Monthly Archives: August 2016

Blog-Post-13_Ask-the-right-questions

3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Cloud Communications Provider 

Smart businesses everywhere have embraced the cloud as a cost-effective alternative to capex spending with on-premises hardware and software. For SMBs in particular, the cloud enables enterprise-level functionality without the associated price tag.

As with all technology, however, not all cloud offerings are the same. There are literally hundreds of cloud providers, all with varying levels of abilities. Choosing the right cloud services provider for your business can be an arduous, time-consuming task—if you don’t know how to simplify the search.

Reliability, security and usability all are important considerations in determining which cloud provider to use. With that in mind, here are three key questions to ask when choosing a cloud communications provider:

  1. What features does your cloud communications service offer? At a minimum, a cloud communications service will include voice services—calling, voice mail and possibly auto attendant. But to get the most out of what the cloud has to offer, look for a communications system that offers additional robust functionality, such as voice mail to email capabilities, for example.

A feature-rich cloud communications system, such as ShoreTel Connect CLOUD, also includes features such as:

  • VoIP call control
  • Mobility apps
  • Instant messaging
  • Audio and web conferencing
  • Video calling
  • Online meeting collaboration with web share capabilities
  • A feature-rich client interface

 

Such additional functionality can help your employees achieve higher productivity while being able to work wherever they are, and help your company establish a deeper connection with its customers.

  1. What security controls does your cloud communications service have in place? Cloud communications, like any other cloud service, is only as secure as the security measures that surround it. At a minimum, a cloud communications service should have protection against malware, data breaches and service hijacking—all of which are very real threats.

ShoreTel Connect CLOUD combats cloud security issues in the following ways:

  • Session border controllers, which enforce security, quality of service and admission control mechanisms over the VoIP service and include firewall protection
  • End-to-end encryption protects IP voice against unauthorized recording, playback and other forms of electronic snooping.
  • Full API catalog, so users don’t have to rely on third-party APIs that might contain malicious code
  • Strong password policies to help prevent unauthorized access to the system
  • Fraud monitoring to detect and shut down potential fraud early
  • State-of-the-art data center to ensure the highest level of security

 

  1. What type of infrastructure is supporting the cloud communications service? Most cloud service providers have carrier-grade infrastructure that ensures minimal downtime even in the face of disaster. Be sure to ask the cloud service provider about its service level agreements and policies for ensuring uptime, as well as its backup services to protect against data loss.

Choosing the right cloud communications service for your company is easy when you know what to ask. Keep security, reliability and usability in mind when vetting cloud services providers and you’ll make short work of an otherwise arduous task.

stacytips

Stacy’s Tip of the Week 8.26.16 ShoreTel: Communicator Hot Keys

Readers,

Meet Stacy. She’s a talented employee but struggles immensely when it comes to technology. She asked our technicians countless questions a week. She annoyed the Techs so much they now call her “Stumped Stacy”. They finally had to tell Stacy that she limited to one question a week about her ShoreTel IP phone as long as she promised to share what she learned on our company blog to educate our customers.

Stumped Stacy to Tim the Tech:

Dear Tim the Tech,

The other employees are talking about “Hot Keys” and how they help them use their phones. Why would all my coworkers willing choose to burn their hands on keys? How would this improve their efficiency?

Tim the Tech:

Dear Stumped Stacy,

Hot Keys are buttons on your keyboard that you press simultaneously, which causes the computer to perform some function. A great example of this is clicking control + C on any Windows PC to copy a selected item. In this case, utilizing the ShoreTel Communicator Hot Keys allows employees to preform functions by clicking two to three buttons instead of multiple clicks through tool bars. Attached to this email are some great Hot Keys.

 

Call Handling Hot Keys

To change your call handling mode, press the following keys:

CTRL + SHIFT + 1 = Standard

CTRL + SHIFT + 2 = In a Meeting

CTRL + SHIFT + 3 = Out of Office

CTRL + SHIFT + 4 = Extended Absence

CTRL + SHIFT + 5 = Custom

General Hot Keys

Below is a list of standard hot key options available:
Control Key +

A = Answer

H = Hold/Un-Hold

T = Transfer

U = Hang up

O = Options Menu

Y = Transfer direct to VM

J = Conference

K = Park

ALT Key + (Only Alt+F will work if the ShoreTel Communicator is DOCKED)

W = Windows Menu

T = Tools Menu

D = Dial Menu

F = Main Menu (Opens ShoreTel Application Button Menu)

H = Help Menu

K = Workgroup Menu

C = Call Menu

V = View Menu

F Keys

F1 = Help

F4 = Opens the call history in the quick dialer

F7 = Hold

F10 = Transfer

F11 = Conference

F12 = Park

You will also notice the “Hot Keys” located next to the commands on your ShoreTel Communicator.

