Why is VoIP the Technology of Choice for Business?

Posted by Mark Greim on May 13, 2016 10:11:41 AM

These are exciting times for businesses across the country, as the infrastructure supporting technological advancement has expanded dramatically.  With the introduction of superfast internet speeds available to businesses by Google Fiber, and followed by competitive responses from other providers, the backbone of this infrastructure now allows businesses to make technology choices they were not able to in recent years.  Businesses are taking advantage of this opportunity to invest in cloud applications and technology to improve their processes as well as margins.  This includes investments in voice over internet (VoIP) systems and service.

Businesses_Moving_to_VoIP.jpgVoIP applications have been around for many years now.  The availability of greater bandwidth has removed the final barrier for businesses to make the switch to the technology.  Even though a VoIP call only requires around 80k/second of internet capacity, increasing utilization of an organization's bandwidth for other applications would create contention for bandwidth.  Without packet prioritization routines, voice packets could be interrupted by data packets and create a poor call quality experience.  With internet speeds approaching one gigabit/second (1000mb/s!), contention or circuit saturation is no longer a concern.

So, why are businesses moving to hosted VoIP systems and services?  The reasons are plentiful, and the driving factor may vary by business.  Simply put, hosted VoIP is an affordable way to advance their communication practices, driving a host of direct and indirect benefits back to the business.

Affordability.  The phone system is actually provided in the cloud by a Hosted VoIP provider.  The business no longer needs to invest in a system on a wall in their business.  They only need to purchase the VoIP phone handsets.  Thus, they are receiving an enterprise-level phone system at a fraction of the cost.

Obsolescence and Maintenance.  These concerns and costs are removed with Hosted VoIP applications.  It is the responsibility of the provider to continue to invest in their system and evolve their service.  Finding parts for an old phone system or paying for repairs as a system ages is no longer required.  The only hardware exposure is with the handsets themselves.  If they ever need replacing, the cost is a minor expense.  As time goes on, new VoIP phones may be available in the provider's line-up, and they can be mixed in if and when replacements are required.

Expansion and Growth Considerations.  Businesses no longer need to worry about sizing their phone system to account for business growth.  This is especially beneficial to start-ups, as they don't need to over-invest on a phone system nor replace and undersized and under-featured system as they grow.  With hosted VoIP, you only need to deploy the number of handsets based upon the number of employees needing phones.

Flexible Deployment.  Because this is a cloud-based system, business can deploy the phones outside of the confinement of the walls of their office!  This frees the business to enable a remote workforce, whether they are at home, in a remote office, or highly mobile.  Calls to these associates can be made with internal extensions.  To the external caller, they will have no idea that calls are made and received outside of the business location.  Additionally, highly mobile employees can have a duplicate account of their desk phone, or a stand-alone account if they don't have a desk phone, on a softphone application on their smartphone or laptop.  Thus, they can make and receive calls from these devices and deliver the caller ID for the business.

Advanced Features.  There's a huge feature set available with Hosted VoIP systems, so it is likely businesses will have several that carry appeal and deliver value.  Examples are voicemail to email, call recording, direct dial numbers, external transferring, find-me/follow-me, paging solutions, call detail records, and much more.  Such features open up a world of applications that leave antiquated analog phones systems in the dust.

Call Flow.  One of the greatest attributes of the Hosted VoIP phone system is that it is essentially a software program.  Good Hosted VoIP providers work with their customers to design a call flow that matches their unique requirements and improves their communication practices.  You shouldn't have to conform to how the system works, rather make it work to maximize your customers' satisfaction.  Ring groups, call queues, time of day routing, and on-call programming are among the many tools available to have calls handled just the way you want them.

Automated Attendant.  Many bristle at just the idea of an automated attendant, however, when deployed correctly, this can be a powerful tool available to a business.  First, you have a choice of whether you deploy the automated attendant before or after a ring pattern.  Thus, it can serve as your call traffic cop or as a back up to your initial call groups.  The goal is to be able to route callers to the person that will best handle their needs.  Good automated attendants are made up of a few options that cover the majority of the needs of your callers.  Multiple options and layers only serve to frustrate callers.  Again, a good Hosted VoIP provider can provide consultation and best practices to set up an attendant in the way that will suite your business the best.

