Response Point - Roll Out new Assistant or Administrator program

With the roll out of SP2 for Response Point - we need to install/upgrade the Assistant and Administrator utilities on the workstations that they are installed on. I create a little batch file on our customer server and send an email to the users with a link to the batch file.  It's easier than running around or remoting to all of the workstations - this way the users just click a link.  The setup.exe does not run if the Assistant program is running so I insert a line to kill the Assistant if it is already running. The batch file looks like below.  I put this batch file in the netlogon share and send the users a link to the batch file. ========================== rem batch file to install Response Point Assistant software rem Allen Miller 2/09 \\serverod\netlogon\taskkill /f /im assistant.exe \\serverod\rpassistant\setup.exe ============================

Quintum T1 Gateway for Response Point - Implementation

I've got a customer with an existing T1 service for both their voice and data.  They currently have an out of date telephone system coming off lease and are interested in replacing it.  This customer relies heavily on DID (direct inward dial) or personal telephone numbers in addition to their company 'main' telephone numbers. The Quintum T1 Gateway sounds like a good solution for this customer.  I asked about the DID support and was told the device would handle this need.  The gateway would come pre-configured for T1 voice communications and all I needed to do was drop it into the environment and go through the Response Point Administrator configuration instructions that I was supplied. This customer relies heavily on their voice communications during business hours so all configuration and testing needed to be done outside of business hours. Since this customer has both voice and data via their T1 service, there is an existing device/gateway that accepted the T1 input connection and had output connections - one for the data network and one for  the voice system.  I connected the Quintum device downstream from this device in place of the existing telephone system.  The Quintum device also has a connection to the local LAN. The erroneous part of this whole process was thinking that I could actually drop this device in place and I would be up and running.  What I learned, eventually, through the very good technical support that I got from Quintum was:
  1. With T1 service there are different bundles that a customer may subscribe to.  Apparently the Quintum gateway was configured assuming the customer would have 24 channels available so channel 24 could be used for outgoing calls.  As it turned out, I was able to receive incoming calls but my outgoing calls did not work!  The Quintum techs realized the issue and changed the gateway configuration to only anticipate 9 channels.  With this modification the system now was able to make outgoing calls.
  2. DID (direct inward dialing) configuration did not work when I first configured the system.  The Quintum techs had me run a sniffer on the gateway and we were able to find out that Response Point was only receiving the last 4 digits of the caller ID and I had been telling Response Point to look for a 10 digit caller ID.  Once we realized what was going on - I just used the last 4 digits in the Response Point configuration and now DID was working.
  3. On testing I found that the outgoing Caller ID that was being sent was the 3 digit extension that the call was placed from - instead of the 10 digit company telephone number.  Again, the support guys showed me how to change this in the gateway.
The lesson I learned here was that the Quintum gateway is complex enough that there is no way that I could configure it or trouble shoot it by myself.  I did learn some things along the way which may be of use on my next install.  Fortunately I had a test system and could arrange after hours time at the customer site to work through all of these issues with the assistance of Quintum technical support. QuintumT1Gateway

Packet8 Response Point SIP Service

I have been working with Packet8 using their SIP service for a month or two.  We had a few issues which Packet8 has been pretty active in addressing. 

The Packet8 service relies upon an adapter device.  The device is a small black box that sits anywhere on your network.  In the initial setup the device gets a dynamic IP address. Since the Response Point configuration for the SIP service uses the device IP address for the Proxy Server Address field - it looks to me like you are going to want to make this device a static IP device which you are able to do through its Web interface.

Initially I experienced a few instances of dropped calls.  Packet8 was pretty quick to get me a firmware update for their device.  Knock on wood - I have not had any more dropped calls since the last firmware update.

A feature that I have seen with several SIP service providers is what I will call a "failover" routing.  If your network is down or off the internet for whatever reason - what do you want to happen to your incoming telephone calls?  Without a failover routing - they will not go through - your customers will get an error message or dead air.  With a failover routing - the system can be provisioned ahead of time to send your telephone calls to an alternate telephone number - hopefully you will specify a phone number that is not subject to the same outages as your network or telephone system - like the owner or a manager's cellular telephone.  I think my buddy Ed Carnes experienced such an outage just after connecting with Packet8.  His ISP had an outage and this was before Packet8 had implemented their failover routing.

