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Telecom and Phone Systems

Noel Fay Telecom Services.

Interview with Noel Fay, Telecom Engineer, Dublin. Having previously worked with Eircom Noel Fay Telecom Services provides telephone solutions to both business and residential customers. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the main services you offer?

A. The main services I offer are Telecommunications and Datacomms systems. I supply, install and programme PBX telephone systems for small, medium and large businesses, from any amount from a size of 1 to 100 people. I also install the cabling network infrastructure (Cat5e /Cat6) to link all the tele / data comms (iT PC?s) within an office. Say for example, you need to install a telephone system for ten people, first you will talk to your client about their specification requirements. You then have to organise and order the specific Eircom lines. These may consist of PSTN, ISDN, ADSL or VOIP lines. When the Eircom lines are installed and tested you programme them to the PBX phone system along with installing the ten phone sets, one for each person.

Programming the phone system to the specification of the client is part of the service and requires the fine touch that will suit their business. This consists of Voice Mail set-up, Auto attendant (press 1 for sales, 2 for accounts etc) day / night services, analog line set-up for Fax machines, cordless phones, swipe card machines etc. Also you have to configure the ADSL broadband line.

You find out the nature of the client's business and advise them the best way to program their phone system. This might sound obvious but let's say you  have multiple sections, sales, admin and accounts departments then the client might want an auto-attendant system where callers to the business can direct themselves to the appropriate department. This cuts down on any delays, missed calls, and can reduce administration costs by having less people manning phone traffic. 

When the call is directed, to let's say a general sales department, you might have sub-menus after that, e.g., the option for different sales teams, Dublin region press 1 - Country region press 2 -  Sales manager press 3 etc. These sub-menus mean that if your staff are unavailable or busy, then the caller is redirected to a voicemail box. One of the worst things than can happen a customer ringing your business is that they don't get through to someone or at least they don't get to leave a message. This reflects bad on your company and angers the caller.

When people ask me for suggestions "what phone system do I need"? the first thing you have to consider it the type of company they have and the number of employees. Most important of all, you ascertain how many people will be on the phone at any one time. Sometimes it might just be a very small percentage of the workforce or with the likes of a busy sales office, a very high percentage.

There is nothing worse or more incompetent in communications than a company with employees that cannot get a dial tone or the incoming caller is blocked by busy lines. So, it is very important that you get the correct number of lines installed and a phone system that can accommodate them.  There is a rule of thumb that if you have one hundred people in your office, then you need thirty voice lines. The type of lines you install is determined by the nature of the business and their budget. 

Q. For the SME owner, how has the expectations of the phone system changed over the years?

A. A couple of years ago, the expectation of a phone system was that it was a simple means of communication. Make calls ? take calls, if you are on a phone call then the angry caller got a busy tone and you lost business. Then ISDN (Digital network) came along allowing quality voice lines, caller id, transfer calls to external source and DDI number range (allows you to call any individual or department direct). With ISDN you can have up to 30 calls on one pair of copper wires. Now VOiP has arrived allowing calls to be made via you broadband circuit reducing your call bill significantly.             

DECT (Cordless) and PBX smart phones can be paired to you PBX system.Providing full information fact stats for call-centres.Auto- routing voice activation systems. 

Q. More and more Irish businesses have mobile workforces. How can your systems help them?

If you have sales a team of say twenty people on the road, traditionally they were given a piece of paper and sent out on a job. There was no accountability where those people were during the day. They would come back to the office and say there were working very hard but in some cases they could be out on the golf course or at the zoo with their family. There was a very lackadaisical and inefficient practice in place.

Now the modern VOiP phone system can pair with your smart phone which can be tracked by GPS so your sales manager knows the location of their sales team all the time. Your sales transactions can register via the PBX to the sales manager?s pc.  

Another example would be a salesperson who had their handheld barcode device connected to their office phone system. When they do make a sale, it is registered immediately and the sales manager can go online and track it and see exactly what progress is being made. Other times, the salesperson can ring into what is known as a phantom mailbox and can leave a message to proceed with an order. You can have an foolproof tracking system that makes your salespeople accountable. 

Q. Are there any other examples of the benefits of a well-functioning phone system?

There are many benefits. Probably one of the important areas which has developed is the legality of phone conversations. Some of the phone systems that I provide and install can record phone conversations. For example, you might have a customer of a health insurance company who claims he was misled when buying his policy. He might have believed that X, Y or Z was covered because what a representative told him over the phone six months previous.  He might have a bill for ?5000 which he refuses to pay. In this type of scenario, if it goes to court the judge might ask "do you have it recorded"? and the defendant wins his case because there was no recording. Companies are now covering themselves by recording all calls.

Another way a phone system can help a business is with quality control. Previously, I worked with a newspaper company and their telesales division. People would ring in to the advertising department to place an ad for the publication. Their objective was getting a "real live" person at the end of the line not an auto-answer machine.We had set up a system where the manager could listen into the calls for quality control and training. The manager could hear the conversation, but nobody could hear the manager speak, only the trainee. In that situation, they would assess the new staff members and make a decision whether they were up-to-speed handling calls or whether they needed further training. It is all about customer care.