VoIP phone systems also have great appeal among businesses with multiple branches or locations.  They are able to consolidate the provider of their service, create consistency among locations, create efficiencies through extension dialing and transferring or even some function efficiency.  For example, you can centralize a function, say the reception function, so incoming calls from all locations are funneled to a central group for distribution.  Or, you can decentralize a function, such as customer service, so that the related ring group or queue is distributed across multiple locations for more efficiencies.  To the external caller, they have no idea that their call is handled in a centralized or decentralized approach.

Finally, Hosted VoIP providers are turning the telecommunications industry upside down.  There are opportunities to work with local providers that have set the bar high for customer service and technological excellence.  The new telecom bundle is your phone service and phone system together.  This puts the Hosted VoIP provider in a great position to get to know your business and provide awesome customer service commensurate with that understanding.  Find one today and take advantage of all of the benefits to your business!

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: Hosted VoIP, Technology in Business

Hosted VoIP - The Perfect Complement to Nonprofit Organizations

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 18, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Nonprofit Organizations help make your communities a better place. Hosted VoIP Phone Service delivers affordable, feature-rich services that help businesses improve their communications practices. Thus, nonprofits who have chosen to utilize hosted VoIP phone service are better positioned to deliver to their constituents.

Phone_Service_for_Non_Profit_Organizations.jpgCustomized Solutions.  Nonprofit Organizations come in many shapes and sizes with varying missions or areas of focus.  Whether they are fulfilling a charitable cause, religious purpose, business association, educational endeavor, healthcare need, and more, hosted VoIP phone service can be molded to best create benefits to the particular organization's requirements. Because the service is essentially a software program, the ability to custom build the solution is certainly there.  Good hosted VoIP providers consult with your organization and handle the programming before the phones are even installed. 

Financial Advantages.  Nonprofit organizations are mindful of their expenses and capital purchases associated with their administration and infrastructure, keeping their income sources strongly positioned to fulfill their mission.  Hosted VoIP services provide a great opportunity to have a state-of-the-art phone system without spending money on the system itself.  Because the actual phone system is resident with the hosted VoIP provider, only the VoIP handsets are purchased by the customer, thus keeping the capital outlay to a minimum.  Additionally, the monthly service may drive additional savings, dependent upon their current number of phone lines and price per line.

Another key financial advantage is that this will be the last phone system you will ever need to deploy.  Obsolescence is no longer a factor, as the responsibility to upgrading and keeping the system up to standards rests with the hosted provider.  As the actual phones age or are damaged they can simply be replaced with a current model of phone being supported by the provider.  Replacement costs of phones are much less than a system conversion years down the road.

Some hosted VoIP providers, like sipVine, Inc., provide additional benefits to the nonprofit community.  "We recognize that we have an opportunity to indirectly give back to the community by offering special rates and discounts to our nonprofit customers," states Robert Conner, sipVine's CEO.  "It is a special benefit that we gladly share, and the collective savings among our nonprofit customer base is quite substantial."

Features.  Just because an organization is fulfilling a nonprofit mission, it doesn't mean that it isn't run like a normal business.  These organizations delight in the enterprise-level features that a hosted phone service can deliver.  Like most commercial businesses, the features that resonate most with the particular nonprofit organization can differ company to company.  Whether it is an automated attendant that effectively routes callers, the voicemail to email feature to keep associates informed of important messages, direct dial numbers to satisfy key contacts, paging systems, time of day routing, holiday scheduling, and more, the features within a hosted VoIP system can vastly improve the communication practices and efficiency of the organization.

If your nonprofit organization hasn't explored the many benefits of a hosted VoIP phone service, contact a hosted provider today.  Exceptional providers will be able to understand your particular need and help map out an affordable solution that will deliver benefits for years to come.

 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

Lawyers, Contracts, and Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Mar 15, 2016 10:03:40 AM

On the surface, these three items fit well together.  Lawyers write contracts and need phone service.  Phone service providers have contracts. Well, only two of these things need to belong together...lawyers and phone service!  Many hosted VoIP phone providers are re-writing the rules in the communications industry and not requiring their customers to sign term contracts!

