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The Verdict is in...Hosted VoIP is Great for Law Firms

  
  
  
  

Hosted business VoIP services have had a great appeal on the legal industry for a variety of reasons.  Many of the features apply well to an attorney's office, and the flexibility inherent with hosted services provides an inexpensive avenue for growth and expansion.hosted voip law firms

At sipVine, we have deployed our services to companies of various sizes and in many different industries.  Certainly, hosted VoIP has a broad appeal.  However, when looking at our mix of industries served, the legal services market represents the highest penetration within the professional services category.   Here are some of the reasons cited by these customers:

  1. System Features - Many law firms, especially in the small to mid-sized practice range, acknowledged that the system features were an upgrade from their previous system.  Referenced often were the auto attendant, voicemail to email, one-touch call recording, and three way conference calling.  Items like the call detail records simplified record keeping, as they could map them into a billing record.  Creating speed dial lists allowed for quick transfers to cell phones or commonly called numbers is also seen as beneficial. 
  2. Customization - Although most law practices have a level of common requirements, there is still a high degree of customization of the service to how they conduct business.  This benefit resonates across industries, but was referenced often by this set of customers as being important.  Hosted VoIP services provide for a great degree of customization, as it is simply a program, assuming the provider has a platform that is flexible and adaptable.  We take great pride in handling all of this for our customers as a part of our service, and never charge for changes or adjustments.
  3. Economically Beneficial - As mentioned in several articles written before, the initial investment for hosted VoIP services is much lower than an on-site system.  Perhaps more important is that, when a firm is growing, they don't have to worry about out-growing a system or spending money on reprogramming a current system.  With hosted VoIP, you can add or remove users from the billing structure with ease.  If there are other system impacts of adding an employee, such as call flow or auto attendant, these changes can be handled without cost.  Thus, as practices add resources, they do not need to migrate or spend a lot of money to add the additional phone to the service.
  4. Phone Support - One of the great benefits with the hosted VoIP service provided by sipVine, is that we take on the role of the phone department for our clients.  Within law firms, they may not have an on-staff IT professional, or, if they do, they may not have the capacity to address phone administration as well.  Many of our customers in this arena have expressed appreciation for getting their phone service and phone administration from the same company, as it has become one less item for them to worry about.

If you are a business from any industry, and in particular the legal services industry, you can enjoy these and many more benefits by switching to Hosted VoIP services.  Investigate your options, as there are many providers out there.  We would be happy to entertain a conversation to see how such a service could enhance your current communication practices.

 

About the author:  Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of VoIP phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments. 

5 Ways to Know if Your Business is Ready for Hosted VoIP

  
  
  
  

hosted voip business phone userHere at sipVine, we're obviously big believers in hosted VoIP. We know that hosting your business telecommunications service in the cloud is one of the fastest growing trends in the industry because hosted VoIP phone service gives you options, amenities, and service that other providers just can't match. But we also know that switching your phone service is a big decision, and, like with any business decision, timing can be everything. So here are 5 ways to tell if your business is ready to make the switch to hosted VoIP:

1. Your current phone system is out-of-date. Maybe you've got phones that are falling apart, the numbers are wearing off the keypads, wires are fraying, or maybe your phone system itself is getting old and failing, and parts or replacement phones are no longer available. And when you do place a service call, you get hit with a fee. Maybe your current system simply isn't delivering the call quality or range of features that your business demands.

Whatever the problems with your current system, hosted VoIP can solve them, not just today, but down the road. With hosted VoIP, it's incumbent on your provider—rather than you—to keep the system and the handset line-up current. You'll never have to worry about obsolescence again. If your phone goes bad, you just replace it with a current model supported by your VoIP provider, rather than having to replace all the phones, or a whole system.

2. People get excited when they hear you can get caller ID. Difficult as it is to imagine, there are still plenty of phone systems in play that don't deliver caller ID to the phone! In this world of smartphones and mobile devices, that kind of feature seems so basic, but many people are over the moon when they hear that it's available from hosted VoIP. Imagine their excitement when they hear about the other enterprise level features you can get with your VoIP service, such as on-phone corporate directories, automated attendant features, customized on-hold music or messages, voicemail notification to cellphone, and many more!

