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Frequently Asked Questions

Answered by The Telecom Gurus.

Our Telecom Gurus have over thirty six years of telecommunications experience. This team of experts can answer any question you may have on business communications technology. Get answers now!

What is "DNIS"?

Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS) is a carrier-based service that allows incoming phone calls to be routed to a pre-determined phone(s), attendant position, call center, voicemail box or just about any answering position with its routing determined by the phone number that was dialed by the outside caller. DNIS is a feature almost always associated with digital trunking (PRI or T1 voice service). This is because multiple incoming (DNIS) phone numbers can be assigned to a single digital trunk without the need to allocate individual trunkline circuits for each number. This dynamic allocation allows a company to procure an unlimited amount of individual phone numbers (some have hundreds of numbers in use or reserved) for different purposes as long as the total amount of simultaneous calls do not exceed the amount of trunk circuits available.

Examples of DNIS routing applications:

Multiple companies sharing trunklines can use DNIS to route incoming callers to their respective answering pointsIndividual marketing campaigns can be assigned DNIS numbers to gauge their effectiveness and public responseA special phone number may be provided to route preferred customers to priority support groupsToll-Free numbers may have a different routing plan than local numbers

In addition, DNIS allows a reason-for-call identifier in the phones digital display. This is useful when an individual handles calls for multiple companies or greets callers differently depending on the information presented in the display.

Examples of DNIS Display applications:

Shared Trunking Service When calling ABC COMPANYs number, the ringing set may display ABC COMPANY. When calling XYZ Companys number, XYZ COMPANY is displayed. This allows the answering position to greet the caller with scripting based on the displayed name. Calls may routed to a common attendant or calls can route independently depending on the number dialed.When a caller dials a number for Priority Tech Support, the call may be routed to a priority call center. The call center agent will know its a Priority Client ringing before answering.

For companies that have integrated their phone system with their data network, a screen pop may occur where information is displayed in a window that may contain scripting or information based on the DNIS identifier.

How DNIS works:

DNIS service is provided by your local and long distance carrier. When a call rings in, the phone system answers and signals the carrier. The carrier then sends a predetermined amount of identifying digits which is captured by the phone system. Using these captured digits, the phone systems DNIS programming determines the call routing and display information.

Who do you call when your phone system is busted?

If all the phones are working and you cannot make or receive calls you should call your service provider first. If your phones are not working you should check that there is power to the system, if there is, then you should call GCC at (781) 756-5100.

What responsibilities does the customer need to consider in preparing for a new system implementation?

There are important basic considerations that are required to prepare for the installation of a new system.

  • Appoint a single source of contact.
  • Provide contacts for 3rd party vendors such as carriers, Electrical or General Contractors, building landlords, superintendents (if applicable) providers in all locations.
  • Assist in the preparation of a detailed floor plan for the accurate location of each telephone.
  • Assist in the preparation of the database that will used to program the proper system functionality for all users and call handling.
  • Ready your facilities for access by our installation crew and by notifying your employees that our staff will be performing work such as surveying existing wiring at each work station, running new cables.
  • Provide our project manager with the location that you have selected for all central equipment. This needs to be a clean, dry, well-lit, and well-ventilated environment.
  • Provide the necessary dedicated 120V AC outlets for the central equipment. It is highly recommended that this is on its own circuit breaker so as to not allow potential problems with other equipment to affect the normal operation of the communications system.
  • Provide adequate Alternative AC Power source such as standby generator or battery backup power supply. It is highly recommended that the load placed on UPS Battery Backup devices not be more than 50% of the rated power output of the unit.
  • Please contact our service department for further information. (781) 756-5100
  • Involve members of your staff, when and if possible, in meetings to evaluate business needs and how the system will best solve the needs of the business. This will go a long way towards gaining user buy in and ownership for new technology and help your employees make the most of the training we will provide them.
  • If you will have Remote Teleworkers, you will need to provide VPN access to your companys network. Please call our service department for further information (781) 756-5100

Training An Investment That Pays Dividends

General Communications provides onsite end-user training as well as administrative training to ensure everyone in your organization is using your technology correctly as planned.

