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My Phone Company Loves Me....Not!

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 28, 2018 9:41:55 AM

The fact is that analog-based business phone systems and service are becoming a dying breed. Many businesses are waking up to the fact that their phone service company has given them little reason to remain a long-term and loyal customer. As businesses have made the switch to VoIP phone service throughout the last decade, traditional phone service providers have been grasping to hold onto their margins and their customers. Let's examine the evidence:

Break_Up_with_Phone_Company-5

Term contracts - Contracts are a relic of the old approach in the telecom industry. Those providers who offer term contracts indicate that it is to get the best rate on the bundle of services they offer. It is evidenced by price differences between the lengths of the contract term offered. The only real benefit goes back to the provider, as they are able to hold on to their margins with these business customers for a little while longer. There are viable alternatives to the traditional phone company. In today’s marketplace, most providers of VoIP phone service do not require a term contract to secure pricing. 

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The dreaded auto renewal - Hand in hand with term contracts are auto-renewals. These are usually buried in fine print or even referenced on terms and conditions not immediately reviewable on the order, but on a website. There's nothing worse than being ready to make a switch in phone technology and service providers and finding that your contract with the current provider auto-renewed. If you are thinking about switching to a VoIP business phone service, be sure to examine the fine print of your term contracts and save the date for making the switch on your calendar.

Price increases - As more and more analog business lines are moving to a VoIP Business phone service, traditional telephone companies have raised the monthly rates on their lines. It should be noted that very little investment is taking place on the core analog technology by these providers. Raising rates is a tactic to preserve margins and not to recoup investment.

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Technology stagnation - Within the VoIP phone service platforms there are numerous features and benefits to advance the communication practices of your business. Analog technology is old and systems left supporting that platform do not have the flexibility of where phones are physically deployed and do not have a robust set of features to match the technology of VoIP platforms. No one likes to be in a stagnant relationship, and traditional phone providers have all the incentive to hold on as long as possible.

Remember, it's not you, it's them!  Break up with your phone company! There are gems of VoIP service providers in the marketplace who are set to provide cutting edge features, and have raised the bar in terms of customer service. There are a few steps you can take to prepare your business to break up with your current carrier:

  1. Examine your current carrier contract. Look for your contract end date and be wary of auto-renewal provisions.
  2. Review your internal network for VoIP readiness. VoIP phones run over your office Ethernet network. If your computers are connected to your network via an Ethernet cable, you are good to go.
  3. Evaluate your bandwidth utilization. A VoIP call does not require that much bandwidth. Frankly, internet speed availability has increased dramatically over the last several years that this is not a great concern. If you haven't upgraded your internet speeds recently, you should make sure that you are not saturating your current circuit with your data usage.
  4. Research and select a VoIP Business service provider. The alternatives are many, so be sure to capture references. The best answer isn't always a known national brand, but going with a local provider requires careful research and consideration. There are great ones to work with.
  5. Work with your selected provider for porting numbers. You will want to time your install and number porting in context with your contract term expiration date. If your current provider requires notice, you will need to provide it relative to the timing of the install and port.

Isn't it time to work with a phone provider that loves your business? Experience how refreshing and different that relationship can be!

 

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: Telecom Term Agreements, VoIP Phone Service, Changing Phone Service Providers

May the VoIP be With You

Posted by Mark Greim on May 5, 2017 10:39:55 AM

Most businesses today are moving toward the light and implementing VoIP Phone Service.  Specifically, cloud-based services are quickly taking over as the technology of choice for business, with traditional analog phone systems or even IP-based on-site systems becoming the way of the past.  As evidenced by Toshiba's recent announcement that it is exiting their phone system business and Avaya's Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Hosted VoIP phone deployments are taking over the market.

May the VoIP Be With You.jpgJoin the Resistance.   Is your current analog phone system on life support?  Are you finding it difficult to secure parts for the system, replacement phones, or locating a service company to support the system?  Are you intrigued by the features and benefits other businesses are enjoying with their cloud-based VoIP phone service? Well, it is time to investigate your alternatives! 

Businesses in this situation are finding that moving their phone service to a Hosted VoIP provider is very economical, both in the short-term and over time.  The up-front capital required is a fraction of the investment in an on-site phone system. Additionally, there is no need for service contracts, as you are only investing in the VoIP phones required for your business. Concern over future parts availability or obsolescence of your system is totally alleviated with a cloud-based phone system.

