ShoreTel Support is the service provided to ShoreTel clients to support, upgrade, and maintain their existing on-premise ShoreTel solution. Whether you are in a blended environment or entirely on-premise, ShoreTel requires this support to ensure your system is current and well maintained. The support model is a well developed concept but can be complex to outsiders and clients. In this article we aim to give you a better understanding of what ShoreTel Support really is.
What are the models I have to choose from?
ShoreTel Support is broken into two categories, Partner and Enterprise support. ShoreTel Partner Support is an agreement between your company, the named vendor/partner and ShoreTel. The ShoreTel Partner Support model provides you with a dedicated team to support your platform. These programs are designed specifically by each partner allowing for flexibility in the partnership you choose. Any program you review should provide valuable add-on services like remote monitoring, backups, and ongoing education. This type of model gives you the most bang for your buck as it is often equal to or less expensive than Enterprise plans but includes these additional services. If the agreement between you and the current partner is terminated for any reason, the support can be transitioned to an alternate partner, the only penalty being the loss of whatever add-on services you paid for.
ShoreTel Enterprise support is an agreement between your organization and ShoreTel directly. The partner (in this case ShoreTel) does not provide add-on services, and your point of contact is directly with ShoreTel. For large organizations that wish to provide their own internal support or are having difficulty finding a partner they like for international support, this is a plan worth considering. Enterprise support allows clients to bypass the partner, speaking directly with ShoreTel when trouble occurs. The flipside of this is that you are in competition with ShoreTel partners and Cloud clients as well as other Enterprise clients, all vying for support with ShoreTel. The partners' ability to bypass a slow Tier 1 response and provide immediate service, combined with the add-on services, makes Partner Support offerings more appealing for most clients. Less than 5% of our ShoreTel clients select an Enterprise plan for their business.
What is ShoreTel TAC? (Technical Assurance Center)
ShoreTel's primary location for TAC is in Austin, Texas with an international office in Asia to support international clients and provide some overflow afterhours. ShoreTel's TAC is where escalated calls end up when a partner is having trouble resolving a problem, or your primary point of support if you are on an Enterprise plan. TAC is broken into 3 tiers; as you move up the tiers, the knowledge level of the individual agent improves dramatically, making it critical that your partner can bypass this Tier 1 stage. The team ShoreTel assembles is wholly dedicated to supporting one product, ShoreTel, and this singular focus on one ShoreTel platform allows them to have confidence in their ability to navigate issues. The TAC team also has the advantage of a direct line of communication with ShoreTel's development team, identifying bugs and resolving them in tandem.
What Happens if I don't Renew Support?
We highly advise our clients to remain on support for three very important reasons, access to upgrades, access to immediate replacement of equipment, and the financial penalties involved in getting back on support. The first and most important component is access to software upgrades. The upgrades ensure you have access to bug fixes should any present themselves. In addition your ShoreTel software continues to communicate with other applications (Microsoft, SalesForce, etc.) and upgrading allows you to keep your system up to speed with current technology trends without wholesale replacement. The ability to RMA products that fail is critical, especially on the communications systems you use to talk with your clients. Without support, clients who have major failures are flapping in the wind, no contract to provide them immediate relief. They are either paying full price to replace the equipment or scrambling to get back on support so they can get the RMA initiated. ShoreTel is serious about keeping people on support; they charge a 20% re-instatement fee for any lapsed ShoreTel support contracts, a stiff penalty for missing a deadline. Your partner should communicate well in advance of contract expiration and help you make the renewal happen in a timely manner.
How is my Support Cost Calculated?
ShoreTel Support is a calculation based on the value of the licensing and hardware you own. They take a percentage of these two numbers as either a cost to the partner to include your company under support or as a direct quote to you, if you are on Enterprise support. The pricing of Partner Support varies based on the technical performance of the vendor you select. The vendors who utilize less TAC resources receive a discounted rate on support compared to vendors who don't have the expertise to resolve problems themselves. Technical proficiencies affect not only your experience with the vendor but also the cost of your support plan. There are some strategies for keeping this cost down however. For example ShoreTel offers both a no-phones and an all-phones coverage option. For 99% of businesses, the cost of the full phone coverage is far more than the cost of replacing phones that do happen to break (doesn't happen often); this is even more important when you consider that every phone comes with a 13-month warranty and that timeframe is the most likely window for failure. Another strategy for keeping costs down revolves around licensing. First, only buy what you need; don't buy for future because you pay support on those unused licenses, and if you have licensing you aren't using and never will, have the equipment or licensing removed from your support plan to reduce that cost even more.
How do I choose a ShoreTel Partner?
The first step in choosing a partner is making sure their core competencies match your business. Do you need a network expert, or do you have that on staff? Do you run Enterprise Contact Center or Mobility? (Better make sure the potential partner has more than 1 engineer who knows the product.) Do they run 24/7 support? What are the specifics that make support work for you? You will also want to look closely at their add-on services. Not all partners offer equal plans, in fact they vary greatly depending on the size of the partner, types of clients they support, and their goals as an organization. Understand the nuances of their support plan related to coverage time, backup and DR strategy, ongoing education, SLAs, and of course remote and on-site support. A great technique to see if they can truly deliver on what is promised is to call into queue and see what experience you get. If you need to select a new ShoreTel partner, make sure they spend the time to audit your existing system and can succinctly explain what they would want to change and the cost related.
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Can I change my ShoreTel Partner?
ShoreTel's support model is designed to make it challenging to get competitive pricing; this doesn't mean it is impossible. If you are interested in receiving multiple bids on support, you will need to reach out to ShoreTel directly to ask for this. You should expect to justify your reasoning, as their preference is for clients to stay with the originating partner, and in most cases this is the right move. In certain cases they open the support up to bidding by whomever you name, other times they will force you to change partners to get this price. Don’t skip out on closely evaluating the offerings potential partners add on to their service as this can cause dramatic swings in ShoreTel Partner Support pricing. Once you have decided to switch to a new vendor, you must fill out ShoreTel's Change of Partner Request form on your letterhead and have it signed by an authorized contact. After a short waiting period, your new partner will be able to call TAC on your behalf and provide the new service you are looking for. Don't walk into this without reason; changing partners can be challenging as they need time to become acquainted with your system. Sometimes the grass really is greener, but you don’t want to ruin a relationship with a partner that has provided great service to save a minimal amount of cost.
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Author: Kyle Holmes