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Review of the Polycom VVX Models of VoIP Phones

Posted by Mark Greim on Dec 19, 2014 8:20:00 AM

During our certification for sale process, sipVine had the opportunity to conduct extensive user testing of several of the Polycom VVX models of VoIP phones.  The VVX300 and VVX400 models are the base and mid-range phones in the line-up, and will prove to be easy to use and solid workhorses for the heavy phone users in small to medium-sized businesses.  The VVX500 and VVX600 models are higher-end phones in the line-up and represent the cutting edge in VoIP phone technology.  These phones are sharp looking, high tech, and are reflective of Polycom's leadership in the marketplace.  This series of Polycom phones will serve businesses well and take advantage of everything business VoIP has to offer.

Standard Features:vvx300

They come with all of the standard, hardware-driven features you would expect from a Polycom VoIP phone, such as: call forwarding, call transferring, three-way conferencing, do not disturb, directories, and voicemail.  All phones come with Polycom's best-in-class speakerphone and HD voice clarity. 

Additionally, the stand for the Polycom VVX series will allow for 3 different angles.  You can select a new angle with ease, a vast improvement over the stand of the previous Polycom models.  Compared to a Cisco SPA series model where you have only one angle, these Polycom VVX's are superior in this regard.

Upgrades:

Screens/Lines

  • VVX300 - Backlit, grayscale screen with 6 lines
  • VVX400 - Backlit, color screen with 12 lines
  • VVX500 - Backlit, color touch screen with 12 lines
  • VVX600 - Backlit, color touch screen with 16 lines

VVX400Compared to the previous Polycom IP phone series, one upgrade is in the number of lines/favorites that appear on the screen.  The lower end models in the IP series had two to three lines, versus the six to 12 lines with the VVX300 and 400 models.  The VVX500 and 600 provide for 12 to 16 lines, respectively.  If you provision two lines for inbound/outbound calling, you'll have four to 14 "favorites" that are effectively speed dials.  If the favorite is in your organization and on the VoIP service, you can enable a busy lamp field (BLF), so you will know if that person is on the phone or not.

The VVX400, 500, and 600 all have color screens, which adds to their elegance.  The two higher-end models have touch screens, which resonate well with tablet and smart-phone users.  Additionally, the higher-end models allow you to personalize the screen saver and background via a USB port or through the web configuration utility.  

Network

The VVX300 and 400 models have dual 100mb ports, so your phone can share an ethernet connection with your computer.  You can upgrade the lower models to a VVX310 and 410 to have dual gigabit ports so your phone will not be a bottleneck when passing large files over your network.  The VVX500 and 600 come with standard, dual gigabit ports.  Finally, the VVX600 model will allow for a Blue Tooth headset pairing.

Cool Stuff:

Of course, if you're not already familiar with the functionality of VoIP phones, then the features above will all seem pretty cool!  However, these new Polycom phones have functionality that will really delight even the experienced VoIP users!  For example, with the USB port on the VVX500 and 600, you can attach a zip drive and record calls.  The display will show you how many hours of recording you have available on the drive.  All models allow you to integrate the phone with your computer's mouse and keyboard, allowing for a mouse over and click to dial from your favorites or directory.  Additionally, these models will integrate with your Outlook Exchange calendars, providing you a view of your calendar from your phone, and dialing from the calendar for conference calls. 

Polycom also has a "My Info Portal", which allows access to stocks, news, sports, weather and other streamlined content to the phone's screen.  Finally, both the VVX500 and VVX600 have optional cameras that will allow for Desktop Video Conferencing from phone to phone or interact with video conference bridges right from the phone.

sipVine Review:

During our certification of the VVX models on the sipVine service, we reviewed all modelsVVX500 and functions of the phones.  The VVX500 and VVX600 truly are the "Cadillacs" of the series, both in terms of functionality and price.  With the exception of standard gigabit ports, the touch screens, USB ports, and the video conference options, VVX400 has all of the same features as the VVX500 and VVX600.  However, the VVX500 and VVX600 will retail 48% and 82% higher than the VVX400, respectively.  The VVX300 has a grayscale screen and has even a greater price advantage.

