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Hosted VoIP: Full Service vs. Self Service

Posted by Mark Greim on May 20, 2015 11:21:10 AM

One of the big debates between providers of Hosted VoIP services centers around whether to off source account servicing to the customer or deliver account maintenance activity as a part of the service.  In either case, it can be a point of differentiation.

With Hosted VoIP services being the service platform of choice for most businesses today, a new telecom bundle has emerged.  Traditional phone providers bundle voice and data with various term commitments under the guise of providing discounts.  As alternative providers of internet have emerged, businesses have the opportunity to secure their internet services from such providers and open the door for moving their phone service to a hosted VoIP provider.  These providers have created a "new" bundle.  Because the phone system and service are now intertwined, such a bundle provides a unique opportunity to deliver a fantastic level of service.

The power of Hosted VoIP manifests with the ability to customize the system to match the unique needs of the business.  Business select how calls flow into the office, develop an auto attendant to route calls to maximize customer satisfaction, create find-me/follow-me routines for high contact employees, program time of day routing / messaging differences, and work through many more areas for customization.  After the initial deployment, changes can be made to the programs to address changing demands.  There are also needs for administrative updates, as user names (and email addresses for voicemail to email features) change with turnover.  Businesses may also add phones/users as growth occurs or new locations are required.

It is at this point where the great debate ensues.  Is it better to provide a self servicing web platform or Full_Service_vs_Self_Service_VoIPprovide a full service support contact for customers?  To be fair, there are cases to be made on both sides.  At sipVine, we've made the strategic decision to provide the full service, doing so within our standard rate structure and bypassing any administrative fees or charges.  At the core of this decision is what we believe to be an important opportunity to leverage the bundling of system and phone service.  Due to the fact that there's an intensive level of custom programming up-front in the process, there's a great opportunity to get to know each and every customer within that context.  How powerful is it to receive a call from a customer and you are able to demonstrate that you "know" them?  Isn't that what customer service is all about?  Do you have that kind of relationship with your current phone service provider?

sipVine views this as an opportunity, one that would be lost if we asked our customers to service themselves via a web portal.  Granted, there are certain things that would be easy to do on a portal.  However, we've provided service to a great deal of customers coming over from hosted providers who offered web portal updating access.  In most cases, these customers were frustrated with the portal as they typically had to call for a refresher on how to use it or they created problems with the phones (or call flow) as they attempted higher-level updates.

Recently, a major national provider of hosted services announced that they are now going to provide a "concierge" service, as they realized the level of frustration out there and indicated that many do not have the manpower or expertise to maintain their systems themselves.  The fact that they are putting a premium on full service signals the potential winner in this debate.

Despite being somewhat validated by this announcement, sipVine and other full service VoIP providers need to take full advantage of the opportunity.  Customer controlled web portals have a great advantage in that they are "real time" updates.  Thus, speed to respond such requests are paramount.  At sipVine, we offer several different methods to place a request.  Sending an email to the technical team, logging a ticket via our website or to a specific access email, or simply dialing 7HELP from their sipVine phone are among the access points.  We pride ourselves in prompt closure of such requests, but mainly in delivering the feeling that we are in fact the "phone department" for all of our customers.

As more and more services are being delivered to businesses in a hosted platform, the debate or self service vs. full service will be front and center.  Businesses may have differing preferences.  Perhaps it is best solved by the question on how they would service their own customers.  Offering full service comes at a cost to the business, but the reward can be a loyal and happy following of 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: Changing Phone Service Providers, Phone System Administration

Business Choose Hosted VoIP and Get Out of the Phone Business

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 15, 2011 9:00:00 AM

More businesses are making the move to a hosted digital phone service platform and freeing themselves from the costs associated with maintaining their phone system.  Cloud computing and other hosted applications are making their way into the norm as businesses look for ways to refine their cost structure and minimize investments with a high potential for technical obsolescence.  Phone systems fit into this decision trend in many ways.

System Administration – As businesses drive efficiency withBusinesses Get Out of Phone Business technology, IT support resources are at a premium.  Moving applications and systems to hosted providers lessens the amount of internal IT support required for day to day operation.  Hosted VoIP providers become the IT support for phone system changes, whether it be simple user related changes, new phone provisioning, or complex call flow changes. 

Investment Costs – On-site phone systems can be an expensive undertaking.  Outside of the costs to acquire, there are installation costs and profit-rich annual service contracts to consider.  Money spent on corporate infrastructure can be better applied to company product and service enhancements or research and development that can have an impact on company profitability and customer satisfaction.  With the typical hosted VoIP service, the investment costs are limited to the costs of the phones and some minor network equipment.

