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One of the benefits of most modern telephony solutions is the ability for you as the customer to make programming changes yourself. 20 years ago when phone systems were being programmed in DOS whilst connected via a cable, this wouldn’t have been possible. So this is a great advantage and can save your business money by not needing to pay for programming changes. But where do you start, and what do you need to know?


  • Accessing the system The first thing you need to check is how to access the system. Most systems can be accessed via a browser but some require a piece of software installing on your PC to allow you to do so. You’ll need to know vital information such as IP address, username and password. Normally your telephony supplier or maintainer will provide you with your own personal username and password to access the system with. Ensure these are kept safe and that the password is complex.
  • Users The main area you’re likely to be making changes to is the user details. If you’ve had a member of staff leave and they're replaced by someone new, or if one of your team has changed their name, you’ll want the name on the phone system to be correct to avoid them any embarrassment. The User section is normally where you’d enter the extension number and a Direct Dial number, often know as a DDI or DID number. Entering a DDI number for a user means that they can receive calls directly without going via your receptionist or Auto-attendant.
  • Email addresses Also in the user section, many phone systems will also ask for the user’s email address. The reason for this could be so that your staff can receive their voicemails to email. Or it may be that the system will automatically email them user guides for the telephone system. With some phone systems this is mandatory, so each user will need an email address setting up for this purpose.
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  • Ring Groups It’s fairly likely that your system has groups set up to handle incoming calls. There are usually a couple of different types of groups that allow your business to handle calls as required. For example, you may wish to put users into a ring group so that all phones ring at the same time when your main number, or sales number, is dialled. Generally there will be options available for exactly how you’d like the phones in the group to ring. In a sales department it is often a good idea to have phones ringing in a “round robin” fashion, where phones ring one at a time but in a random order so that all users get an opportunity to answer. Meanwhile in your Accounts department, there may be a hierarchy of who is most appropriate to answer the call, so the group could be set to ring sequentially. In Reception you may simply want the phones to ring at the same time so calls just get answered in a timely manner.
  • Pickup groups Pickup groups differ to ring groups in that the phones within the group don’t actually ring. When a call is received by one of the members of the pick up group, the other group members can use a button or code to pick up that call. This means calls are never missed as there is always someone else in the team who can take that call without having to dash across the office to pick up the ringing phone.
  • Call-barring Call-barring is an important element of the phone system which should always be considered when adding new users or making changes. This determines what types of calls users can make. Depending on your business needs it may be appropriate for your users to be able to call Premium Rate and International numbers, but otherwise our recommendation is to bar those numbers for any users that don’t need to dial them. There are two reasons for this – you don’t want to receive a hefty bill when a member of staff calls their family in Australia when everyone else has gone home, and you also need to minimise your risk of toll fraud. Where possible, lock phones down as much as possible, particularly those in public areas. Also consider blocking calls when you’re closed or over bank holidays when fraudsters are more prevalent.
  • Call permissions This is slightly different to call barring in that it details what telephony features a user is allowed. For example, you might not want to allow all of your users to divert or transfer calls externally, as there can be costs associated with this. If your system allows you to monitor or barge in to calls for training purposes, then you will only want certain members of staff to be allowed to do this, and you might want to pin down exactly whose calls they are allowed to listen in on.
  • Voicemail The facility to be able to leave messages is pretty vital for most businesses. Often this is a licenced feature where you can decide whether a user needs this option or not. Users will need to be responsible for recording their name and greeting on the mailbox, but you might wish to have a company standard for this. Similarly, the password policy needs to be agreed before programming voicemail for your company. Mailboxes are the most common method of access that fraudsters use to hack into telephone systems so it’s vital that yours is secure.
  • Auto-attendant Many businesses choose to have an auto-attendant on their main number which answers and directs calls to the appropriate departments. This can be as simple or complicated as you wish, with some organisations having auto-attendants with several layers. This needs to be really well thought out to avoid callers ending up going round and round in circles! We recommend you start simple with a few options plus the ability for callers to dial by extension number or name where possible. You can either get a keen member of staff to record the greeting for you, or if no one is volunteering you could consider a professional recording where you can choose a voice to suit your organisation.
  • Schedules You will also need to consider what needs to happen when you’re closed. Depending on the nature of your business you might want to have callers go through to voicemail or an emergency mobile number. Most modern telephone systems allow you to schedule this based on time of day and day of the week, so your staff won’t even need to remember to do anything when they leave the office. Don’t forget to include Bank Holidays when you’re setting up your schedules!

We hope these pointers help you to get the most out of your telephony solution.




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