Focusing first on the differences between the high-end models and the standard models, the color touch screens in the higher-end models are very nice.  It takes a little getting used to when compared with physical line buttons or softkeys on VoIP phones, but you'll catch on quickly.  Smudges are not noticeable, and clean up with a soft cloth will keep the phone clean and free from scratches.  Due to the cost of the phones, we didn't dare attempt to clean with a paper towel, so we cannot comment on the screen's ultimate durability!  The phone screens can pick up a glare, so the angle options are not just nice, but a necessity.

The other benefit over the lower models is the USB port, allowing for recording of calls right from the phone as well as personalized screen savers and background pictures.  Where recording of calls may have a specific benefit to various organizations and users, the screen saver "benefit" is not a driver toward purchasing these upper-end models versus the standard models.

VVX600That takes us to the video conferencing.  First, the optional camera will add $135 to the purchase price.  The screen sizes are adequate.  Being able to call into a video conference bridge is a great advantage for those who interact that way routinely, as phone to phone video interaction is only beneficial to those who really see the need.  It is only usable for personal video conference interaction, as a group huddling around the phone for the conference is not a viable option.  There are some even higher-end VVX phone options with larger screens (VVX1500 and VVX1500D), but we did not review those phones.

The VVX300 and VVX400 phones are easy to use and intuitive for the user who may be new to VoIP.  Compared to the Cisco SPA models of phones, they have superior speakerphones and a larger number of Lines/BLFs on the phone itself, however, the Cisco models win the ease of use battle.  The VVX300 has 6 lines, versus the 4 line Cisco SPA504.  The VVX400 has 12 lines and a color screen, versus the 8 line, grayscale SPA508.

Both the VVX300 and 400 models have hard buttons next to the line appearance/BLF that change color when in use.  These present a similar user experience to other VoIP phones.  We found it easier to transfer / dial utilizing the hard buttons versus the touch screens of the higher end models, likely due to our previous familiarity with physical buttons.  The menu scroll/select button is slightly cumbersome, and the touch screens of the higher-end models are superior in the scrolling/selecting functionality.

The backlit, grayscale screen of the VVX300 is clear and readable, but doesn't blow you away with clarity.  The color screen of the VVX400 is much better than the grayscale.

I will make one comment on a feature of all models tested.  The integration of the computer keyboard and mouse with the phone is cool, but a little distracting.  There are a few times during the day where I've scrolled over and clicked on a favorite to dial.  The keyboard was nice when entering contacts into my directory, but, honestly, that was a one-time effort.  Searching directory listings is aided by this functionality to some extent.  All things considered, I found myself scrolling my mouse over to the phone on accident quite routinely during the day.  You basically program the setting to indicate what side of the computer the phone resides, and it opens up that border of the screen to scroll to the phone.  I didn't realize how often I scroll to the max end of the screen to exit from programs or scroll up and down until I no longer had a side border to stop my mouse.  So, I will likely turn that option off.

Suffice it to say, the higher-end models will likely be a luxury alternative for sipVine business VoIP customers in the small to medium-sized market space.  Most will select the VVX300 and VVX400 phones for their general office deployment.  Some executives may select the higher-end models, as they really are nice.  I'm using the VVX500 now, and don't want to give it up!

Overall, these models of phones by Polycom will become one of sipVine's lead products.  Our previously lead product was the Cisco SPA500 series, which possesses many great features and flexibility.  However, these Polycom models surpass the Cisco models in many ways, and we're looking forward to sharing these advantages with our current and future customers!

 

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. 

Tags: VoIP Phone

Choose Hosted VoIP and Never Buy a Phone System Again!

Posted by Mark Greim on Dec 17, 2014 9:31:00 AM

Is your business still using old analog phone technology?  Many businesses are getting every last bit of value out of their phone switch in their equipment room.  They paid thousands for it many years ago, and even though it lacks the features to elevate their business, they still remember the pain of writing that large check years ago, and will keep it alive as long as possible for that sole reason.

We run into this situation all of the time.  These businesses continue to sink money into theOld Phone Technology old technology even while facing difficulty securing parts or getting service.  When they realize that they can receive the most current phone features and there's no need to ever purchase another phone switch on the wall, hosted VoIP becomes a real solution. 

