then we can help you implement and manage your new systems – all for the same (or lower) cost than you would have paid on your own.

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Learn more about cloud-based communications with: “Clouds, VoIP, and Unified Communications”.
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Where’s the “Customer Service” in Phone Service?

When Small Businesses Struggle to Get Good Service from Big Voice and Data Network Providers, They Need an Advocate

voice_and_data_networkHave you ever had the experience of working with a salesperson and, once the purchase order was signed, you never heard from them again? Your account was moved over to someone else in account management, who may not even have a conversation with your salesperson. All of the background information, conversations about customization, and concerns you had throughout the sales process – do you really need to repeat all of that with an entirely new person?

Unfortunately, many big companies simply aren’t structured to care for customers from start to finish. Each department or role focused on their specific tasks, which makes it incredibly difficult to deliver great customer service. That’s not a reason avoid the big guys – because there are a lot of benefits they can offer. For example, the large cable companies have built out great enterprise fiber infrastructure and have a strong implementation team, but they typically don’t do well with ongoing support – they’re simply too big.

This can be incredibly frustrating for small business customers, which typically don’t have enough staff or the right knowledge and background to easily manage their utilities.

The Secret to Better Customer Service? Get an Advocate.

Businesses can partner with an advocate to get help managing their utility providers. The benefit of this kind of relationship is that advocates like Barry Communications have deep technical expertise, so they can ensure highly efficient and tailored implementation to meet your specific needs. They are also able to leverage their knowledge to get customer service staff to address issues faster, more directly, and in a more complete manner. Basically, they know how to squeeze the absolute best service out of a machine that isn’t designed to automatically deliver good service.

To give this whole idea a bit more color, I wanted to share a few examples with you:

#1  You Want to Cut Over to New Service on Friday Night

A lot of customers want to start their new service cut-over at the end of the day on Friday. That gives them the weekend to address any issues before everyone returns to work on Monday. However, we at Barry know the big problem with this timing: the implementation team that you’re working with are in a rush to get home on Friday night. They may rush your cut-over, which can create problems. When you call to get service to address the problems, now you’re working with a weekend crew who don’t know anything about your project.

Advocate Tip: Schedule a cut-over on a Thursday. That gives us time on Friday to clean things up if needed.

#2 The Hidden Costs in a Multi-Location Network Delivery

Let’s say your business has five locations, and you’re setting up a multi-location network.

When you’re installing fiber in five locations, there’s construction involved. The carriers will deliver each circuit as soon as its ready – any they’ll start billing you as soon as they’re delivered. Except you can’t start using any individual circuit until the entire network is up and running. That could cost you thousands of dollars for circuits you can’t use, meanwhile you’re still paying for your old network.

Advocate Tip: Require the carrier to delay delivery until all of the circuits are ready.

#3 Skip the Customer Service Hoops

Have you ever called a customer service number, only to be run through the most basic questions as a standard formality? Because you’re an end user, the technician assumes you know nothing about the product or technology and starts out by asking something so utterly basic, like whether you’ve plugged it in. *eye roll *

And after you answer the questions and wait on hold a few times, carriers will often say “everything on our end looks fine, the problem must be your internal equipment.”

Right.

Advocate Tip: What you need is someone who can cut through all of that standardized initial customer service activity. Someone who speaks the technical jargon, and knows when to push for shorter, faster, less costly resolutions.

#4 The Right Provider for You, at the Best Price

Every service provider has strengths and weaknesses. But you don’t have the time to research all of them to understand which one is best for your specific needs. We already know all of the carriers, inside and out, and can advise you on the best fit for your needs.

We have wholesale agreements with some providers, which creates more competitive pricing for customers, and with other providers we negotiate and customize services to get you the best fit at the best price. The end result is that a customer will never pay more going through us than if they had gone direct to the provider.

Advocate Tip: Independent sales agents may help customers get a better deal, but they don’t have the technical knowledge to provide an end-to-end relationship that will help you manage ongoing service issues. Look for a true partner who can support your business through the lifetime of your service.