Term_Contacts_bad_for_Phone_Service.jpgIn taking such a position, these hosted VoIP providers are displaying tremendous confidence in their service delivery and billing practices.  "When we started the business ten years ago, we knew just how frustrated business owners were with being held to term contracts for their telecommunication services," indicates Robert Conner, CEO of sipVine, Inc.  "We wanted to take a dramatically different position in how we approach customer service and contracts.  By not requiring term contracts, we are seen as more of an extension of a business rather than a provider.  Thus, our customer churn rate is negligible."

Although attorneys have a place in their heart for contracts, they gravitate towards these "no-contract" providers for the benefits they can deliver to their firm.  Like other businesses, hosted VoIP phone service appeals to law firms for a variety of reasons:

  • An Enterprise-level System at a Low Capital Investment - Many attorneys starting their own firm or managing their own firm have worked for a large practice before and have experience with the value of an enterprise-grade phone system. Where a hosted product can deliver similar features, it comes at a capital price tag of a fraction of an on-site phone system.  Because the actual phone system exists in the "cloud" (really the data center of the hosted VoIP provider), all the law firm needs to purchase are the VoIP phones and some other minor equipment.  VoIP handset manufacturers differ in price and quality, but it is easy to secure high quality VoIP handsets from a top tier manufacturer (such as Cisco and Polycom) between $100 and $200.  Thus, the price of their "system" is minor in comparison to on-site systems.
  • Features that will Enhance their Communications - The features available with a hosted VoIP phone system are vast and have broad appeal. Attorneys utilize many, but several drive specific benefits to the firm. Examples include call detail records to aid billing efforts, call recordings to assist documentation, voicemail to email to relay important messages while the attorney is away from the office, and automated attendants to best route callers to the right individual.
  • Custom Settings - Call flow design can direct callers to paralegal or other support as a screening step before an attorney is engaged. Good hosted VoIP providers can custom build a call routing routine that matches exactly the desires of the firm and which will better serve their customer base.
  • Expert Administration - Law firms are in the business to serve clients, not to spend resources on administering their phone system. Good hosted phone companies provide administrative services for their clients, leaving law firms to practice law. Even self-service portals can take time away from the practice, so a telephone "concierge" service is very well received by firms of all sizes.

"Although sipVine serves many businesses from all market segments, one of our most highly represented vertical markets is the legal profession," continues Conner.  "Certainly, the features and benefits are a big driver, but how we support them has created a very loyal base.  They also network with each other well, and we're always receiving new clients based upon a recommendation from one of our law firm customers."

If you are a law firm, or a business who is compelled by similar features and benefits, a hosted VoIP system is a perfect fit.

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

Moving to Gigabit Internet?  Prepare Your Infrastructure.

Posted by Mark Greim on Feb 16, 2016 11:04:26 AM

As Google Fiber continues with its construction of a fiber network and expands its business internet service to additional cities across the country, businesses of all sizes are preparing to reap the benefits of superfast internet speeds and expanded capacity.  Normally, these superfast speeds will approach 1000mb/s.  Traditional bandwidth providers are responding to Google Fiber with speed expansion and lower prices of their own.  Competition in this area is benefitting businesses and they need to be ready to take advantage of it.

Prepare_Your_Infrastructure_for_Gigabit_Internet_and_VoIP.jpgGigabit internet capacity will allow businesses to do business differently, especially those who have been stuck with lower speed internet service due to availability or affordability.  Obviously, sipVine and other Hosted VoIP providers would suggest that it is a great time to join the movement to VoIP services.  But, there are many other applications that can come into play for organizations, such as cloud storage and backups, cloud applications, and other remote hosting opportunities.  Many such applications will save businesses money, remove disaster risk, and open the door for outsourcing of other activities.

First, we need to clear up some misconceptions associated with moving to gigabit internet speeds.  Many businesses are of the belief that moving to internet speeds close to a gigabit/second will make their internet utilization operate at lightning speed.  Unless the internal network infrastructure is addressed, this is simply not the case.  Moreover, even with infrastructure upgrades, downloading files and streams will only move as fast as the responding web server will allow.  A better way of looking at your superfast internet connection would be that it allows your organization to have more capacity to access applications, download information, and perform other internet activities across all workstations at the same time without concerns over saturating the internet circuit and creating slowdowns.

