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Break Up with Your Old Phone Company

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tags: Changing Phone Service Providers, VoIP business phone services

How VoIP Technology can Improve Your Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tags: VoIP business phone services

Comparing VoIP Phones vs. Cell Phones for Business Use

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

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

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

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

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

Using Cell Phones and VoIP Phones in Tandem

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

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

 

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

Tags: VoIP business phone services

Five Ways Hosted VoIP is Like a Cupcake

Posted by Mark Greim on May 21, 2014 9:32:00 AM

cupcake imageEverybody loves cupcakes, right? And while it may seem like a stretch to compare your business telecommunications service to a baked pastry item, all the best parts of cupcakes are right there in your hosted VoIP phone service too.

You can make as many as you want. Face it, baking a cake is complicated. If nothing else, cakes are pretty big, and they're going to take up pretty much all of your oven. But with cupcakes, you can make as many as you need. The same thing goes with hosted VoIP service. If you only need 11 phones, then you only provision 11 phones. And since your service is hosted in the cloud, instead of on-site at your office, there's no need for a big, expensive, and high-maintenance public branch exchange (PBX) that could handle a lot more phones than you'll ever need.

You can make them as simple or as complex as you need. Fundamentally, a cupcake is pretty simple, right? It's just a tiny cake. But if you've ever been to one of the cupcake shops that are popping up all over the country, then you've seen just how complex cupcakes can get. From exotic flavor combinations to elaborate frosting decorations, a cupcake can be a lot more than just a tiny cake, in the right hands. With your hosted VoIP service, you've got all the flexibility you need for an endless variety of custom configurations to fit your business needs. Whether you want a simple, no-nonsense phone system or all the bells and whistles, hosted VoIP can get you there.

Cupcakes are hot right now. No pun intended. But seriously, speaking of those boutique cupcake shops that seem to be showing up everywhere, cupcakes have never been more popular as a dessert item than they are right now. There are shows on cooking networks just about cupcakes, and you can buy magazines devoted to cupcake recipes in line at the supermarket. Similarly, hosted VoIP is rapidly becoming the industry standard for telecommunications services, delivering unparalleled value, quality, and reliability.

The right baker can make all the difference. Just like some people have a "green thumb" when it comes to gardening, a talented baker can turn out a perfect cupcake, while another baker may produce something that's flat and flavorless and much less appetizing. It's the same with your hosted VoIP service. While it may seem like phone service would be the same from one company to another, nothing could be further from the truth. The right hosted VoIP phone company will give you the service you expect, while also ensuring that you've got the crystal-clear call quality that you deserve.

Cupcakes are sweet! That's really the bottom line, after all, cupcakes are sweet and delicious, and that's why we love eating them. Hosted VoIP is also sweet! At least, if you've got a taste for saving money, upgrading technology, and enhancing your company production and customer service.

There's five reasons why everybody loves cupcakes, and five reasons why everyone will love hosted VoIP service from sipVine if they give it a chance. After all, there has to have been a first time you ever tasted a cupcake, right? So give hosted VoIP a first taste, and see if you've got a sweet tooth for better service, upgraded technology, and exceptional call quality.

About the author: Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of VoIP business phone 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: business, VoIP business phone services

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