I have requested that Packet8 make the failover routing an item that is accessible to the customer via their website interface.

Another feature of many SIP providers is what I will call Caller ID spoofing.  Now, by spoofing I don't mean anything improper or illegal.  In my case, I maintain my main business telephone number as a land line with my telephone company.  This gets me a listing in the real telephone book.  My Response Point system therefore has both analog and SIP lines connected to it.  My outgoing calls go via the SIP service.  HOWEVER, I do not want to confuse my customers by showing them some unfamiliar Caller ID number - I want them to be shown my published business phone number.  Without doing something extra - the system will not work this way.  Some SIP services accept the Caller ID field that the Response Point Administrator configuration provides.  Some other services do not honor the Response Point Caller ID field, but have a field in their website customer management screens where a Caller ID record can be entered.  Packet8 has advised me that they are working on a way that the Caller ID number can be specified.

The pricing picture varies significantly among the SIP providers.  Packet8 sells their service, for the most part, based on pre-purchased blocks of outgoing call minutes.  These minutes count for both local and long distance calls but only for outgoing - the incoming are pretty much unlimited.  One SIP Trunk can, in their case, can accommodate multiple telephone calls - up to twelve (12).  So for many small businesses, there should not be a situation where all 'lines' are in use and a caller gets a busy signal.

An issue that is a somewhat up in the air currently is the exact pricing plan for the blocks of minutes.  A couple VAR's have been working with Packet8 trying to get some clarification and simplification on the pricing.

New domain - ResponsePointGuru.com

I took a short road trip from Cincinnati to Louisville last night to visit the Kentucky Small Business Server User Group. My good friend Tim Barrett invited me to come and give a Response Point demonstration to his group.  I'd been looking forward to this trip for a while and wound up with three guys (Earl Slusher, Bill Dunsing and Kevin Royalty) from our Cincinnati SBS User Group going with me.   Gas is cheap so we took the land yacht.  The mechanicals worked out a whole lot better than when I went to Dayton last spring to present to their Group.  I took the fun car on that trip and it broke down 1 mile from the meeting place.  Had to replace the fuel injectors (ouch).  And if you are wondering - the flat bed driver dropped me off at the meeting place, took the car back to my mechanic in Cincinnati, and Kevin gave me a ride home after the presentation. Anyway, we had a nice turnout and all of the guys there were very interested in Response Point - a lot of great questions were asked. When the presentation was over, the KY guys thanked me for coming and then Tim Barrett said he had a gift for me.  This took me back a little because I certainly didn't expect anything.  AND - what a cool gift.  Tim presented me with a domain name that he had registered for me - www.ResponsePointGuru.com - I don't think I am worthy (is that Mike Myers line) - but I'll try to live up to it. Thanks again to Tim and everyone one else.
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Response Point Presentation - Louisville

I will be doing a Response Point presentation this coming Wednesday, 12/10 at 6:30 p.m. in Louisville, KY.  This presentation will be for the Kentucky SBS User Group at their monthly meeting.  As I understand it, their regular 12/17 meeting has been rescheduled this month to 12/10. If you are in the area and interested in attending I am sure they won't mind me inviting you.

Meeting time is 6:30 PM Eastern. Venue: Money Concepts, 323 Townepark Cir, Suite # 100, Louisville, KY 40243

Map: http://tinyurl.com/kysbsug-moneyconcepts

ClearOne - Response Point Conference Phone

I had lunch today with Tim Roussos, Sales Manager for ClearOne.  I posted about the new conference phone for Response Point in the last couple days.  It's a very nice device, looks very professional and very easy to use. Tim told me about some of ClearOne's other products that sound very interesting for the SMB space and home users too.  They have a Chat 50 and Chat 150 that are personal speaker phones.  These devices have a variety of connections - USB, direct connect to certain telephones, and connection to Blackberry phones. A very cool offering from ClearOne that sounds great to me as a Response Point reseller is their Try to Buy program for the MAX IP Response Point conference phone.  We can sell a conference phone to a customer where they can try it for 30 days before they decide to buy or not.  ClearOne with pay the shipping in BOTH directions for the people that decide not to keep it. prod_img_med_max_response