Picture1

 

Wow! That was simple! Thank you for reading Stacy’s Tip of the Week!

Have a Great Weekend!

You can save and download this Tip of the Week by clicking here:

SHORETEL TIP OF THE WEEK! CommunicatorHotKeys

 

SERVICE CONTACT METHODS:

Portal: http://republic.aureliusvs.com

Email: pg@aureliusvs.com

Text: 480-442-0704

Call: 480-568-8940

Blog-Post-12_Collaborative-technologies-promote

3 Best Practices in Using Collaboration Apps

Collaboration tools have helped companies expand well beyond the four walls of their office, giving employees free rein to work anywhere and promoting the idea of a virtual workforce. But what companies gain in expanded reach and productivity increases they can sometimes lose in personal relationships with their employees.

However, no matter what type of collaboration setup your company is using—onsite, cloud-based or a hybrid environment that combines both—companies and employees both can enjoy the benefits of a dispersed workforce. Here are three best practices to consider when using collaboration technology:

  1. Choose a communications platform that’s simple and effective: Technology is only useful if it’s being used. If your employees are struggling to get connected or find it difficult to operate, they’ll quickly abandon whatever communications platform you choose. To ensure success, choose a system that’s intuitive and easy to operate, and includes features that enhance the collaborative process.

A hybrid system such as ShoreTel Connect HYBRID gives companies the ability to manage an onsite system for their in-office employees and those working in branch offices, and the flexibility of providing collaboration tools to all their employees via the cloud. ShoreTel Connect HYBRID’s features include the most popular collaboration tools such as audioconferencing, screen share and instant messaging.

  1. Schedule—and reinforce—a weekly face-to-face group meeting: Regardless of whether your employees are in the office or on the road, a weekly meeting via collaboration technology should be a part of your routine. Not only can your employees update you on their work progress, but you can also reinforce a personal connection that sometimes can get lost when your workforce is separated by many miles.

An article in Harvard Business Review suggests companies establish a “virtual water cooler” during their meetings so employees can share information and reinforce social bonds. The article proposes each meeting begin with a check-in, “having each member take a couple of minutes to discuss what they are doing, what’s going well and what’s challenging,” as well as having occasional virtual team-building exercises to further strengthen the personal connection.

  1. One-on-one meetings matter: Employees need individual feedback no matter if they’re in the office or remote. Research has shown that managers who are more engaged with their employees have a more productive, satisfied staff, with deeper trust and a more objective view regarding how business is really operating.

Collaboration technologies are extremely powerful tools for breaking down the barriers to effective communication in a business. The key is to use the technology effectively to ensure both the business and your employees are getting the most from your collaboration investment.

stacytips

Stacy’s Tip of the Week 8.19.16 ShoreTel: Accessing VM via Communicator

Readers,

Meet Stacy. She’s a talented employee but struggles immensely when it comes to technology. She asked our technicians countless questions a week. She annoyed the Techs so much they now call her “Stumped Stacy”. They finally had to tell Stacy that she limited to one question a week about her ShoreTel IP phone as long as she promised to share what she learned on our company blog to educate our customers.

Stumped Stacy to Tim the Tech:

Dear Tim the Tech,

I am having problems accessing my VM messages through my ShoreTel Communicator desktop application. I know how to do it on my ShoreTel phone, but all the cool employees access their VMs via Communicator. Help me Tim the Tech! I need to be able to fit in with the rest of the cool employees. You think I’m cool, right?

Tim the Tech:

Dear Stumped Stacy,

Regarding the first part of your email, I have attached a tip on how to access your VMs through Communicator, along with some other useful communicator tips and tricks. Regarding the second half of your email, it is not appropriate for me to give a response…

Voice Mail Functions

 

To listen to Voice Mail using ShoreTel Communicator:

  • Click on the Voice Mail tab at the bottom of the ShoreTel Communicator window

Picture

  • Double-click on the message that you want to play – message will play

Picture1

  • To delete the message, click on the “X Delete” button on the Voice Mail toolbar
  • To save the message, click on the “Save” button; the message will be moved to the “Saved” folder

Call Handling Modes (Out of Office)

ShoreTel has five “Call Handling Modes” to help you manage how you want the system to handle an incoming phone call.  They are “Standard”, “In a Meeting”, “Out of Office”, “Extended Absence” and “Custom”.  One call handling mode is always active.  Users can manually select their active call handling mode.  The default mode is “Standard”.