3. You're ready to replace your on-site system. If it's time to replace your current phone system, you may find price-checking on-site systems to be a daunting prospect. You can pay more for an on-site phone system than you've probably spent on infrastructure for your whole office in the past two years. Not only that, but you'll have to dedicate internal resources to programming and maintaining the system. With hosted VoIP, all you buy are the handsets. Everything else, your dedicated VoIP provider brings to the table, and maintains for the long haul!

4. Your business is relocating. If you're moving your business anyway, there's no better time to leave behind that bulky private branch exchange system and make the transition to hosted VoIP. Try pricing out what it'll cost to move your old phone system—it's probably more than you can sell it for on Craig's List. Instead, try selling it to reseller, or leaving it as an incentive for the next client.

5. You've called your current phone company and had to endure the voice recognition routing process. Everybody's experienced it, and everybody hates it. Calling up, wading through a sea of ever-changing menus that never quite offer what you need. You never talk to the same person twice, and whoever you talk to certainly doesn't know you, your business, or how your phone system is programmed. Luckily for you, hosted VoIP from sipVine is different. Because we combine the phone service and the phone system under one umbrella, we can diagnose and treat any problem you may have in the same call.  Additionally,because we put our service to our customers first, when you call us, you'll always be talking to someone who knows you, knows your business, and knows the ins and outs of your VoIP phone system.

Whatever your reasons, if it's time to switch your phone service, then it's time to give hosted VoIP from sipVine a try. We know that once you do, you'll never go back. In fact, we're so confident of it, there are no long-term contracts to sign. We believe that our superior features, service, and call quality will be enough to keep you as a loyal sipVine customer, without having to wave contracts or cancellation fees over your head.

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of hosted VoIP phone systems and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.

Moving Your Business? Leave Your Phone System Behind!

  
  
  
  

moving small businessMoving is one of the toughest and most complicated things that your business will ever have to do, but at the same time, chances are just about every business will do it at some point or another. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 40 million people move every year, and while there's no similar statistic for businesses, there are a lot of reasons why businesses might consider heading to greener pastures. The five biggest reasons that businesses decide to relocate are the need for upgraded or expanded facilities, labor and workforce issues, new market opportunities, an attempt to lower costs or increase cash flow, and quality of life considerations.

Whatever the reasons, when it comes time to make a move, there's a lot to consider, and a lot to keep track of. As with any move, there's changing addresses, finalizing the deed or lease for the new place, selling or renting out your old location, managing the changeover, and, of course, moving all your stuff. But businesses face even more obstacles than homeowners when it comes time to move, and a business move can cost a lot if it isn't handled smoothly, not only in upfront costs but also in lost revenue.

After all, a homeowner just has to get all their stuff from point A to point B, unpack the boxes, get the phones and cable and whatever else all hooked up, and so on. A business move requires you to do all that—and more—while still keeping your doors open as much as possible, not to mention changing signage, letterhead, marketing materials, websites, etc. Nobody wants to lose income—or even customers—due to a lengthy and complicated move.

One of the biggest challenges businesses face when moving is staying in touch with their customers and business partners. You want your telecommunications access to be as uninterrupted as possible during the move, so that you don't miss any opportunities. That's part of why many businesses choose to leave their old phone system behind when they make the move to a new location.

There are a lot of good reasons to leave your old phone system behind when the time comes to make a move. For one, contrary to what you might think, it'll probably save you money. Moving a private branch exchange (PBX) is expensive and complicated, and leaving it behind means that you can use it as a selling point for future tenants or sell it to a reseller to get some cash-in-hand. Meanwhile, you also won't be worrying about the down time that comes with trying to haul your old phone system to your new location and get it set up. Instead, try a hosted VoIP phone service, which can provide you with all the telephony services that you've come to expect, along with the crystal clear call quality that you demand, all at a significant cost savings, both up front and in the long run.

Plus, if you're building out a new suite for your new location, you won't need to invest in phone cabling, as your hosted VoIP phones will share an Ethernet connection with your computers. Basically, all you'll need to buy are your phones, and the savings generated in the cable plant and not relocating your old system will often more than offset those modest upfront costs.

