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 Holiday Schedules in ShoreTel

Holiday Schedules are different from on-hours schedules. For one a holiday schedule has specific dates, but no times. These schedules activate for the entire day from midnight to 11:59pm on the dates selected.

How to Set Up Holiday Schedules in ShoreTel

I’m going to go over two competing theories on how to do this first, then show how to do the one I think works better.

Schedule With All Holidays In One – This is where you set up a single Holiday Schedule with every holiday for the entire year (or more) in it. If all your sites don’t have the same holidays you just make a copy of this and add or remove holidays as needed. I think this is the best way to go. This keeps you from forgetting to update the schedule every holiday.

Separate Schedules For Each Holiday – This is where you set up a separate Schedule for each Holiday. I don’t like this method as it requires you to remember to set your holiday schedules before the holiday actually arrives in your auto-attendants and other places. A few places use this for various reasons, but it’s not a good idea anymore.

I always go with the first one and then make a generic greeting for the auto-attendants, or make separate greetings for the different holidays at the beginning of the year and schedule to change the greetings out for the next holiday the day after I get back to work.

So here’s how to set up a proper holiday schedule.

Step 1 – Find out what holidays you will be closed on. I would set it up for a year. You’ll need to know the specific dates, especially for those “First Monday of March” type holidays.

Step 2 – Log into ShoreWare Director. If you still have to use a user name and password, check out my article on Active Directory Integration. It’s long but  you’ll be glad you set it up.

Step 3 – Click on Schedules and click the “Add New” link under the Holiday section. You should see this screen. Note that this page, unlike the On-Hours page does not need special ActiveX plugins.

Holiday Schedule BlankStep 4 – Click the Add New button and type in the Holiday’s name, as well as the date it falls on. Note that you can specify a specific date like 01/23/2013 or a day without a year, like 12/25. If you specify date with no year it will always activate on that day, regardless of year.

Step 5 – Repeat Step 4 for each Holiday.

Step 6 – When you’ve got all your holidays entered, click the Save button. If you need to delete or change an entry you can do so at any time.

That’s how you set up Holiday Schedules in ShoreTel. Personally I make a single Holiday schedule for each site then edit it every year. I also take holidays that always fall on a specific date (like Christmas) and don’t add a year so I don’t have to change this every time.