Blog

Unsure Which Direction to Go? Find the Best Phone System for Your Small Business.

Posted by Mark Greim on Feb 12, 2019 9:36:00 AM

You know it is time for a new phone system, but you're overwhelmed with how to start your search.  This will help you determine what type of phone service provider is best for your small business.  Many small businesses have determined that their existing phone system is outdated and past the point for repair and they are looking where to turn to maximize their new investment.  Their current phone system is failing or falling behind the features and functionality their peer businesses or competitors are now enjoying since moving to a Hosted VoIP phone service.  Even though it is clear through high adoption rates that most companies have selected Hosted VoIP as the best phone system for small business, it is more of a challenge to find the service provider that will work best for you.

SIP_300x400_SmallbusinessBullishThere's a new competitive landscape in the world of business phone service and systems.  In the old days, you would seek out a phone system from a local manufacturer's representative and the phone service from the Regional Bell Operating Company.  Today, Hosted VoIP providers deliver both the phone system and phone service to the business, essentially a "new telecom bundle".  The challenge is that there are a myriad of Hosted VoIP service providers, from large global/national providers to regionally focused service providers and down to value added resellers of a white-labeled product.  By comparing the capabilities of each type of organization and matching to the unique requirements of your business, selection of the phone service provider that is right for you becomes more clear.

Global/National Hosted VoIP Providers

This category of providers is best suited for small businesses who have:

  • In-house IT resources familiar with telephony programming
  • Needs for cutting edge phone features

Internal IT resources can spend the time required to program the phones and call flows themselves and take care of on-going administration.  Businesses who don't have the in-house capabilities or time to take on the programming and administration are less of a fit and tend to be frustrated with the customer service engagement with these providers.  The focus by the provider is to instruct the business on how to utilize the service portal rather than solving the issue.

Searching for Hosted VoIP ProvidersGlobal VoIP providers are typically publicly traded companies and tend to be on the cutting edge of new product development.  Their areas of focus are marketing and product development, as they are under the watchful eyes of their shareholders for new customer additions every quarter.  They dominate the paid search marketing strategies, so you will have no problem finding them on line and receiving a quote for your service.  These providers drop ship the phones and provide a robust customer portal for businesses to self-service their phone programming.

Regional/Local Hosted VoIP Providers

This category of providers is best suited for businesses who:

  • Do not have in-house IT resources
  • Prefer working with local businesses they can trust
  • Elect to have the systems programmed and installed by the providers, rather than DIY

Businesses who do not have an in-house  IT resource or have the time or expertise to handle the programming and administration of the phones and call flows are best suited to be served by a Regional/Local Hosted VoIP provider.  Typically, these small businesses are looking to maximize their communication strategies with current technology.

Providers in this category are typically privately held organizations with a singular focus on VoIP service.  They are not resellers or have secured a white-labeled platform from a major provider, but have their own platform and service.  Being privately held and internally responsible for product development, these companies tend to follow the larger providers when it comes to new feature development.  However, where they really shine compared to the nationals is in the level of customer service provided.  These providers tend to provide more of a full-service administration for their customers, rather than pushing customers to a portal.  They typically handle the programming of the phones and system for their customers so that the business requirements are better met.

Searching for Hosted VoIPWhen searching for these providers on-line, add your location.  For example, search for "hosted VoIP providers in Kansas City," and review the non-paid search results on the first or second page.  Not only visit their website to make sure they are truly local, but check out their Google listing and reviews.   Once in touch with these providers, asking specific questions about their platform (is it their own or do they resell or white label) and their approach to customer service (full-service or self-service) will help you confirm that you've found a provider in this category.

VARs and White Label VoIP Resellers

This category of providers may be a good choice for businesses who are:

  • Looking for a high level of features
  • Expect some degree of support

Small businesses can take advantage of this model and receive higher level features from a robust platform. What may be a challenge is that the Hosted VoIP company here is not ultimately responsible for the pricing, support, system up-time, and stability, and they may or may not disclose this fact with you.  You would need to decide if you are comfortable trusting your phone communications with this structure.

There are many businesses who have a specialty in another business service, such as IT support, who have added Hosted VoIP to their service offerings.  There are two ways they go about doing this, one more transparent than the other.  Value Added Resellers (VARs) or even independent sales agents like a telecom broker can resell a national provider's service and receive a commission.  There are some VoIP businesses who have been built around using a white label platform.  What this means is that the technology, system, and true back end support are provided to these businesses as a platform, but the businesses are able to place their logo into the structure and promote it as if it were their own.  These companies make money on the margin, the amount they can sell above the wholesale price.