Response Point Q2 Customer Campaign

Let me start by saying I love Microsoft.  They manufacture the products that I sell and service in my IT Consulting practice.  However, I just don't think they get it when it comes to marketing to the Small Business Owner. On a telephone conference at the end of September, 2008, the RP VAR's were told by Microsoft about a leads generation campaign.  The Response Point web site would advertise the giveaway of a few Response Point systems including hardware, software and service. VAR's were asked to generate 100 marketing contacts to drive visits to this site.  Microsoft would provide the phone systems and collect contact information to be used as leads.  These leads would be sent to local area VAR's and distributed amongst the VAR's in a round-robin fashion. The first thing I wondered about was - why would I want to send out 100 postcards to my contacts and have Microsoft give me back a small percentage of the leads from this mailing - and give the rest to my competitors? After the conference I inquired about this and was told that the leads would be tracked back to my referring web site.  This may sound like a good answer but I don't really think so.  Nothing had been communicated in the conference about VAR's creating more web real estate for this program or how to code a link for track back identification.  And not to mention the added complication to the intended customer of having to go to multiple web sites on this journey.

And now to my real criticism

What Microsoft calls a lead and what they do with it. Over the years I have received 'leads' through the Microsoft partner program.  One time I received a spreadsheet with a half dozen of these so called leads.  I was asked to contact them immediately! In examining the information on this spreadsheet I noted that these 'leads' were already 90 days stale.  It's hard to imagine anyone with some pride that wouldn't be embarrassed at this kind of follow up. Message to Microsoft: Small Business Owners - do not want a free white paper to read in one month when it arrives.  They want to have an answer to their question - NOW - so they can make a decision - NOW - and then move on to the business of running their business.  This is different than ENTERPRISE with multiple layers of middle management that need to make work to justify their existence. A business owner client of mine visited the Response Point free phone system web site and filled out the entry information - ON NOVEMBER 1st.  It is now NOVEMBER 30th.  After about TWO WEEKS Gary received a telephone message in follow-up to his contact information.  This was from someone presumably w/ Microsoft and not a local VAR because the call back number was an 800 toll free number.  In the last two weeks Gary has called this toll free number and used the extension he was provided and left several messages.  Gary's comment to me was about the announcement message at this extension he called.  He said the quality was really bad and surprising coming from a company that is trying to sell a business telephone system.  He was also surprised that he hadn't had his follow up call messages returned. Gary gave me the telephone number and extension that he had for the call back to Microsoft.  I've posted the audio of this voice mail announcement for your listening pleasure. After a month of no real human communication, Gary, as a small business owner is WAY beyond where he would have totally given up on any interest in this product.  His only reason for not throwing out his phone notes is that I asked him to keep me posted. What Microsoft should have done with this lead - when it really was a lead - was to have given it to ANYONE that is a VAR in Gary's local area - IMMEDIATELY! And, as a side note, this campaign has been running for 2 months.  According to the web site 'drawings are held twice each month'.  There should have been 4 systems given away so far.  It seems like it would have been some good idea, if the systems have been given away, to have publicized it.  I haven't heard anything about winners yet.

Response Point Conference Phone - by Clearone

I received my Clearone Response Point Conference Phone yesterday - complete with Blue Button. This phone was a snap to set up.  It comes with all the necessary cables.  Just connect the base unit to power, ethernet (to server) and to the phone.  The phone has Link In (connects to base unit) and Link Out (to daisy-chain to additional conference phones for a larger conference room).  The company suggests 1 phone per 6 users in a conference room.  You can purchase additional phones sans base unit for this purpose. Software configuration, as per usual Response Point deployment, was a snap.  Use the Administrator program to 'add a phone' and the device is auto-discovered.  Add a single user and you are ready to go. So far I have made a couple telephone calls (but no conference calls) with the conference phone and the sound seems quite strong and clear.  There are 3 lights around the perimeter of the phone that do a good job of displaying the status - lights off when no call, lights blue when call active - lights red when call mute/hold. Click Picture below to see more pictures at
Response Point - Conference Phone

Response Point - Transfer call to outside number

A customer asked if she could transfer an incoming call to an outside number with Response Point.  Hmmm, said I, good question - and one that I do not know the answer to.  She has a telephone answering service for doctors and would like to be able to transfer an incoming call to the doctor when deemed appropriate. After referring to the RP help file I remembered that the RP transfer function only allows for transferring a call to an RP extension.  HOWEVER, I created a user on the RP system and set their "call forwarding" to forward to an outside number instead of to voicemail.  THIS WORKED.  It does use two phone lines and requires that the 'transfer to' party be created ahead of time.