Businesses all over the country are switching to hosted VoIP for its scalability, ease of administration, cost savings, and unparalleled service. And if you're looking at a business move in your future, there's no better time to make the switch to hosted VoIP phone service, and leave your outdated phone system behind forever.

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of hosted VoIP phone systems and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.

Outsourcing Your Business Phone Service

  
  
  
  

small business ownerWhen you run your own business, one of the hardest decisions you'll ever have to make is choosing what work you need to handle in-house versus what work you need to hire out. Everything's got a trade-off. Having an in-house team means more up-front costs, but usually also more control. Outsourcing the work may save you money and get you access to better people, but you run the risk of becoming just another customer in a long list.

Fortunately, when it comes to your business phone service, hosted VoIP can give you the best of both worlds! After all, you're going to have to contract your phone service with someone. Even if you invest in a bulky and expensive private branch exchange (PBX) system to handle your telecommunications needs, you'll still be getting service from one of the major telephone providers. With hosted VoIP in the cloud from sipVine, your phone system and phone service providers are blended into one. That means no more bulky PBX, but it also means that no matter what you need from your business phone service, you've got one number to call, and you'll talk to someone who knows your business and your needs.

Cloud telephone services are a growing trend all over the world because, quite frankly, hosted VoIP can give benefits that "traditional" phone services just can't match. Not only does hosted VoIP save you money on maintenance and installation, it's also completely scalable to your needs as your company grows, and it's 100% portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go, without having to worry about hauling a bunch of equipment around. And of course, hosted VoIP from sipVine gives you the crystal clear call quality that you need, along with all the amenities that you've come to expect, such as call waiting, call forwarding, voicemail notification, and many more.

But maybe the biggest benefit of outsourcing your business phone service to hosted VoIP from sipVine is simply this: You'll get the best customer service in the business. Try calling one of the big service providers and you're going to find yourself on hold for who-knows-how-long, before you finally talk to someone who has no idea who you are, or what you do. Everyone's been through it, and everyone hates it! At sipVine, we put our customers first, and as business owners ourselves, we know how valuable your time is to you.

When was the last time you called your telephone service provider and spoke to someone who actually knew you? At sipVine you will! And while it's nice to talk to someone to whom you're more than just a customer number, that's not the end of the benefits of personalized service. When you're dealing with someone who knows your business and also manages the administration of your phone system, we can tailor your services and your features to your needs, and help to ensure that your telecommunications package is doing everything that it can to benefit your business!

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of hosted VoIP phone systems and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.

Five Ways Hosted VoIP is Like a Cupcake

  
  
  
  

cupcake imageEverybody loves cupcakes, right? And while it may seem like a stretch to compare your business telecommunications service to a baked pastry item, all the best parts of cupcakes are right there in your hosted VoIP phone service too.

You can make as many as you want. Face it, baking a cake is complicated. If nothing else, cakes are pretty big, and they're going to take up pretty much all of your oven. But with cupcakes, you can make as many as you need. The same thing goes with hosted VoIP service. If you only need 11 phones, then you only provision 11 phones. And since your service is hosted in the cloud, instead of on-site at your office, there's no need for a big, expensive, and high-maintenance public branch exchange (PBX) that could handle a lot more phones than you'll ever need.

You can make them as simple or as complex as you need. Fundamentally, a cupcake is pretty simple, right? It's just a tiny cake. But if you've ever been to one of the cupcake shops that are popping up all over the country, then you've seen just how complex cupcakes can get. From exotic flavor combinations to elaborate frosting decorations, a cupcake can be a lot more than just a tiny cake, in the right hands. With your hosted VoIP service, you've got all the flexibility you need for an endless variety of custom configurations to fit your business needs. Whether you want a simple, no-nonsense phone system or all the bells and whistles, hosted VoIP can get you there.