To activate Call Handing Mode using ShoreTel Communicator:

  • On the menu bar, click the down arrow next to a Call Handling Mode (default is Standard)

Picture2

  • Select the mode you want to activate:
    • Standard
    • In a Meeting
    • Out of the Office
    • Extended Absence
    • Custom

To record a greeting for a specific Call Handling Mode using ShoreTel Communicator:

  • On the menu bar, select Tools, then select Options
  • When the Options and Preferences window opens, click to select the appropriate Call Handling Mode
  • Click on the “Record Greeting” button; a Prompt Recorder window will open
  • Pick up your handset
  • Click on the red dot to record your greeting
  • Optional: Click on the green arrow to review the recording
  • Click the “OK” button to accept

Place and Answer Calls

To place a call using ShoreTel Communicator:

  • On the menu bar, select Dial, then select Make Call
  • Type in the number or name in the search bar if the number is in the Directory or Speed Dial -OR- enter the number in the Dial Digits box (remember to add “9” if the number is off-campus and “1+(area code)” if the number is long-distance)
  • Click the “Make Call” button

Picture3

To answer a call using ShoreTel Communicator:

  • When ShoreTel Communicator is running and a call is received, a window will pop up at the bottom right corner of your screen
  • Click on the “Answer” button -OR- click on the “To VM” button to send the caller to voice mail

To end a call using ShoreTel Communicator just click the red handset icon in the yellow highlighted active call box

Picture4

Transfer a Call

To transfer an active call using ShoreTel Communicator:

  • Click on the blue handset icon with the purple right arrow

Picture5

  • Type the number or name of the person you want to transfer the call to
  • Click the “Transfer” button

 

Wow! That was simple! Thank you for reading Stacy’s Tip of the Week!

Have a Great Weekend!

 

You can save and download this Tip of the Week by clicking here:

SHORETEL TIP OF THE WEEK! CommunicatorFeatures

 

SERVICE CONTACT METHODS:

Portal: http://republic.aureliusvs.com

Email: pg@aureliusvs.com

Text:    480-442-0704

Call: 480-568-8940

 

Blog-Post-11_Cloud-communications-can-save

How SMBs Can Benefit from Cloud Communications

Today’s business environment is much different from 20 or even 10 years ago. Employees are more productive and expect more from their business tools, while companies run a tighter, more streamlined work environment. As a result, every tool is utilized to its fullest capabilities, with little room for downtime.

SMBs, in particular, are looking to get the most productivity out of their technology. Most don’t have an IT staff—and some don’t even have an IT budget, to speak of—so every technology purchase must have a direct impact on the SMB’s bottom line.

That’s what makes cloud-based communications a smart investment for small businesses. Little to no upfront investment, low IT involvement and flexibility are a few of the benefits of cloud communications.

Indeed, more companies have adopted cloud communications as a way to save money and keep their employees on task: According to research firm Transparency Market Research, unified communications as a service (UCaaS) is expected to become a $38 billion market by the year 2022, representing a 20 percent increase over seven years. Technavio, meanwhile, predicts 28 percent growth in the global UCaaS market between 2015 and 2019.

Wondering how cloud communications might benefit your business? Cloud may be a good fit for you if:

Your IT staff is overloaded, or you don’t have an IT person at all — A cloud-based communications system is hosted offsite, eliminating the need for a dedicated IT or telecom person to manage your communication needs.

Your IT budget doesn’t allow for anything more than a basic phone system — For many businesses, communications consists of dial tone and voice mail. But customers want to be able to reach your company in multiple ways—over the phone, via web chat, click-to-call from your website—at any time. Cloud communications can give your customers the options they want at a price you need through a monthly subscription rather than a   hardware upgrade.

Your employees work out of the office as much as they do in the office — Today’s employees demand the flexibility to work from anywhere, and to have access to the same functionality as they would if they were sitting at their desks. Does your communications system currently offer that? A cloud-based system can, providing a feature-rich work experience using any device. Cloud communications offers many of the same phone system features as an onsite system, as well as collaboration features such as instant messaging and screen share.

Small businesses must bridge the gap between limited budgets and equipping their employees with technology to keep them productive. The functionality and low cost of a cloud-based communications system makes it a smart investment.

stacytips

Stacy’s Tip of the Week 8.12.16 ShoreTel: IM Presence

Readers,

Meet Stacy! She’s a talented employee but struggles immensely when it comes to technology. She asked our technicians countless questions a week. She annoyed the techs so much they now call her “Stumped Stacy”. The techs finally had to tell Stacy that she was limited to one question a week about her ShoreTel IP phone as long as she promised to share what she learned on our company blog to educate customers.