Thus, there are several areas of consideration for network infrastructure improvements to prepare your organization to take advantage of superfast internet speeds.

  • Router Upgrades - most routers deployed by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) simply do not have the horsepower to handle gigabit throughput. Even with the internet upgrade, your router will throttle back the throughput to its capabilities.  For example, most firewalls over two years old will only allow you to access 1/10th of your gigabit internet connection. 
  • Network Switches - typical network switches deployed by SMBs have 100mb/s ports. This essentially means that each individual connecting locally to the network will be limited to the 100mb/s speeds over the local area network and out over the internet.  Again, even with this limitation, every user can be accessing or utilizing the internet at high speeds simultaneously.  If you would like to remove this internal restriction, upgrading your network switch to one with gigabit ports would do the trick.
  • VoIP Phone Ports - for businesses who have already moved to a VoIP phone service and share an Ethernet connection for their phone and computer will potentially need to upgrade their VoIP Phone. Most VoIP phones with dual Ethernet ports have a 100mb/s port for a pass through to their computer.  This will place the same limitation as a 100mb/s switch, even if your router and network switch have been upgraded to gigabit speeds.  Most VoIP phone manufacturers have models with gigabit ports and your Hosted VoIP provider can work with you to upgrade your phones to those models.  Consideration can be made to which employees would actually require such throughput to limit your re-investment.  If you haven't gone with a Hosted VoIP provider yet, make sure you receive proposals with gigabit VoIP phone options.
  • Computers - the last point of throughput restriction is in your computer. Like the phones and network switches, computers have Ethernet ports that will need to be evaluated for their capacity.  Newer computers should have an Ethernet port that is capable of gigabit speeds.  If your computer is old enough to where it has a 100mb/s Ethernet card, you could go through the steps of replacing the card and drivers.  However, it will likely also have a slower processer and hard drive, so it may be a prudent time to replace the computer so you can fully take advantage of the speeds of your upgraded network.

google-fiber-tech-partner.pngRealizing that many SMBs do not have on site IT resources to help prepare your organization for this conversion, it will be advisable to work with consultants who can effectively guide you through this infrastructure upgrade.  In the cities where Google Fiber is present, there are IT and VoIP providers, such as sipVine, who have been certified as Google Fiber Tech Partners.  These companies can assist you in this decision making, and many have applications as well that will allow you to fully take advantage of your superfast internet speeds!


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 Bandwidth Requirements, Technology in Business

Why IT Professionals Recommend Hosted VoIP to their Customers

Posted by Mark Greim on Jan 11, 2016 2:15:57 PM

Many small and medium-sized businesses outsource their information technology activities to IT professionals or firms.  IT for the SMB market has become much more than the management of the network.  It includes moving various applications to the cloud for great efficiency and monetary advantages.  To that end, contracted IT professionals and firms have become a key influencer of technology decisions in business.  It is for these reasons that we are seeing many referrals for Hosted VoIP services originating from recommendations from a business's IT professional.

IT_Professionals_Choose_Hosted_VoIP.jpgDigging deeper into the reasons why IT professionals are moving their business clients to Hosted VoIP services, we find that most are tied with keeping their clients moving forward with the general advancement of technology.  Improving their business and processes through technology is a necessary requirement for business longevity.  IT professionals understand this, as do many business owners.  However, IT professionals are well positioned with examples of activities that can be improved with technology, and cloud telephony is a great example.

It is a clear trend in business to move to a Hosted VoIP solution.  As existing telephone systems begin to fail and when replacement parts are becoming difficult or cost prohibitive to secure, businesses have moved to hosted VoIP.  Because the core system is a cloud-based application, businesses only need to purchase the VoIP handsets.  In many cases, these handsets cost less than the replacement handsets for their analog systems. This drives down the costs of acquisition.  Additionally, lower service costs and other indirect and direct benefits can provide a monthly savings to the business and generate a return on investment.  As more and more telephone system support requests are made to the IT manager or professional, they are seeing that it is time to move the organization to cloud telephony solutions.