Resellers or White Label VARs have less pricing flexibility and less influence over the actual solution to a service concern.  They may offer a tier-one type support where they can handle some customer service items through the platform's portal, but they would need to place a ticket into that provider for more complicated support issues.  However, for relatively very little risk and cost, they would have access to a very feature-rich VoIP platform.  For businesses who do more than just VoIP, this is an easy way to add value to their customer base.

Many times these opportunities are presented to you by your IT support company, who has added Hosted VoIP to their offerings via a reseller or white label relationship. 

Now that you’ve chosen the type of provider, what’s next?

Search_for_Right_VoIP_Provider-3Once you have determined what type of Hosted VoIP provider is the best match for your business, you can begin your search for the best provider for you within the category.  Again, finding the nationals is easy.  But, if the regional/local or Reseller/VAR works best for you, it will require a bit more effort to find one.  Once you do, the following list  of questions will help you determine if they are the right company for you.

  • Do they own the platform and system up-time, or are they reselling or utilizing another's platform in any way?
  • How do they handle customer service (DIY or live, local support)?
  • Do they perform all of the pre-install programming along with the physical installation of the phones?

Answers to these questions will allow you to know which category the provider is operating within and narrow the list of whom to get proposals.  Best of success to you in finding the right VoIP service provider for 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: voip service provider selection, small business phone service

5 Questions Businesses Ask About Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Jan 10, 2019 2:22:22 PM

Every day more small businesses convert their phone service to a Hosted VoIP provider, moving away from traditional analog phone service and phone systems.  Common to the conversations with these small businesses are questions regarding the impact a switch to Hosted VoIP phone service will have on their company.

VoIP for Small Business - 5 Common Questions

SIP_300x400_SupportSmallBusinessWill Hosted VoIP save our business money?  The short answer:  Absolutely!  Small businesses can expect to save money on their monthly telecom expense, long-term on their phone system expense, and through efficiencies driven to their operation.  In response to the rapid decline of analog phone lines due to losses to Hosted VoIP, telecommunication companies have increased their rates.  Even without the rate increases, most businesses converting to Hosted VoIP have experienced a monthly savings.

Additionally, by shifting to a cloud-based phone system, small businesses only have to purchase the VoIP phones, not the phone system.  Thus, future costs will only be in the form of replacement handsets or upgrades as technology changes.  The responsibility for maintaining the system and keeping pace with technology improvements shifts to the Hosted VoIP provider. 

Finally, there are a myriad of ways Hosted VoIP technology can improve business operations.  The key is that it is a software program, with flexibility to adapt to how each company does business and serves its customers.  Setting up remote personnel, establishing a similar phone platform across branch locations, creating centralized call functions, enabling direct customer contact to applicable employees anytime and anywhere, and creating customer-centric call flows are just some of the concepts small businesses have utilized with a Hosted VoIP platform to drive operational efficiencies.

5 Questions Businesses Ask About Hosted VoIPMy phone system is working, why should I change?  This question is being asked less and less by prospective businesses, as the Hosted VoIP technology is now commonly utilized by businesses across all market segments.  Still, many business owners have been resistant to making a technology change or simply delaying until such an investment was absolutely necessary.  However, the time is quickly approaching for a decision to be made, as several manufacturers of analog phone systems have ceased production and support of the old technology.  As a result, replacement parts are becoming difficult to locate or very expensive.  So, rather than facing an impact to the business because of the phone system failure or constraints, business owners are moving to Hosted VoIP and considering it on a return on investment basis.

Can I keep my existing phone numbers?  Yes, moving (porting) your current phone numbers to a Hosted VoIP provider is not only possible, it is a regulated activity.  In addition to your current customer facing numbers, Hosted VoIP providers can deploy direct dial numbers for your employees, toll free numbers, and phone numbers in different cities across the world that can route to your main location. 

Will we be down during the transition?  This is a great question to ask of your Hosted VoIP provider, as processes differ across these providers.  The goal of everyone's process would be to eliminate downtime.  The phones and call programming can be configured and installed prior to the porting of the numbers.  Differences exist between providers and carriers as to whether the port can be initiated on-demand on the scheduled date or if it automatically happens on a scheduled date.  Obviously, if it is on-demand, there's no downtime.  Calls just begin coming in on the new phones.  If it is automatic, as long as the IP phones are installed before the port, the transition is seamless.