Stumped Stacy to Tim the Tech:

Dear Tim the Tech, on my Communicator I can see if my coworkers are on calls but I can not see if they are available for IMs. All the other employees have two presence bubbles and can see when others are available for calls and IMs. Why can’t I see when users are available for IMs? Did everyone block me on the ShoreTel Instant Messaging application? 

Tim the Tech:

Dear Stumped Stacy, no, the other employees did not block you. (They would be smart if they did though). You do not have the separate telephony and IM presence bubble setting turned on in your Communicator. With your ShoreTel Communicator you can clearly differentiate between the phone presence and the IM presence by having two separate bubbles instead of just one.  With two separate bubbles you do not need to guess the availability of your colleagues. In the image below, there are two presence bubbles shown. This week I will teach you how to add a second presence bubble for IM.

ShoreTel Communicator for Windows:

Show your Phone and IM Presence in Two Separate Bubbles

Note: You will not be able to have a IM presence bubble if your ShoreTel Administrator has not assigned your user to an IM Server.

Picture1

To add a second bubble click on the ShoreTel icon and select ‘Options’.

Picture2

Next in the ‘Options and Preferences’ window, select ‘Presence’ from the left column.  Then on the right select the bubble that reads ‘separate telephony and instant messaging presences’.  At the bottom of the window, select ‘OK’.

Picture3

Two separate presence bubbles are now displayed in your ShoreTel Communicator.  The first bubble indicates phone presence, the second indicates IM presence.

Untitled-1

For the first bubble (phone presence) green indicates the user is available and the call handling mode ‘Standard’ has been selected.  If the bubble is red, the user has changed their call handling mode to a do not disturb mode.  See the image below for the different call handling modes.

Picture5

For the second bubble (IM) green indicates available.  Your IM bubble will be displayed as green if you choose the option ‘Online’.  The image below shows the other IM availability options and the bubble colors that are associated.

Picture6

 

 

WOW! That was Simple! Thank you for reading Stacy’s Tip of the Week! Have a Great Weekend!

 

You can save and download this Tip of the Week by clicking here:

Stacy’s Tip of the Week! Welcome to ShoreTel Connect!

 

Blog-Post-10_The-tools-you-use

3 Ways Cloud Communications can Improve Customer Relationships

Your company prides itself on its stellar customer service. Whether its onboarding new customers or addressing an issue a current customer may be having, your employees understand the importance of making—and keeping—customers satisfied.

But the tools you use to interact with your customers are just as important as how you treat your customers. If they frequently experience dropped calls, clueless customer service reps or trouble connecting with your company, it won’t be long before those customers look to your competitors to conduct their business.

That’s why your communications system is a critical component of your customer service strategy. Through a robust, full-featured communications system, your employees can provide the best possible customer interactions and enable your customers to communicate easily with your company anytime for any reason.

Utilizing the benefits of the cloud for your communications can advance your customer service even further, enabling your employees to offer a high-quality customer experience from any location using virtually any device.

Here are three ways cloud communications can help improve customer relationships:

  1. High Availability: Customers expect to be able to contact your company quickly and easily. Dropped dial tones and fuzzy connections don’t convey a professional image for your company. A cloud communications service can provide a reliable, high-quality communications experience, helping your company and your customers connect with little to no downtime should the unexpected occur.
  2. Because cloud-based communications is a hosted service, it is located offsite in data centers with redundant technology. That means even in the event of a disaster, your company communications is still up and running—your employees can work from anywhere and communicate with customers using the full suite of capabilities available to them, and customers can reach your company to hear important messages or speak with an agent.
  3. On-Demand Customer Data: When integrated with a customer relationship management or business intelligence system, your communications system can provide employees with a comprehensive view of customer information during a call. The information is brought up automatically when a customer calls in, reducing the chance customers have to wait on hold, which can lessen the customer experience. Instead, employees can provide the highest quality care with no delay and no gaps in customer service.
  4. Contact center technologies such as workgroups, hunt groups and flexible call routing can help enhance the customer experience, reducing hold times and ensuring calls are answered in a timely fashion.
  5. Ability to Connect Anytime: Employees today like work where they want, when they want. That shouldn’t impact the way they do their jobs. With a cloud communications system, your employees can work in a coffee shop, a hotel room, the airport — wherever they are — and have access to the same features they would if they were sitting at their desk in the office. They are not hamstrung by basic functionality or limited customer data.

 

Cloud communications is changing the way businesses today interact with their customers, optimizing the customer experience to mutual benefit. Is your company ready to explore the benefits cloud communications can offer?

stacytips

Stacy’s Tip of the Week 8.5.16 ShoreTel: Personalize Your Directory

This ShoreTel Communicator app is great. I absolutely love the functionality of it. I only have one complaint, I learned how to program my speed dials last week but I really need to learn how to add contacts to my Communicator Directory!

