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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. 

Here's Your VoIP Phone, So Call Me, Maybe?

  
  
  
  



Call Me Maybe VoIP PhonesWith more and more businesses opting to take advantage of the economic and operational benefits that come with moving their phone system to the cloud, VoIP phone systems have begun to set the standards for features that improve business communications and productivity. A rising tide of popularity, however, also means an increase in competition, as more and more providers try to get in on the bandwagon of VoIP service. More providers means that, for the consumer, choosing the right provider has never been more critical.

Many hosted VoIP providers may promise a lot of bells and whistles, added features and special programs that your business may not need, but in the mean time they may not be delivering the focus on call quality and dependability that's integral to a good VoIP system.

Since hosted VoIP services are delivered via your company's Internet bandwidth, it poses unique challenges in terms of call quality that many providers may not be prepared to address. If you're experiencing low call quality, your provider may try to get you to add more bandwidth or run your voice services over an additional connection. Those are both solutions that cost you a lot, and don't really involve your provider taking responsibility for their own role in call quality. Furthermore, they might not fix the problem. Even with an abundance of bandwidth, there are circumstances where voice packets can still be interrupted by data, which can lead to poor call quality.

The right VoIP provider for your business will be one who focuses on call quality and dependability. Look for a provider who deploys a device on your network to help prioritize voice packets over data, which can help keep your call quality high regardless of other bandwidth concerns. Your provider can also help diagnose more complex or technical issues that may lead to call degradation. The Internet circuit itself may be delivering inconsistent latencies, or there may be issues on the network, such as a virus that generates abnormal bandwidth consumption. Even something as simple as having too many employees streaming Pandora at the same time can affect bandwidth. A good VoIP provider can help you to find and diagnose these sorts of issues, and address them in cost-effective ways that serve your company and meet your voice service needs.

A hosted VoIP service provider who specializes in call quality understands the importance of good communication to running a business. They know that good communication is essential for you to provide the kind of customer service that you want to provide to your customers, and they also know the importance of good communication with their customers, i.e., you. So regardless of your company's VoIP needs, one thing that's absolutely indispensable is choosing the right VoIP provider for the job.

To learn more, download our free whitepaper on VoIP Voice Quality:

Download Whitepaper

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.

How Hosted VoIP can Support Your Business Growth

  
  
  
  

business growthYou can find a lot of advice out there about how to grow your business, but what you may find less advice about is how to make sure you keep up with your business growth when it happens. We've all heard about some business that got too big, too fast, and ended up stretched way too thin to support themselves and their customers. "Too much success" may seem like an oxymoron, but it can happen if your infrastructure doesn't grow along with your business.

Hosted VoIP supports your business growth by making it easy to grow your telecom service alongside your business, so that it can expand to fit whatever size you need. Unlike with a traditional phone system, which requires expensive private branch exchanges and other equipment, with hosted VoIP phone systems you never have to worry about system replacement, and adding new people to the system is as easy as ordering another handset. And since VoIP phone setup is completely customizable, you can adjust your settings to fit the needs of your business, and each individual employee.

It's just as easy to add locations to the phone service, whether in or out of town. And because your VoIP service is hosted in the cloud, it's like the new locations are on the same system, no matter where they are. Hosted VoIP also allows for a variety of centralizing functions that can help you to manage your growing business, and find new avenues for expansion. You can route calls to any number in the system, reassign numbers, even create local numbers for other parts of the country where you're looking to grow your business, whether you have locations there or not. And those numbers can ring any phone you want, even in your home office.

At the end of the day, business growth comes down to providing exceptional service. If you satisfy your customers consistently and admirably, then you're likely to attract more customers. In order to provide exceptional customer service, you have to have an infrastructure that can support your business as it expands, to make sure that you can deliver. Hosted VoIP phone service can do just that, and offers a lot of opportunities for enhancing your customer service. VoIP gives you the ability to easily set and adjust auto attendant features, for those times when there's nobody around to answer the phone. It also provides a host of options for advanced call routing and access to mobile employees, to make sure that there is somebody to answer the phone, and that the call gets to the right person.