Is Hosted VoIP ReliableIs Hosted VoIP phone service reliable?  There are two areas to explore for answers relating to this question.  The first is the reliability of the internet connection to the business.  Hosted VoIP runs over the company's internet connection.  Over the past decade, there have been tremendous improvements in the available speeds, up-time, and reliability of business internet connections.  A VoIP call requires very little bandwidth, so, with higher available speeds now available, contention for bandwidth between applications is becoming less of an issue. 

The second involves the reliability of the hosted VoIP provider as well.  Given this is a cloud based-system, there are some safeguards built in to protect customers from key failure points, such as internet outages to their data centers, equipment failures, and such.  Ask for references, as the best people to ask about downtime experience are the businesses who rely on the service.  The good news is that there are opportunities on all fronts to help prevent a major outage. 

If you're a business that has not yet made the switch to Hosted VoIP phone service, invest a little time into researching your options.  Finding a provider that meets your needs and matches your values is not easy, as there are many out there.  But, the benefits cited above can greatly improve your operations and bottom line. 

 

 

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: small business phone service

When You See Increasing Phone Service Rates, Run!

Posted by Mark Greim on Oct 30, 2018 9:02:00 AM

Phone service providers should be all about raising your expectations, not your rates. Sadly, the opposite is true in many cases.  Small businesses routinely complain about the difficulty in getting something done through the customer service channels of the major telecom providers.  Just as common are the frustrations that come from being rewarded for such lackluster service with rate increases.  Thankfully, there are alternative providers offering rate stability, improved technology,  and superb customer service.

Affordable VoIP System and Competitively Priced Phone Service

Compared to purchasing an on-site phone system, moving to a hosted VoIP platform is very affordable.  Businesses only purchase the VoIP phones, not the system itself.  Additionally, the financial returns carry on over the long term.  The hosted VoIP provider assumes the responsibility for maintaining and upgrading the system, thus the business does not need to worry about system maintenance or obsolescence.  At most, they will replace or upgrade the VoIP phones as they age.

Another Phone Service Rate IncreaseHosted VoIP phone service is priced differently than traditional phone service.  With hosted VoIP, businesses are charged for monthly service by the number of phones deployed, not the lines of service coming into the system.  However, in most cases, businesses moving to hosted VoIP are paying less than traditional phone service.  Additionally, most hosted VoIP providers do not require term contracts.  This does not guarantee price stability, but it does guarantee that they will need to remain competitively priced to retain the customer.  Despite requiring term contracts, traditional telecommunication providers have continued to increase rates to protect their margins, as their number of analog lines continues to decline with customer defections.

Improved Technology with Hosted VoIP

Technology improvements and increased functionality in the telecom space have been largely seen in VoIP deployments as opposed to analog phone systems.  Businesses now expect their phone system and service to be flexible and programmable, conforming to how they run their operation.  Hosted VoIP enables businesses to improve their external and internal communications, becoming more present and efficient. 

Better Service with VoIP for Small Business

With rising expectations for improvements to their business operations with the new technology, businesses are becoming more reliant on their Hosted VoIP provider for their phone system management.  Given previous experiences with traditional phone service providers, businesses were hesitant to rely on a service provider for maintaining their phone system as well.  This is where careful consideration needs to take place with the choice of Hosted VoIP providers.

Small Businesses Choose Hosted VoIPFrankly, the national VoIP providers haven't lived up to these higher expectations.  They push their customers to their self-servicing web portal and deploy a call center approach for their support.  Given the myriad of ways their system can be programmed, support is better performed by professionals familiar with the system and the options available.  Self-servicing is frustrating to the customer.  There are Hosted VoIP providers who provide more of a concierge type of customer service, taking the burden of phone system programming and managing off of the customer.  This gives them time to focus on what is more important, their business!  Because of this level of involvement with the customer, these type of providers tend to exceed expectations for customer service.

As you research hosted VoIP providers for your business, be sure to ask what their pricing history has been.  "At sipVine, we are very proud of the fact that we have never increased our rates since our inception in 2005", states Robert Conner, sipVine's CEO.  "In fact, our rates have declined.  It is our goal to be the affordable alternative to the business community for phone service and set the standard for customer service." 