Moreover, the VoIP application runs on the network they manage.  Old phone systems were under the domain of the system manufacturer, so troubleshooting and administration were depended upon others to work.  With Hosted VoIP, there is an element that remains under the IT manager's domain given that the phones run over the Ethernet network in the office.  The IT manager will have some firewall adjustments to make and maintain and be responsible to troubleshoot any issues with the Local or Wide Area Networks.  Because they are required to remain engaged with the solution, they are more apt to make recommendations to move to Hosted VoIP.

IT providers also tend to recommend solutions and providers they trust.  With their other clients they experienced a positive and seamless installation, a solution that could be molded to and advance the businesses communication practices, and a customer service approach that has exceeded expectations.  Once they find such a provider, a mutually beneficial relationship is forged between the IT professional and the Hosted VoIP provider.  In many cases, the Hosted VoIP provider also finds opportunities where their customers or potential customers could use some outsourced IT support, so cross referral opportunities are plentiful.

Finally, many IT support firms use Hosted VoIP services for their own business.  Many of the applications fit well for organizations like this who deploy resources in the field.  The utilization soft phones allow for these resources to make or take calls while being away from the office.  To the external caller, they have no idea where the call is made or received.  Also, receiving voicemail to email and other features have resonated well for a mobile work force such as deployed by an  IT provider.

If your business has not yet looked into the advantages of moving to a Hosted VoIP system, research a variety of options and ask your IT manager or professional for a recommendation.  You'll be glad you did!


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. 

This article is dedicated to all of the IT professionals who recommend sipVine to their client base.  We love you!  You keep our sales team hopping and we very much appreciate your continued referrals.

Tags: Hosted VoIP, Cloud Telephony, Phone Service for Computer and Network Services Co

Break Up with Your Old Phone Company

Posted by Mark Greim on Dec 1, 2015 1:30:00 PM

Go ahead, break up with your old phone company!  What have they done to advance your business, lately or ever? How are your treated when you call?  Have your rates ever gone down?  Many businesses have found a new partner and made the move to Hosted VoIP Phone Service.

There are several reasons why Hosted VoIP makes good sense for businesses.  Businesses actually advance their communication practices, save money, and future proof their investment by switching to Hosted VoIP. However, fear of actually making the change can be a barrier, so let's first tackle the steps.

  1. Break_Up_with_Phone_Company.jpgExamine your contract with your carrier. It is sad, but true. Old telephone companies believe in their service so much that they feel the need to lock their customers into a term contract.  Under the guise of "getting the best rates", customers routinely sign three year agreements with their providers, although there are provisions for rate increases along the way.  Additionally, the automatic renewal clause is typically buried in fine print or vaguely directed to some external website reference.  Most customers think they are out of contract, but have been auto-renewed for one or more years.  Therefore, understanding your term and notification requirements is important as you set the timelines for your conversion.
  2. Review your internal network for VoIP readiness. Hosted VoIP runs over your office ethernet network.  Thus, wherever you desire to have a VoIP phone placed, you will need ethernet availability.  Most IP phones have dual ports, so they can share an ethernet connection with a computer, eliminating the need for wiring.  Standard ports on VoIP phones allow for 100mb data throughput.  If your internal network is built for gigabit speeds, there are VoIP phone models available for those speeds.  Finally, VoIP phones require AC power.  Make sure there are available outlets or convert your network switches to deliver power over ethernet.
  3. Evaluate your bandwidth utilization. VoIP phone calls require very little bandwidth, only 80kb upload or download depending upon where you are talking or listening.  Understanding your maximum concurrent calls and running the math would let you know the requirements for VoIP on your network.  Most routers provide network utilization statistics, so double checking your utilization of upload and download capacity is important.  With bandwidth speeds increasing in most markets with competitive alternatives available, most businesses have already sized their capacity to easily incorporate a VoIP service into their routines.
  4. Research and select a Hosted VoIP provider. There are many providers out there, so narrowing down and selecting the right provider for your business can seem overwhelming.  Start with the reasons why you are breaking up with your current phone company.  If you are frustrated with rising rates and auto-renewed contracts, look for a Hosted VoIP provider who does not force you to sign term contracts.  If you're interested in how the new technology can help your business thrive, look for a provider who will customize the programming of the phones to accomplish your goals.  Many hosted providers point you to a portal for self-servicing and provisioning of your phones, so investigate the process.  If you're tired of the poor customer service delivered by the old phone company, check the references of the Hosted VoIP provider and make sure they have the right strategy and have executed the delivery of awesome customer service.
  5. Submit Paperwork for Porting of your Phone Numbers. Your new provider will help you through these steps.  Timing is the key.  You'll want to provide a couple of weeks for the porting of the numbers and coincide with the termination considerations of your current contract.  Your provider should be able to deliver the phones to you, fully programmed, within that two week period.  Allow for some time to have a consultation session with your new provider so that they can meet all of your design requirements.

