ShoreTel Review

Reviewed by:  Derek Cromwell

The Gist

ShoreTel goes beyond standard VoIP solutions and basic devices by offering cloud, onsite and hybrid services – feature-rich solutions that are more “communication platform” and less “phone and router”.

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ShoreTel Highlights

  • Feature-packed auto-attendant and call coverage
  • Customizable PBX solutions
  • Unlimited long distance

Pros

  • Third party integration (SalesForce, Netsuite)
  • Built in collaboration tools
  • Enhanced mobility
  • Scalable VoIP plans

Cons

  • No pricing transparency
  • Can be cost-prohibitive for smaller organizations

Value for Money 

ShoreTel doesn’t offer VoIP in the same fashion as other well-known providers with a low monthly fee. Instead they provide Cloud, Onsite and Hybrid VoIP systems that are a bit more tech heavy but deliver a lot more features you don’t typically see with your average $30/month VoIP plan.

The closest offering to this is the Connect Cloud service which doesn’t require costly server installations and allows for simplified deployment once your IP phones are in place and basic equipment is set up at the business. Rather than provide any kind of a one-size-fits-all pricing however, ShoreTel provides customization based on the unique needs of the business.

That’s why you won’t find pricing on their website, as they take into account factors like network connectivity, number of users and the services each of your employees will need. On average though, you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $35 per month, per use. This doesn’t take into account installation costs which could vary depending again on number of users as well as the number of locations.

Moving beyond the standard cloud-based VoIP, ShoreTel also offers on-site and hybrid PBX systems that utilize a lot more on-site tech (though a hybrid system still relies on cloud functionality). For an on-site system you’re stepping away from that lower monthly rate and into the thousands of dollars for hardware purchasing, setup and configuration. Best suited for larger organizations with an IT department.

No matter which option you select, ShoreTel crams in as many features as possible available to your team, enabling the highest potential for improved productivity, efficiency and growth. By far one of the most robust product offers for a standard cloud-based VoIP I’ve seen – even if it does have the most costly “per user, per month” price model.

Future Scaling 

Given the features packed into the services and the ability for the infrastructure to handle up to 20,000 users, ShoreTel has you covered with scalability. Their customization model on service and pricing means you can get exactly what you need to get, when you need it. Coupled with their rapid deployment and cloud-based system (unless you run on-site PBX) it is extremely easy to pivot as your business expands.

For those who opt into on-site hosting, that direct access to your system makes it even easier for your IT staff to make appropriate changes and updates to expand your services as needed, in conjunction with the ShoreTel service network.

Ease of Setup and Management 

While ShoreTel has a massive service offering, everything is presented as brilliantly simple. One of the most impressive aspects of the service is that cloud-based systems can be up and running as quickly as half a day, with most installation taking as little as  24 hours to get a business up and running.

Rapid deployment aside, ShoreTel Connect is an intuitive and impressive interface that not only makes employee collaboration a breeze; it works with virtually any hardware. It was extremely easy to escalate a conversation from message, to call, to an online meeting, to a desktop share with included video.

The entire cloud-based system is easily managed through the web portal so no matter where you or your leadership team is at, you have full access to configure the system. When managing remote employees you definitely need this kind of accessibility on the fly.

Customer Service

ShoreTel offers something rarely seen with other VoIP providers – remote access support. This makes it easy for them to gain access to your system and troubleshoot alongside you without the expense of bringing a tech onsite or hiring contract IT support.

In addition to the welcomed remote support, ShoreTel has a strong knowledge base, trouble ticket system, as well as tutorials and training classes to get you up to speed on how best to utilize their platform to run your business more efficiently.

One point that was disappointing was the lack of customer service via telephone. Numbers are listed for customer service in North America, the UK and Australia/New Zealand but there are no hours indicating when support was available or if support is 24/7. Likewise, the customer service numbers are not easy to locate on the website.

Mobility

ShoreTel offers an impressive approach to mobility with their application which enables any business, of any size, to integrate employee hardware into their existing phone system. That means any employee can BYOD (bring your own device) to work securely within the VoIP environment.

Likewise their ShoreTel Connect services allow iOS and Android devices the same features that are available to workers in the office. For a larger organization with field and remote workers, it’s the perfect solution that ensures everyone stays connected and customers/clients are always handled appropriately with the same consistent service and connectivity.

To Sum It Up 

With the diverse yet robust offering provided by Shoretel, from on-site to cloud-based services, it’s obvious that they have a strong grasp on what businesses need from a VoIP solution – it’s unfortunate that they don’t have a stronger, more affordable solution for startups, but this is definitely a go-to service that businesses should consider as they grow.

Last Updated:  March, 2016

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