 

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, small business phone service

sipVine Supports Small Businesses with Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on May 2, 2018 10:52:27 AM

This week is National Small Business Week, a celebration and recognition of small businesses across the country. Small businesses make up over 99% of the employers in the United States and are responsible for two out of every three jobs. Thus, it is no surprise that nearly all of sipVine's Hosted VoIP customers are also small businesses. We'd like to recognize and thank all of our customers for their loyal support and continuous referrals.

Businesses_Moving_to_VoIP-2

Small businesses gravitate toward the Hosted VoIP phone services for a variety of reasons. We recently drafted an article covering the 5 Reasons Small Business Choose Hosted VoIP where these are detailed. Here we'd like to focus on why they are choosing sipVine as their provider of choice!

Concierge Approach to Customer Service - The national VoIP providers have done a good job developing a self-servicing portal and have driven their customers to handle their phone administration. At sipVine, we were out to set a new standard for customer service and the concept of "self service" didn't fit in with the strategy. Moreover, we have heard from numerous former customers of the national VoIP providers that such portals were not that intuitive and drove more frustration than freedom. Thus, sipVine handles all of the phone administration and programming for our customers. The standard we set is to be seen as their phone department, not a provider.

VoIP-FromEntrepreneurtoEnterpriseProgramming Service to Meet Specific Needs - One of the benefits of the concierge approach is that we conduct a pre-install meeting to go over all of the specific requirements of the business. The call flow, auto-attendant, feature utilization, and specific phone layouts are all considered. The designed is turned over to our technical team and they handle all of the programming. Again, we do not push customers to self-provision. We have witnessed on 100% of customers moving to us from the national providers significant misses in how their phones were programmed. Let sipVine handle the phone programming and you can get on with managing your small business!

Large Coverage, Local Feel - sipVine covers over 90% of the rate centers across the country, but we support our customers with a local approach. We don't deploy a call center approach to support or sales. All of our support and sales personnel are located at our corporate headquarters in Kansas City, MO and we do not off-shore or contract out such important customer-facing activities. Because we get to know each business and how they want the system programmed, we are able to support them the same way.

sipVine is deeply rooted in the business community and feels a kinship with each and every customer. We invite you to call and feel the difference! We'd love to welcome you to the family!

 

 

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: small business phone service

5 Reasons Small Businesses Choose Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Dec 13, 2017 9:33:00 AM

Small businesses are the lifeblood of America and the driving force behind the proliferation of Hosted VoIP phone service.  According to a 2016 report by Babson College, small businesses make up 99% of the employers in the United States and existing businesses account for 60% of the private sector's net new job growth.  This statistic emphasizes the importance of a flexible, scalable phone system for small business and is one of the many reasons small business chooses a Hosted VoIP platform.

Below are five reasons small businesses are discovering the benefits and moving to Hosted VoIP phone service.

Small Businesses Choose Hosted VoIP.jpgEnterprise-Level Features and Benefits  - Whether the business is large or small, businesses compete.  They compete for the attention of their target audience.  They compete to keep their customers' loyalty and satisfaction.  Therefore, they look for a competitive edge over their competition. Small businesses deserve the same competitive advantage as their large counterparts, but rarely can afford the solution.  This is not the case with Hosted VoIP phone service.  Hosted VoIP platforms include the same features and benefits of an enterprise-level phone system all in an affordable package, perfect for businesses of all sizes.

Affordability - According to the Babson report, business owners value technology and are hindered by costs.  The affordability of Hosted VoIP technology and the value business owners place upon technology is one of the reasons why this technology has been so widely adopted in the business marketplace.  Many times, businesses with Hosted VoIP see their monthly outlay for phone service and phone system maintenance decrease when compared with their old traditional analog phone system.  Additionally, the value most inherent to a Hosted VoIP phone system is the fact that businesses are not purchasing a physical phone system!  They only need to purchase the VoIP phones and those phones are connected to the cloud-based phone system maintained and managed by the Hosted VoIP provider!  Thus, these businesses achieve a lower monthly outlay for a low cost of investment.

Flexibility - Small businesses are nimble.  They expand and contract as the market opportunity dictates. They need a phone system that can grow with them and match their level of nimbleness.  With Hosted VoIP, businesses can add phones when and where they need them.  Business do not have to overbuild a phone system to accommodate growth, but only add phones as they grow.  Also, because they are connected to a cloud based system and not a system housed in their  office, they are able to deploy phones wherever they need.  If their growth necessitates phones in another location or if they need to deploy a work at home team, Hosted VoIP phone service can accommodate their needs.  To the caller, they would have no idea where the phone calls are being answered!