Assist our training coordinator to schedule the date & time and space in your office which we will conduct end user training classes.

Notify all departments including executives, operators, backup operators, are aware of the times they will attend the training sessions.

WHO MANAGES THE PROJECT INCLUDING ALL OF THE VENDORS ASSOCIATED WITH THE SYSTEM

A great plan needs to be managed to insure a great experience. General Communications assumes responsibility for the entire implementation, giving you more freedom to focus on other priorities and helping to ensure that system deployment goes smoothly on time and on budget. We work with you and your vendors to ensure that every step is considered as part of the overall process. It begins with assessing your current network & communications needs and carries forward to the date your system is up and running to work for your business.

If you have any questions, contact the Services team by email at info@generalcom.com, or call (781) 756-5100.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A NETWORK ASSESSMENT

A Network Assessment allows the project to be ready to start out of the gate. The time and effort is meaningful to ensure that your infrastructure can successfully carry voice over IP (VoIP) and deliver the voice quality you need. Among other factors, the Network Assessment determines that:

  • The necessary network protocols and standards are supported.
  • The infrastructure is architecturally compatible with VoIP traffic.
  • Installed WAN technologies are compatible with VoIP.
  • The network has the capacity to support the planned VoIP installation.
  • Delay, loss, and jitter are below the acceptable thresholds for toll-quality voice.

WHAT ARE BEST PRACTICES FOR BUSINESS CONTINUITY

Resiliency, high availability and disaster planning are integral to a well designed Communication System. General Communications leverages it over 34 years of experience designing systems to meet the specific needs of a wide variety of environments. In addition to the needs of your operation we consider emergency planning and disaster recovery such as:

  • 911 emergency call routing designed to connect to the correct first responder and that the required information is delivered.
  • Inbound call routing and handling for all departments times during and other than normal business hours.
  • Disaster recovery plan and support for the phone system, network services and Internet Access.
  • Growth and capacity needs and projections.

HOW ARE WARRANTY AND UPGRADES ADMINISTERED

General Communications provides hardware & software & labor warranty which includes including remote and onsite support for all phases of the project and for the life of your system. Our technical and customer support staff are factory trained to be able to provide the initial installation plus all additional service including software and hardware Adds, Upgrades and Help-Desk services as envisioned by the manufacturer and with the values that we have adhered to for over 35 years.

HOW DO WE ACHIEVE NEEDS THAT MAY BE SPECIFIC TO ONLY OUR BUSINESS?

Every business needs to consider not only its own needs, but the needs of its customers. General Communications utilizes its over 35 years of experience to expertly integrate custom procedures required to facilitate the objectives & goals for your present needs and we will continue to evolve the capabilities to satisfy your future growth and success of your vision.

How can I hear only certain portions of voice mail messages with a Telrad System?

Pressing 8 will pause the message. Pressing 8 again begins playing where you paused. Pressing 7 rewinds the message 5 seconds, pressing 9 jumps ahead 5 seconds. Hope this helps.

Voice Mail programming on the Prostar Plus?

If you purchasesd the STARMAIL brand of vmail, it has a key-set emulation. You can install it on any key telephone port (not analog port). You would create a huntgroup between the vmail extensions. If successful, the vmail will answer upon calling the first vmail extension. Most Starmail default programming code was **789#. Notedo not expect too much satisfaction with the ProStar w/Starmail. It wasnt the slickest combination on the planet.

How to figure out the number of telephone lines needed to avoid busy signals?

Theres no set guideline of outside lines to internal extensions. Service and sales firms usually have a higher line-to-set ratio than say, a manufacturing or R & D corporation. Some companies are over-square with more lines than extensions. Universally, businesses want to avoid busy signals. Busy signals can mean lost revenue or frustrated customers.

With a small business, such as yours, adding or deleting lines on a trial basis is not a sin. Its very inexpensive when youre working with POTS (Plain Ol Telephone Service) lines. Theres no risk other than a small install fee. Theres no lengthy time commitment either. In your case, adding two lines yields a 40% increases in traffic flow. After adding more lines, if your customers are still getting busy signals, add more. If the lines are never used, cancel them. My hope is that business will increase so much, your next question to me will be when should I consider a T1 or PRI line?