You Must Learn the Ways of VoIP.  As a part of your research and consideration, check out the websites of Hosted VoIP providers and engage in a few conversations with their sales associates. You should see features that will help your business transform your communication practices, internally and externally.  This includes items your current analog system cannot do, like connect multiple locations, allow for a seamless implementation of remote or mobile workers, and be easily programmed to match or enhance your desired call flows.  Automated attendants, voicemail to email, virtual faxing, overhead paging integration, direct dialing to associates, and find-me/follow-me features are just a few of the advanced communication features businesses have enjoyed once moving to a Hosted VoIP platform.

These are not the VoIP Providers you are Looking for.  Like any decision, choosing your partner is important. There are many entrants into this market, including traditional telecom providers who are trying their hand at a hosted service. Making the move to Hosted VoIP is an opportunity to remove yourself from the shackles of working with the large telcos, or even large VoIP companies, and find a local or regionally focused company that provides customer service the way you expect and deserve. Some Hosted VoIP providers even take care of all of your phone system administration, rather than provide a self-servicing portal. This keeps you focused on your business and not dividing the attention of you or your staff on your telephone operations.  So, in your investigative calls, find those providers that meet your specific requirements, both from a feature set and approach to customer service.

So, conduct an investigation today and transform your business!  May the VoIP be with you!

 

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: Benefits of VoIP, VoIP Phone Service

Outsourcing Your Business Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 19, 2014 1:36:00 PM

small business ownerWhen you run your own business, one of the hardest decisions you'll ever have to make is choosing what work you need to handle in-house versus what work you need to hire out. Everything's got a trade-off. Having an in-house team means more up-front costs, but usually also more control. Outsourcing the work may save you money and get you access to better people, but you run the risk of becoming just another customer in a long list.

Fortunately, when it comes to your business phone service, hosted VoIP can give you the best of both worlds! After all, you're going to have to contract your phone service with someone. Even if you invest in a bulky and expensive private branch exchange (PBX) system to handle your telecommunications needs, you'll still be getting service from one of the major telephone providers. With hosted VoIP in the cloud from sipVine, your phone system and phone service providers are blended into one. That means no more bulky PBX, but it also means that no matter what you need from your business phone service, you've got one number to call, and you'll talk to someone who knows your business and your needs.

Cloud telephone services are a growing trend all over the world because, quite frankly, hosted VoIP can give benefits that "traditional" phone services just can't match. Not only does hosted VoIP save you money on maintenance and installation, it's also completely scalable to your needs as your company grows, and it's 100% portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go, without having to worry about hauling a bunch of equipment around. And of course, hosted VoIP from sipVine gives you the crystal clear call quality that you need, along with all the amenities that you've come to expect, such as call waiting, call forwarding, voicemail notification, and many more.

But maybe the biggest benefit of outsourcing your business phone service to hosted VoIP from sipVine is simply this: You'll get the best customer service in the business. Try calling one of the big service providers and you're going to find yourself on hold for who-knows-how-long, before you finally talk to someone who has no idea who you are, or what you do. Everyone's been through it, and everyone hates it! At sipVine, we put our customers first, and as business owners ourselves, we know how valuable your time is to you.

When was the last time you called your telephone service provider and spoke to someone who actually knew you? At sipVine you will! And while it's nice to talk to someone to whom you're more than just a customer number, that's not the end of the benefits of personalized service. When you're dealing with someone who knows your business and also manages the administration of your phone system, we can tailor your services and your features to your needs, and help to ensure that your telecommunications package is doing everything that it can to benefit your business!

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 VoIP, VoIP Phone Service

sipVine vs. National VoIP Providers

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 24, 2014 10:35:00 AM

business woman on phoneWhile VoIP phone service is rapidly becoming the industry leader in features, affordability, and overall performance, not all VoIP providers are created equal. As more businesses turn to hosted VoIP to fulfill their communications needs, that means more providers are jumping on the VoIP bandwagon, but many of them don't have the focus on call quality and dependability that your business really needs in a VoIP phone system.

That's where sipVine comes in. At sipVine, VoIP is what we do. While many national providers have started offering VoIP services to take advantage of its boom in popularity, they aren't always able to offer the same kinds of call quality and dependability that we can. Since VoIP service is delivered over your Internet bandwidth, it doesn't work quite the same way as a traditional phone system, which can pose unique challenges in terms of call quality that many national providers may not be prepared to handle.

sipVine's cutting-edge Quality of Service (QoS) technology ensures that you get the best possible quality on voice calls. By prioritizing voice traffic over other Internet bandwidth, our QoS technology can eliminate voice issues such as echoes, jitter, or lack of clarity, without sacrificing the efficiency of your data traffic. Also, instead of just dumping your voice traffic into your normal Internet bandwidth, our technicians evaluate your bandwidth to ensure that there is enough available capacity for voice traffic, and help you make any needed adjustments for best quality.