Whatever the current size of your business, odds are you'd like to see it grow. Hosted VoIP phone service from sipVine can help you do just that, and also support you throughout your growth.  With the right system, no matter how big your business gets, you can always provide the kind of exceptional customer service that you want to be providing.

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.

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Is Your Phone Company Supporting Your Business?

  
  
  
  


Phone Company SupportWhatever your business is, chances are you know it pretty well. But any savvy entrepreneur knows that a lot more goes into running a business than just knowing the ins and outs of what you do. Businesses need staffing, computer services, shipping, and many other systems, and the best business owners know that they'll get the most bang for their buck by hiring experts in those systems to help their business run as efficiently as it can. You wouldn't hire a computer technician to run your HR department, and you wouldn't hire an HR manager to handle shipping. Unfortunately, many businesses do hire phone companies that aren't acting as subject matter experts on things like call flow and system features. While traditional phone companies may know a lot about phone lines and services, they may be completely unfamiliar with the phone systems that their clients are using.

That's part of why many businesses are moving to cloud-based telephone services. VoIP phone services hosted in the cloud create a unique opportunity for providers to act as subject matter experts not just in phone service, but also in phone systems. Because hosted VoIP phone service providers like sipVine provide both the phone service and the phone system at the same time, they can contribute expert advice on everything from call flow to auto attendants.

Modern VoIP phone services are budget friendly, and don't require a lot of upfront capital to set up. There's no need to buy an expensive private branch exchange (PBX) for your phone system, or to maintain any such bulky technology in the long haul. With hosted VoIP, your cloud phone service provider can take over the administration of your entire phone system. What's more, VoIP phone technology can bring a lot of benefits to the table, including features like direct dial, voicemail, unified messaging, on-phone corporate directories, and many others, while VoIP-enabled phones boast all the features that you've come to expect, including call waiting, caller ID, ad-hoc conferencing, intercom, and more.

But one of the best features of cloud-based VoIP telephone systems is that they allow your phone service provider to also be your phone system provider, meaning that they can support your business as subject matter experts in both fields, and can help ensure that your phone service and phone system are working in tandem to meet your company's ever-changing communication needs. Hosted VoIP phone service means constant IT and telecom support, from experts who don't just understand your service plan, but also every aspect of your phone system, from the inside out. Whether you need help setting up an out-of-office message, or whether your entire phone system needs an overhaul, the VoIP experts at sipVine are there to help.

When was the last time your phone company supported you as a subject matter expert on your call flow, auto attendant, or other system features? If the answer is anything but "right now," then maybe you should look into VoIP phone service from sipVine, and see the difference it can make in 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.

Why Hosted VoIP Service Outshines Traditional Phone Service

  
  
  
  

Hosted VoIP ServiceTimes change, and technology changes with them. We live in an extraordinary information age of mobile devices, smartphones, social media, and unprecedented access to technology and data. In the United States alone, there are more subscriptions to mobile data services than there are people. Unfortunately, even as technology races ahead, infrastructure is often slow to change. That's why traditional phone services are lagging behind the pack, not just in technology, but in customer satisfaction.

In a report on customer satisfaction with business telephone services, JD Power found that overall customer satisfaction averaged 661 on a 1000 point scale. By comparison, overall customer satisfaction with small business insurance providers averaged 777, while customer satisfaction with small business banking averaged between 742 and 764, depending on region. The report also shows that businesses who bundle together voice and data services or pursue other nontraditional modes of telephone service are not only more satisfied with, but also more loyal to their providers, with 21% saying that they "definitely will not" switch providers in the next year.

There are plenty of reasons for the increasing dissatisfaction with traditional phone services, and a reason why businesses who take a different route are happier than those who don't. Old-fashioned phone systems—with their expensive private branch exchanges (PBX)—are rapidly becoming obsolete in the dynamic information technology landscape. But more than that, modern hosted VoIP phone services provide an array of benefits not only to technology, efficiency, and performance, but also to customer service, that traditional phone services simply can't match.

While traditional phone service is based on century-old technology and an outmoded customer service philosophy, VoIP is at the leading edge of information technology, helping your business to keep up with the changing needs of an increasingly evolving industry. VoIP phone technology includes all the features that you need and expect, from direct dial and voicemail to unified messaging, on-phone corporate directories, and ad-hoc conferencing, to name a few, and it's also customizable to fit the budget, scope, and goals of your unique business.