So, just a little time investment can generate some great returns.  You should experience a positive return on investment with this change, both directly from the monthly savings and indirectly from improved communication practices.  Plan for your breakup today and follow the steps outlined above!


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: Changing Phone Service Providers, VoIP business phone services

How VoIP Technology can Improve Your Business

Posted by Mark Greim on Nov 16, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Like many office technologies, VoIP can deliver improvements in productivity and customer satisfaction.  VoIP is also very affordable and can generate economic returns, so it is no wonder that businesses are making it the telecommunication approach of choice.  Even businesses who stubbornly deployed the "if it isn't broke, don't fix it" philosophy are beginning to show up among the converts!  It may not be broken, but the improvements to the business have resonated so loudly that they could resist no longer.

So, how can VoIP technology advance businesses?  Below are just a few ways:

Provide a Better Call Experience - Your customers and associates will enjoy a better call experience in a variety of ways. There are several methods of getting customers to the right associate expeditiously.  First, the previous phone system may not have allowed for direct dial numbers to associates.  With VoIP, all associates can have a direct dial number, and they can choose to provide it to their clients, prospects, or other key contacts, bypassing the main line of the business and freeing the bottleneck.  Additionally, these direct dial numbers and extensions can be forwarded to a cell phone, duplicated on a soft phone application, or made to simultaneously ring to a cell phone, making that associate easily reachable when key contacts call. 

In addition to the direct dial and forwarding approaches for associates, customers will delight in quick routing of their calls via a well-designed auto attendant.  Companies can choose whether calls are handled by a general reception function and backed up by an auto attendant or have the auto attendant route calls at the beginning of the cycle.  The key here is to have an efficient auto attendant with just a few primary options, ones that represent where the majority of the calls are routed.  Thus, if a caller is looking for "customer service", a simple press of an option will route them to a call group of customer service employees.

Enable Remote and Mobile Associates - How many businesses out there have their associates utilize personal cell phones when representing their company? Not only are they giving out their cell number as a "direct dial", but when they dial out to customers or prospects it is not showing the caller ID of your business.  What if that associate left your organization?  Customers would be trained to call that cell phone number instead of a number owned by your business.  How does Hosted VoIP technology provide an alternative?

Remote or highly mobile associates can be outfitted with a VoIP application that will work as if they are under the same roof as the corporate headquarters.  You can literally have associates all over the country and, to your external caller, it would appear as if they have an office in your building!  If they have a VoIP phone at home or at a remote office or a soft phone appliance programmed accordingly, they can make and receive calls as efficiently as someone in the office.  Calls can be quickly routed to them, they can be included in any common ring group, they can have a direct dial number (either in the area code/exchange of the headquarters or local to them, whichever is appropriate), and they will have an extension on the system.  Thus, they can extension dial all other associates and vise versa. 

Drive Economic Value - The fact is that new technology is an investment. Some of the benefits mentioned above would fall into the intangible benefit category, especially as defined by those hard to convince!  The good news is that there are many opportunities for tangible returns against the investment in the Hosted VoIP technology.  Additionally, the investment is not large when compared to purchasing a traditional phone system.  In this case, businesses are only purchasing the VoIP desk phones, as the actual system is maintained centrally by the hosted provider.  Therefore, if a business has a dying phone system, replacing it with a hosted VoIP solution will be much less expensive than an on-site system.  For those who are not yet in the market for a phone system replacement (falling into the "it isn't broke" category), economic returns can be driven in a couple of ways.  First, many times, the monthly telecom expense is reduced by moving to Hosted VoIP.  Second, there are some decisions that can be made in terms of how calls are handled that may result in some staff expense reductions or redeployments.