For businesses in this situation, the following items are worth consideration when deciding on whether or not to choose Hosted VoIP technology. Aside from spending on maintenance and the lost opportunity of an old analog phone system, there’s also this to consider:

  • Low Up-front Investment - With Hosted VoIP, all you need to purchase are the VoIP handsets for your business.  There are a variety of options of VoIP phones, most at a very reasonable cost.  Typically, businesses capture a return on investment in a very short time frame as they will see lower administrative and maintenance costs and, many times, lower phone service costs as well through the hosted provider. This makes the solution a fit for any cost-conscious business, including the non-profit community.
  • No Obsolescence - Because you are now connecting to your phone system over the internet, your hosted provider bears the financial and managerial responsibility of keeping the phone system current and state-of-the-art.  Thus, you will always have access to new features and technologies through your provider without reinvesting in a new phone switch.  Wouldn't you have loved to know this ten years ago?  From the handset perspective, depending upon the manufacturer and general wear and tear, they should last a long time.  Down the road, you may choose to upgrade a few handsets to newer models, but that is a choice you would make.  It wouldn't be forced upon you. 
  • Easy Scaling and Sizing - One of the challenges when purchasing a phone system is sizing it to meet your future needs.  You run the risk of overspending and may still miss the mark, or under spending and need a full replacement in the future.  Hosted VoIP removes all of those risks, as you only need to purchase the number of handsets you need today.  As you grow, you simply add a handset.  If you downsize, your provider can take those phones out of service.  Thus, your phone system will always be sized to your business.  VoIP is a natural fit for any small business for this very reason. Additionally, as time goes on, your hosted provider should be introducing new handsets and features to the platform, keeping your system on the cutting edge of technology.
  • A Phone System that Goes Where You Go - As your business grows, you may see the need to move to a larger location.  Because your system is with your hosted provider, all you need to do is move your handsets to the new location and you're good to go.  Of course the new location would have the internet and internal network set up, but that's it!  It also will allow for tremendous flexibility in these situations, as you can defer the expense of moving right away by deploying a virtual workforce or a smaller, secondary location.  Associates could have phones at the other location or at their homes, and they will be connected to the "system" just as if they were at the headquarters! 
  • Features Than Can Aid Your Business - If you haven't upgraded your phone system in a while, there are numerous advancements that can improve your internal and external communications.  Most Hosted VoIP systems offer the latest features, and most providers include them as a part of the standard package.  From customized call flows to find-me/follow-me features for sales and service associates, a good provider can cover the various features and discuss which ones can elevate your business communications!

There's never been a better time to see just how affordable and advantageous choosing hosted VoIP service can be for your business.  Contact sipVine today to begin a consultation.

 

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. 

Tags: voip business phone system, Phone System Replacement

Why VoIP Call Quality Is Still A Problem For Business

Posted by Mark Greim on Oct 15, 2014 9:20:00 AM

When considering a hosted VoIP phone service for your business, are you concerned about the voice quality of your phone conversations with your customers?  Do you believe that with increasing availability of expanded bandwidth that call quality concerns are diminished? 

Most people that I talk to agree that voice quality is important not only as a reflection of their business, but to ensure that operations run smoothly. And, while increasing internet bandwidth may be an option, it certainly does not diminish call quality concerns with VoIP. 

Hosted VoIP continues to be the product of choice for businesses looking to affordably increase their communication functionality and replace their old technology.  However, it is extremely important to select a provider who has a focus on call quality and the network infrastructure and appliances to deliver a crisp and clean voice conversation using VoIP.VoIP Call Quality Matters

sipVine, a Kansas City-based Hosted VoIP company, is an example of a provider who has such a focus on call quality for their customers.  I was asked recently if call quality was still a point of consideration before businesses switch to VoIP, and I needed to pause before answering.  Certainly, when sipVine began in 2005, not only was there a general uncertainty over the new technology, but also a vast opinion that the call quality could not be as good as an analog line.  Such opinions were formed from poor experiences with national consumer VoIP providers, and from business providers running VoIP over lower bandwidth connections at the customer locations.   However, such objections do seem to be in the past, as companies are no longer fearful of VoIP and it is the preferred technology as businesses replace current systems.