What's more, by hosting your phone system in the cloud, your service is secure, and you benefit from constant IT and telecom support from skilled VoIP technicians, who understand not only your service plan, but also every phone and piece of equipment that's connected to it.

With a hosted VoIP phone service from sipVine, you're not necessarily bundling together all of your businesses telecom services, you are instead bundling the essential elements of your voice communication needs. Rather than bundling in cable TV with your phone service, for example, VoIP from sipVine provides you with a single provider who handles your phone equipment, service, and administration of your system all in one. This allows us to provide a more comprehensive customer service package than any traditional phone service, while also helping your business to stay on the cutting edge of telecommunications technology.

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.

VoIP Should Adapt to Your Organization

  
  
  
  

voip adapts to officeNew technology brings a lot of pluses to the table of any business, but incorporating new technology also requires adaptation. It's not always easy to adopt technological advances into your daily operations. Sometimes it requires substantial upfront investments in money, manpower, or time. Sometimes it means delays or time to get the bugs worked out of the system. Sometimes it just means being willing to learn something new. But keeping on top of new technology that can benefit your day-to-day operations and customer satisfaction is essential to successful business.

While that may mean that sometimes you have to adapt to new technologies, VoIP technology should adapt to you and the needs of your organization. Like any new technology, the purpose of VoIP is to make your business run smoother, improve customer service, and make your life easier. To that end, VoIP offers a host of flexible features that can be adapted to fit the needs of your organization. Hosted VoIP phone services from sipVine are budget friendly, don't require a significant upfront capital outlay, and offer customized deployments for all of your business needs, large or small.

Modern VoIP phone technology brings with it a lot of benefits that older phone systems couldn't manage, including direct dial, voicemail and inbound faxes to email, voicemail notifications to cell phones, unified messaging, on-phone corporate directories, IT and telecom support, and a variety of other advances that can help bring your phone system into the future. In addition to our VoIP services, sipVine also offers VoIP-enabled phones that boast a wide range of labor-saving and organizational features such as call waiting, caller ID, call transferring and forwarding, ad-hoc conferencing, group paging, intercom, and more.

Customized deployment means that you only pay for the services that you need for your business. At sipVine, our flat-rate service models include unlimited local and long-distance calls, and we offer price points on a sliding scale based on the number of users on your system, including low-usage phones (such as those in break rooms and conference rooms) priced at our lowest tier. Hosted VoIP has the added benefit of allowing you to turn over the administration of your phone system to sipVine. There's no longer any need for an expensive and maintenance-intensive private branch exchange (PBX) for your phone system. sipVine hosts the VoIP system, and handles the administration as part of our monthly flat fee, so you know what you're getting in advance, and pay for only what you want.

Many new technologies pay off in the long run, but require a lot out of you in advance. VoIP from sipVine gives you the best of both worlds, paying dividends in savings and performance, while adapting to suit the needs of your business from day one.

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.

10 Ways to Spot a sipVine Customer

  
  
  
  

happy sipvine voip customerWho are sipVine's customers? Anyone who needs a good, affordable, flexible solution for their organization's phone system. But there's more to it than that. There are many ways you can spot a sipVine VoIP customer. While they come from all walks of life, and all types of business, they've always got a few things in common. sipVine customers are:

Happy – There are few things in life more satisfying than when something works exactly as it's supposed to, and with sipVine's VoIP service, our customers have a lot to be happy about. Our commitment to customer service ensures that anything that goes wrong is handled quickly, efficiently, and with a minimal disruption to our client's business, so that our customers can keep that smile on their face.

Secure – At sipVine, nothing is more important to us than the security and privacy of our customers. Our hosted platform features fully-redundant servers in a secure data center, and our customizable built-in disaster recovery program lets our customers maintain control even in the event of an interruption of service.

Well-connected to their customers – VoIP phone service from sipVine ensures that our customers are always in touch with their customers clearly, easily, and efficiently. It's our business to make sure that our customers can do business.