The Benefits of Continuous Support

When you work with an advocate like Barry, you get ongoing expert guidance and resources from presale to sale to implementation to ongoing technical service. Whether you need help with coordinating carrier services, managing phone or data, or working with your firewall, router, etc. (even if we didn’t provide it) – we have the technical experience to support every aspect of your phone and data needs. We’re your partner, and your first call.

Learn more about how Barry can help with your voice and data network.

 

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The Telecom Industry in Transition from Premise-Based to Cloud Voice Systems How Does Today’s Active M&A Environment Impact the Customer?

cloud voice systemsYet another industry giant has stumbled, as Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. Although many of us saw this one coming from a long way off, it represents yet another in a wave of mergers, acquisitions and financial missteps as the telecom industry struggles to transition from premise-based hardware to hosted cloud voice systems.

The Fall of VC-Backed Telecoms

I’ve seen a lot of venture capital and investment money go into cloud voice system providers. Many of them continue running on VC funding and aren’t making a profit – they’re instead building a business with the goal of selling it to another company.  And this pattern isn’t limited to phone equipment manufacturers; it’s a consistent pattern across the industry including carriers as well.

One of the earliest examples of this trend was Whaleback, a cloud solution that built up a large customer base before running out of money and being sold. The customers I’ve spoken to are experiencing a completely different model now that Whaleback has been swallowed up by another provider, and seem to be dissatisfied with the service they’re receiving.

We’ve seen similar stories with Windstream’s purchase of Earthlink, Verizon’s buyout of XO Communications, and others.

What’s the Impact for Customers?

I’ve been asking for a while now: when companies focus primarily on gaining customers and subscribers, but don’t care about whether they’re making a profit, what eventually happens to their customers?

Mergers and acquisitions are financial decisions. They are typically in the best interest of the stockholders, with little regard for the needs of the customers. While many companies that undergo an M&A transaction or wade through chapter 11 bankruptcy will emerge, there are often extensive changes for the customer and long-term impact on research and development and the company’s ability to maintain competitive innovation.

While VCs expect this level of risk when they invest in a company, customers cannot. Every change of management and direction creates problems for the customer, and unfortunately the customers come out on the losing end.

How Can Companies Prevent the Upheaval that Telecom M&A Activity Creates?

While many people’s instincts may be to establish a direct relationship with their telecom provider, this is a situation for which an intermediary can be valuable and important. At Barry, we carefully vet and select the providers we choose to work with. We also personally oversee our customers’ experiences, and if changes do occur with any of our providers, we take on the role of navigating those changes and minimizing the impact for our customers. We have the ability to prevent major disruptions, and deliver more personalized services than any of the major providers.

So whether your company is an uncertain Avaya customer looking to investigate your cloud voice system options, or simply looking to explore the industry for a new or better phone system, let’s talk. I’d love to tell you about how Barry Communications works for our customers, introduce you to some of our customers, and explain how we can help you make a confident decision for the long term.

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Jumping the S-Curve

(and other inspirations from the ShoreTel Global Partner Conference)

ShoreTel Global Partner Conference

Happy new year! It’s a great time for fresh starts, new strategies, exciting initiatives and planning for all that 2017 will bring. But before we jump into everything forward-looking, I want to take a brief look back at the ShoreTel conference that I attended last month. A lot of great information and inspiration came out of that event, and I think it’s valuable to share here.

Uncomfortable is Good

Shoretel CEO Don Joos kicked off the three-day conference with a keynote presentation that focused on the significant changes that the communications industry is undergoing, and how ShoreTel fits into that evolution.

He highlighted the transformations of:

  • Architecture: From TDM to IP
  • Software: From monolithic to modular
  • Delivery: From onsite to cloud
  • Consumption: From ownership (capex) to subscription (opex)

One of the most compelling things that Joos said during his keynote was that although change can make us uncomfortable, “The key is to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable.” He continued to explain that great companies continually reinvent themselves by being willing to think differently – to be uncomfortable – and thereby creating a new reality.

It was refreshing to hear Joos admit that he has had his moments of feeling “not very brave,” and listed his own fears of: “What if we were becoming just another application in a network? Becoming commoditized? Limited to just a phone company?” To address these fears head on, Joss has led ShoreTel to be more than just a phone company; to be a leader in the market.