How can multiple companies share the same phone system?

The best way for multiple companies to share a single phone system is to utilize TENANT SERVICE. Tenant service partitions the system to allow as much or as little interaction between the tenants as desired. Parameters include line appearance, line access restriction and intercom restriction. Most PBXs do a decent job separating the entities for these basic services. The big problem is on the voicemail/auto attendant side

A voicemail with true tenant service will absolutely segment one companys call processing from another. The tenant service will provide separate opening greetings, operator destinations, dial-by-name directories and group lists. There must be a separate general mailbox and password for each tenant. The feature most systems have trouble with is the return-to-main-greeting. After a message is left, the system must play the opening greeting of the particular tenant, not the primary company. After confirming a voice message, pressing 0 must ring the tenant answering positions. Systems without true tenant service will usually play the greeting of the main company and pressing 0 routes the call to the primary companys receptionist.

What's the difference between a trunk and station card?

A Trunkline is the service that provides the local and long distance calling (think dial-tone). A station is the phone set. In a traditional PBX, trunklines are terminated on a trunk card, usually 4 or 8 circuits. Stations are terminated on a station card, usually 8, 16 or 24 circuits. Its up to the PBX to electronically connect a trunkline circuit to a station circuit for making outside call. For an intercom call, the PBX connects two station circuits.

What's new with Telrad Telephone Systems?

Telrad systems have evolved both technically and cosmetically. In 1992, Telrad introduced their first fully digital system known as (and we hope they didnt spend too much for this) the TELRAD DIGITAL. Compared to the analog Telrad Key PBX, the Digital technology brought a huge jump in power and flexibility but they managed to keep the Telrad Touch.

Telrad users have come to expect lots of telephone set features that are easily and logically managed. The Digital phone was quite impressive for its day especially the Executive Set. This was the first wide-screen, interactive phone on the market. In tune with Telrads migration strategy, a special analog station card and voicemail interface allowed current Key PBX owners to bring much of their current equipment over to the new Digital system. As the 90s progressed, software releases enhanced the Digital with T1 and PRI compatibility, call center software, multi-site networking, computer-telephone integrations and, best of all, a greatly enhanced voicemail system.

By the end of the nineties, the original Digital phone set styling was getting very long in the tooth. Using the recommendations of dealers and end-users, Telrad designed the dramatic Avanti series of sets. In addition to way-cool, next-millennium styling, Avanti sets boast ergonomic improvements; including a larger footprint, wider spaced keys, better digital displays, brighter lighting of keys and enhanced soft-key interactivity. Also for the new century, the first telephone set with a pixel screen with GUI interface and mouse navigation. In true Telrad fashion, you can still use as many older sets as you like.

2002 brought eMaGen, the first Linux-based voicemail system. eMaGen brough a great suite of features, potent unified messaging and strong computer-telephony possibilities. Also introduced in 02 was Synapse, a wireless micro-cellular system that allows wireless telephones an unlimited range. With the merger of Telrad with Voice over IP system producer Congruency, TELRAD CONNEGY, as its now known, is poised to stay ahead of the pack in the world of converging voice and data systems.

How can I measure the productivity of my telemarketing team?

Youll want to install CALL ACCOUNTING. Almost every phone system has the ability to send data containing call records. This data stream is called Station Message Detail Recording or SMDR. The problem is that the call records are in a raw laundry list format. Although you can attach a printer to the SMDR port, the output would be reams of paper with calls listed one-by-one.

CALL ACCOUNTING takes raw call records, filters them, and prints any form of report that the user desires. CALL ACCOUNTING uses a data base, so reports are generated by entering filtering information to produce the desired content. There are canned reports that make the most popular requests available with a few mouse clicks and custom reports that allow the input based on any array of filters. Reports can be generated on-demand or at predetermined times and/or dates.

