Do Not Trust Your Business Phone Service to a Video Communication Platform

Posted by Mark Greim on Feb 16, 2021 9:15:00 AM

Business Communications fundamentally changed while the nation’s businesses adapted to a pandemic. When we prepare to exit from those conditions and return to normal, there clearly are lessons learned and a potential new normal in the business world. Although there were already alternatives for remote workforces available to businesses utilizing a Hosted VoIP phone service, many businesses were forced to patch together a hybrid remote communication system using a multitude of Video Communication platforms unlike ever before.

Remote WorkforceBusinesses have learned that there may be advantages to having a portion of their workforce operate remotely. Their costs of real estate can be significantly reduced and, where the workforce functions allow, productivity can be increased for this portion of their team. Meetings can continue to occur over a video platform, as many businesses have found this to be efficient and effective where in-person meetings were not necessary. Team meetings are easy over these platforms. Thus, some element of video communications will be in our business communication strategies and took kits going forward.

Many video collaboration companies quickly jumped on the demand and integrated business phone service components into their offerings. But therein lies the question, should a business rely on their business phone service to be handled by video providers? Due to the degree of self-administration and programming required, such integration may be logical for some large enterprises with existing in-house technical teams available for handling the programming required.

Self-Servicing Business Phone ServiceFor small and medium sized businesses, self-servicing their phone system and navigating through complicated web-based provisioning and programming portals is not a good use of their time and resources. Utilization of a Hosted VoIP phone service delivered by a provider who handles all of the programming for you ensures your call flow design and on-going administration is handled by experts who are dedicated to engaging communication strategies to meet your specific requirements.

Hosted VoIP companies provide the original remote workforce business phone system and continue to be a great platform for deploying your workforce anywhere. They offer a variety of devices to make phone communications at work or remote to run efficiently. Video platforms can be incorporated as a tool, they just don’t have to be integrated. There are plenty of other integrated business communication opportunities within a standard Hosted VoIP application. Also, be wary of some of the large, national Hosted VoIP companies as they, like the video providers, push you toward self-servicing your phone programming and administration. So, use a local Hosted VoIP phone service versus a Video platform with phone service components if you:

  • Desire to have your phone service programmed and administered by experts and not by internal resources.
  • Are concerned about the security of your phone calls.
  • Rely on up-time and dependability of a tried-and-true phone service.
  • Value real-time customer service with local support who knows who you are.

Remember, Hosted VoIP phone service has been the platform most businesses have shifted to for years and has a standard of service, functionality, and flexibility that these businesses have come to rely on. Remote workforce strategies have been implemented for years. Use video services as a complement and not a platform for all of your communication needs.


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: virtual workforce, VoIP business phone services

Where the National Business VoIP Providers Fall Short

Posted by Mark Greim on Jan 27, 2021 9:30:00 AM

Most businesses have made the switch to Hosted VoIP phone services, taking advantage of powerful features to improve their communication strategies both internally and externally. They also received the added benefit of finding an alternative to their traditional telephone provider who reciprocated their years of service with rate increases, outsourced customer service, and old technology. In making the switch, many have gravitated to the “national” providers whose marketing budgets cast a wide net over potential customers. In doing so, these businesses have found similarities to their previous relationships with their telecommunication provider and have been left underwhelmed and underserved in the process.

VoIP Custom ProgrammingNational Business VoIP Providers have fallen short on customer service, plain and simple. They have a wonderful and ever-expanding feature set, but their approach to customer service is “self-service”. Calls to their customer service group, in whatever country in which they are located, tend to lead back to instructions on how to use the self-servicing portal. Such a portal is fine for administrative changes. However, for troubleshooting, call flow programming, and best practices advice, it falls short. Businesses are left frustrated with the fact that they can’t take full advantage of all the features as advertised as they don’t have the time or capacity to figure out the programming. Many times they don’t even know they are missing out on benefits, as the national provider does not provide a support contact to guide or steer them down the right path, let alone actually do the programming for them.

