This article won’t tell you how to set up an auto-attendant in general, I may do that later. This article focuses on how to use schedules with Auto-Attendants. I’m also going to talk ‘auto-attendant theory’ a bit which should actually apply to other phone systems. Refer to my article on setting up schedules for links to the different schedule types before continuing.
This article also assumes you’ve got your recordings for your menus done, and know how you want all the Operation functions on your auto-attendant to work. I’ve got an article on how to record menus in Audacity. I prefer this method over the ShoreTel provided methods. You could also use the voicemail system to make your recordings. I like this method to as it give you a backup without needing third party software.
How to Use Schedules in Auto-Attendants in ShoreTel
This article assumes you’ve already set up an on-hours schedule, a holiday schedule and a custom schedule. Look at those links for how to do this before you go to this step.
What Schedules Do for Auto-Attendants
A schedule changes which message is played and how the menu programming works when it is active in an Auto-Attendant. Each Auto-Attendant can have four separate schedules each with a different recording and a different set of functions assigned to each of the numbers.
Note: This got a bit confusing to write to start with. I am assuming for simplicity sake that you are setting up your main auto-attendant for your main number. I suggest building separate schedules of each type for each site you have and assigning the proper ones to your auto-attendants. The holiday schedule might be the only exception to this, unless you have sites in different countries where the holidays are different.
The main functionality of the auto-attendant is the On-Hours/Off-Hours scheduling. This is the menu recording you want people to hear when they call whatever number is assigned to that Auto-Attendant. Set the “Schedule” to your main on-hours schedule.
Once you save the change, your main on-hours recording will play during the days and hours you selected when you set up the schedule. The off-hours recording will play during the times not designated as on-hours. You do not need to make a separate off-hours recording. In fact you cannot assign an ‘off-hours’ schedule.
You need to remember to make any menu programming changes to your off-hours menu, not just put a recording up. You can have an entirely different menu off hours than you do on hours if you want. A big thing people forget to do is set up the ability to dial an extension on the off hours menu.
This is where I get into a little theory on how to deal with schedules and auto-attendants. I am a fan of generic “We are closed for the holiday” greetings. This way you don’t give yourself the chance to forget to change it. All you have to do is remember to keep the holiday schedule up to date.
Set the Schedule drop down to the holiday schedule. Remember you can have an entirely different menu system here if you want.
I suggest having separate custom schedule for each of your sites. One site might be closed to weather, and the rest might be open still so you don’t want it affecting that site. Remember this overrides the other three menus.
The idea here is to set each auto-attendant in each site to the proper custom schedule (preferably blank ones to start with) and as things come up add to the schedule.
So if you’ve set up everything correctly you should have an auto-attendant menu that plays during your work hours, a recording that plays when you close for the day, a recording that plays during the holidays, and one that plays during an emergency.
Make sure you put schedules on all your auto-attendant menus that have a number directly tied to them. This isn’t as important on sub-menus but still not a bad idea.