Note:  ShoreTel Communicator is necessary for this tip

You can add your own personal directory item in your ShoreTel Communicator and it will be accessible through your directory button on your ShoreTel phone. This personal directory item will not show up in anybody else’s directory button. Just add the personal directory item to your ShoreTel Communicator by right clicking in the directory tab, and selecting “New Directory Item.” Fill in the contact details, click “OK” and now when you press the Directory button on your ShoreTel phone, you will be able to view and dial any of the personal contacts you added to your Communicator.

From the Directory tab, right click and select, “New Directory Item”.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 10.08.16 AM

 

Fill in the contact details and click, “OK”.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 10.08.26 AM

That’s all there is to it! You can now view your personal directory item(s) on your ShoreTel phone by pressing the Directory button.

 

Thank you for reading your ShoreTel Tip! Have a Great Week!

 

You can save and download this Tip of the Week by clicking here:

SHORETEL TIP OF THE WEEK! PersonalizedDirectory

ff_robot_large-660x494

Aurelius Knowledge Wednesdays 8.3.16: Better Than Human: Why Robots Will – And Must – Take Our Jobs

http://www.wired.com/2012/12/ff-robots-will-take-our-jobs?utm_content=buffer3906f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

At first glance this article comes across as odd, the featured image of Jimmy Fallon in bed with a female robot does not help subside the oddity of the article. Robots are going to take over all our jobs? In my head I’m picturing “I, Robot” style robots sitting in office cubicles answering calls, sorting papers and sending emails. As I read the article I realized how moronic my preconceptions were; the robots the article is talking about are robots we already utilize today. For example, we already have robots that fly airplanes called “Autopilot”, Tesla’s are driving themselves and Roomba’s are cleaning our floors. Robots are all around us today we just don’t think about everything they do for us. We should not be scared of what a future full of robots entails. We should welcome these changes with welcome arms because they simplify our lives and make us safer.

 

As always, we hope you enjoyed the post. Come back soon for some more Aurelius Knowledge!

Blog-Post-9_Dont-give-your-customers

3 Ways to Achieve Enterprise-Grade Collaboration at an SMB Price Point

Every business, regardless of size or focus, relies on its communications system. Without a reliable phone system, the critical interaction between employee and customer can’t happen, which means your business won’t grow and thrive.

Just as important is how well your communications system works for your business. Do your employees have advanced call capabilities such as “follow-me” so they can receive calls even when they’re away from their desk? Are they able to collaborate with colleagues and customers at the touch of a button? Can they access customer information during calls to close more sales and enhance the customer service experience?

Your communications system can say a lot about your business. You don’t want to give your customers the wrong impression by having an unreliable, basic phone system. In this day of instant gratification, when customers want answers immediately, simply having voice mail isn’t enough.

Small businesses can have enterprise-grade communications and collaboration at an SMB price point. The ShoreTel Connect communications platform a fully integrated, streamlined way to access all the best communications tools … not separate apps and windows with separate log ins ShoreTel Connect includes:

  • Voice over IP
  • Video
  • Instant Messaging
  • Web Sharing
  • Audioconferencing

ShoreTel Connect is available as an onsite, cloud or hybrid deployment to meet your company’s needs:

Connect ONSITE: A perfect solution for companies with in-house IT departments that can handle the management of the system and want to integrate other applications, such as customer relationship management or business intelligence applications, with the system. Because the system is in-house, your IT team has more control and can perform upgrades when it’s convenient to your company.

Connect CLOUD: If your company has a small number of employees, or if the majority of your employees work offsite, and you don’t have an onsite IT department, Connect CLOUD may best suit your needs. Cloud offers the same functionality as Onsite, without the management. And because it is delivered as a hosted model, your maintenance costs are lower and you pay usage on a monthly subscription basis. Your employees enjoy the benefits of a full-function communications and collaboration system wherever they work, and your company enjoys the low cost and reduced maintenance of a hosted model.

Connect HYBRID: Companies with virtual offices in addition to a headquarters location can benefit from a hybrid solution. HYBRID unites multiple locations in one single phone system—some ONSITE, some CLOUD—and enables all users to access apps from the cloud. You can select a system based on your company’s strategic needs for CapEx and OpEx, to distribute IT workload, and for leveraging investments in your onsite equipment.

If clothes make the man or woman, then communications make the company. Make sure your communications system is conveying the right image to your customers while providing the features your employees need to provide the best customer experience.