“Our experience in 100% of our customers who have left a national VoIP provider is that their phone system was not living up to its full potential as it wasn’t set up and programmed specifically for their needs, and training wasn’t provided,” states Robert Conner, CEO of sipVine, Inc. “Simple things like how calls are routed, to how a direct dial/extension appears, users’ availability, and auto attendant programming are not set up correctly or at all. This is an indication that the business was never able to successfully navigate the self-servicing portal for their set up and programming.

Search_for_Right_VoIP_Provider-3What are the alternatives to going with one of these well-known providers? Consider looking to Hosted VoIP providers that are local or regional to your business. These providers tend to be more in tune with the needs of their business peers in the market they serve. They also tend to be more flexible and nimbler, both in approach to customer service and responding to the unique needs each individual business may present.

Businesses need to research potential candidates carefully, assuring themselves that they will find the right provider to partner with on their communication needs for the long-term. Here are some tips:

  • When searching for a Hosted VoIP provider in their area, be sure to by-pass the ads. These tend to be the national providers who have out bid local providers for common search terms. Also, avoid the “lists” of VoIP providers in your area. These lists or rankings are lead drivers to the nationals, as they pay for lead opportunities from clicks on the site. Look for providers that are truly local or regional. Their website should have their business address.
  • It may be a little more difficult to determine but eliminate providers who are merely reselling a national brand or are using a “white-labeled” product. These businesses tend to have added VoIP to their service offering, like an IT support company offering VoIP. In these circumstances, the provider has less flexibility or control over pricing and is more of a go-between on where the actual customer service is performed.
  • Ask the provider how they handle the onboarding of new customers. The right provider will meet with you to discuss your unique needs as a business and will program the phones and system before they install them. Yes, they should also install them!
  • Inquire if the provider will make changes on the system programming and handle other administrative changes for you after the install. This provides a good idea how customer service is handled and keeps you out of the phone programming business and focused on your business.
  • Check references! Ask for businesses supported in your part of town. This will help insure you’re not getting a stacked response of obviously good references.

Supporting local businesses always feels good, as you would expect other local businesses to support you as well. In the case of your business phone service, a local provider will actually deliver what you need and help you take full advantage of the technology more than a national provider.


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

Tags: voip service provider selection, Business VoIP

Getting Back to Business with Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Oct 13, 2020 9:45:00 AM

Businesses coast to coast are getting back to business and adjusting to the new normal. Fortunately, technology like Hosted VoIP phone service can advance their communications and prepare them for whatever conditions may confront them in the future.

Back to Business with VoIPNeedless to say, 2020 has been unlike anything we’ve witnessed in our country’s history. A global pandemic, social unrest, political divisiveness, and economic uncertainty have left their marks on our nation and the business climate. We have seen the shuttering of businesses, large and small. There have been fundamental shifts in how and where we conduct business, how we receive goods and services, how we educate ourselves and our children, and countless more examples. Businesses have had to respond quickly to these new realities.

With over six months under our belt since the closing down of our economies, we are now in a varied state of re-opening. Social distancing, occupancy limitations, mask orders and the like are still in place and we are far from “normal”. We are likely far from a true understanding of what a “new normal” may be. Yet, businesses are adapting and operating in these new states of normalcy.

Work at Home StaffFortunately, technologies like Hosted VoIP have helped businesses reinvent themselves and have prepared them for whatever the future may hold. We have seen many small businesses who have not already made the shift from traditional systems to Hosted VoIP do so to enable a work from home strategy. Those who had the technology were pleased to see how seamless the transition to remote strategies has been. Not all businesses are designed for such a deployment, but even those who have a strong retail front have utilized these flexible options for their administrative personnel.

As your business is evaluating a “getting back to business” plan, internal and external communication strategies are key. Hosted VoIP phone service can provide you with an integrated, flexible platform to be able to respond to the current conditions and adapt to whatever the future may bring.