Packet8 SIP Service for Response Point

I received my Packet8 'device' today.  It's not a router.  It is a BPA430 - Broadband Phone Adapter.  It just sits anywhere inside your network. Packet8 is one of the SIP providers that work with the Response Point system.  I called support and I was scheduled for a 'telephone support' call tomorrow for the installation.  I couldn't wait until tomorrow so i tried on my own.  There were a few rough edges when I tried to do this unassisted.  Since technical support for new installation wasn't available before tomorrow - I called my friend and RP VAR, Ed Carnes in Nashville.  In about 2 minutes Ed had me completely configured and told me how to request an activation number from Packet8.  I sent an email off with my request and had the code in a couple minutes.  i was up and running.  Once you are completely configured - you place an outgoing phone call and the system intercepts your call and instructs you to key in your activation code which I did.  Pretty easy. Check out this sound bite - when I tried to make a call - the system actually told me I need to restart my Packet8 device first.  Sweet. SOUND BITE Couple of observations - now that I have had a chance to sample several SIP providers.
  1. Packet8's service supports 7, 10 and 11 digit dialing.  I think this is important.  Our local market still supports 7 digit dialing so that is what our customers are used to dialing for local numbers - they don't want to have to dial area code. 11 digit dialing is what people naturally do for long distance - i.e. 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx so this is okay and 10 digit dialing is what you get in the Response Point system if you import contacts from Outlook and don't know to check the box to ADD 1 for 10 digit numbers
  2. An issue that I found with 4 out of 8 SIP providers that I received responses for when I did a poll of VAR's recently - some services FAIL to forward a call that comes in via SIP and Response Point forwards out via SIP.  Packet8 SUCCEEDS on this.
  3. Packet8 is willing/able to spoof my caller ID telephone number record.  This way I can send my business's published land-line phone number when I make calls out via my SIP lines.  Some of the other providers gave users the ability to make this change themselves in the online management interface.  Packet8 has to make this change for me.
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SIP - Service Outage Failover - FollowMe

Your customer's Response Point is configured for SIP service and the business published phone number is via this SIP service. What does the customer do if their SIP service is down? How do their customers reach them? What is the BACKUP process? The outage could be from a multitude of reasons - the SIP provider has a problem, ISP has a problem, customer has a problem with power, network, etc. ad nauseum. Some/Most SIP providers can configure a FollowMe option. An alternative phone number(s) can be configured. In the event that the Response Point system is not reachable by the SIP hosting service - the service will redirect incoming telephone calls to the designated phone number. This could be a cell phone or any other phone. Once configured via the SIP provider - you can easily test the function by using the Response Point Administrator application. Edit your SIP voice service and uncheck the box labeled "Allow incoming calls through this service". Place an inbound call to the business phone number and it should be directed immediately (or at least pretty fast) to the alternate telephone number.

Response Point - Binary Telecom SIP Dial Plans

I had to fiddle around a little to get the dial plan that I wanted for the Binary Telecom SIP service I was playing with today.  In our area we can still dial local calls with just 7 digits.  I think this is what threw a wrench in it for the default plan that I started with.  Anyway, just thought I would post this in case it might be of use to someone else.

In the online management interface this is called the North America, WA, 7 digit Sample template from the menu – changing the 425 to my area code 513.

This works well with Response Point, Outlook integration, and the humanoid factor.

The following are the reasons – (all comments below presume everything is prefixed with the Response Point 9 or 8 to dial out)

Humans tend to want to dial local numbers (in the 513 area) as XXX-XXXX. They also want to dial Long Distance as 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX.

The Response Point contact list imports telephone numbers from Outlook – and Outlook adds the local area code if no area code is supplied to outlook. So,  by default all imported telephone numbers in Response Point contact list have 10 digits including local and not local.  The Response Point Import function has options to 1) Add a specified area code to any 7 digit numbers and 2) add "1" to 10 digit numbers.  Neither of these options are selected by default.

So both dialing the human way (7 digits and 11 digits) and using the Response Point Click-To-Dial from the contact list (10 digits for local and 10 digits for long distance) both seem to work correctly. I’ve tested this multiple times and it seems to do what I want it to do.