Cupcakes are hot right now. No pun intended. But seriously, speaking of those boutique cupcake shops that seem to be showing up everywhere, cupcakes have never been more popular as a dessert item than they are right now. There are shows on cooking networks just about cupcakes, and you can buy magazines devoted to cupcake recipes in line at the supermarket. Similarly, hosted VoIP is rapidly becoming the industry standard for telecommunications services, delivering unparalleled value, quality, and reliability.

The right baker can make all the difference. Just like some people have a "green thumb" when it comes to gardening, a talented baker can turn out a perfect cupcake, while another baker may produce something that's flat and flavorless and much less appetizing. It's the same with your hosted VoIP service. While it may seem like phone service would be the same from one company to another, nothing could be further from the truth. The right hosted VoIP phone company will give you the service you expect, while also ensuring that you've got the crystal-clear call quality that you deserve.

Cupcakes are sweet! That's really the bottom line, after all, cupcakes are sweet and delicious, and that's why we love eating them. Hosted VoIP is also sweet! At least, if you've got a taste for saving money, upgrading technology, and enhancing your company production and customer service.

There's five reasons why everybody loves cupcakes, and five reasons why everyone will love hosted VoIP service from sipVine if they give it a chance. After all, there has to have been a first time you ever tasted a cupcake, right? So give hosted VoIP a first taste, and see if you've got a sweet tooth for better service, upgraded technology, and exceptional call quality.

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of VoIP business phone services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.

Why Businesses Feel Good About Switching to Hosted VoIP

  
  
  
  

business handshake agreementIn this highly technical age we live in, many businesses find themselves struggling to keep up with constantly changing technology. Staying on the cutting edge can appear impossible, and running to keep up can feel necessary, but exhausting. So it's nice when a technology comes along that businesses are happy to adopt. Hosted VoIP phone service is one of those.

There are a lot of reasons why businesses feel good about making the switch to hosted VoIP technology. Hosted VoIP is rapidly becoming the industry standard for business telecommunications systems because it's simple, reliable, and affordable, while still providing the kinds of custom options and crystal-clear call quality that businesses have come to rely on. Communication is the key to doing business, after all, and companies that switch to hosted VoIP services find that as their communications get clearer, their business gets better.

While still offering a host of customization options that let you tailor your phone system to the needs of your business, hosted VoIP can also simplify and decentralize your telecommunications system. Because it's hosted in the cloud—and not on-site at your office—hosted VoIP gives you added security and stability, while also eliminating the need for expensive on-site private branch exchange (PBX) systems and other high-maintenance equipment. Fully redundant servers protect your system, and ensure that, in the event of a loss of service, access is restored as quickly as possible.

So hosted VoIP is cost-effective, secure, reliable, and provides top-notch service, but maybe the biggest reason that you'll be happy switching your business over to hosted VoIP from sipVine is that you'll be dealing with a business like your own. Let's face it, most traditional telecommunications companies and even large national VoIP providers aren't like your business. We're talking about massive companies with thousands of employees. Chances are, in all the time you do business with them, you'll never talk to the same person twice. To them you'll never be more than a customer reference number, and they'll never be more than a voice on the phone.

As a business owner yourself, you know how good it feels—and how important it can be—to do business with like-minded companies, with someone you can connect with in a real and meaningful way. All too often, our interactions with the companies that provide our necessary goods and services are limited to an automated phone system, or the click of a button. With sipVine, you can count on a hosted VoIP provider that knows your business, and knows where you're coming from. More than just a voice on the phone or an anonymous email, sipVine wants to be your partner in better telecommunications service.

At sipVine, we're passionate about hosted VoIP, and we're excited to share it with other companies, and learn more about how they work, and how hosted VoIP can help them with what they're excited about. So give us a call today, and let us see how our business can help your business!

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of VoIP business phone services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.

sipVine vs. National VoIP Providers

  
  
  
  

business woman on phoneWhile VoIP phone service is rapidly becoming the industry leader in features, affordability, and overall performance, not all VoIP providers are created equal. As more businesses turn to hosted VoIP to fulfill their communications needs, that means more providers are jumping on the VoIP bandwagon, but many of them don't have the focus on call quality and dependability that your business really needs in a VoIP phone system.