Because we specialize in VoIP phone service, sipVine can offer other advantages that national providers can't. Our technicians and engineers are all VoIP specialists who place customer service first. We prize our business clients, and want all of our associates to get to know each and every one of our customers firsthand. Furthermore, we're so confident in our VoIP service that we don't require any term contracts. We believe that our day-to-day service is so good that it will keep you coming back.

And because VoIP is what we do, we can offer you the best service around, not merely in call quality, but also in customization and features. We customize every VoIP service install to your needs, installing our VoIP phones and feature sets around the way that you do business. After all, your phone system is a tool, and a tool is only useful if it helps you to get the job done. You can choose from a robust feature set of the kind that you'd typically only find in more expensive VoIP systems, but at a fraction of the price. That's just part of the sipVine difference!

At the end of the day, though, the biggest advantage of VoIP phone service from sipVine is that you'll have a communications partner in your corner who understands the important role that good communication plays in running a business. It's our job to make sure that our customers can stay in touch with their customers, and it's a role that we take very seriously.

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 Phone Service, VoIP Phone, business

Get Your IT Budgets in Line for a New Hosted VoIP Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Dec 2, 2013 2:15:00 PM

These days, many small-to-mid-size businesses are looking to replace their phone systems, and the majority of them are moving to cloud-based phone services. This is a big change from just a few years ago, when hosted VoIP technology was still new and many businesses had reservations about running their phone systems over the Internet. Since then, VoIP has become business standard, and hosted VoIP phone services are budget friendly ways to bring your phone systems into the future. One of the biggest benefits of a hosted VoIP phone system is that the upfront capital outlay is much lower than for on-site systems, and there's an opportunity to save on monthly service costs down the road.Hosted VoIP

Hosted VoIP phone systems offer a lot of opportunities for reducing the IT budget of your business in both the short and long terms. Upfront capital investment is low, since you only need pre-configured, customizable VoIP phones and some minor additional equipment like analog adaptors for fax and credit card machines, if required. Because the system is hosted in the cloud, there's no need to invest in a pricey private branch exchange (PBX) that will also cost maintenance dollars down the road.

Since you don't need to maintain costly on-site equipment, maintenance costs associated with a hosted VoIP service are also cheaper than on-site phone systems. Businesses using hosted VoIP systems require few if any trip or service charges for maintenance and repair work. Monthly service costs can also be kept to a minimum, as most hosted VoIP services (such as those provided by sipVine) offer flat-rate service models that include unlimited local and long-distance calls. sipVine also offers sliding scale price points based on the number of users you have on your system, and low usage phones like those in conference rooms and break rooms are priced at our lowest tier from the start.

Hosted VoIP also offers the opportunity to save on administrative costs associated with running a phone system. Typically, your hosted VoIP provider will take over administration of your phone service. Therefore, you don't have to expend the time, energy, and manpower to run an on-site phone system, freeing up your budget and personnel for more important things.

The benefits of a hosted VoIP phone service aren't just budgetary, either. A hosted VoIP service offers your business improved functionality and features, increased office efficiency, and greater customer satisfaction. Susan Sprenz, a sipVine Senior Sales Associate provides an example: "One of my customers is a professional service firm with six offices in difference cities. All of their calls are answered by a receptionist, however, through our system they only deploy three receptionists as opposed to six. All three receptionists are in different office locations. We've helped establish a ring pattern where certain people are primary and others are secondary, depending upon the office called. All receptionists know which office is being called, and they have the ability to quickly transfer the caller to the appropriate party via a button on their phone."

Such examples of the benefits of a hosted VoIP phone service are numerous, and they certainly contribute to a positive return on investment. In fact, potential savings from internal efficiencies are often much greater than the savings generated from lower monthly service, maintenance, and administrative costs. So if it's time for your IT budget planning, now's the time to get a line item in for a hosted VoIP phone service. Call sipVine today to learn more!

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 VoIP, VoIP Phone Service

5 Ways to Enhance Customer Communication with Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Feb 26, 2013 11:49:00 AM

Switching to a VoIP phone solution can provide your business with a host of features and advantages.  We are reviewing five of the ways your customer communications can be enhanced by with a Hosted VoIP Solution.  Granted, all businesses are built differently, which can present more or less opportunities than the ones identified below.  A key takeaway is that, upon selecting the right hosted VoIP provider, you can explore many improvements in communication processes for the betterment of your customer experience.  The technology is powerful, affordable, and within reach!

