Main Number Handling- Group Call Pickup vs Team Ring

Call Pickup is one of my least favourite SfB functions. It’s clunk to setup, unnecessarily overlaps other functionality, and seems to be around for those holdouts who want a modern UC system to act like their legacy phone system.

Call pickup is similar to Team Ring, in that it allows your coworkers to answer your phone on your behalf. There are a couple of differences in the implementation, however.

With Call Pickup, only your phone rings. Your coworkers have to be able to hear your phone, and  distinguish that it’s your phone ringing. With Team Ring, your coworkers phones will ring after a configurable delay. They don’t have to be able to hear your phone or distinguish that it’s your phone that’s ringing. This allows you to use Team Ring across floors, buildings, or cities. When your coworkers phones ring with your call, they’ll receive a notification indicating that it’s a call for you, and they can set a distinctive ring.

Group Call Pickup needs to be configured by an administrator, via PowerShell. This makes it a bad choice for an environment with a lot of changes. Team Ring is configured at the user level, meaning administrators aren’t required, and the user can configure and reconfigure their settings to best reflect their immediate requirements. SfB is supposed to be flexible and dynamic, right?

Group Call Pickup works by piggy backing on the call park service. SfB parks the call, and allows any user who knows the call pickup code to answer the call. There is no security here, and I’ve seen post-its on cube with pickup numbers “*300 for Bill, *301 if Sarah’s phone is ringing, *303 for John”. With Team Ring, the user can specify which team members are able to answer calls. The Team Members don’t have to remember any specific code to dial. With Team Ring, users who might answer the call are also presented with information about who the caller is. With Group Call Pickup, they just know there’s a call.

I’ve seen Call Pickup used for main numbers. For scenarios where you have a small group of people who are sitting in an open area near the reception desk, this can work well. To help those users determine if the reception phone is the one that’s ringing, use an indicator light like Blync or Busylight so there’s a visual indication, especially if the office area is noisy.

I prefer Team Ring to Group Call Pickup. It’s more inline with a UC approach where you’re provided information and allowed to make a decision. Users see information about the caller, they can click to answer instead of needing to remember and then dial a specific code, and they don’t need to listen for a specific ringtone or look for a light to know a call is coming in. Group Call Pickup still feels like forcing legacy PBX functionality on top of SfB.

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