  • Auto Attendants – Special messaging can be in place and adjusted as new situations unfold. Options can provide callers the opportunity to select where they need to be routed. You can direct those options to groups of individuals regardless of where you are deploying them.
  • Staffing Flexibility – You can have employees work remotely, at the office, or have options for both. There are a variety of devices that enable remote staff to work effectively, whether it be a duplicate desk phone, a soft phone on their laptop, or a soft phone app that connects to their smart phone.
  • Scaling Flexibility – With Hosted VoIP, you can turn down or turn up service based upon the number of phones you need to be active, thus your phone service bill is reflective of your current staffing situation.

A key to making these changes fast and easy is to be working with the right VoIP provider. Too many providers out there push you to self-servicing and it is not always intuitive or easy. You have enough on your mind to also become at expert at phone and structure programming. Work with a business VoIP provider who will listen to your situation and goals and provide advice on how to solve the issues. Providers who will make changes and do the programming for you will lessen the burden and administer your system with speed and expertise.

Let’s get back to business and utilize a robust, flexible, and worry-free phone system and service. Call us if you’d like to know how Hosted VoIP can fit into your strategies.

 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: virtual workforce, VoIP business phone services

Hosted VoIP, Fully Integrated

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 14, 2020 9:15:00 AM

Hosted VoIP continues to evolve and has proven to be the best way to integrate business communications. Its flexibility, scalability and mobility keep the business connected…and saves businesses money over traditional phone service.  Whether your business is large or small, a cloud-based phone service possesses the adaptability and flexibility to match your current communication requirements and advance them forward.

Let’s review what a Hosted VoIP communications platform has brought to organizations for years before we examine the latest advancements in the technology .

Flexibility in Deployment – With a cloud-based phone system, businesses no longer need to think about their phone service being confined to the walls of the business. If a business has multiple locations, they can consider all the ways the locations can work together under a common communications platform.  Ring groups and call queues can be staffed by any associate regardless of their location.  Additionally, it has never been more applicable to consider work at home or highly mobile working arrangements for associates.  With a variety of phone options to choose from, associates working remotely seamlessly operate under the same call flow rules as if they were at the office.

Call Flow Management with Hosted VoIPCall Flow Improvements – Many businesses have operated under the customer services strategy of “the phones always get answered.”  However, with utilizing the flexibility of Hosted VoIP, calls can be directed to the person or associates based upon the specific need of the caller.  So, the phones always get answered by the exact person who can help the customer

There are many ways to achieve these improvements.  With Hosted VoIP, all associates can have a direct dial number.  If your customers routinely work with a specific individual, say an account manager, they should be provided the direct dial number of the associate.  That associate can essentially be “always reachable” by utilizing a soft phone on their smart phone for times they are away.  Obviously, there are times when these people are busy.  Voicemails can be forward to their email so they can view them wherever they are located and contact the customer when they are available.

Additionally, the auto attendant can be programmed to route to call groups of people in specific departments as well as provide the caller with a directory and/or the ability to enter the extension of the person they are looking for.  Businesses should explore the top four or five reasons someone would call them and provide options in their auto attendant to route to individuals who can best address these needs.

Expand or Contract with Business Needs – Hosted VoIP can ebb and flow with the business. If the business adds associates, all they would need to do is secure another VoIP phone for the associate and include them in whatever ring groups or queues that are applicable. No longer do they need to worry about their phone system being able to support additional phones or the number of “lines” they have available to meet call demand.  Because the service runs over the internet, every person can be on the phone without a line limitation.

If the business contracts, they can remove phones from service and reduce the user count they are being billed.


Now, as the technology continues to evolve, businesses can take advantage of the efficiencies of integrating Hosted VoIP to the desktops of their associates.

Desktop Integration – Imagine a web interface that allows you to view on your monitor/desktop the phones on your network, who is on the phone, and who they are talking to.  Further imagine the ability to click on one of the phones to dial the person or transfer a call to them.  Many associates utilize their computers throughout the day and having such a screen provides them the ability to quickly integrate their phone processes with their keyboard and mouse.