Technical Obsolescence – Upgrading your business’ technology is a great thing, but with the rapid advancement of such technology, such investment has a real danger of quickly becoming obsolete.  With hosted digital phone technology, the responsibility for keeping up with technological advancement is shifted to the hosted digital phone provider.  In order to remain competitive in the marketplace, these providers are incented to advance their offerings accordingly and pass those improvements in features and functionality along to their customers.

Operating Flexibility – Hosted phone applications will shift paradigms and free your business to operate in ways not easily implemented before.  Traditional phone systems operate solely within the walls of the enterprise, literally.  With hosted applications, your workforce can be deployed where they are the most efficient, whether it is at home, in satellite offices, or even at a large customer location.  To the external caller, it will appear that all employees are under the same roof.  Internally, employees can reach each other through extension dialing, whether they are reaching another associate in the next office, at their home, or in a satellite office in another state!

Consider these benefits before you try to find parts for your outdated PBX or pay that next annual service contract and get out of the phone business!  Let your hosted provider be your phone administrator and caretaker of your technology investment.

Tags: Benefits of VoIP, Technology in Business, Phone System Administration

Consider Hosted VoIP to Lessen Phone Administration

Posted by Mark Greim on Jan 25, 2011 5:12:00 PM

Many businesses are turning to a Hosted VoIP solution to free themselves from the costs of administering their phone service.  These costs come from a variety of sources, whether it is in-house technician time or vendor-based phone equipment services.  All can be virtually eliminated with the selection of the right hosted VoIP service provider for your business.

What is Hosted VoIP?

Similar to “cloud computing”, in its simplest terms, Hosted VoIP delivers your phone service over the internet via a centralized phone system managed by your hosted digital phone service provider.  The only equipment at the customer location would be the phones and potentially some minor network equipment.  Your phones are connected to your data network and calls route over the internet to the centralized phone system then to your intended destination.

How Does this Lessen Phone Administration?Phone Service Administration

Your hosted digital phone service provider will take over all programmatic changes to your phone system, and the right provider will do this as a part of their monthly charge for phone service.  As you have needs to change a user, move phones around, and other similar administration, your provider can make these changes with a few keystrokes.  No longer are there needs for trip charges to move phones around or to program your phone system on-site.

What are the Other Advantages?

Going with a digital phone system opens up a world of potential opportunities to improve your communications flow.  Again, the right provider will consult with you to determine how to configure the phone system to conform to or improve how your business communicates.  You can create ring groups for incoming call handling, incorporate an automated attendant, enable time of day routing, add specialty ring groups for transferring specific types of calls (e.g. customer service, billing, etc.), and a host of other powerful features.  This customization and programming is one of the biggest advantages of a hosted model, and is even more beneficial when it comes as a part of the service!

So, free your business from costly phone administration and improve your communication functionality by evaluating and selecting a hosted digital phone provider today!

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

Tags: Phone System Administration, Hosted VoIP

sipVine Blog | Why Pay for Phone System Administration?

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 16, 2010 11:05:00 AM

Many small businesses pay for each time they make adjustments to their phone system.  At sipVine, normal volumes of moves, adds, and changes are included in the monthly phone service charge.

Stop Paying for Phone Implementation

When companies have a need to move phones, add or change employees, or make changes in their call flow or configuration, they typically need to engage the services of their equipment vendor or a phone service vendor to make these changes.  Thus, they enter into service agreements, pay trip charges, or incur per hour charges to implement these basic and sometimes routine adjustments.

sipVine’s Hosted VoIP Service includes the central administration of our customers’ phone system, with up to ten moves, adds, and changes included in our monthly service rate. Rarely does a customer need more than ten changes to be made in a month and most, if not all, changes can be administered without an on-site service call.

One of the inherent benefits of a hosted VoIP platform is that the phone system is centralized in our secure data facility off site.  This allows us to remotely make any changes a customer may need.   Simple things, like moving a phone to another office or location (even an external location), only require the customer to plug the phone into their Ethernet connection or active internet connection and the phone automatically registers. 

More complicated changes, like changes in call flow or the activation of previously unused features, such as call park or paging, can also be administered remotely.  Thus, customers are free to adjust their communication processes to how it best serves their business without any concern over the cost of making such changes.

Finally, major changes, like moving the entire office to a new location, do not generate charges that typically are experienced with the moving of a phone system.  The new location needs to be built out for their LAN needs and the phones simply need to be moved to the new location and plugged in! We are happy to work with our customers to establish a move routine that does not generate any down time associated with their moves.

How refreshing and simple is that?  Call us to find out more!   

 

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

Tags: Phone System Administration, Hosted VoIP

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