Creating actionable metrics with ShoreTel data

Creating Actionable Metrics from Your ShoreTel Phone System

We have to admit it:  we go a little crazy when people believe that they’re getting what they need from ShoreTel native reporting.

There are many reasons this is inaccurate:

  • The columns of data are enough to put you to sleep.
  • The single-point-in-time snapshots don’t give you the context of what is happening over time.
  • The numbers that the system spits out don’t provide an accurate snapshot. For example, did you know that when you run a report against users, not all of the calls for those users are showing up?

But the biggest struggle we have with native ShoreTel reporting is that very few of the standard, built-in reports offer up any real, actionable information. ShoreTel is sorely lacking data that would provide you with accurate insight into your current situation or clue you in on the next steps to take.

Having an understanding of call volumes, durations, times, etc. is important because this information can offer context. But are you really going to take action based on that information? If you answered yes, we would challenge you to think deeper about it. If you say, for example, that you will staff up a work group if call volumes rise, that is potentially the correct course of action. In order to be certain, the real metric that you would want to review for that situation is hold times. If call volumes rise, but hold times don’t, then you likely wouldn’t need to make a change. To be fair, hold time is something that ShoreTel offers in their canned reports. They do not offer hold times as a trend, which is even more important.

So, what are some of the phone system metrics that can directly affect customer satisfaction and ARE actionable?

Agent/User Transfer Rate

This is particularly important for a workgroup. Calls that come into a workgroup are typically
purpose-driven calls. Those calls are in that workgroup for a reason (either transferred there from another user or from an auto-attendant). When a customer gets sent to a workgroup, they expect that their issue will be handled there. When this doesn’t happen with the next person they talk to, at best, the opportunity to provide excellent service is lost. At worst, the customer is frustrated and angry.

If a workgroup as a whole has a high transfer percentage (a large number of calls are answered by an agent and then are transferred to someone else to be completed), it is often a sign of an improperly configured or unclear auto-attendant. In other words, it’s a sign that calls are ending up somewhere they should not be.

If an agent or a small group of agents has a transfer rate substantially higher than that of the workgroup as a whole, it is typically an opportunity to offer additional training to that group in order to improve their job performance.


Agent Available Time

The time that an agent is available to take a call is, by definition, time that the agent is not on a call. If you have a workgroup with a substantial amount of available time in it, it likely indicates that you are overstaffed in that group and that some of those people might be better used in departments or call centers where they can directly affect strategic business function. Of course, you would want to consider things like busy times of day, days of week, and seasons, but with a phone system like ShoreTel it’s typically very easy to add and remove capacity from a workgroup on the fly.

Did you know that you can have hold times that are actually too short? A lot of companies are proud that their hold times are less than 15 seconds, but they typically have a lot of agent availability in order to facilitate those hold times. Depending on your business, if you can reduce agent availability while keeping your average queue times down to around 1 – 1.5 minutes and peak times down to under 2 minutes, there is very little loss in customer satisfaction with a potential huge savings in labor costs.


Call Disposition

This is what happens to a call in any given scenario. In particular, it’s important, but difficult, to see this in a hunt group scenario. Most hunt groups have a backup hunt group for when the primary one isn’t answered. But building reports around this can be challenging, despite the importance of understanding what’s happening in these situations.

Again, these things depend on your particular business, but a hunt group that is consistently rolling over to the backup group is likely not staffed or configured properly. The function of the primary group is to have agents trained to handle calls that are coming into that particular group. When the calls roll to a backup group, you are giving the call to this less-optimal group (it might be less optimal due to training, location, or some other reason). This can be legitimately necessary, but if it is happening too much, it is a sign that the primary group needs something. It might be additional training, more time to grab the call, or shifting to a workgroup with queues instead of a hunt group, but constant rollover is a signal you shouldn’t ignore.

Call Disposition is also great for tracking what happens to calls that go to users, workgroups, route points, or any other place in your ShoreTel system where it’s important to understand how calls flow.


These are just a couple critical and actionable metrics that should be tracked not only in the context of a point in time, but also (and often more importantly) trended over the course of time. None of these are available through native ShoreTel reporting. That’s why we’ve developed Brightmetrics. We enable anybody in your organization to discover key business insights through the analytics of your ShoreTel data in our services, empowering better business decisions.

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