Contact Center Hosted VoIPTo take integration to the desktop even further, they could eliminate the desk phone and only utilize a soft phone on their desktop.  This gives them the ability to click to dial from websites, their CRM, and other enabled software or websites.  Other integration options include the receipt of screen pops from their CRM showing the caller’s data profile.  Again, this “phone” can be taken wherever the computer can connect to the internet.

Contact Center Management – If a business has a group of associates who handle incoming calls, this can be considered a contact center.  Calls can come into a ring group or be set up in a queue.  Many Hosted VoIP providers have a web interface, like the one described above, that can view calls in queue and which agents or associates are on the phone or away from the queue.  Supervisors can drop available associates into a queue to pick up a call at the click of a mouse.  They can listen in on calls and provide “whisper” advice to the associate or click on a chat session on the interface to provide such advice or encouragement.  Non-queue or ring group associates can transfer  call into the groups with a mouse click.

These are only a couple of examples of how the technology has evolved for the betterment of business.  Traditional phone systems, outside of very expensive ones, do not even come close to matching this technology.  Most exciting is that this technology is affordable and available to businesses of all sizes.

Early adopters to Hosted VoIP should review their current state of programming and refresh their approach.  Are they aware that the feature set of their Hosted VoIP service has continued to evolve? Are there ways to take advantage of the new capabilities of Hosted VoIP to improve the current communication flow?  These businesses should think through their current call flows and communication tools and work with their provider on creating improvements.

There are also businesses still out there that have hung onto their old technology, as it has been working fine.  However, competitors in their field who have adopted Hosted VoIP are gaining an advantage, both financially and through customer satisfaction improvements.  Chances are high that the old technology is showing its age, evidenced by the inability to expand, difficulty in securing replacement parts or phones, and difficulty in adapting to new goals and requirements.  These businesses should contact a provider of Hosted VoIP phone service willing to consult with them on the specific benefits that can be delivered to their business.


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





Tags: VoIP Trends in Business, Business VoIP

Business Continuity with Hosted VoIP as a Strategy

Posted by Mark Greim on Mar 16, 2020 9:31:31 AM

For years, we’ve published articles on the virtues of a Hosted VoIP solution for your business relating to empowering a remote or multiple location organization. Now, with the coronavirus concerns and prevention efforts impacting businesses in an unprecedented fashion, the benefits of a Hosted VoIP phone system are real and significant.

Work at Home StaffAt sipVine, we have always promoted additional devices for the occasional work at home or the highly mobile employee.  These devices could be a duplicate desk phone at a home office, a soft phone appliance for a laptop, and/or a soft phone for a mobile device.  Recently, we have taken more calls from clients and prospects to implement such devices for a more comprehensive work at home strategy for all personnel non-essential to the physical location. Business are actively looking for ways to keep their employees safe.  With devices registered to employees at remote locations, the small business doesn’t need to engage in complicated call forwarding processes to personal cell phones.  They are essentially “on the phone system” wherever they are located.   

Remove Walls to Communication with Business VoIP-4It all sounds a bit surreal, but Hosted VoIP phone service is absolutely a path toward business continuity in the face of a public crisis. We’ve discussed Hosted VoIP providing continuity in the face of catastrophic events, but that has always focused on events specific to a business location, such as a fire, flood, internet outage, and the like.  A public health crisis such as what we are facing now in the Spring of 2020 with the coronavirus is without precedence in many of our lifetimes.

Most businesses have already made the switch to VoIP for their business phone service and should have the capabilities to adjust their staff deployment utilizing this technology. For those who are still on an analog system, you may have questions as to how Hosted VoIP can accommodate remote employee strategies, whether temporary or permanent in nature.

  • Hosted VoIP is a cloud-based business phone service, meaning that you no longer need to install or maintain a phone system at your location or locations.  The Hosted VoIP provider maintains the central system in a secure location which is accessed by their customers via the internet.  The business customer installs VoIP desk phones which run over the office network and connect to the provider.  Soft phones on a laptop connect to the internet via a home or office connection and soft phones on a mobile device can connect over a wireless connection or WiFi. 
  • Connecting phones over the internet is the key, as they can be deployed anywhere there is an internet connection available.  They do not have to be at a physical office location.  External callers have no idea as to where the phone is answered, only that they are easily able to connect to their intended party.  Internal callers can extension dial or transfer calls to other company associates, again with no concern as to where they are located.