Remove Walls to Communication with Business VoIP.jpgAdditionally, growing businesses can move locations with no downtime with Hosted VoIP.  They do not have to worry about the physical move of a system and contacting the phone company to move their lines.  They simply move their phones to their new internal office network and they're in business.  During the move, they can forward their calls, or even move a phone or two to the new location while keeping calls coming into the old location until all are ready to move.

Future Proof - Given the pace of technological advancements, small businesses worry that their investments in infrastructure and technology will be rendered obsolete in a short amount of time.  This is reinforced with their past investments in phone systems, as parts or replacement phones become more expensive or difficult to find and service calls become costly.  With Hosted VoIP, the responsibility to maintain the phone system is shifted entirely to the Hosted VoIP provider.  They are charged with keeping the phone system and features on the cutting edge and certifying the newest VoIP phones on their platform.  As time goes on, businesses are introduced to new features and capabilities.  As their phones age or are damaged, they can be replaced with newer models that will work with any old phones they continue to utilize.  A safe technology investment is music to their ears!

SIP_5ptchecklist_300x400.pngCompetitive Advantage - So, small businesses choosing Hosted VoIP receive enterprise-level features, monthly cost savings, a low cost of purchase, flexibility in deployment, and avoid obsolescence!  They can program the features to improve their communications, internally and externally.  All of this delivers a competitive advantage to their business, helping them flourish and succeed in today's market climate.

If you're responsible for a small business, take time to research Hosted VoIP providers and gain this advantage over your competition!

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, small business phone service

sipVine Blog | Small Business Bullish on Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 17, 2015 8:47:13 AM

Small businesses are rapidly moving toward VoIP, and competition in the VoIP category has never been higher.  Thus, it is a great opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the competition for their services.  The challenge is to narrow down the list of VoIP providers and make a selection that will be best for your business over the long-term.

Market Opportunity

At the risk of fueling the marketing machine (as you'll read about later), I'm going to cite a recent report published by Software Advice.  Over 40% of small businesses have already made the move to VoIP, with the balance still using a traditional landline service or cell phones.  Thus, a significant conversion opportunity still exists, fueling the competition for service.  Small businesses are moving to hosted VoIP due to the relatively low investment cost in return for advanced features equivalent to what is afforded to large businesses and their expensive phone systems.

It is also a great opportunity for the providers.  Not often are there opportunities in the business marketplace where alternatives to traditional providers can literally push traditional providers to a small market share.  Traditionally, businesses of all sizes would purchase phone systems separately, and utilize landline services from their local telecom provider.  With hosted VoIP, the system and service are combined and ride separately over whatever internet connection is provided.  Additionally, many hosted VoIP providers have a nationwide footprint, putting them in a position more favorable and less restrictive to the local phone providers.

Certain VoIP Providers Dominate the Marketing Machine

With such a market opportunity, money follows.  At play is the way small business researches their purchases...the web.  Sure, still plenty of money floods direct mail and other forms of traditional advertising.  However, the cost of ranking high on paid search terms and gaining significant placement on organic searches is staggering.  It was shared with me that paid search costs for VoIP related terms are second to only mesothelioma terms, as injury law firms scramble to get in on the payouts!

The large national VoIP providers fuel the unreasonable cost to paid terms, forcing other providers to pay to play or move to more obscure terms.  We've even seen where good value terms are eventually forced up in rate by the nationals and their robotic bidding software a month or two down the road.  They also drive business via other sources.  If you've searched for VoIP terms, you undoubtedly find companies that "rank" VoIP providers or have research that points to the "best" providers.  Make no mistake, these are actually engines that are funded by the providers listed as they pay for leads that are submitted for their call centers to attack.

This is not to say that the products offered by these providers are inferior.  Quite the opposite.  Money is clearly spent on product development and marketing.  But, are these businesses right for your business?

Other Providers Can Present a Risk to the Business, so Research is Important

There are alternatives.  Given the market opportunity, there are more and more entrants into the small business VoIP provider ranks.  The cost of entry is relatively low when compared to what telecom providers had to invest when building out the traditional landline service.  Because all VoIP providers utilize the internet for the physical transport of the voice packets, their investment is server/product/service based only. 