Most of our CALL ACCOUNTING systems consist of software loaded on a customer provided PC, but there are black box call accounting units that do not use a PC. If your phone system does not have an SMDR port, youll need to order an SMDR card. Youll also require a cable from the phone system to the CALL ACCOUNTING system.

Is a wireless office solution practical?

There are four basic types of wireless solutions. A standard consumer cordless set can be integrated into your PBX using an analog port. This will provide basic calling functions and feature access with a range limited to specs of the cordless sets. Some PBX systems have digitally integrated cordless sets available which have better functionality but the range is still only a few hundred feet max.

For truly long range, a micro-cellular system works very well. Micro-cells are placed approximately every 200 feet within the entire building and even outside in the parking lot and company campus. As the user moves around, calls are handed off from cell to cell ensuring complete coverage throughout the coverage area. A great solution is the FLEX-CALL available with our CORAL PBX and Tadiran America FLEXiCOM. FLEX-CALL will ring your cell phone in sync with your desk set. As long as you have cell coverage, anyone calling your desk set can be answered (and transferred) from your cell phone. FLEX-CALL allows world-wide coverage.

What is the difference between DID and DNIS?

DID (Direct Inward Dialing) is an incoming call service offered by your local carrier that allows every person or department to have a direct phone number. DID allows calling directly to the desired destination without the additional steps of an automated attendant or Primary Answering Position (formerly known as a receptionist) transfer. Most carriers offer DID numbers in blocks of 100 with the last three or four digits matching the users extension number for continuity. Some companies order two DID numbers per person if faxmail is part of their messaging system (one DID for voice, one for faxmail.

DID service comes standard, or for a very nominal cost, with local T1 or PRI service. For smaller companies, traditional analog is available as in incoming service only. General business trunklines will still need to be installed to carry outside calls. Analog DID service is making a small comeback due to the Local Bell Operating Company (Verizon, here in the Northeast) dropping the price of analog D.I.D. lines. Seems like they were losing too many clients by artificially holding up the price of their analog service.

DNIS (Dialed Number Identification Service) is the identifying agent to DID. The carrier sends DNIS information with every DID call. The PBX captures and uses this information to 1. route calls to a selected destination or department and 2. display the reason for the call on the telephone set (thats the I in Identification). Using DNIS, companies can have multiple DID numbers terminating into a single phone, department or call center. This allows a common answering point to address the call in relationship to DNIS display. For example, a receptionist can answer calls for multiple companies by using the DNIS display to tell how to greet the call. Another example is used by fulfillment centers. A call center agent may handle a Time Life Book request, then a Ginzu Knife request on the next call. DNIS ID on the display will tell the agent how to answer the call.

DID always contains DNIS information, but DNIS doesnt require DID. DNIS info can be sent on a long distance T1 via toll-free (800) dialing or even standalone analog trunklines can use DNIS functionality on a line-by-line basis.

Is it expensive to have messages and or music playing when we put people on hold?

Message-on-hold (MOH) can be as inexpensive as recording a message on an endless loop tape and playing it though a standard cassette player. However, the tapes wear out with time and technology has leap-frogged cassette players long ago. If cassette is to be used as the message medium, you should invest in a digital download cassette player. Designed specifically for the MOH industry, this machine will take a standard cassette message and download it into a digital format which can be played 24 hours a day without wearing out.

CDs have taken over a majority market share from the digital cassette player. MOH CDs can be played though any standard CD player. However, not all businesses have the ability to record a message directly to CD so its usually done in conjunction with a Message-on-Hold producer. The emerging technology it MOH on MP3. Using an MP3 player eliminates all moving parts so it is even more reliable than a CD player.

Like a professional auto-attendant voice, its a good investment to hire a professional MOH company to record the message. GCC has a referral service for professional MOH services.

Why does a message light flash when there's no messages?

This is typically an issue for Toshiba users. Phantom message waiting lights are usually caused by making an intercom call to another extension and pressing the MSG key before hanging up. When your called party returns to their desk, the MSG (message waiting light) is on creating the illusion that a voicemail message is waiting. When checking voicemail, the system says there are no new messages. Basically what happened is that the person calling unintentionally left a request for a Callback. (Before the advent of voicemail, a Callback request was a popular feature). The solution is to hit: Intercom, #, 409. Note: You might have to repeat this sequence if multiple people left you Callbacks.