Work at Home EmployeesThrough the utilization of Hosted VoIP, businesses can have employees work at home without impact to customer communications.  Absent a need for a work at home strategy, they can take advantage of this technology for highly mobile employees, such as sales, or high customer contact employees.  Such employees can have duplicate devices engaged, such as a desk phone and a soft phone on their mobile device.  Thus, when a call comes in for that employee, they can answer it at their desk or wherever they are located via their soft phone appliance.

Certainly, this article is time-sensitive to the current state of affairs in this country. Many businesses are making the determination of how they will address prevention or employees who need to be quarantined. However, Hosted VoIP is both a solution for the current situation but also for long-term flexibility in how businesses connect employees, whether in a disaster situation or as a strategy to increase customer accessibility to their employees.  Feel free to reach out to sipVine if you would like to discuss these options further or better understand the full capabilities of Hosted VoIP.

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: virtual workforce

Should You Take Your Business Phone System When Relocating Offices?

Posted by Mark Greim on Jan 16, 2020 9:30:00 AM

Moving day, and there’s so much to consider.  If you have a Hosted VoIP phone system, the phone system decision is already made, as you simply pack up your phones and move them with you.  If you don’t have Hosted VoIP, now may be the perfect opportunity to make a change.

Moving Phone Service“Expiring contracts, analog system failure, and a move of the business absolutely make up the majority of the conversions we see from an analog system to Hosted VoIP,” states Robert Conner, CEO of sipVine, Inc.  “When businesses change locations, the coordination of the analog line move with their existing provider combined with the moving of the phone system alone is enough to force an evaluation of the alternatives.”  Making the move happen without any downtime is another challenge faced by small businesses moving a phone system.

Cost is also a driving factor.  The physical cost of moving an analog phone system and making sure the office wiring is in place to support analog phone connections may be higher than the outlay for VoIP phones in a hosted scenario.

With Hosted VoIP, there is no phone system at the customer location, as the system is resident with the Hosted VoIP provider.  The specifics of the customer’s call flow, auto attendant and phones are programmed and securely stored and maintained by the provider.  The business connects their VoIP phones to the program via the internet.  Thus, the only capital outlay is for the VoIP phones themselves.

Business Phone Service MoveTiming out the move is also another benefit of making the switch to Hosted VoIP, as there’s a number of flexible options to choose from to match the specific situation of the business move.  Businesses avoid any timing concerns by switching to VoIP prior to their actual move date.  As mentioned earlier, they simply need to take the phones with them, plug them in and not worry about the number port.  Businesses can move a handful of phones to the new location and have coverage at both locations while the move is happening.  They can have someone remain at the old location or even at home while the move takes place so calls continue to be answered.  Or, they can simply let the auto attendant answer and route calls, adding special messaging that it is move day and response may be delayed.  Finally, forwarding calls to a cell phone in the interim is also possible, but not ideal.

Businesses can take a more traditional approach to move day by installing phones at the new location as the move is taking place.  Leaving someone to staff the phones at the old location until the port to your new VoIP Phones is ready will ensure calls still are covered.  When ready, the number port is called in and calls begin coming in on the new phones. 

There are many other things to worry about and coordinate when moving your business. Take the phone system out of the equation by switching to Hosted VoIP 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: Moving Phone Service

Hosted VoIP is the Best Phone Service for Manufacturing Companies

Posted by Mark Greim on Oct 8, 2019 9:39:29 AM

The operational benefits of a Hosted VoIP phone service aid and advance any organization.  However, our economic foundation was built on manufacturing organizations, and these businesses can advance with the right communication platform.

In the manufacturing sector, operational expenditures have been deferred for years as, rightly so, investment in production improvements have been the priority.  However, technology advances and scalability make moving to a Hosted VoIP phone service more affordable and impactful on the financial performance of the business.