Efficiently handle inbound calls – Many businesses handle this differently.  Some preachImprove Customer Communication with VoIP the benefits of having a “live” person answering calls, while others prefer to have an automated attendant route calls.  The question should focus on what the customer’s demand.  The good news is that hosted VoIP solutions can provide the ability to blend the methodology to effectively manage the calls.  Say the goal is to have calls answered live.  You can build in a ring group process to ring a primary and secondary ring group prior to resorting to an auto attendant process. 

If customers will work with automated routing, an auto attendant can be at the front of the process.  Your auto attendant should be built around why customers call, making sure you have easy to understand options that address the majority of issues.  Examples would be departmental routing such as “customer service” or “to place an order”.  To maximize satisfaction with an auto attendant process, you should keep options to a minimum and avoid multi layer processes.

Improve satisfaction with departmental ring groups – As mentioned above, creating ring groups surrounding employees in a department allows for the quick handling of calls.  Note that ring groups differ from call queues in that the phone call rings a group of people for a select number of rings before a ring group voicemail takes over.  A call queue involves the team logging into a queue and callers being dropped into that queue for the first available caller.  Companies can deploy either or both strategies depending upon the customer requirements.

Customers can be routed to the ring group or queue from an automated attendant or from any associate answering a call.  The queue or ring group simply needs to be assigned an extension for calls to be manually dropped in.

Every queue or ring group process needs to have an efficient “end” stage.  This can be a simple voicemail option with the voicemail converting to an email to route to whoever will be responsible for handling the requests for the department.  It also may include an “opt” out feature, discussed below.

Allow callers to escape from voicemail – Whether your callers hit your personal voicemail, are in a call queue, or hit a voicemail for one of your departments (ring groups), it is always a best practice to provide a zero out option.  Such options can be custom programmed, but most have the option to ring back to the primary ring group or a designated person.  Depending upon the nature of your business and the needs of your callers, some may be fine with leaving messages and getting a prompt return call.  However, others may require getting to a live person.  Hosted VoIP services can even provide for emergency routing to a designated answering service or a cell phone ring group consisting of your company’s designated on-call employees.

Increase accessibility for associates with high customer touch requirements – Another great benefit of hosted VoIP solutions is to be able to provide for accessibility of your key contact personnel with your customers.  Using features such as find me / follow me or other forward options gives your employees to be found wherever they may be.  If they are on a ring group, the phone will forward to the number designated.  Another option would be to have a simultaneous ring to the associate’s desk phone and cell phone.  For sales and support personnel, this provides a great way to be available for customer calls.

Because the service is hosted, associates can take their phones home or wherever they can connect to high speed internet.  Their phones will register and operate as if they were in the office, including any ring group involvement.  This will provide great flexibility for associates who need to work remotely.

There are a few cautions with this option.  You will need to make sure that ring groups ring less than 20 seconds or folks with simultaneous rings or follow me options set for cell phones will not have their cell phone voicemail pick up.  Additionally, if cell phone users hit ignore or are out of service, the cell phone voicemail will pick up instead of the office voicemail.

Implementing on-call schedules for support personnel – For businesses that have selected a hosted VoIP service provider who can customize programming, there are some higher level actions that will allow for the selection of employees who are active on call.  Such applications come into play when an after hours auto attendant or during hours emergency attendant can ring to designated on-call associates.  You can create a menu of who will be on call and include desk phone extensions and cell phones in the mix.  Management can select which group is on-call with pre-programmed dial selection or web interfaces where available.

I hope this list has been informative and look forward to any comments.

 

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: voip business phone system, Configuring digital phone service, VoIP Phone Service

VoIP Provider, sipVine, Announces Fax Service Enhancement

Posted by Mark Greim on Jul 24, 2012 11:20:00 AM

sipVine has long provided inbound faxing to email and has now added desktop outbound faxing capabilities to our service offerings.  This service allows sipVine customers to send faxes from their computers either through their email, a desktop applet, or through a web portal. Previously, sipVine only offered outbound faxing via the fax machine.sipVine Product Announcement

sipVine will deliver a new fax number for this purpose, although only in limited areas we may be able to utilize your current fax number.  Inbound faxes can be delivered with a PDF file to one or multiple email addresses and you can assign one or more users to this fax number.  Customers can add as many additional fax numbers as they would like.

Although faxing is not a new technology, we embrace more efficient approaches to the process and this upgrade certainly applies.  sipVine customers involved in the testing indicate that it is easy to use, fast, and affordable!

This service is available to sipVine customers only and is not offered on a stand-alone basis. 

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 Phone Service

What are your goals for a VoIP Phone Service?