To achieve this, Joss is ensuring that ShoreTel delivers on its mission of making interactions simple at every level. While most of these interactions have been between people, Joss also addressed the fast-growth of people-to-machine and machine-to-machine interactions as targets for future ShoreTel strategies.

Moving Up – and Jumping – the S-Curve

Using the concept of the technology evolution s-curve, Joss shared with the audience his strategies for how the company intends to move up the s-curve, while also looking for where the next trend and customer need in the marketplace will come from. By anticipating future needs, Joss hopes that ShoreTel can “jump the S-curve”, enabling the company to avoid the eventual maturity and decline at the end of a typical curve and “jump” to the next growth period.

I’ve been a long-time believer in ShoreTel and the direction that Joss is taking the company, and this conference was further support for my continued confidence in them.

The other treat that came out of hanging out in Florida for a few days (other than escaping the brutal cold of December in the northeast) was watching Guy Kawasaki speak. The former chief evangelist for Apple, Kawasaki is an entertaining speaker and powerful stage presence. He gave a great talk about the art of innovation, and outlined 11 attributes of successful innovators.

This article did a nice job of summarizing Kawasaki’s talk, but I will mention that I agree most strongly with his first point: Make Meaning. Most importantly, to create meaning for a company’s customers. This is a strength of ShoreTel, and a driving vision for Barry Communications as well. By dedicating ourselves to delivering excellent customer service, training, and reliable and innovative communications solutions, we strive to provide meaning for our customers every day.

Learn how we have helped many customers with their voice and data communications by reading some of our customer case studies.

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Business Continuity in the Face of Communications Downtime

Technology that enables phone and data system resiliency during disasters

business_communications_systemsStanding in the middle of an office when the communications system goes down is an eerie experience. It’s unusually quiet. Confused faces pop over cubicle walls and out of office doors, wondering what’s going on. Everything in the office halts, and people comment about how reliant we are on our communications systems. But most of the time, we don’t think about the importance of making a phone call, pulling up a website or sending an email. Those actions are so ingrained in our everyday life, that we simply expect them to always be available.

When a storm hits or disaster strikes and communications systems are interrupted, the impact is immediate. Productivity plummets, and for some companies, revenues can take a hit as well. Phones can’t ring, orders can’t be accepted, and invoices can’t be sent. While a few minutes may not be a big deal, downtime of days (or even weeks) can put companies at risk.

During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the storm knocked out 25 percent of wireless cell towers and a quarter of cable services in 10 states. And following the Boston Marathon Bombing, cell phone service was inaccessible and unreliable due to overloaded networks.

For companies that rely on communications for their business continuity, it’s critical to ensure that you have failsafe and backup systems in place.

Basic, Seamless Dial Tone Redundancy (That Doesn’t Come with Traditional Dial Tone Service)

Traditional carriers have limited abilities to provide failover capabilities when they experience “last mile” failures. Their systems typically rely on a single circuit that brings their services to their customers. If that circuit is off-line, no calls will come in or go out.

However, a Managed VoIP Service Provider like Barry Communications can seamlessly failover from a primary circuit to a backup service. In the event of a more serious outage, we can quickly move all calls to another designated location such as a branch office, cell phones, or answering service.

When a circuit failure happens to a Barry Communications ipConnect customer, often the customer doesn’t even know they are having a problem. Our technical team will receive a notification of a failover, will confirm and diagnose the problem, and then notify the customer that their primary circuit is offline and the backup service is in place until the situation is repaired.

Communications Systems in the Cloud: Off-Site Business Continuity

With more sophisticated business communications systems (such as ipConnect ShoreTel Cloud), companies often have their office phones integrated with cell phones, remote workers, online conferencing, IM and other technologies. If an entire building or site goes down, remote and mobile workers can continue to work with full functionality without any interruption.

This is all possible thanks to the cloud. When communications systems reside in off-site data centers, they are physically separated from the office and the impact of any disaster or downtime event. This approach allows communications systems to continue operations even if a company’s entire building is offline.

What Kind of Communications Backup Should Your Company Have in Place?