An Affordable, but Necessary Investment - If operational investments have been deferred, manufacturing companies have maintained their old, analog phone system.  They now are facing challenges in finding replacement parts and are having difficulty in expanding the system to provide features that are now commonplace. Further, traditional phone companies are raising the rates for analog phone services.  So, costs are increasing for the phone service itself and the costs of keeping the system on life support are now becoming prohibitive.

Hosted VoIP in ManufacturingThe investment in a Hosted VoIP phone service is not nearly in the same investment category as replacing a phone system. Businesses simply purchase VoIP phones and connect to a system hosted by a VoIP provider via the internet.  The system itself is owned and maintained by the provider.  Not only does this represent a lower investment in the short term, but longer term maintenance and obsolescence is largely mitigated.  Additionally, the monthly cost of the phone service itself will likely also decline.

Meeting the Diverse Needs of Manufacturing Companies - Manufacturing businesses come in many shapes and sizes.  The physical plant can cover multiple buildings and locations and the employee responsibilities are just as varied.  As long as each location is covered by the internal network and has a connection to the internet, it will connect to a single Hosted VoIP platform.  The beauty of cloud telephony is that all locations are essentially operating under one system, eliminating the need to purchase and support phone systems for each location or creating expensive connection options. 

The telephony needs of office, sales, and plant employees are also diverse. There are different phone options to meet the unique needs, including soft phones that "travel" with staff that are in and out of the office.  There are also solutions to connect to overhead paging systems, deploy loud ringers, and other unique requirements of a plant operation.

manufacturing-industryDriving Benefits Home - There are many benefits that manufacturing businesses are missing if they have not changed from the traditional analog-based phone system.  With Hosted VoIP as a platform, these businesses can advance their communication practices.  They can streamline calls that may have been directed to different physical locations to a centralized function. Direct dial phone numbers can be put in place to aid functions who would benefit from the ability for callers to reach them without going through a receptionist.  Calls can be transferred or employees reached via extension dialing regardless of the physical location.  Streamlined auto attendants can route callers quickly to their destination of choice.  Ring groups can be set up for departments where multiple employees can support specific caller needs.

Manufacturing companies that are ready to explore the change to Hosted VoIP should research providers who can consult with them on how to best set up their system to maximize the benefits. There are providers who handle all of the programming necessary to meet the company's unique needs and requirements, rather than passing the responsibility for such programming onto the business.  This will ensure that the needed change delivers the benefits expected and is adopted by the organization and lessen the anxiety and level of effort they would otherwise experience.



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 Manufacterers

Teamwork Requires Communication: Phone Solutions for Mobile Workforces

Posted by Mark Greim on Sep 16, 2019 10:38:00 AM

To compete in the 21st century marketplace, businesses need to align their workforce with their customer's behavior and preferences.  There are many tools available to support this practice, with a Hosted VoIP platform being a key for internal and external communication strategies.

Work at Home EmployeesSmart businesses place their associates where they can be most effective.  This isn't necessarily within the same location.  They can locate functions where the right resources are plentiful, so they can choose and retain the best talents.  Work locations can be remote, at home, or very mobile.  To accomplish this, these businesses set up their infrastructure to facilitate seamless work and communication.  The best environment for this type of workforce includes cloud computing and collaboration tools and a Hosted VoIP phone service.

Remote EmployeesInternal Communications - With employees operating where they are most effective, communication becomes paramount.  With a cloud-based phone system, employees can connect to the office phone system wherever they are located and with a variety of devices.  Desk phones can be assigned for remote or home offices if that is the preference.  Alternatively, soft phones can be installed on a laptop or smart phone and operate just like a desk phone.  Employees can extension dial and transfer calls to each other without regard as to the type of device or location.

Successfully connecting remote and central work forces with a hosted VoIP systems doesn’t require huge infrastructure or investment. A single phone system can connect your team whether they are in Portland or in Philadelphia, or working at home. 