Flexible – sipVine customers are highly adaptable entrepreneurs and business leaders, riding the wave of new technology, and they expect us to be just as flexible. That's why we offer customizable deployment packages to ensure that our VoIP plans fit the specific needs of our customers.

Efficient – There's a reason that customers choose VoIP phone solutions. They want to get more done, and they don't want an outdated phone system getting in the way. Our customers have a lot to do, and they need solutions that will help them get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Cutting-edge – Hosted VoIP phone service allows our customers to future-proof the phone system at their business. sipVine stays on top of new technology, and helps implement it seamlessly into their VoIP system, with no more need to worry about old phone systems becoming obsolete. Plus, our custom-tailored feature deployment means that our customers can add their own personal touches to their phone systems.

Confident – Our customers need to be able to have confidence in themselves and their business, which means they need to be able to feel confident about the performance of their phone systems. That's why they rely on sipVine. Our round-the-clock observation, maintenance, and support of our hosted VoIP systems give our customers the peace of mind they need to run their business.

Savvy – Our customers want the best from their phone systems, but they also don't have money to burn. They want a good return on their investment, and they know that VoIP phone systems can save money not just on installation, but also down the road in monthly service charges, maintenance, and administrative costs.

Forward-thinking – VoIP customers are looking to the future, not just in terms of riding the crest of new technology, but also in terms of business growth and cost savings. Hosted VoIP from sipVine allows our customers the flexibility to easily adjust their phone systems to changing business needs and new challenges, while also offering them cost-saving benefits in the long term.

Satisfied – Above all else, sipVine customers are satisfied. We consider it our duty to ensure that our customers receive the best possible service, and we're so committed to it that we require no long term contracts. We believe that our service speaks for itself, and that our customers will be so satisfied that they'll be happy to keep coming back to us month after month.

If you think you've got the makings of a sipVine customer, give us a call today to learn more about our VoIP phone solutions!

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 Hosted VoIP is Right for Start-up Businesses

  
  
  
  

Many entrepreneurs are exiting their business incubators with a number of operational decisions to make for their start up organization.  Selecting a Hosted VoIP system for their phone services carries a number of advantages and provides one less worry as they stand-up their company.Entrepreneur Decisions

Low Cost of Entry and Scalable – Purchasing a phone system at a business start up phase is a guessing game.  Do you go big to match your five year plan or go small and risk being underserved from a feature perspective and having to replace the system as soon as it is stressed with growth?  The beauty of a hosted VoIP system is that you are not buying a phone system at all!  You buy the VoIP phones as you need them, and the programming of the system is completely flexible and scalable as you grow.  You receive the same features as large companies enjoy but you don’t have to buy an expensive on-site platform to enjoy those benefits.

No Contracts – Most hosted VoIP providers offer a no contract based service.  If you are talking with one that has term contracts for “the best rate”, then keep looking.  Certainly, traditional phone services and cable providers require contracts to receive their best rates.  Finding a hosted VoIP provider that offers a no contract service will give you peace of mind if the business doesn’t take off as planned.

Features Are a Good Fit – Some of the features inherent in a hosted VoIP platform are very applicable to organizations in their infancy. 

  • High Touch Requirements - Business owners and initial sales people need to be in high touch with the burgeoning client and prospect base.  Thus, being able to forward extensions to cell phones or quickly transfer calls both internally and externally helps provide a strong feeling of reachability to your callers.  Receiving voicemail to email provides you the ability to listen to callers needs, and quickly forwarding along the message or calling them back with answers.
  • Effective Use of an Auto Attendant – Whether an auto attendant is engaged at the start of a call flow or after a series of rings, it can be an effective way to quickly route callers to their desired destination.  There are several good tips for setting up an effective auto attendant, but clear options can be very beneficial to new companies.  Additionally, it can disguise your size.  Never set it up with “press one for Joe, press two for Jane, etc.”  Always use departments, such as “Sales” or “Service” even if those calls are routed to one or the same individual!
  • Virtual Staff – Hey, the garage businesses are real for many start-ups!  Even if your business has an office presence, you don’t have to over commit on square footage at the outset.  As your business grows, you can deploy staff from their homes or other environments and still have them on your phone system!  The handsets connect to the hosted platform wherever they are located via a high-speed internet connection, but callers (internal or external) would never know they are not located at the office!  