That's where sipVine comes in. At sipVine, VoIP is what we do. While many national providers have started offering VoIP services to take advantage of its boom in popularity, they aren't always able to offer the same kinds of call quality and dependability that we can. Since VoIP service is delivered over your Internet bandwidth, it doesn't work quite the same way as a traditional phone system, which can pose unique challenges in terms of call quality that many national providers may not be prepared to handle.

sipVine's cutting-edge Quality of Service (QoS) technology ensures that you get the best possible quality on voice calls. By prioritizing voice traffic over other Internet bandwidth, our QoS technology can eliminate voice issues such as echoes, jitter, or lack of clarity, without sacrificing the efficiency of your data traffic. Also, instead of just dumping your voice traffic into your normal Internet bandwidth, our technicians evaluate your bandwidth to ensure that there is enough available capacity for voice traffic, and help you make any needed adjustments for best quality.

Because we specialize in VoIP phone service, sipVine can offer other advantages that national providers can't. Our technicians and engineers are all VoIP specialists who place customer service first. We prize our business clients, and want all of our associates to get to know each and every one of our customers firsthand. Furthermore, we're so confident in our VoIP service that we don't require any term contracts. We believe that our day-to-day service is so good that it will keep you coming back.

And because VoIP is what we do, we can offer you the best service around, not merely in call quality, but also in customization and features. We customize every VoIP service install to your needs, installing our VoIP phones and feature sets around the way that you do business. After all, your phone system is a tool, and a tool is only useful if it helps you to get the job done. You can choose from a robust feature set of the kind that you'd typically only find in more expensive VoIP systems, but at a fraction of the price. That's just part of the sipVine difference!

At the end of the day, though, the biggest advantage of VoIP phone service from sipVine is that you'll have a communications partner in your corner who understands the important role that good communication plays in running a business. It's our job to make sure that our customers can stay in touch with their customers, and it's a role that we take very seriously.

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of hosted VoIP phone systems and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.

Why IT Guys Love Hosted VoIP

  
  
  
  

IT professionalAnyone who has ever worked at an office knows that it pays to keep the IT guys happy. After all, they run the networks and computer systems that run everything else, so whether you're a secretary or the big boss in the corner office, sooner or later you rely on the IT guys to keep things humming along for you.

Luckily, there's one really easy way to help keep your IT guys happy, while also saving your business a bundle of money and a ton of hassles: switch your phone system over to hosted VoIP. There are a lot of good reasons to make the switch to hosted VoIP. It's simple, reliable, and affordable, and provides the kind of customization and call quality that you've come to rely on. But one of the best things about hosted VoIP phone service is that your IT guys will love it!

One of the reasons that IT guys love hosted VoIP phone service is because there's no internal administration required. If there's a problem with your hosted VoIP phone service from sipVine, then it's handled immediately by our team of experts. That frees your IT department up to use its resources for true IT needs and not internal phone support. And anyone who's ever worked in IT will tell you that time is the most valuable resource that an IT department has. Keeping all those systems running smoothly takes a lot of man-hours, and every moment that you can free up for actual IT needs means better functionality for your systems, top to bottom.

Hosted VoIP also helps keep your business on the cutting edge of technology. There are few things more frustrating for an IT department than having to try to work with outdated technology and systems. With hosted VoIP, you can follow the trend of outsourcing infrastructure, while also getting technology and feature upgrades for your business direct from your hosted VoIP provider. At sipVine, for example, our VoIP phones feature all the functionality that you've come to expect—from call waiting and forwarding to call logs and ad-hoc conferencing—while also offering programmable features like unified messaging, corporate directory, time-of-day routing, call center queues, and many others.

For smaller companies that use outside IT support vendors; ask them about hosted VoIP! You'll find that they love hosted VoIP, and are happy to promote the technology. At the end of the day, hosted VoIP does more than save your business money and keep its communication system running at the top of its game, it provides a vast assortment of options and functionality in a system that is deceptively simple, and it will keep your IT guys happy while also pleasing your pocketbook and letting you stay in contact with your customers. That sounds like a situation where everybody wins!

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of hosted VoIP phone systems and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments.