Posted by Mark Greim on Sep 10, 2010 10:12:00 AM

Saving money has been at the top of the list for many businesses deploying VoIP, but there are many other advantages to upgrading your technology.

Lower Costs of Service – Since it is at the top of most lists, let’s start with saving money!  The charge structures for VoIP providers come in many shapes and sizes, however it is not uncommon for a VoIP phone service to save a business 20 to 40 percent on their monthly phone bill.  Many offer all distance calling programs, so if you have a high amount of long distance calls, your savings will be higher.  Also gone are the concurrent call restrictions of analog lines and PRIs, as you will not be forced to oversize your need based upon fears that all your lines will be in use.Hit Your Goals with VoIP

Using Technology to Improve Communications – Many VoIP providers can customize their solutions to enhance your communication practices, making your business more efficient and improving your communications with your customers:

  • Businesses use VoIP to improve customer service by providing for effective call routing and increasing access to front-line personnel.  An automated attendant, either as a primary or secondary option, provides customers with the ability to get to the right person or department quickly.  Call queues, ring groups, call forwarding options, and simultaneous ringing of cell phones are examples of how a customized VoIP solution can increase customer contact with front line service or sales personnel.
  • Branch locations can be tied together under the same phone platform, whether they are in the same town or not.  Centralized reception or an auto attendant can be deployed to route calls to the appropriate branch office, driving efficiency to your business.  Employees can extension dial between locations without spending thousands of dollars to enable such features.
  • You don’t have to be a large company with an expensive phone system to enjoy the benefits of direct inward dial (DID) lines for each employee, as hosted VoIP providers can deliver such a service at a fraction of the price.  These employees will enjoy unified communications, where they can receive their voicemails and faxes into their email so they are alerted to the message via a smart cell phone even when they are out of the office.

Empowering a Virtual Workforce – Businesses have been able to use hosted VoIP platforms to expand their workforce without investing in larger offices or multiple locations.  Employees can work from home, whether it is locally or out of state, and still be under the same phone system as the corporate office.   Such a deployment is seamless to customer service, as these employees can be a part of ring groups, receive quick call transfers, or utilize their DID to perform their jobs as if they were within the four walls of the office.

There are many other advantages, and, yes, you can save money!  Call a VoIP provider today to learn more! 

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

Tags: Benefits of VoIP, VoIP Phone Service

Why VoIP Phone Service is Right for Your Business.

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 22, 2010 10:32:00 AM

Many businesses today are making the switch to a VoIP phone service from their traditional analog phone service.  There are many compelling reasons behind this shift, and the benefits are felt by businesses of all sizes.

VoIP Phone Service Right for Business

Convergence of Technology – With voice and data riding over the same internet connection to the business, the opportunity to digitally link communication applications are great. The concept of unified communications includes advanced features such as voicemails to email and faxes to email. Capturing call detail records and call history is no longer just a feature on your wireless phone, as individual users can benefit from this data and companies can easily capture call history for audit and billing purposes.  Finally, the integration of voice and data over the same connection allows for the flexible use of bandwidth which can drive cost savings.

Advanced Communication Features – In addition to unified communications, VoIP phone service brings a host of features that drive efficient and effective production of your company associates.  Such features include hunt, ring, and call center groups and queues, automated attendant options, time of day routing, corporate directories, a host of call forwarding options, and much more.

Flexible Deployment – With most VoIP platforms, especially with a hosted voip service, being bound to a PBX platform unique to your office is a thing of the past. Businesses can operate outside the walls of their office with mobile or work at home employees and branch locations all on the same phone service platform.  To internal staff and external customers, the location of the phones is not prohibitory to effective communications.  With most VoIP providers, the phones can ride any internet connection and still have the appearance that they are on the same phone system housed at the central office.

Disaster Recovery Options – Through the utilization of a hosted VoIP provider, businesses have several alternatives for localized disaster recovery.  Phones can be physically moved to a location where internet is active or invoke remote forwarding to alternative numbers or locations. This provides peace of mind when concerns arise over internet stability or other location related disasters.

Lower Costs – With the economy continuing to provide daily lessons of the need for cost containment and control, the shift to VoIP has accelerated due to the potential for lower costs and stable monthly expenses.  New entrants in the marketplace have delivered direct blows to the traditional, high-margin analog voice providers.  Unlimited local and long-distance calling is just one example of a way these providers have approached delivering a lower cost to their customers.

The time has never been better to evaluate VoIP phone service.  Join the VoIP revolution and call a VoIP provider today!

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

 

Tags: Benefits of VoIP, VoIP Phone Service

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