Every business’s needs are different. The most important questions to consider before you begin planning for business continuity are:

  • What happens if you can’t get incoming calls?
  • If your office is down for a period of time (hours or even days), how much will it cost your business?

Some companies aren’t overly concerned about short periods of downtime. Their clients will still be there the next day, and their business won’t experience any major interruptions. But other companies build their reputation on responsiveness – if they don’t answer the phone, they lose a sale (and possibly a customer). Both types of companies will have different needs for communications system backup and redundancy.

Learn more about cloud-based communications, and how this technology can help protect your business from unexpected downtime, by downloading our free ebook, “Clouds, VoIP, and Unified Communications”.

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Training to Fit the User: Get More ROI from Your Business Voice and Data System By Tailoring the Training Program

ShoreTel Connect TrainingTechnology is only as good as the people who use it. Meaning that all the functionality in the world doesn’t matter much if the users don’t know about it, or don’t understand how to make it work as part of their daily life. User training is a critical part of any business voice and data system – and it isn’t just a one-and-done process. It should be tailored to the individual business, and to different internal user groups.

I recently saw an interesting infographic on an eLearning site that said among 4,300 employees surveyed, 74 percent felt that they weren’t achieving their full potential at work. While that likely reflects on more than technology training, having the right tools – and knowing how to use them – are integral to doing any job well.

Training is All the Same. Right?

With comprehensive systems like ShoreTel, there are different features and capabilities that relate to different job functions. Making sure that each employee understands how to use the functions that will best support their job is critical to a company seeing the desired ROI on their investment. For example, a company CEO will use a Shoretel system differently than his administrative assistant, and a call center professional will use it differently than a remote worker.

The same infographic that I mentioned above also said that “Only 38% of managers believe that their company’s training programs do a good job of meeting the learners’ needs.”

Training that is tailored to specific user groups not only support individuals’ abilities to do their job effectively and efficiently, it also helps employees feel more supported and engaged in their work.  While specific user groups will be different for every company, some of the most common groups that benefit from tailored ShoreTel training include:

Call Center Staff and Supervisors

These users rely on advanced functionality to do their daily jobs. Their training may include how to:

  • Log in and out of groups
  • Accept calls, and what to do with them
  • Set an alarm, and what it means
  • Respond if a call goes on too long
  • Get help from supervisor
  • Record a call
  • Conduct a wrap-up
  • Use release codes
  • Classify a call
  • Produce call reporting
  • Manage call center staffing levels

Operators

These users also rely on the system to do their daily jobs, also the functionality is more basic than in a call center. Operators will need to know how to:

  • Answer calls
  • Park calls
  • Transfer calls
  • Queue calls
  • Monitor user availability

Executive Administrator

To best support the executive leadership, admins will need to know how to use the functions that will support their roles as gatekeeper and schedule administrator. This usually includes:

  • call screening
  • setting up conference calls
  • creating call flow

Multiple Shifts

Training for staff that operate in multiple shifts will need to be tailored to their operational needs, as well as their scheduling. Training for these groups should be flexible, and may be conducted in a combination of business hours and off-hours.

Mobile and Remote Users

Companies that have a number of mobile and/or remote employees may consider training these groups specifically on the tools that support their work styles, including:

  • Using the mobile app
  • How to access the system and work remotely
  • How to interface with their customers’ network

Additional training may be tailored for power users – those people who employ the system to its maximum potential and can be relied on to encourage and enable greater use among other employees across the organization – as well as those employees who frequent use the conferencing tools.

Barry Communications’ Approach to Training

We believe in the importance of providing the right kind of training support for every customer. All of our ShoreTel proposals include a line item that provides for “Classroom and/or video end user training, first day live coverage and system admin training.” What exactly does that mean? It means we provide as much training as each client needs, which often includes:

  • 45-minute on-site user training classes for groups of ten people or fewer
  • Self-paced training videos
  • On-site support for the day the new technology goes live
  • Administrator training to enable staff to make changes in the system going forward

Right now, we are conducting update training for all ShoreTel customers as they transition to the new Connect system – and our training is the same for both premise and cloud implementations.

