New phone system

veritech

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#1
Hi,
I have a customer that has an old toshiba phone system that is starting to die. I am quoting them a server with Elastix and 30 phones.
My problem is that the users are used to having twelve lines listed on the phone. Reception pages someone with "call on line x for you". This is helpful for areas like shipping that has many phones and reception pages them to answer a call.
I have been planing to demo this in as a group call or queueing or even park the call, but of course people are set in thier ways and change is bad.

Anyone tackle these issues?
I am competeing against a Meridian system that has the "old phone" look and feel.


thanks
 

Stinger81

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#2
You might want to dive into the shared line appearance features.
I have read something about it, but don't know the details. It just popped up into my mind... ;)
 

Bob

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#3
Veritech,

Whilst Shared Line Appearance (SLA) is possible, I think in the end (especially for 30 stations), it will prove disappointing. It limits the phones that you can implement, places expectations on a system that was never really meant to handle it. I have seen an implementation where the phones that were used to implement the SLA, were of poor quality, the client complained, and the poor guy that implemented it had no where to turn. He couldn't suggest trialling a new phone because they would lose the SLA ability.

Agreed it can be intimidating when you are in front of a lot of people that are set in their ways. However many presentations that I have given, I start with the following lines
"Forget what you have been used to in a PABX system over the last few years"
"Forget about calling out CALL FOR YOU ON LINE 1, there are no telephone lines visible on these phones or a receptonist phone"


Explain this right at the start, it stops preconceived ideas, and trying to relate the current phone system to the new one and getting totally confused and lost.

I then explain to them that the system allows far greater expansion, no limiting shackles etc than systems have for the last 20-30 years, and this concept allows the use of remote phones, integration with applications etc etc..

For your absolute die-hards (and some with absolutely good reasons), the call parking in almost all cases satisfies them. Just as easy to call out like they do now "PETER, CALL ON 71 FOR YOU, MARY CALL ON 72 FOR YOUR". Then you add the Virtual Receptionist consoles, and some of these hang-ups on the old system start disappearing. Then you show the manager, how calls that are parked when no one answers can go back into a queue or to a ring group. Or show the manager, how blind transfer and attended transfer can limit the calls bing picked up by the wrong person. How many times have you rang another company, been placed on hold, only to have someone pick up that incorrectly picked up a call, or worse goes to get a line, thinks the line is dead, and hangs up on you, leaving you in the ether.

It is a regular thing that your come up against but with confidence, a very easy thing to get past, as long as you handle the receptionist and the managers in their understanding. The manager as he is looking for efficiencies, and the receptionist as she/he is seen as the person who is handling all the calls and becoming the most frustrated. The rest of the users empathise with her/him, and long as the receptionist is happy, the users that have the hang-ups seem to fade.

Hope this provides some food for thought....however, plan your presentation...it makes a difference...and let them ask questions in a structured manner....


Regards

Bob
 

Stinger81

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#4
Personally I would prefer the parking lot too, for the same reasons mentioned by Bob.

Besides that, you could program those parking lots under the keys of the better phones and thus make them appear as a line. At least for picking up calls that are parked for you.

[offtopic]
Great story, Bob, could use some parts of it!
[/offtopic]
 

Bob

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#5
Stinger81,

Thanks for the feedback, and you are most welcome.

I have seen too many implementations where the installer does not have the conviction of their experience (or at least knowledge) and bent purely to the whims of the users, usually failing in the implementation.

Elastix/Asterisk's flexibility should be used to the businesses advantage, not to cater for what in many cases are emotional arguments of users.

It is really amazing watching the staff watch in awe as you use a receptionist console to transfer calls. For many it actually clinches the sale...they realise visually how advanced the system is.

Another good example is taking a pre-configured phone on-site for the demonstration. Make sure your office PBX is configured for this phone, add/configure an inbound channel that comes directly to this phone, and show them the power of the Elastix/Asterisk system. As I said previously, plan, plan, plan. Ask the client if you can setup a earlier, test the phone, make sure their network infrastructure can handle it, make sure the firewall is not blocking it. If it is being clocked keep it as a static test, but it if works then demonstrate it, it does impress....

I should also mention. We have not lost a client who has been hung up on the key based system.

Regards

Bob
 

syadnom

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#6
One configuration I have is small sites with 3 or 4 phones and only 2 phone lines. Using a parking lot in the default configuration of elastix (or freepbx or trixbox etc) requires a park button and doesnt use the hold button on the phone. Additionally, the phones require training where a SLA setup would not.

For small offices, it would be nice to drop in a small mini-itx system with SLA and have a very nice turn-key, zero training required phone system. sure there are limitations to SLA considering that you are likely to have only 3 or 4 line buttons on a phone but there are limitations to a Prius to, but if you want a lean gas sipping machine you might consider one.

The good and bad of asterisk and elastix is that its like a Ferrari mixed with a Mac truck. fast, tough, can do an immense amount of work very well but what if your need is a Honda Civic? If you can tune down Elastix to fix that roll it is one more thing it can do well.

SLA is a big deal for me because I have over 100 stores that have just 2 or maybe 3 lines for the sales counter and the parking lot system is 1 more level of complication and training. Its highly functional, but overkill.

I have worked around this by putting the parking lots on program buttons with BLF so you can pickup parked calls with one key press and you can communicate the parked call with "Joe, pickup 1" and he knows to press the "Park1" button on the phone. I have yet to figure out how to re-purpose the hold key to park calls.
 

Chilling_Silence

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#7
+1 for Bobs thoughts, gold as usual!

Most of the time we get around parking etc by having the receptionist setup with something such as FOP2.

It easily allows them to see who's on the line, and then give the caller the option of leaving a message with the receptionist, being transferred direct to the destinations voicemail, or she can put them through and see if they pick it up on the second line, if the destination feels the caller is important enough (Gotta love CallerID).

Also, if you're gonna pitch the system, get it setup & use it, and learn about it. As Bob said, that conviction of knowing what you're offering is the best goes a *long* way!

My 2c at least ;)
 

itjumper

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#8
sla can also be related to outbound trunks. Most small business only has fewer than 4 phone lines. Users often rely on sla to see if there are any lines available to make a call. Without sla, user will need to dial and then get an 'unavailable' message from asterisk. So, I think sla is still a very vaild feature for a phone system.
 

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