Dial Plan Design: A “Delightful” End User Experience

  1. Interdigit Timeout
  2. E.164
  3. DN Length
  4. Localization and Globalization
  5. No Device/Line?!
  6. Addendum: A Delightful End User Experience

Consider this an addendum to the dial plan series. I realized that I didn’t specifically discuss the end goal of the dial plan. The end goal is to make the dial plan, this end user interface to the phone system, easy to use and intuitive. In previous posts I discussed dial pattern context and that context matters when evaluating dialing patterns. E.g. +16515551234 is a local call from Minneapolis, long distance from Texas and international from Germany. This context is somewhat thrown out the window for many end users whose primary phone is their mobile phone. They dial 10-digits (or 11 or E.164) for every call. They aren’t charged separate rates for local or long distance.

Mobile devices and the habits they instill in end users should have an impact on our enterprise dial plan designs. What voice engineer hasn’t heard this in a dial plan design meeting, “I just want users to dial like they do on their cell phone.” Why do managers & executives say this? Because dialing on a cell phone is easy because it’s consistent and is a habit that is ingrained into every end user.

Technical sophistication, complexity, elegance, etc. means nothing if the perfect system you as the voice engineer design is not adopted by end users. The dial plan isn’t the desk phone UI, it’s not the softphone GUI, but is is a huge part of the user experience (UE). My nearly 10 years as a consultant have shown me over and over again that dial plan design influences end user adoption & acceptance.

What should our goal be then when it comes to dial plan design and end user acceptance? Allow users to dial in the way that is natural for them. More specifically, don’t require them to understand the context of the pattern they are dialing. Don’t require them to know whether the number in the next county over requires a 1 or if it should be dialed with 7-digits instead of 10-digits.

Here’s why. A UC system like Cisco’s that provides “browser to boardroom” experiences means that a user might be dialing from their:

  • Cisco deskphone manually
  • Cisco deskphone via the enterprise directory with numbers formatted per the HR department’s specs
  • Cisco deskphone like the 8865 running Proximity to pair an end user’s mobile phone and suck in their mobile phone contacts
  • Video endpoint in a conference room, again using Proximity to dial from their mobile phone contacts
  • Jabber soft client using click-to-call to dial a number they looked up in their web browser
  • Jabber soft client using their Outlook contacts
  • etc.

There is no standard or consistency in the format of these numbers. Asking users to “edit dial” before dialing and not providing the ability to tap or click a name and immediately send the call is not a “delightful” user experience. We want all of these potential scenarios to “just work”.


About Ben

UC Engineer, Lego Engineer. Take your pick.

Posted on January 19, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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