Learn more about ShoreTel’s new Connect platform, or contact us to discuss custom training for your company’s different user groups.

 

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You’ve Already Invested in a Licensed Unified Communications System – Now Do You Need to Move to the Cloud?

Years ago, companies paid a monthly fee to rent their phone systems. Then the communications industry went through a transition and everyone decided it was a better investment to purchase and own their own systems. Now we’re coming full circle again with the growing popularity of cloud-based subscriptions. So what should you do if your company purchased a communications system – and you own all of the hardware and licensing – but you want to make sure you’re keeping up with technology advancements?

Don’t worry. Our customers who have a ShoreTel system are in an ideal position in today’s UC market. (If you don’t have a ShoreTel system, give me a call to talk about your options.) Read more

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4 Reasons to Streamline Your SMB Voice and Data Management

voice_and_data_managementFor small-to-medium-sized businesses, struggling with multiple vendors to manage your voice and data systems can quickly become time-consuming and frustrating. Reaching a service person within a monolithic communications company who can provide implementation guidance or answer a simple support request can take hours, days… or weeks! In fact, 41 percent of companies said that “the time it takes to fix issues” is their biggest technology challenge, according to a survey from the National Small Business Association.

Instead, consider streamlining your voice and data communication network and carrier services with a single, managed services provider that can offer more personalized attention. Not only will you reduce the number of support call lines on file, but you’ll likely reap cost benefits, receive more knowledgeable support, and get your issues resolved more quickly and effectively.

The Ease of a Complete End-to-End Solution

A comprehensive network and carrier solution can include a unified phone system as well as:

  • Data Networking: Local and Wide Area Networking (LAN/WAN) solutions that address PoE, QoS, and automatic failover for single and multi-location organizations, as well as mobile and remote users.
  • Wi-Fi: highly secure business-class wireless networks.
  • Network Security: intrusion prevention, gateway anti-virus, and anti-spyware plus application intelligence and control. content filtering, anti-spam and enforced client anti-virus
  • Video: mobile-enabled video conferencing to ensure employees can always stay connected with their colleagues wherever they may be working.
  • Cabling Infrastructure: Our electrical group delivers full infrastructure services including data cabling and certification, fiber installations, and data room buildouts.

All under a single umbrella, the implementation and management of these varied systems becomes much simpler and more efficient.

The Best Value for Your Needs

A managed communications services organization (like us) has a lot of experience working with all of the major providers of carrier and network services. The freedom to be agnostic and the knowledge and experience accumulated over many years allows managed communications services organizations to recommend the best solutions for your company’s individual needs and applications. With the evolution of the “Cloud” there are a lot more options than ever – the important question is what makes the most sense for your organization?

An Intermediary to Resolve Issues with Primary Providers

Wholesale communications providers have relationships with the most knowledgeable support professionals within the organizations that they work with, and are able to access a higher level of care than an end-user customer. They can get answers to questions and resolutions to problems faster and more accurately than you probably can on your own. (It’s not how things should work, but unfortunately, that’s how it is.

Personal Relationship and Attention

No one at a large company call center will ever know you by name, unfortunately. Working with a local, service-oriented business as opposed to a cloud-based remote company, you always can reach someone who is familiar with – and can prioritize – your account and issue.

Barry Communications has been helping customers with their network communications for over 30 years, originally as a NYNEX (now Verizon) “agent” that could place orders and assist with service.  As the years evolved, Verizon (as well as all of the major carriers) have become larger and larger through mergers and acquisitions, and have become more and more difficult to work with as a result. Over 10 years ago, we started our journey into the VoIP world and have now developed our own Private Cloud network for our customers that incorporates a wide range of voice and data communications services including T1’s, broadband services from Comcast and Charter, as well as fiber-based Metro Ethernet services from multiple providers including Verizon. We are focused on being highly resilient and responsive and providing a high level of service for our small business customers that only the largest enterprises can get on their own.

We take pride in being a personal, service-focused provider for all of your end-to-end voice and data needs.

Learn more about our integrated communications solutions, which complement our core business of phone systems and ipConnect services, or contact us to find out how we can help with your specific needs.

 

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