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.

 

How to Set Up Custom Schedules in ShoreTel

A custom schedule in ShoreTel is how you deal with emergencies, unscheduled off times and other times where you need your phones to ring different at a certain time on certain days. The big use I see for it is when weather is bad, or when your office has some other sort of emergency. Some other uses I’ve encountered are: unscheduled meetings where you have to close up shop, public service announcements, technical outages (unrelated to the phone system), and days when you’ve planned to close early.

How to Set Up Custom Schedules in ShoreTel

Custom schedules work almost exactly the same as Holiday schedules, except that you can add a time range to a date. I highly suggest you at least make a blank Custom Schedule on your ShoreTel system and add it to ALL of you auto attendants. That way if you’ve got an emergency, all you have to do is add the date and time you want it to run and it will automatically be applied and you don’t have to worry that some menu somewhere doesn’t have it.

Step 1 – Log into ShoreWare Director. Check out Active Directory Integration if you still have to enter a password.

Step 2 – Click on Schedules and then click the “Add New” link under the Custom Schedules section. You should see this:

Custom Scheduling - Blank

Step 3 – Go ahead and name the schedule and hit save.

Step 4 – Click the add new button to add a custom schedule. You have to enter single specific days and time ranges. Unfortunately you can’t enter a date range, so if you have several days in a row you need it to run you’ll have to put them all in individually.

Step 5 – Make sure you click save once you’ve entered everything in.

Keep in mind custom scheduling overrides both Holiday and On-Hours scheduling. So anything you put here will supersede any other schedules you have. That’s why I recommend you put a blank one in and just add to it as necessary.