That said, call quality is still very much something that needs to be managed, and managed correctly.  The same day after being asked the question on the relevance of call quality in the process of choosing VoIP, we closed two sales from companies using national VoIP providers and were experiencing horrific call quality.  We encounter this situation routinely.  Most national providers suggest that the business expands their bandwidth or purchase an additional internet circuit to pass the phone traffic.  This action is an unnecessary use of money and network resources, and still doesn’t guarantee improved call quality.

At sipVine, we take a two-pronged approach to call quality management:

Quality of Service (QoS) Software and Network Design - Our technology team believes strongly that the best way to manage VoIP call quality is to have an on-network "traffic cop.” Resident on the router or through an edge appliance on the network, we manage call quality by prioritizing voice traffic over the data traffic.  To the naked eye, you do not see any network slow down by such prioritization routines.  However, to the ear, you certainly can notice when your data traffic interrupts the voice packet delivery.  This software allows businesses to utilize the same internet connection for voice and data and, many times, this action will negate the need to expand bandwidth just to run VoIP.  Most importantly, simply expanding bandwidth does not remove the potential for data packets to interrupt voice packets

sipVine also has a unique network design that creates an optimum mix of internet and public telephone network utilization.  Although it is more expensive to operate, we believe it is a small price to pay to produce a quality call environment.

Call Quality Troubleshooting - Even with QoS software and an optimal network topology, there are cases where the customer experiences degradation of voice quality, as manifested by one-way audio or choppy communication.  sipVine technicians routinely help identify the root causes, whether it be a customer network related issue or an internet circuit related issue.  Only on rare occasions do we see where normal data and voice utilization are saturating the bandwidth provided!  In every case where we've rescued a customer from a national VoIP provider, the initial recommendation was always to expand bandwidth. 

Examples of network challenges we've encountered were certain workstations being hit with a virus and saturating either the upload or download side of the available bandwidth.  This would lead to one-way audio.  Our technicians were able to, remotely, identify the workstation(s) driving the issue.  Other examples are when customers have established new network backup or storage routines during business hours.  After pointing out the impact it was having to overall network performance and voice quality, these customers usually changed the timing of their routines to after business hours. 

Finally, many times there's an issue with the internet circuit itself.  Perhaps there's a higher amount of latency than acceptable, or that the ping times that measure the round trip latency are not consistent.  For example, if they typically run at 15-25 milliseconds and the current experience shows 25ms, 25ms, 100ms, 90ms, 20ms, etc., there is going to be a problem in voice quality.  sipVine technicians have helped our customers effectively communicate with their internet provider by providing such reports on circuit performance so that it may be quickly addressed.

So, back to the question that was posed to me.  The answer is unequivocally YES, call quality does matter when considering VoIP!  If you’re considering outsourcing your business phone service, our advice is to work with a provider who makes quality a priority within their own network, and will actually help diagnose any problems with networks or circuits that may be driving a problem.

 

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. 

Tags: VoIP Voice Quality, VoIP Bandwidth Requirements

Why Non-Profit Organizations Are Choosing Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Sep 10, 2014 2:33:00 PM

Every day, more non-profit organizations are making the shift to hosted VoIP service from their traditional analog service and phone system.  There are a variety of reasons as to why this is happening, but the fundamental theme is that these organizations tend to look for robust features at an affordable price.Phone Service for Non Profit Organizations

Non-profits come in every shape and size.  Whether they are an educational or medical institution, a foundation supporting such institutions, an organization supporting a cause or an organization serving the community, non-profit organizations all operate just like any other business.  Because the funding of their operations comes from their donor or constituent base, these organizations are always mindful of keeping operational costs low so that their funding can be used for the more global purpose of the organization.

Therefore, because they are run like most businesses and operated by business professionals, they are drawn to a feature set that matches their needs and general familiarity with what other businesses have been using.  However, their budget tends to require that they receive donated or older equipment, many on the last years of a useful life, or certainly representing older technology.  Does it work?  Yes.  Are there better alternatives?  Absolutely!

Hosted VoIP services have great appeal to non-profit organizations because they are able to use enterprise level features and service without buying a massive system up front. By only purchasing the VoIP handsets, the cost difference can be substantial.  Additionally, the monthly cost per user will also drive some savings opportunity when compared to traditional phone service companies.

Some examples of features that have resonated with NPOs are:

  • Voicemail to email
  • Auto-attendant (they can conserve on reception costs)
  • Direct dial numbers
  • Conference calling

There are some providers out there who will offer non-profit organizations a special discount.  sipVine, as an example, discounts both the hardware and monthly fee for such organizations, as we recognize that by helping keep their administrative costs lower, more funds are available to support their cause and the community. 

If you are a non-profit organization looking into your options with VoIP, please feel free to reach out to us.  We'll be happy to talk you through it! 

Call Me Now!

 

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. 

Tags: Phone Service for Non-Profit Organizations

Comparing VoIP Phones vs. Cell Phones for Business Use

Posted by Mark Greim on Sep 4, 2014 8:32:00 AM

With residential households dumping their landline phone service in favor of their cell service in ever increasing numbers, business leaders are also evaluating their options for phone service.  However, there are several areas of consideration before making this decision, and simply dumping one for the other isn't always the best solution. It’s important to weigh all the factors before choosing either VoIP service or a slew of cell phones.  Things to take into account include:cell phones voip phones

Cost Considerations - Certainly, cost favorability would be a reason businesses would even consider dumping their landline for a cell phone.  However, even the smallest of businesses find value in what a phone system can do, especially a feature-rich VoIP system. It’s important to consider the shelf-life of cell phones versus that of business phone systems, and the frequency with which cell phone are damaged, stolen or lost.

Caller Experience - When a customer is calling your business, they need to be directed to the individual who can best handle their needs.  Deploying handsets with individual phone numbers to each employee would work for callers who call direct to those associates, but cell phones aren't designed to work together.  Transferring calls, establishing hunt groups, knowing if others are on the phone or not and dialing by extension are all functions that go away with cell phone only deployments.  Simply put, if call handling is not efficient for your staff, it certainly won’t be efficient for the caller.

Call Quality - Face it, you know when you're talking with someone on their cell phone.  The call simply isn't as clear as when you're talking on a landline or a quality VoIP connection.  It is subject to drops as well.  Further, if an associate needs to be working at a computer, a blue tooth or headset device for the cell phone would be necessary.  These tools for those type of phones can degrade the call quality even further.  This is probably not what most business would want as a reflection of their brand.

Using Cell Phones and VoIP Phones in Tandem

You don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other, as you can incorporate cell phones into the mix to enhance the caller experience.  Your staff can have a simultaneous ring of their desk phone and cell phone to improve the chance that they're available to take a call.  Or, the cell phones of certain associates can be provided an extension on the system to allow for easy transfer to that individual.  Finally, smart phones can download an application that will allow for their phone to have a direct dial / extension on the system.  When calling from the application, the phone delivers the company caller ID, not the cell phone caller ID.

Businesses deploying a hosted VoIP service can get all of the features of an enterprise level phone system, but at a very affordable cost.  The initial investment only includes the VoIP phones, as the system is hosted by the provider.  The monthly service cost can be less than traditional phone service as well.  And as noted above, there’s always an option to layer in cell phone service for added ease of use and off-hours availability. Unfortunately, there are too many flaws in cell phone only deployments for business to consider it a viable alternative to a business phone system and the service that comes with it.  Hosted VoIP service offers a savings opportunity and features your staff (and customers) will love. 

 

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. 

Tags: VoIP business phone services

Tips for Porting Over Your Old Phone Number to Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 5, 2014 10:21:00 AM

phone number portabilityOne of the most important factors in the health and success of any business is making sure that your customers know how to get ahold of you. After all, it's a highly competitive world out there for any business, and your customers are busy people. They're not going to spend a lot of time trying to track your company down, they'll just take their business elsewhere. 

That's one of the reasons it can be stressful to contemplate changing your business phone service. Even in this digital age, customers still need to be able to call in, and you may've had the same phone number for years. Nobody wants to change their number and risk their customers not being able to reach them. If a customer calls and finds that your number is no longer in service, chances are they'll assume that you've gone out of business, and that's not good for anyone. 

Fortunately, transitioning your business to hosted VoIP phone service has never been quicker, easier, or smoother, and regulations allow you to keep your existing phone number, even when you switch service providers. So there's never been a better time to make the switch to VoIP phone service than right now! Hosted VoIP can provide you with all the services and amenities that you've come to expect, plus improved reliability, call quality, and customer service. But even though switching to hosted VoIP is straightforward and hassle-free, there are still a few things to keep in mind to help make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible, and ensure that your customers can stay in touch with you. 

When you decide to make the switch to a new provider, ask your current provider for a copy of your Customer Service Record (CSR). That will provide you with all of the necessary demographic information that your new provider will need to set up your account so that you avoid delays or rejections. 

Allow at least two weeks for the processing of the port. During this time, your service will still be active on your old phone system.  The Hosted VoIP phones will be configured and installed prior to the changeover.  When the port occurs, the service will be live on the new phones within minutes.

If you have a DSL circuit attached to the number that you're porting over, you'll need to get it re-provisioned during the transition or your DSL will go away when the number ports. It's a simple enough process, but one that can cause big problems if it's not taken care of, so ask your service provider about it when you contact them. 

Once the port is complete contact your old carrier and make sure that any numbers that you no longer need are cancelled, so you don't end up with bills down the road for services that you weren't using. 

At sipVine, we know the importance of good communications to business, and that's why, when you call us, you'll always get the very best in personalized service. If your business is ready to transition to hosted VoIP phone service, give us a call today, and we'll help you get the ball rolling!

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.

Tags: Hosted VoIP phone service

Ditch the Phone Company for Your Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Jul 30, 2014 1:14:00 PM

ditch the phone companyImagine this: You buy a car, but you can't drive it until you go to another company to get it turned on. And whenever there's a problem with your car, it could just as easily be the car itself—in which case you'd have to take it to a mechanic—or a problem with that second company that activated it. That's kind of what it's like to have phone service through a traditional phone company. The company provides the service itself, but the phones and any other related equipment are your problem. 

Doesn't it make sense to have your phone service provider be the same person who provides your phones and all the other related equipment? No more buying and maintaining bulky and expensive private branch exchanges (PBXs), and no more calling the phone company only to be told that the problem must be with your system, or vice versa. 

With hosted VoIP from sipVine, your phone service provider is also your phone provider! And there's no need for private branch exchanges or other bulky equipment. All that is handled in the cloud, meaning that all you need to invest in are hosted VoIP phones, which are completely supported by the same friendly and knowledgeable customer service staff who provide you with personalized assistance with your hosted VoIP phone service. That means no PBXs, no phone cabling, none of the hassle and expense that comes with installing and maintaining your own in-house phone system. 

Maybe best of all, it means that if something goes wrong, or if you have a question, or if you want to upgrade or make a change, there's only one number you call. Whether you're dealing with your phone system or your phone service, you'll always call the friendly folks at sipVine. And because sipVine specializes in providing hosted VoIP phone services to businesses just like yours, we know the importance of good communication. That's why you'll always talk to someone who knows the needs of your business. At sipVine, you won't be just another customer number, you'll be part of the sipVine family. 

Hosted VoIP offers businesses like yours unparalleled service, scalability, ease of administration, cost savings, and crystal-clear call clarity, not to mention all the features and options that you demand. Plus, it just feels right to get your phone service from the same place that you get your phone system. Tying the two together is just good business, keeping them separate just doesn't make sense. That's why there's no better time than today to leave the old phone company behind and follow your phone service to hosted VoIP. 

No matter what your company's needs, hosted VoIP from sipVine can deliver, so give us a call today, and let us show you what hosted VoIP can do for 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.

Tags: Hosted VoIP, Hosted VoIP phone service

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

Posted by Mark Greim on Jul 22, 2014 3:04:00 PM

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. 

Tags: phone service for professional service firms

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

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 27, 2014 2:35:00 PM

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.

Tags: Hosted VoIP, Hosted VoIP phone service

Moving Your Business? Leave Your Phone System Behind!

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 25, 2014 11:25:00 AM

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.

Tags: Hosted VoIP, Hosted VoIP phone service

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