Easy and Affordable Expansion - When your business expands, does your phone system expand with it? With Hosted VoIP, you never need to worry about your system's capabilities to grow with you again.  You simply add additional VoIP phones when and where you need them.  No new cards or upgrades are required, just the phones.  So, if you're adding resources at your current location, opening a new location, or setting people up in a work at home environment, you simply add the phones through your hosted VoIP provider.  You can easily add these new resources to existing call groups, expanding upon the accessibility of your employees to your customers, suppliers, and other important contacts.

If you're a business that has not yet evaluated hosted VoIP technology, it is worth the time and exploration to determine how your business can be elevated as well.  Get a leg up on your competitors and make the switch today!


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

Why Reward the Telephone Company?

Posted by Mark Greim on Oct 14, 2015 8:48:00 AM

Businesses today are entrenched with the notion that business telephone service should be delivered by the telephone company.  After all, the roots of the telephone companies trace back to the invention of the telephone itself in 1876.  Although much has changed over the years, the technology is old.  Because the physical plant deployed by the telephone companies is so long in the tooth, the margins on this business are quite high.  There is no wonder why telecoms are working so hard to keep their customers on this old technology and avoiding the cannibalization of their business to their own VoIP platforms.Old_Telephone_Technology

There's a lot at play here.  Because the large telephone companies are publically traded, there's significant pressure to deliver quarterly earnings growth.  Such pressure thwarts investment in new technologies and converting existing customers to such technology.  When earnings growth is required while facing double digit percentage losses in customers year after year, the expense side of the equation is hit hard.  Pressure to reduce costs of customer service leads to off-shoring decisions or other cut-backs in service.

All of this could have been avoided if the companies with their roots in the age of invention actually embraced invention and moved their customers to such platforms.  Avoiding such innovation has opened the door for alternative providers.  Similar to what cell phone technology has done to the residential landline business, VoIP providers have become the new standard for business phone service and have taken aim on the traditional providers of telephone service.

Still, it is amazing to hear about businesses with "loyalties" to the traditional telephone companies.  What have they done to deserve such loyalty?  Auto renewals of term contracts?  Non-dedicated customer service teams?  Long wait times and transferring between departments until frustration trumps the desire to make the change you're looking for?  All of the above reasons are among those cited for businesses switching to VoIP, alongside, of course, a desire to move to a technology platform that can actually advance the business.

As a business, examine what your customers and suppliers look like.  Do they look and act like your business?  They should.  There's much to be gained by working with a company that has the same character and values displayed by your own business.  Moreover, you can find hosted VoIP companies in your own community or ones who service your business as if they were next door.

It's time to explore what hosted VoIP can do for your business.  The first step is to look in the mirror and see the type of company you'd like to do business with.  Research hosted VoIP companies, exploring their technology, approach to customer service, and philosophies on term contracts.  You will delight in the application of the technology for your business, advance your communication practices, and stop rewarding the telephone company!

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: Technology in Business, Changing Phone Service Providers

sipVine Celebrates Tenth Year in Business

Posted by Mark Greim on Oct 5, 2015 2:01:12 PM

October 5, 2015

KANSAS CITY, MO – Today marks the anniversary sipVine's tenth year in business.  sipVine's CEO, Robert Conner, states:  "This is a momentous and proud moment for everyone who has contributed to our growth and success over the years.  For a tech start-up, hitting a ten year milestone is an indication that we are doing a lot of things right and that we are in this for the long haul.  We have come a long way since our incorporation and humble beginnings in 2005."