What's the best solution for connecting two offices together?

Networking PBXs together to act as one is becoming more and more popular. Enterprise-wide desktop-to-desktop calling/ transfer, single voicemail and shared answering positions are some of the benefits. (click here for my solution details).

How can salespeople avoid playing telephone tag?

In the past, telephone systems were not able to efficiently connect with mobile employees. However, realizing that more and more people are working out of the office and need real time connections, phone system manufactures are starting to address this need. There are several options you can select from.

How can my small business project an image of a much larger company?

Some of the ways you can make your small company seem larger than it is include...

Using 3 or 4 digit extension numbers. Nothing projects the image of a small company like a one or two digit extension plan. A business card or call back number listing Ext. 220 sounds a lot more substantial than Ext. 20.

Another good investment is an auto attendant greeting recorded with a professional voice. Image is everything and a great sounding auto attendant greeting conveys great company. General Communication has professional voice referral service for both auto attendants and message-on-hold recordings.

Who is responsible for installing my service in my space?

The local telephone company is only responsible for installing your new service at the demarcation point in the building unless you order them to extend it to your space.

If they extend the service they will charge you for inside wiring. GCC provides inside wiring at competitive rates which would probably take less time.

I cannot make long distance calls from my phones. How do I determine the cause?

If you can make local calls from your phones, the lines are working. If you attempt to make a long distance call and you get a call restricted display on your phones, then the phone system is programmed to restrict long distance calls. Then you should call GCC.

If you attempt a long distance call and the call just waits and then gets a voice message indicating your call cannot be completed or there is no long distance carrier assigned, you should call your service provider.

We are moving and the new space has existing wiring. Can we use that wiring?

Jacks on the wall do not indicate the wiring is good. Many times spaces are remodeled, the wiring in the ceilings gets cleaned out, but the jacks are left on the wall. It is recommended that a site survey be conducted in advance of the move to ensure the cabling is compatible with your system and can be reused. This will eliminate problems at the time of the move. GCC can accurately asses this for you.

When we get our new phone system, will we be out of service for long during the transition?

Most times we have the ability to install the new system in conjunction with the old system staying in service. In the case of installing VoIP phones, we can have both systems running at the same time due to the fact that they use different cables. In this situation, there is only downtime to move the line service over which is generally up to 15 minutes assuming there are no problems from the service provider. If we are installing traditional phones we can swap out the main phone and lines in about 15 minutes and then liven the remaining sets. During this transition, calls will always come through and you will be able to make calls. GCC will have new systems programmed and functional before changeover.

I have an older 8-16 or 18 Telrad Digital system with about 10 executive sets and am using 6 lines. I am moving my system to a new office and wanted to either upgrade OR add voicemail capabilities to the existing system. I have no one in Mississippi that consistently services the Telrad older system and I am attempting to do it myself. Can you tell me exactly what equipment I will need to add the voicemail capability to my existing system, ie board, card, etc.? Thanks.

There are two ways to add voicemail to the Telrad Digital 818, 128, 384 series:

Solution 1 - Purchase:

An OCD2 card and MIM module as a voicemail interface A Telrad eMAGen voicemail system (loaded on a PC) A MODEM module for the OCD2 card for remote access

Solution 2 - Purchase:

An upgrade of your MPD processor to the IPEX processor The eMAGen software license to the IPEX processor (no PC required) A MODEM module for the IPEX processor for remote access

The initial installation would require professional services (either on-site or possibly with remote programming assistance). After installation, the core system can be managed remotely via modem and the voicemail can be managed via a web browser.

You also should compare the cost of the upgrades against a new system. The price of a new small system with voicemail may be lower than the cost to upgrade and add voicemail to the Telrad (even with 10 new sets).


Changing Voicemail Greetings

ShoreTel Systems:

ShoreTel Voicemail User Guide

Amanda Systems:

  1. Log into voicemail
  2. Press 2 for greetings, 1 for greeting one, 2 to record, # to finish