There are a couple of variations of alternative providers out there.  One is a true developer/manager of the VoIP product that they maintain and market.  Another is a reseller of a white label product of a national firm.  You can spot the latter if there are numerous line items for various billing options on their quote, as they are charged accordingly by their national provider.  Once on-line with these providers, you will notice that the service is not handled by people employed by the company.  For those who maintain their own platform, they have much more flexibility in pricing and configuration, but you need to carefully choose the provider.  Finding the VoIP specialists is the key.  If it is an offshoot business of a technical service company, you will need to see how grounded they are in VoIP experience and capabilities.

Finding the Gems

Again, the large players in the market are found easily and have good products.  But, are they right for your business?  Think about one of the reasons why you are considering leaving the large telco or cable provider -- customer service!  With so much money invested in marketing, customers are forced to deal with call center sales and support.  If you want to find a VoIP provider that will provide dedicated account and service teams, you will have to dig a bit deeper.Search_for_Right_VoIP_Provider

Make your search terms a bit longer.  Instead of searching on "hosted VoIP providers", use something like "hosted phone service providers with awesome customer service." Skip past the paid ads and review several pages of searches.  Examine the websites of the providers you find and look for a quality site with VoIP only services.  These will be players that have more depth to them and have the potential to provide your business with the support structure you are looking for in a provider.  Once you have a list of providers, make your calls and conduct your interview.  Look for providers that can adapt their service to how you do business (customizing the configuration).  See if they build your configuration for you and ensure that you are not required to build it yourself via a self-service portal.  Ask for a list of references, specific to other customers your size and in your industry.  Call these references to find out how reliable the service has been and have them describe the customer service provided.

 

If you are a small business, it is likely that you already have VoIP or are now ready to consider it.  There are gems of VoIP providers in this market.  Chances are they have a similar business philosophy to your small business.  Imagine receiving your phone system and service from the same company, one that looks and acts like your business and not some behemoth marketing machine similar to the one you are considering leaving!   Dig a little deeper in your research, and the results will benefit your business 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: Changing Phone Service Providers, small business phone service

VoIP Should Adapt to Your Organization

Posted by Mark Greim on Dec 30, 2013 10:58:00 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: hosted digital phone service, VoIP Trends in Business, Business Digital Phone Service, small business phone service

10 Ways to Spot a sipVine Customer

Posted by Mark Greim on Dec 23, 2013 1:06:00 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: voip business phone system, Business Digital Phone Service, small business phone service, VoIP Phone

Why Hosted VoIP Service is Right for Business

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 11, 2013 3:32:00 PM

VoIP implementations in the small to medium business markets are becoming the norm, as more trends are pointing to IP systems becoming the technology of choice.  Why are businesses investing in this technology?  Why is the hosted or cloud based model a good option for this market?  These are just a couple of questions answered in this post.

Replacing Old Phones / Old Technology – Analog lines and phone systems are simplyBusiness Phone System becoming relics.  If you are a business with an analog phone system greater than ten years old, you already know how difficult it is to get new or replacement handsets for your system.  You also know how much in service and maintenance fees you are paying to keep that system alive.  Finally, if your business has evolved at all, you know that your phone system may be holding you back on certain functions or capabilities necessary to meet the customer expectations of this generation’s marketplace.  Simply stated, many companies are evolving to the new technology because their business has evolved with the times.

Low Investment / Stable Monthly Service Rates – Businesses making the change from their old system are faced with an investment decision.  Few businesses enjoy investing in infrastructure.  Similar to cloud-based software, hosting, or other applications, similar advantages are found with hosted VoIP, or hosted telephony applications.  The investment is low when compared to site-based systems, as the only investment is in the handsets and some minor premise equipment.  In return, hosted VoIP providers typically charge for monthly phone service by the user count or handset.  Many bundle local and long distance charges into this rate along with any administrative updates they handle on your behalf.  Thus, by going with a hosted model, businesses upgrade their technology for a low entry rate and a stable monthly service fee.

Administration / Diminished Obsolescence Concerns – Administering a VoIP system is much different than your analog systems, as most hosted providers handle changes with a simple keystroke!  There’s no more paying service personnel to moving phones around so people can their extensions as they move offices.  For the most part, businesses are out of the phone administration game once they make the shift to VoIP.  Additionally, they do not have to worry about their PBX becoming obsolete.  The responsibility to keep up with technology enhancements is up to the hosted phone service provider.  The handsets are relatively inexpensive, thus, over time, can be easily upgraded to newer models if required by wear and tear. 

