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.

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.”


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.



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”.







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


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.



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


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.