Also, providing a call routing system that allows the customer to route to the proper department they wish to get to without delay by following voice steps and key inputs. E.g. Eircom, insurance companies, Sky etc.

Q. What tips would you give to an SME owner looking for a phone system?

In the present economic climate, it is usually accountants who make the decision whether a business needs a new phone system or what phone system they are going to get. It is more cost driven than ever before. You have to bear in mind it's not just the installation costs but also the running costs. One tip is for an SME to save money is by installing a GSM gateway. Calls to mobiles from landlines are more expensive than calls from mobile to mobiles. With a GSM gateway installed, when someone dials 087, 086, 085 or 083 numbers the phone system automatically redirects the call to the GSM gateway which has a Sim card in it. So the call is charged just like a mobile to mobile call. 

Another tip is, years ago if you bought a phone system you usually had to buy a system for double or triple the capacity of you work force. An example is, say there are 6 people in a small business, you would have bought a system with 12 or 16 extensions and never use them. Now phone systems are modular like Lego bricks. You buy a phone system with a four channel card in it. If you have only four people, you only pay for a four channel card. If you expand, then you just buy the extra cards and build your system up.

A big tip I would give is to install a Voice Mail system. The modern Voice Mail system is embedded on the phone system motherboard. You need to buy a license key to access each VM port and if your staff numbers expand, then you just buy extra license keys.

You can also enhance your profile for incoming callers by setting up an Auto-Attendant feature on your phone system through your voice mail system, i.e. press 1 for sales, press 2 for accounts etc.

A voicemail system is a very powerful system. It is basically an extra person to answer the call while you're not there. You might be on your lunch break or you could be on another call. But, it is very important that the client realises this. I always remind my clients that voicemail is a very powerful thing as long as it is operated properly. A very simple thing is to put a proper professional voicemail message on it. For example, "I am on a call or away from my desk, please leave a message and I will contact you as soon as possible". This is better than the call not going to voicemail and the caller gets the busy tone or worse still, it rings to voicemail but does not connect because the VM box is full. That might not sound like much but think about it from the caller's point of view. He or she is calling in and the phone is ringing and ringing and they believe that nobody is there. If you do not have a proper message to explain your absence, the caller believes it's a badly run company. They paint a picture within their own head that nobody is bothering to answer the phone and nobody cares for their call or their business, so guess what, I am going to go somewhere else.

So, your phone system must work efficiently, the staff should be trained properly and the message to be there for somebody as a comfort. If they do not get to speak to somebody, they get the feeling that call is valued and they get the feeling they are being looked after.

Q. An awful lot of businesses in Dublin at the moment are changing office location. Can you help with phone system relocations?

A. Yes, a lot of companies are moving and unfortunately are reducing in size but it is still an important move. In this type of scenario, I would go into the company and access what type of phone system they have, the number of extensions and the way it is set up. The company will usually want to replicate this setup, i.e. the same extension going to the same staff members.

The move could be just next door or a different part of the city altogether. One way or another, the system has to be replicated and the system brought back to working order on the agreed timeline. So, we can get the phone system working exactly the same way as it was in their previous location. There is a lot of preparation involved. You have to backup the memory of the phone system, especially if it is programmed in an elaborate way, you could loose hours and hours of time reprogramming and you do not want any delays.

You need to take a note of everybody?s extension number and also have to reinstall the exact same phone-set that the user used before. This is done for two reasons. Firstly, people can get very attached to their equipment and secondly from a hygiene point of view, a phone handset is one of the few pieces of office equipment that you put so close to your mouth. Then, everything has to be labelled, itemised and protected. When you go to the new premises, you already have your homework done. Then you can get the office back up and running as quickly as possible. 

Q. Okay, so it's not just office phone systems that need to be maintained, domestic phones can go wrong also?

When there is a fault with your house phone line or broadband line, your telephone company who could be Eircom, BT or Vodafone will do a remote test which will determine whether the line going into your house is okay or not. If you insist the fault is with them and they come out to discover the fault is internal, they will charge for this and not fix the fault inside. (They will only test to the first entry point and not fix or even look at any internal wiring)

This is where I come in. I will go out and start at the first point of entry, if the line if good then we know the problem lies internally.  From there, I will check every possibility where the fault can be. The problem can be a number of things. You might have a few extensions to different rooms or office. These extensions may have been installed incorrectly or over a period of time something has gone faulty, building work, mice eating cables or equipment damage. So really, it is an analysis or investigation of the telephone wiring in your house. I will always find out where the problem lies and I am able to sort it out for the customer. 

Q. What makes this job worthwhile?


I pride myself on doing a good job and working exactly to the requirements of the client. It is a learning curve when dealing with people, you have to work at it, and you have to plan it. You work with the client, listen to them and also advise on what?s best to suit their needs and their pocket; they will appreciate you for it.

At the end of the day it's nice for the client to say to me after a big job, "That took a couple of days to sort that out, we really needed that done, you have done a great job, that is exactly what we needed".

So doing a great job is based on what the client wanted rather than a quick job just to get paid. That is what makes this job worthwhile. 

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