[caption id="attachment_130" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Allen Miller Computer Consulting"]Allen Miller Computer Consulting[/caption]

Microsoft Marketing

Being in the SMB space as I am with my business, I used to be totally amazed at what I saw as Microsoft's marketing to my target audience.  Or perhaps I should say 'what I saw as Microsoft's complete lack of marketing to my target audience'.  I am no longer amazed - I just realize that this is life. A couple of years ago Microsoft was doing a promotion for us partners where they would subsidize part of a direct mail campaign.  I thought this was great - get someone else to share the bill.  I made the big MISTAKE of assuming that all of their business school Advertising MBA's would know so much more than I would about how to design a marketing piece for the Small Business customers.  Because of my mistake, I just picked one of their canned postcard 'pieces' and went with it.  I sent out about 1,500 pieces.  I have done direct mail marketing on my own previously and have some experince with the statistical percentages.  I don't expect to get a 10% or 20% response rate.  I know that 0.8% might be great.  What I never got on any of my own marketing campaigns was ZERO.ZEROZERO percent.  When I saw that I received NOTHING in return I went back and for the first time really thought about the piece.  What a joke.  The 'call to action' for the small business owner was to call some 800 number (way out of our local area it is assumed) and request a white paper - a white paper - for god sakes! Small Business owners are not sitting around in their cube looking for something to do 4 weeks from now when their white paper arrives and they can take a latte and a croissant and kick back and spend an hour reading a white paper.  Small Business owners get out of bed in the morning and hit the ground RUNNING.  RUNNING - not waiting to read a white paper! I sell and support Microsoft Small Business Server networks.  So, it is no longer a surprise to me that I have NEVER sold a Small Business Server to a customer that had EVER heard about SBS before! Now comes Response Point.  Every chance I get I suggest to the Response Point product people that it would be great for us (partners) and them (Microsoft) if they would market the product to the consumer.  I'm hoping someone will agree - but haven't heard it yet. Now - to what prompted this post.  I was in the Staples office supply store in my neighborhood yesterday and observed this marketing statement of Microsoft Office Accounting Professional.  Need I say more? [caption id="attachment_108" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Microsoft Marketing "]Microsoft Marketing [/caption]

Response Point - Ring Tones - Syspine

Someone asked the other day about how to change the telephone ring tones on the Response Point Syspine system phones.  I directed them to access the Response Point Assistant and select SETTINGS and then PHONE SETTINGS.  This should open a browser interface where they have to supply the phone username/password.  Then they can get to where the Ring Tones can be changed. I got an email back saying that they could not change the ring tones. I pulled my Syspine Demo system out, fired it up, connected my laptop and wahla (voila?) So, here is a picture - which they tell me is worth a thousand words.

Response Point Customer

A recent Response Point customer used our system to replace his Avaya system that he had been using for two years.  Jeff F. told me he finally found a satisfactory use for his previous system.  He put the system in a cardboard box and is now using it as a doorstop - at least until he can get the previous vendor to come and take it back. [caption id="attachment_90" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Response Point system replaced this"]Response Point system replaced this[/caption]

Response Point SP1 Feature List

I've been looking for a thorough listing of features included in Response Point Service Pack 1.  Still haven't found it so I figured I would try to create one here.  If you have some features that you are aware of post a comment and I will update the blog entry to include them - PLEASE. Response Point SP1 Features Item (contributor)
  • SIP Trunking
  • Call Logging including export to Excel
  • Presence Indicator in Assistant
  • Park Call Status in Assistance
  • Click to Dial in Assistant - extensions and external contacts
  • Talk over Announcement to request extension
  • Upgrade Device Firmware from Administrator
  • External Music on Park
  • "Transfer to EXTENSION - VOiCEMAIL" voice command possible
  • DID - Direct Inward Dialing
  • Voice Dial access to free directory assistance
  • 64-bit compatibility
  • Restrict access on phones in common areas
  • Remove directory listing to external callers
  • 822 extension access Automated Attendant greeting
  • voicemails sent from any .local address (Jason Ray)
  • Aastra support for multiple line occurrences (Don Damon)
  • Dial 8 o Dial 9 trunk group access to seperate SiP trunks and analog service (Jerry Moore)
  • Headset mode (at least on Syspine) (Jerry Moore)
Okay, now send me some more.  THANKS