Continued Improvement of the Internet Landscape – A decade ago, the availability of stable and robust internet circuits was a valid deterrent to VoIP deployments.  Today, more alternative providers are in the market providing internet service with significant bandwidth.  These connections have proven to be more and more stable as the networks mature.   Google’s recent entry into this market by offering fiber gigabyte connections to businesses and residences in Kansas City, MO and KS, and the just announced market of Austin, TX will only push the marketplace further and further. 

New Technology / Flexibility – It’s not all about just replacing the old technology; it’s what you are able to do with the new technology that really has businesses flocking to hosted VoIP service.  Small and medium sized businesses are able to take advantage of system features that previously may have been only available in very expensive on-site systems. I recently posted a series of articles focusing on the many features and capabilities of hosted VoIP systems that will provide you with additional detail to this point.

Join the party and investigate a hosted voip system and service for your business today!

 

About the author:  Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of digital 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 System Replacement, small business phone service

sipVine Blog | Why Small Business Owners Love VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 26, 2010 9:29:00 AM

Small Businesses experience many pressures and demands on resources, and their telecommunication decision is just one of those experiences.  Below are five reasons why small businesses are moving toward a hosted digital phone service and turning this pressure to an advantage: 

1.  Low Capital Investment:  Small business owners who have just begun operations are trying to be as prudent with their capital spending as possible, especially in the initial months/years of operation.  A hosted digital phone service allows small business owners to have a fully functional telephone solution for just the cost of phones and a few small data components.  This allows business owners to invest the money that they would have spent on a full phone system/PBX into business-oriented assets like equipment, marketing materials, or employees. 

hosted digital phone service

2.  Big-system features for small-system prices:  Small businesses have to have access to the same communications features and benefits as big businesses in order to compete.  A hosted digital phone service equips small businesses with the features of a high-dollar communications system at a much smaller price.  For example, a small business can have an automated attendant service to give the impression that they are a large, highly staffed company – even if there are only a handful of employees.  Small firms could even have single receptionist answer calls for multiple offices in different geographic locations in order to reduce headcount without customers knowing that offices are geographically dispersed. 

3.  Flexibility:  For most small businesses, the intention is to grow the business within a period of a few years.  Small firms need a phone system that can grow with them at their own pace without a complete change-out of equipment.  A hosted digital phone service helps small businesses expand by simply calling up their provider and ordering a new phone and a new phone number for that employee.  At the other end of the spectrum, many hosted phone providers will allow their clients to reduce the number of users on the system without paying a penalty.  While business contraction is never a goal, business owners at least have the comfort in knowing that they have the ability to reduce their operational expenditures should it be necessary. 

4.  Accessibility:  A small-business owner can’t be tied down by the physical restraints of an antiquated phone system – they need a phone solution that can send calls to whatever location the owner is doing business that day.  A hosted digital phone service delivers services such as “find-me, follow-me” that permit small business owners to decide where and how they will receive their phone calls.  Additionally, many digital systems deliver phone and fax messages to their email addresses, which provide the users the ability to respond to those messages from any PDA phone, such as a Blackberry or an iPhone.  This will ensure that small businesses can put their customers first, regardless of their physical location.  

5.  Reduced Administrative Headaches:  Small-business owners have to be not only the CEO and President, but also the financial lead too.  A hosted digital phone service allows those business owners to consolidate their entire phone expenses under one bill.  This saves owners administrative hassles when they expand into new territories.  Additionally, hosted phone providers conduct the phone system administration and maintenance, which reduces your time devoted to such activity and increases the amount of time you have devoted to your business. 

While a hosted digital phone service might not make sense for all small businesses, there are a great number of benefits that make such a solution worth exploring.  As with all business decisions, be sure you do your homework. Make sure that the company with which you do business is reliable, and don’t be afraid to ask for references specific to your industry.  Also, ask about a list of features specific to how your firm conducts business. Finally, ensure that there aren’t any hidden fees or contracts that increase over time; you want to be certain that your phone service provider is always earning your business.  

Thanks for reading and please comment!

About the author:  Brandon Smith is a Digital Phone Solution Specialist with sipVine, a provider of a variety of digital phone solutions.  Brandon has worked with numerous small business clients to formulate the right solution for their business.

Tags: hosted digital phone service, small business phone service

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts