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The Evolution of the Voice Over IP Marketplace

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 15, 2017 10:18:00 AM

Now that we have a little longevity to the VoIP for business Marketplace, we can see that the market has evolved quickly with traditional market maturation undertones.  What may have been a surprise to us all is how quickly businesses moved to the new technology, as voice over IP installations are the preferred solution when compared to the old analog phone technology.  Even more surprising was how slow to respond were the traditional large telecommunication companies.  They have effectively ceded the business phone service market to VoIP providers, relegating themselves to wholesale roles.  Let's take a view of how this market has evolved.Evolution of VoIP.jpg

sipVine, a Kansas City-based voice over IP provider, has been operating since 2005, essentially bearing witness to this evolution.  "We knew we were on to something, but we were even surprised at the pace of overall adoption of the technology by businesses large and small," shares Robert Conner, sipVine's CEO.  "What has been very clear are the four stages of market evolution that can be identified over the years." 

Early Adoption Stage - As with any new technology, you have your early adopters.  Fueled by a vision of the technological impacts to their business, these early adopters embraced the technology for what it was and what it could be.  This went from "wow, we can process phone calls over the internet" to "look at these great new features that can actually improve our communication practices."

Later in the early adoption stage were the businesses looking to save money over their current analog service.  Telecommunication firms were not responding to the price advantages VoIP providers were delivering, leaving the door open for a great amount of savings to be delivered.  The cost and flexibility of a hosted VoIP system was so much better than purchasing an on-site system that many companies were seeing a full return on their investment in under a year. 

There were challenges during the early adoption years, namely voice quality and bandwidth availability.  At sipVine, we were able to develop technology to solve the voice quality concern, but the industry was not getting a good reputation from providers who did not provide such a solution.  The answer always was "increase bandwidth", which wasn't necessarily the right answer or easily accomplished.  T-1's and DSL circuits were the options available, although some alternative providers (like cable) were making inroads into the bandwidth challenge.

My_Phone_System_Crashed.jpgThe "My Phone System is Failing" Stage - Even as businesses were embracing the new technology and finding ways to save money, the early adoption years basically covered the same time frame as the economic recession.  Many businesses simply were not in a position to invest in new technology, even if there was a quick return on the investment.  Infrastructure expenditures were deferred and phone systems were put on life support.  As recessionary pressure eased, the industry experienced a wave of new customers that were very ready to replace their outdated or failing phone systems.

This is also the stage where many businesses were seeing their peers or competitors experience positive results by moving to a VoIP system and they were ready to make the change themselves.  This was the time of the greatest growth of the VoIP industry and the technology was clearly on the move to pass analog installations in the business community.  National VoIP providers and some regional/local providers were at the forefront of technological advancements to the product capabilities and provided a new level of customer service when compared to the traditional communications firms.  Businesses flocked to these alternatives in droves.

The Last Staw Stage -  As with any market, there are always late adopters.  These were the folks in the earlier stages that would say, "my phone system works, why change?"  Or, "I've been with XX&X for years, and I'm loyal."  Several things happened to these businesses later in the game.  Either their phone system became too expensive to support or they may have gone through a location move and it would be more expensive to move the phone system than to go with a hosted VoIP platform.  Or, they became tired of their loyalty to the phone company being rewarded with rate increases or outsourced/off-shored customer service that lacked any resemblance of service.  There were many, many examples and references of businesses that had made the move years earlier, and they drew upon that success and made the move themselves to voice over IP.

Full_Service_vs_Self_Service_VoIP.jpgThis stage was also marked by a proliferation of bandwidth availability.  In markets like Kansas City where Google Fiber entered and disrupted the market, businesses had more choices for bandwidth, especially as the cable and telco providers responded to the competition.  Bandwidth availability of 100 mb/sec to 1 gigabit per second became available and affordable.  Not only did this provide another big boost to the VoIP providers, it allowed businesses to move more and more of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. 

Let the Cream Rise Stage - Throughout the first three stages, most of the "wins" by VoIP companies were at the expense of the traditional telcos or cable companies providing analog service.  This current stage of the market is marked by many wins coming at the expense of other VoIP providers.  VoIP providers who have continued to add to their functionality, better customized the experience for their customers, or who have created a customer service model that differentiates them above the other VoIP providers are continuing to experience good growth during this current stage of a very mature market.

There are still businesses who are switching to voice over IP for the first time.  For those businesses, there are a few tips to be mindful of as they select their provider:

  • Choosing_a_Hosted_VoIP_Provider.jpgSelect a provider who can provide a number of references and those references can speak to the level of customer service delivered.
  • The provider should be able to customize the solution to meet your needs.  VoIP platforms are very adaptable.  Some providers, however, make this the responsibility of the customer to deploy and program their phones.  Good providers do this for the customer, as they have the expertise and experience across a number of market segments and are in a better position to do the programming.
  • Look for a provider who does not require term contracts and offers only high quality VoIP phones that are not locked down to their service.  There are many VoIP phone manufacturers, but not all phones can be reused on another VoIP company's platform.  At sipVine, we only sell Cisco or Polycom phones because they rarely break down and they are commonly used by other providers.  Of course, our service level is high enough that customers rarely leave, but we believe strongly in providing such flexibility to the customer.

Following these tips will help ensure that you are finding a provider who has already risen to the top.  This will keep you away from further disruption by needing to switch again later.  You should experience fantastic benefits by moving to VoIP which you can guarantee by selecting the right provider!

Tags: Technology in Business, VoIP Trends in Business

If it isn't broke....ah, go with Hosted VoIP anyway!

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 14, 2016 12:24:52 PM

Finally!  The last of the businesses remaining on their antiquated analog phone systems are making the move to Hosted VoIP.  This communication model has proven itself over the past decade and is now the platform of choice for businesses. 

Finally_Make_the_Move_to_VoIP.jpgThere are several signs that the technology has been fully embraced.  Just listening to prospective clients calling in, they are more educated on the technology than ever before.  This certainly wasn't the case ten years ago.  Businesses are also switching service from one VoIP provider to another.  Again, years ago, all business came from traditional telecom providers or cable companies providing phone service.  And, finally, many businesses who were proposed a VoIP system several years ago are now calling back in looking to make the change!

So, why now are these holdovers making the move?  These are the folks that delivered the classic lines of "my phone system has been working fine for 15 years, why move?" and "I've been with the phone company for many years and they've never let me down."  Well, no matter what new technology is introduced, you will have your late adopters.  Also, when hosted VoIP was in its early stages, the economy wasn't exactly sound.  Infrastructure investments were postponed and phone systems were certainly among the casualties.  Now, these businesses are ready for the change.

These late adopters have heard all they need to hear from their business peers about the values brought to them by the features and benefits of a hosted VoIP system.  Additionally, their phone systems are now on the later stages of their useful life.  They are having difficulty securing parts and their vendors are pushing them to upgrade into a new system by not supporting their old system.  They are also finding that the phone company who "never let them down" has been overcharging them for years and holding them to automatic renewal terms that they never considered reviewing.  Some business were ready for the switch, but found themselves still tied into a three year renewal.

The best news for these late adopters is that they will no longer need to worry about phone system obsolescence.  In fact, they are not purchasing a phone system at all, just VoIP handsets that tie to the hosted VoIP provider's system.  It is up to the hosted VoIP provider to continue to invest in their system and maintain it, not the business customer.  They now can take advantage of the advancement in their communications platform, improving their customer service in the process.

So, if you are a business still hanging onto your analog phone system, it is time to check out your alternative.  Contact a hosted VoIP provider today and investigate all of the advantages that can be brought to your business.  Being a late adopter, you will also have the benefit of working with a hosted VoIP provider who has stood the test of time. 

 

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

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

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 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

How Insurance Agencies Thrive with Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on May 13, 2015 11:00:00 AM

From independent insurance brokers to multi-location agencies, the insurance industry has harnessed the power of hosted VoIP services to enhance their customer service experience.  Additional benefits are found in the economics, as these organizations do not have to purchase an expensive in-house system to achieve the benefits derived from a hosted VoIP platform.  Listed below are several examples of how insurance companies have utilized VoIP to improve their customer service:

  1. Find Me/Follow Me - We've all seen the commercials touting the responsiveness and availability of your insurance agent in times of need.  Insurance agencies can utilize their VoIP platform to facilitate this promise in becoming a reality!  Calls into the agency can be routed to the agent, adjuster, or other customer facing staff via a direct transfer or by implementing a find  me / follow me feature on that associate's extension.  Most utilize their cell phone as the destination for such routing of calls. 
  2. Strategic Use of an Auto Attendant - Whether it be as back up during hours during high call volume or as the primary after hours process, agencies have utilized an auto attendant to help route customer calls to a destination that meets their current need.  The agency may have a claims center or roadside assistance center that supports them, and customers can choose the particular option that meets their need and be transferred there.  Reaching the agent or other staff after hours or in an emergency can be additional options on the attendant.
  3. Time of Day Routing and Holiday Schedule - A great feature of hosted VoIP is that it is essentially a program, one in which insurance agencies and similar businesses can customize to their schedule.  During normal hours, they may choose to ring the office phones in a certain pattern.  After hours, they can streamline the ring pattern and fall to an afterhours auto attendant.  Similarly, holidays can be scheduled to operate in after hours mode and the greetings can be customized to the holiday.
  4. Voicemail to Email - Obviously, there are times where agents or adjusters are simply unable to take a call.  With voicemails being delivered to email, they are able to immediately be notified of a customer's need, listen to the voicemail, and respond according to the level of urgency.

Insurance_Agents_Improve_Service_with_VoIPInsurance companies that deploy hosted VoIP to their headquarters and agent offices can achieve even greater benefit.  First, the economics of using a hosted provider across so many locations is very compelling.  Many hosted VoIP providers offer a declining rate schedule based upon volume.  Especially in the agent office settings, the savings over their current phone service can be significant.  Additionally, companies can drive uniformity to their agent offices, whether they are company owned or franchised.  Certainly, a common phone system drives uniformity in and of itself.  More importantly, standard messaging and processes can drive positive customer recognition and loyalty.  Similar auto attendants and messages, call flows, hours of operation, and such can all be managed centrally in a hosted VoIP deployment.

These benefits are very applicable to the insurance agency, but they apply to many businesses, professional service firms, and other organizations as well.  It has never been a better time than now to check out the advantages offered by hosted VoIP companies and improve service to your 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: Phone Service for Insurance Agents, Technology in Business

Ride the Wave (or Cloud) with VoIP Technology

Posted by Mark Greim on Sep 13, 2013 11:40:00 AM

It was just a few short years ago when businesses needed to be educated on the merits of hosted VoIP.  At sipVine, we receive calls every day from businesses who have already decided upon going with a hosted service for their voice telephony.  This is a drastic change from years past, as callers were inquiring about a phone system or service, and had to overcome fears of running their service over the internet to an off-premise system.

In particular, small to mid-sized businesses are investing less and less in on-site systems and moving to the cloud for their telephony and other applications. There are several driving factors in this change:VoIP Telephony

  • General Business Climate Improvement – Through the recession, businesses deferred spending on infrastructure, keeping their older systems in play and, in many cases, on life support.  As economic conditions have improved, businesses are in a position to take advantage of the technological improvements that surfaced in the previous decade.  The good news with deferring the investment on VoIP is that stronger providers have emerged and are now thriving.  Businesses have a choice, and the top providers have different areas of strength to match with the needs of the business.
  • Low Up-Front Investment – Upgrading technology is not overwhelming with a Hosted VoIP system.  Instead of investing in the on-site system and server, businesses are simply purchasing the VoIP phone handsets or softphones.  Additional minor equipment may be necessary for analog device conversion, such as a fax machine.  This level of investment is a fraction of what it will be when compared to an on-site service.
  • Flexible Deployment – With a hosted system, it doesn’t matter where the phones are located.  Thus, businesses may outfit their office as well as deploy a work at home model as the situation warrants.  If businesses have multiple branch offices, they can all be on the same system and take advantage of centralization of functions, peer to peer extension dialing, and general cost savings through scale pricing offered by the hosted providers.
  • Technology Improvement – It is amazing to hear what some companies have been suffering through the past several years.  Simple things like caller ID receipt and direct dial numbers are table stakes with VoIP technology, but many analog systems didn’t allow for such features.  Personal voicemail boxes with voicemail to email are welcomed additions for businesses suffering through old technology.  But, there are many advanced communication features and opportunities for custom programming so that the new system is built to meet or advance your voice communication practices.

Has your business hopped on the wave?  It is worth an exploration.  Give us a call and we’ll help you it!

 

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: Technology in Business, Phone System Replacement, Cloud Telephony

sipVine Blog | How to Determine the Best Phone Service Provider

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 27, 2012 8:48:00 AM

Deciding upon the best phone service provider can be challenging for any business.  Given new technology, there are a host of new options available to you in the marketplace and you are no longer bound to your traditional telephone provider.  You should start by determining your organization’s ability/desire to utilize new technology in your communication practices and identifying the characteristics of a phone service provider that will meet your expectations.

If your company desires to utilize new technology in your communication practices and you want to keep the capital expenses low for such an endeavor, you can consider a hosted phone service provider.  This literally opens up the competition to a number of great providers.  These providers provide both the phone service and phone system, as the phone system is provided in a cloud environment and the service is delivered over the internet.  Additionally, if your company has points of presence in multiple cities or has virtual employees, they all can be on a common phone system and you can consolidate service providers!choosing the best phone service provider

The process of narrowing down your potential list of hosted phone service providers can be
quite daunting.  Set your expectations high, as new entrants in this marketplace have helped push customer service to new heights.  Here is a list of questions for potential service providers that can help you narrow the list:

  1. Describe your approach to customer service.  Do I have an account team to rely upon?  How are requests for service handled and are there multiple ways to create a service ticket?
  2. Do you conduct a consultative session with me on customizing the configuration for the hosted phone service so that it conforms to how we do business?
  3. How do you handle VoIP voice quality management?  Do you deploy a device on our network or do you manage this solely by bandwidth expansion?
  4. Describe your hosted platform.  Is it located in a secure data facility?  What redundancies are built in? 
  5. What disaster recovery options are available to me with your service?
  6. Given our industry, what features do you believe we will benefit the most from?

These questions will help qualify candidates and you can narrow down competitiveness of bids from the providers who answer the above qualifications to your satisfaction.  First and foremost, judging the potential provider on their willingness and ability to get to know you and your needs through the qualification stage is a great indicator of the type of service they will provide.  Those providers who are experienced in working in multiple industries and can provide the consultation necessary to appropriately customize the solution to meet your expectations will clearly rise to the top.

Many focus on the features, coolness factor, and price, but fail to be able to truly understand your business and what is important to you.  Your business deserves to be supported by a provider who can be seen as your phone department rather than a vendor.

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 a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments. 

 

Tags: voip service provider selection, Technology in Business, Changing Phone Service Providers

Digital Phone Solution for Smart Business…What is Smart Business?

Posted by Mark Greim on May 9, 2012 9:56:00 AM

At sipVine, our team has been asked occasionally to define “smart business” as it relates to our slogan, The Digital Phone Solution for Smart Business.  Although this is certainly an opinion, it is an opinion formed through many years of business experience.  Thus, we submit this list for your consideration and demonstrate the value of sipVine’s Digital Phone Solution against these attributes.

Smart Business….

  1. Endeavors to stay current with new technologies.  Migratingdigital phone solution for smart business applications to the cloud is a trend that is clearly on an accelerating path.  Cloud telephony migration in the business community is a growing trend and will replace traditional analog services in the not too distant future.  sipVine’s hosted digital phone solution delivers many advantages consistent with bringing new technologies into the business.
  2. Develops partnerships with service providers and vendors. The best relationships are formed under a win/win scenario.  Selection of providers and vendors who share that goal improves the business climate and helps make the organization better.  At sipVine, our goal is to be seen as the phone “department” for our customers.  We have established multiple points of access to our service team and strive to deliver the perception that we are just “down the hall” when providing service, whether you are a local customer or a customer in another state.
  3. Creates efficiencies throughout the organization.  Delivering results that favorably impact the bottom line is an everyday objective of smart business.  Whether this is from direct savings on your phone service bill, or from efficiencies derived from the feature set of a digital phone solution, sipVine’s goal is to deliver these benefits to all of our customers.
  4. Continually improves communication practices with customers.  One of the best ways to retain and grow a customer base is to develop ways to refine and improve communication practices.  Digital phone technology allows for great flexibility and custom programming to achieve better and more customer pleasing communications.  sipVine has many years of providing service, and has built a solid list of best practices.  We combine a consultative approach with our flexible, custom design to absolutely deliver on this attribute of a smart business.
  5. Empowers workforce to delight its customer base.  There are many practices a smart business can deploy to empower a workforce.  In the context of a digital phone solution, the advantages are aplenty.  A hosted environment can provide a virtual environment for employees who are in the field with the customers from which to operate and communicate more effectively.  Custom automated attendants can route callers to the right employees to handle customer requests.  Call groups, queues, and other routines can be deployed to achieve maximum customer satisfaction.

There are many other attributes of a smart business, and we believe sipVine offers the digital phone solution to meet their needs!

 

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 a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments. 

Tags: Digital Phone Service, Technology in Business

Outlook Positive for Cloud Telephony – Business VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Sep 29, 2011 11:17:00 AM

Driven by growth in the small business sector, cloud telephony service providers can expect a substantial increase in revenues over the next 12 to 18 months.  This business segment is gravitating toward hosted voice services and other cloud computing applications as a means to access advanced technology for their business without a large capital outlay.cloud telephony outlook is positive

A recent report by the Heavy Reading IP Services Insider, Cloud Telephony:  The Battle over SMBs, indicates that “real estate and legal firms are the hottest vertical for cloud telephony” and “increased workforce mobility is driving more interest in applications such as unified communications”. 

At sipVine, a North Kansas City, MO based business VoIP provider, we’ve seen a surge in sales opportunities, both locally and nationally, in recent months.  Our growth has been brisk to this point, but the accelerated interest from the SMB market space has not gone unnoticed.  “The core of our business has always been the small to mid-sized companies, and more and more are looking to enhance their technology by looking to cloud services such as ours”, says Robert Conner, founder of sipVine.  “We have seen a great surge in clients who have multiple locations, whether locally or across the country.  A hosted VoIP solution really creates synergistic opportunities and drives efficiency for these types of companies.”

The landscape is certainly changing in the telecom marketplace.  As the large, traditional providers of landline services have their focus on the wireless offerings and large enterprise solutions, a niche has been carved out by an increasing number of VoIP providers who focus on delivering both the phone equipment and service to the business community.  Hosted providers are able to differentiate themselves from the large providers by getting close to their customers and program the system to meet their needs and delivering dial tone.

This emerging niche of providers coupled with an increasing adoption level of the SMB market of cloud telephony services has created a business market primed for accelerated growth.  If you’re a business looking to enhance your communication functionality at a low entry price, check out a hosted VoIP provider specializing in business applications 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: Technology in Business, Cloud Telephony, VoIP Trends in Business

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