VoIP

The Case of the Missing Message-On-Hold Notification

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The Case of the Missing Message-On-Hold Notification … a classic IT failure to understand business and user needs when it comes to telephony.

… a classic IT failure to understand business and user needs when it comes to telephony.

As legacy gear comes up for replacement, government agencies and companies are beginning to leverage hosted voice services. Hopefully, when they complete their installations, their return on investment is positive.

But here’s something interesting I encountered in a wide-area configuration with two data centers. In this environment, I found thousands of connected telephones all sharing the same generic message-on-hold announcement. And the organization apparently has no intention of individualizing the messaging for each entity.

Why is this a big deal? This is akin to having users land on a webpage with no company identification. Message-on-hold recordings aren’t just for marketing. They provide callers with affirmation that they’re in the right queues.

This is a classic IT failure to understand business and user needs when it comes to telephony. Maybe IT would argue that it has some workaround or other reason for having one generic message for all entities within this organization — but that’d be s lame.

This lack of message-on-hold differentiation also rears its head in the dial plan. I know this particular dial plan wasn’t well thought out because those orchestrating the implementation didn’t know enough about dial plans. This is evident in its use of “x-xxxx” dialing when what it really needed was “xxx-xxxx” dialing, with “xxx” representing a site code vs. “x” acting as a steering code. A site code, not an exchange to be confused with the PSTN, offers 1xx-999 possibilities whereas a steering code offers nine because you would not use 0.

Why is this relevant? This numbering architecture is tried and still valid today for many enterprises. My recommendation is to never corrupt or disrupt dial plans but rather re-use them since they are learned or at least familiar to existing users. Each site code can have a targeted message-on-hold recording customized to that site.

After reviewing more information about this particular network, spotting mistakes made along the way wasn’t hard. The sense of urgency or emphasis was placed on displacing traditional and IP standalone PBXes in an effort to reduce cost.

IT administrators need to become more familiar with voice technologies, and how they might impact their organizations. The dial plan is critical, and keeping callers on track is certainly much easier to do when they’ve been assured they’ve landed in the right place… not 20 minutes later after sitting on hold, and then being told they’ve reached the wrong place.

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