Talking Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Growth with sipVine Executives

  
  
  
  

sipVine, a North Kansas City-based provider of affordable, yet feature-rich VoIP phone solutions, has been providing business customers hosted digital phone solutions at affordable prices for nearly a decade. The state-of-the-art digital phone solutions sipVine provides are flexible and expandable, with all the features, options, and configurations of a traditional business phone system—but without the system administrative costs and service contracts common to relationships with many telecom service providers. In short, sipVine delivers state-of-the-art equipment and hosted digital phone service to businesses around the region and from coast to coast. In a recent sit-down interview, sipVine's Chief Executive Officer Robert "Bob" Conner, along with Chief Technology Officer Colin Wells, and Mark Greim, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, discussed how they faced technology and marketplace challenges and built a company that serves customers throughout the country. Their mission: make business phone service simple, reliable, and affordable.

sipVine Mgmt

From Left:  Mark Greim, Bob Conner, and Colin Wells

Q: When starting up sipVine in 2005, what was the first order of business?

Colin Wells: Our first step was to develop the product. Selecting the operating platform and VoIP phone line-up was critical, then developing the code to handle multiple customers, scripts for bulk provisioning, and securing space in a data center were several of the activities that consumed our early days.

Bob Conner: We also had to find some businesses that were willing to take a chance on us. Looking back, we owe so much to those businesses, as they put their faith in us on such an important part of their business. Thank goodness for visionary, early adapters, or our early days would have been more of a struggle. We simply had to have confidence in our vision, which was to develop an enterprise-class phone system and service that drove economic and operational benefits to small and mid-sized businesses.

Q: What was another early challenge you faced?

Conner: After securing those initial clients, we obviously needed to get more on board quickly to fund our operations. In 2005, the VoIP was still conceptual or unknown to the business marketplace, certainly within the small to mid-sized business community. There was enough fear of the technology that we even avoided using the term VoIP, instead marketing as digital phone service.

Wells: Well, some of those fears were legitimate, as general internet stability and capacity were not as they are today. We tackled those fears head on with our approach to voice quality.

Q: What were your early learnings in starting up sipVine?

Conner: There were many for sure. Perhaps the biggest lesson learned was to hire great people and ones that would bring skills and capabilities to the company that add to our skill set, not duplicate those that exist. Such an approach allows you to be more well-rounded as a company and reliant upon the many, not the few, to achieve your goals.

Q: Some say voice quality over VoIP is still a concern. What has been your approach to addressing this?

Wells: True, most hosted VoIP providers address it differently, as they suggest to their customers that they simply add bandwidth. Not only do we believe that approach is financially inefficient, but isn't always effective. sipVine deploys a router or a transparent bridge device on our customer's network, which has our QoS software [Quality of Service] built in. This approach prioritizes voice packets over data, ensuring your voice calls are crisp and clear. If there are other factors impacting voice quality, we always work with our clients to help diagnose and solve them. We believe this is a huge differentiator for us in the market.

Q: How else do you differentiate your business in the marketplace?

Mark Greim: We do not require contracts, which definitely is a different approach than the traditional phone service providers. Where that is a very tangible difference, the root of our differentiation is our approach to customer service. We want to earn our customers' business every day. Our investment in resources is such that everyone strives to really know each and every one of our customers. How different is that? Try calling a large telecom or national VoIP provider and see if their call center approach stands up against our attitude of being our customer's personal phone department. As we grow, we are challenged to build tools, systems, and processes to maintain this approach.

Conner: As Mark indicated, this approach to our customer service has led to a loyal customer base. Those first clients we had in 2005 are still on board, and we have very little customer churn, despite the fact that we do not hold customers to term contracts!

Wells: I'll add that our knowledge of our customers comes from the fact that we are willing to build their phone system and call flow in a customized manner. We are also there to take over all administration, so we do act as their phone department. Our sales team captures the particulars on how the system should be built to match their unique needs, and my team builds the system and "gets to know" the customer from that standpoint. Therefore, when the customer calls in for service, we have been exposed to how their business operates from the communication standpoint.

Q: Who are your competitors?

Greim: This has definitely changed over time. In our early days, our competition was more of the technology than a provider. Getting people to embrace VoIP over analog systems was a competitive hurdle for sure. Soon thereafter, we were in daily competition with the incumbent providers, which were your typical large telecom providers such as AT&T and CenturyLink. Other regional providers came into play as well. Today, we are seeing more and more national VoIP providers out there who display the same approach to customer service as the traditional carriers, which provide us an angle to differentiate ourselves.

Q: What is your biggest marketing challenge?

Greim: We invest our available funding into human resources to maintain and grow our business and not into marketing. We are not going to fund traditional marketing efforts, as it is difficult to compete against the budgets of the major telecom and well-funded national VoIP providers. Thus, we are challenged to market over the internet using social media, search engine optimization, and paid search. The challenge is high as any search term involving VoIP is very expensive and dominated by the nationals. Every day, everyone at sipVine works hard to be company evangelists, as getting the word out about us and our approach to service is definitely resonating in the business community.

Q: Businesses go through several stages. What stage do you see sipVine in today?

Conner: It is hard to believe we are already nine years into our business. I would like to think we were still entrepreneurial in spirit, but the reality is that we've moved into more of an operational stage. Early on, everyone wore many hats and they were charged to get it done regardless of title or role. Today, we have processes, operational structures, and clearly defined roles and responsibilities, so it feels a little less entrepreneurial. We are still growing each and every month and endeavor to maintain the spirit of innovation and development.

Q: Speaking of development, what's next for sipVine?

Wells: There's always something going on from an operational efficiency and network development standpoint. Those efforts are not always visible to the customer, however. We do have several items on our product roadmap, including some new phones and on-line resources.

Q: What message do you have for entrepreneurs?

Conner: I'm glad you asked that question, as I have a strong affinity toward the business start-up community. In fact, we have supported many start-ups over the years. There are so many lessons to share, but I'll boil it down to a couple of key points. Grow within your means and avoid debt. It is difficult to do, but if you are able to reinvest your profits into resources for service and growth, you'll avoid the traps that huge amounts of venture capital can bring and maintain control of your destiny. I would add that even though your product and service may be very cool, build your business around offering exceptional customer service and make it a strong part of your culture. Such an approach will lead to the most effective marketing avenue: referrals!

sipVine is a hosted digital phone solutions provider to businesses of all sizes.  You can reach sipVine by calling their toll-free number, (855) 747-8463, or by visiting their website at www.sipvine.com.

This interview was condensed and edited.

Steven James Scearce is an independent journalist and blogger who specializes in technology, business, and marketing. View his LinkedIn profile.

You do NOT Need More Bandwidth for VoIP

  
  
  
  

There is no nice way to put this, but certain national Hosted VoIP providers are giving theHosted VoIP QoS industry a bad name.   There are countless examples of businesses who are experiencing poor voice quality with these providers and receive the standard recommendation to increase their internet bandwidth.  This solution costs more money and isn’t always the best advice.

The fact of the matter is that VoIP calls do not take much bandwidth, less than 80kb per call.  However, because voice and data packets are sharing the same connection, there is always an opportunity for voice packets to be interrupted by data packets.  Expanding bandwidth doesn’t always take care of the problem.

One of sipVine’s biggest differentiators in the market is that we believe that call quality is best controlled on the customer’s network.  We provide a router or a transparent bridge that has Quality of Service programming built in, ensuring your voice calls have priority.  This allows your business to right size the amount of bandwidth to match the needs of the business and not overbuild just for VoIP. 

Certainly, there are occasions where the amount of data activity is over-saturating the internet bandwidth.  In those situations, QoS will not be able to work as well as it should and the bandwidth will need to be addressed.  However, we are bringing businesses on to our platform on daily bases that have experienced this poor advice from a national hosted VoIP provider.  In addition to providing a localized QoS device, we have helped our customers troubleshoot issues with their internet circuit to find the root cause of the call quality concerns.  This has saved them from blindly adding bandwidth, thus saving them dollars on a monthly basis.

To learn more, check out our whitepaper, Voice Quality: The Ultimate Differentiator in VoIP Providers.

  Download Whitepaper

About the author:  Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of VoIP phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments. 

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