Colin Wells, sipVine's CTO, and Robert Conner are the founders and original employees of sipVine.  Mark Greim was brought on as an investor and responsible for sales and marketing a few years later.  The initial goal of the business was to create a hosted phone service solution for small and medium sized businesses, with a focus on delivering enterprise-level features and a voice quality platform that would be standard setting in the business VoIP marketplace.  Colin Wells expands:  "Call quality was a challenge for the VoIP industry.  Bandwidth was not as plentiful and affordable ten years ago, so our first order of business was to solve this problem.  With every installation, we provide a customer premise device that prioritizes voice packets over data, mitigating many of the issues that impact voice quality."

sipVine has grown steadily and substantially over the years, with customers from coast to coast.  Mark Greim states:  "We're very proud of our results.  We did not take on any debt or substantial outside investments, and still have delivered growth.  This conservative approach has provided our customers with a fiscally stable provider, one that they can count on for the long-term."  What also has developed for sipVine has been a standard-setting philosophy and approach to customer service.  Greim adds:  "With our solution,  we customize the delivery of the phone service to meet the unique needs of every client.  Our processes are such that when customers call us for servicing, we route them to members of our service team with whom they have worked with in the past.  Thus, unique to other major providers of VoIP service, our customers feel like they are talking to a member of their personal phone department!"

sipVine_Family-1"Although we will always have an entrepreneurial spirit, being in business for ten years puts sipVine out of that category", says Robert Conner.  "We do maintain a kinship with that category as we serve many start-ups.  I'm proud of our company in many ways.  We still have our first customer, and, despite not coercing customers to sign term contracts, our customer churn is very low.  Perhaps I'm most proud of the fact that everyone at sipVine is committed to service and making a difference."

sipVine has been celebrating this occasion throughout the year with our associates.  More events are planned, but everyone is looking forward to what the next ten years will bring.


Hosted VoIP. Now That's Customer Service!

Posted by Mark Greim on Sep 14, 2015 10:09:00 AM

Hosted VoIP companies are making their mark at delivering customer service, taking advantage of their unique position with their customers.  Everyone has experienced the low standard setting level of support and service from large, traditional telecommunication carriers and even some of the larger VoIP providers.  There are many Hosted VoIP providers who have taken the opportunity to create a higher standard of customer service and reset the expectations of the business community. 

With more and more businesses moving to a VoIP service from non-traditional telecom providers, the concept of a rising tide lifts all boats doesn't apply here.  With declining business landlines, telecom providers have continued to outsource, offshore, or cut back their customer service resources, which simply has accelerated the trend. 

sipVine deliver awesome business VoIP customer service Certainly, there's more at play than customer service.  The technology itself is a driving factor, as businesses are investing in the new technology to improve their own communication practices.  Additionally, VoIP represents a new "bundle" when compared to the former approach of bundling transport (voice, data, video) or bundling features within each area of transport.  With Hosted VoIP, the new bundle is that of your phone system and phone service under the same provider.  How does this make a difference?  Well, good Hosted VoIP companies provide consultation and custom programming of the system.  In doing so, they get to know their customers very well.  As changes are required and other opportunities for providing service arise, they actually know the customer and can service the business from that context.

Not all Hosted VoIP companies leverage this opportunity.  Some provide self servicing portals and/or deploy a call center approach to their technical support.  Others, like sipVine, customize all of the system builds to meet the customer's unique communication needs and have built their support processes to direct customers to the specific team of support personnel with who are familiar with the customer.  Imagine a phone company who really knows you when you call.  Further, what if that same company provided you an extension that will funnel directly into a support team with whom you have worked with before?  That's what I'm talking about as standard setting customer service!

sipVine's Chief Technology Officer, Colin Wells, explains how sipVine has positioned the technical support organization to place the focus on customer service:  "Where the VoIP technology is fantastic in breadth and flexibility, we believe that the best approach is to take a consultative approach with the customer from the outset.  Our VoIP Solutions Specialists work with the business to understand their unique call flow and communications needs, and provide the design guides to the technical team.  The technical team assigned to the system build for the customer also takes on-going service and administrative changes for that customer.  Therefore, they are familiar with the customer when they call and drive home an experience that they never have had before with other providers."

If that type of relationship is what you are looking for in your phone service provider, fully research potential VoIP providers with an eye for how they approach their system builds and handle customer service.  Getting a quote from a sales rep is only one area of measurement.  Find out their next steps and speak to a person who will be servicing your account in the future.  If that person is one of many in a call center, you may not receive the customer service you are looking for, and certainly not what is possible to be delivered.


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: Hosted VoIP phone service

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