Market Reach – Another advantage of going with a hosted VoIP provider is that you can grow into other markets and have each location on the same phone system.  Most hosted providers have a national footprint, therefore they can secure local phone numbers wherever you set up shop.  They can also provide local numbers in an area you are marketing to, but have the number ring back at your central location.  There are a myriad of ways to effectively expand your business through the utilization of this technology.  Additionally, you can recruit staff based upon affordability or ability, but have them work in a location outside of your headquarters.  You can choose whether they have a direct dial number that is local to them or your headquarters, or both!

Because sipVine’s headquarters is in Kansas City, a recognized hotbed for entrepreneurialism, we have helped quite a number of start-ups with the establishment of their communication platform.  Robert Conner, sipVine’s CEO, states:  “With services stemming from such incubation organizations as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and with the entry of Google Fiber into our local marketplace, we have been in great position to understand the unique needs of start-up organizations.  We strive to provide guidance to their voice communication processes at start-up and nimbly address changes as they evolve.  It has been a pleasure serving such organizations.”

If you are starting up a new business and would like to discuss how a hosted voip option will work well for your specific need, we would be happy to consult with you. 

Schedule Consult »  

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. 

Get Your IT Budgets in Line for a New Hosted VoIP Phone Service

  
  
  
  

These days, many small-to-mid-size businesses are looking to replace their phone systems, and the majority of them are moving to cloud-based phone services. This is a big change from just a few years ago, when hosted VoIP technology was still new and many businesses had reservations about running their phone systems over the Internet. Since then, VoIP has become business standard, and hosted VoIP phone services are budget friendly ways to bring your phone systems into the future. One of the biggest benefits of a hosted VoIP phone system is that the upfront capital outlay is much lower than for on-site systems, and there's an opportunity to save on monthly service costs down the road.Hosted VoIP

Hosted VoIP phone systems offer a lot of opportunities for reducing the IT budget of your business in both the short and long terms. Upfront capital investment is low, since you only need pre-configured, customizable VoIP phones and some minor additional equipment like analog adaptors for fax and credit card machines, if required. Because the system is hosted in the cloud, there's no need to invest in a pricey private branch exchange (PBX) that will also cost maintenance dollars down the road.

Since you don't need to maintain costly on-site equipment, maintenance costs associated with a hosted VoIP service are also cheaper than on-site phone systems. Businesses using hosted VoIP systems require few if any trip or service charges for maintenance and repair work. Monthly service costs can also be kept to a minimum, as most hosted VoIP services (such as those provided by sipVine) offer flat-rate service models that include unlimited local and long-distance calls. sipVine also offers sliding scale price points based on the number of users you have on your system, and low usage phones like those in conference rooms and break rooms are priced at our lowest tier from the start.

Hosted VoIP also offers the opportunity to save on administrative costs associated with running a phone system. Typically, your hosted VoIP provider will take over administration of your phone service. Therefore, you don't have to expend the time, energy, and manpower to run an on-site phone system, freeing up your budget and personnel for more important things.

The benefits of a hosted VoIP phone service aren't just budgetary, either. A hosted VoIP service offers your business improved functionality and features, increased office efficiency, and greater customer satisfaction. Susan Sprenz, a sipVine Senior Sales Associate provides an example: "One of my customers is a professional service firm with six offices in difference cities. All of their calls are answered by a receptionist, however, through our system they only deploy three receptionists as opposed to six. All three receptionists are in different office locations. We've helped establish a ring pattern where certain people are primary and others are secondary, depending upon the office called. All receptionists know which office is being called, and they have the ability to quickly transfer the caller to the appropriate party via a button on their phone."

Such examples of the benefits of a hosted VoIP phone service are numerous, and they certainly contribute to a positive return on investment. In fact, potential savings from internal efficiencies are often much greater than the savings generated from lower monthly service, maintenance, and administrative costs. So if it's time for your IT budget planning, now's the time to get a line item in for a hosted VoIP phone service. Call sipVine today to learn more!

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.

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