New Phone Systems: Frustrations of an impatient newbie

The last two weeks have been extremely challenging for me. As many of you know, I am not a techie; I am an end user. Without excellent in-house and outside product and computer support, I would not be a happy computer user most of the time.

We have been using a hosted PBX-style telephone system (Onebox) for the last couple of years. This service gives us the general functionality of a PBX system without the cost. We have extension numbers for each phone. We have automated attendants with different messages at different times of the day and night, as well as for Technical Support vs. Sales and Customer Service. We have multiple voicemail boxes at which customers can leave messages. We told the company what we wanted. They set it up for us. We use it.

Our one frustration has been the length of time needed to transfer a call from one person to another within our organization. It takes so long customers sometimes hang up. And sometimes transferring just does not work at all.

In 2009 and 2010 we have been cost saving fanatics. Since long distance telephone calls and numerous telephone lines are among our biggest expenses, we began to research options other than land lines and long distance contracts. About a year ago, we started using Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone service through T-Mobile for our outgoing technical support calls. It has mostly done the job at a fraction of the cost of long distance service, so this month Seth started to research moving our entire telephone system to a hosted VOIP solution. After a couple of days of intense research, he decided that we should try Vocalocity, a company that focuses on small businesses.

Then Manon, our lead technical support staff person, left for vacation and my headache began. You see, Seth assists with doing tech support when one of our primary staffers is out. That meant the VOIP project was handed over to me…and oh what a mistake that was….because, remember, I am technologically impaired. Much of my other work has been on hold while I tried to make this work.

Seth had begun to set up our Auto Attendants, but they were not working properly. He emailed our phone system flow chart to a support representative at Vocalocity so they would know what we wanted to accomplish. Then, I needed to work with the support representative to make it happen. Over the course of three days, an excellent representative named Nathaniel worked with me to make changes in the setup of our account. It was much more complicated than either Seth or I realized. There were some things that had to be initiated on their end to accomplish our goals; they were not end user configurable. Finally, on Monday we tested all the work Nathaniel had done and the system appears to do what we want it to in the way we want. It even lets us transfer calls from one extension to another without a long wait time.

Today I called our telephone service provider and had our main line forwarded to the number assigned to us by Vocalocity. Tomorrow I expect to start receiving calls on the new system. We will let you know the outcome.

The moral of this story is this: using new technology may be just the way to save your organization lots of money; however, have your most tech-savvy person work to accomplish the goal. Giving the task to a less-than-patient person who just wants the darned thing to work is not the most effective way to adopt the new technology….no matter how cool the technology is.

What technology implementation stories do you have to share? Has your experience taught you some things about how to most effectively adopt new technology in your organization?

Just enter your comment in the box at the bottom of the page. If you don’t see a box, double click on the title of the article then scroll back down to the box to enter your comment. Please share your experience. I must get better at this!

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