How to Use Schedules In Auto-Attendants in ShoreTel

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.

On-Hours/Off-Hours Schedule

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.

On Hours Auto Attendant
On hours auto-attendant. This one hasn’t been set up yet.

 

Off Hours Auto Attendant
Off Hours, blank example. You can’t assign a specific off hours schedule here, but you can make an entirely different menu system here if you want.

 

Holiday Schedule

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.

Holiday Auto Attendant Schedule
Holiday Schedule. Note you can have a different menu system here entirely if you want.

 

Custom Schedule

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.

Custom Schedule Auto Attendant
Custom schedule, blank.

Success!

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.

 

Export a Wave File From ShoreTel’s Auto-Attendant Menu

If you’ve inherited a ShoreTel system from a previous Administrator you may run into the unfortunate situation where they recorded the menus directly into ShoreTel. While not a bad way to record menus, it doesn’t lend well to having a backup or master file to edit for your Auto-Attendants, or Workgroup Voice Mail prompts.

Note to ShoreTel Partners: When you set up a ShoreTel system for a company, for the love of all that is Holy please don’t record the auto attendant menus directly into the Director. This is lazy and if you do it this way you’ve probably also neglected to fix a backup strategy for their server too. Use the voice mail method, or better yet record GOOD menus into Audacity and convert them, that way you and their Administrator have a backup of this stuff. This can be the most tedious, time-consuming thing to recreate if God forbid their server dies. You can get a good headset for less than $50, or if you were so inclined a professional quality microphone you can hook up to your laptop, a pop filter , and a stand to go with it all for under $120. Put your voice talent in a quiet office or conference room and go to town.

There is a way to get those Wave Files from the ShoreTel system so you can make use of them assuming your system still works.

Export Wave File From ShoreTel Auto Attendant Menu

Step 1 – Go into your ShoreWare Director and click on Auto-Attendant Menus, then click on an Auto Attendant. Make sure you install the voice control.

Step 2 – Click the Play button under the Prompt Text. You’ll get something like this:

Step 3 – You’ll notice it has a path above the progress bar.This is on your local machine. It downloads the wave file to a temporary location. This is the folder you are looking for: “C:\Users\yourusername\AppData\Local\Temp“. In the picture above the “aevans-20” is the first part of the file name you want. Please note that if you have a long username portions of the path in the box will not be visible.

Step 4 – You’ll see a bunch of .WAV files starting with either your username or the username of whoever originally recorded the file in this folder. It may or may not be the Windows username, it could be the ShoreTel username. The file names are in this format in case other applications have dumped their sound files there: username-########-######.wav. The one you want will be the one with the date modified stamp of when you listened to it. Please also note that just going to an auto attendant menu page in the director will download the wav file to your PC, so you may have to listen to a few to figure out which one you need.

Step 5 – Copy the file somewhere else and now you have a backup or a wav file in the correct format in case you need to edit it. Also remember to name this something useful.

Record A ShoreTel Auto-Attendant Using Voice Mail

I’ve got a few articles on Auto Attendants coming out over the next couple of days. This is my favorite method for recording auto attendant menus because it doesn’t require me to be in the director and I don’t have to schedule my voice person to do this. Recording a menu with voice mail is particularly useful for stuff that is updated a lot or changes frequently. Just send a script to your voice person, they send you a voice mail and you import it directly into ShoreTel. No fancy editing required.

Record the Audio

Step 1 – Click the orange spiral in ShoreTel Communicator, click Windows, Click Voicemail.

Step 2 – Click New Message, type your name or the name of the person processing the voice mail (they should be a ShoreTel user) and then give it a relevant subject.

Step 3 – Click the Record Button (The Red Dot). Your phone will ring and give you some instructions. After the tone just record the menu.

Step 4 – Hang up or hit # when done.

Once you get the voice mail right click on it and hit “Export to Wav”. This will be in the correct format to directly import it from the ShoreWare Director. You can import it into your Auto Attendants with no editing or file conversion whatsoever.

You can do this for a lot more than Auto-Attendants. You can also import the .wav file into a workgroup voice mail greeting, queue handling menus, personal voice mail menus and just about anything where you can record a greeting.