External Communications - Creating effective strategies for a 21st century workforce does not stop at simply making it work operationally.  If remote office locations and work at home strategies do not include a marked improvement in communications with the customer, then it needs to be re-examined.  Customer expectations have increased with the degree to which our society is connected.  They expect expeditious meeting of their needs, so it is important to increase the degree to which employees are reachable.

Remote locations and work at home strategies can increase the work day for your business to be available for customer contact.  Customer or technical support teams can be deployed in multiple time zones.  Additionally, work at home strategies can promote flexible work times. 

Moble WorkforceEnsure your mobile and virtual workforce is more available by connecting a variety of devices to the phone network.  This can include providing a direct dial number (as opposed to a personal cell phone number) that connects to an office desk phone, a soft phone on their laptop, and a soft phone on their cell phone.  When the soft phones are activated, employees can take calls from anywhere and become more accessible.  If they are not able to answer, the company voicemail is engaged, not a personal cell phone.  Also, when calling out from the soft phone, they are delivering the caller ID of the business and not their personal cell phone. 

Other Communication Opportunities - Businesses can look to create ring groups for certain elements of their business, like customer support, inside sales, etc.  Employees can be a part of their assigned groups no matter where they are located.  Calls can be directed to these groups from an assigned extension (for transferred calls to the group) and an auto attendant.  Auto attendants should be set up with the customer in mind.  What are the primary reasons a customer calls?  If you can cover 80% of the reasons with a few options on the auto attendant, then your customer will appreciate the ease to which they are connected to the right associate to meet their needs.  Avoid multiple tiers and many selection options if at all possible.

Hosted VoIP solutions are essential to today's business climate.  They are as flexible as businesses need to be to complete and can be customized to the specific situations they face.  Research and find a Hosted VoIP provider that understands this and can help you through the design and programming.


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 Multiple Locations, virtual workforce, VoIP Mobility

Five Indicators You Are Paying Too Much for Business Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 26, 2019 9:20:00 AM

There has been a lot of disruption in the telecommunications market over the past decade. With the Hosted VoIP providers not only bursting on the scene, but taking over the business phone service market, the telecom landscape has changed forever.  Competitiveness has never been greater, yet there remains significant inconsistencies in how businesses are charged for phone service.

Paying too Much for Phone ServiceSo, how does a business know they are paying too much for phone service?  Here are five indicators to examine relating to your current service:

Contract / Auto Renewals -  Competition has largely made term contracts a thing of the past.  You still see these with traditional analog phone carriers and some of the cable providers who have phone service.  Most promote contracts as a way to get the best rate, but that doesn't seem to stop rate increases after promotional or term periods end.  Additionally, term contracts have a way of auto renewing, often without notice.   Auto renew language often doesn't even appear on the contract signed, but on a referenced document on a website.

Concern over Telecom ContractThe bottom line is that you do not need to subject your company to term contracts.  There are many options out there, none of which coerce you into a contract to get the "best rate" or other "benefits".  The only one who benefits is the provider.  Look at your options before entering into a term contract.  If you are currently under a contract, be sure to understand when it expires and when you need to provide notice before it auto renews. 

Analog Phone Service -  Analog phone service for business is a dying breed.  To say that the providers of analog phone service have been steadily raising rates for years is a significant understatement.  Moreover, there are hidden costs to businesses who continue to hold on to this service.  Finding companies to service the equipment and sourcing replacement phones or parts is becoming increasingly more difficult and expensive.

Most businesses have already made the shift to Hosted VoIP phone service.  They find that the cost of the hardware is much less than securing a traditional phone system and the feature set is much more robust.  Not only can the shift to VoIP improve your communication practices, there's a great chance that you will save money on the monthly phone service and overall cost to maintain the current system.

Hosted VoIP Feature Bundles - There are many different approaches to pricing within the Hosted VoIP provider community.  The fundamental commonality lies in that there are no more "lines" to charge for, so there tends to be a charge by phone or "user".  Commonality ends here.  Some providers charge by levels of features chosen by the company.  For example, they may have a basic rate (low feature set), a "professional" rate (features that most businesses need) and a "premium" package rate (high-end feature set).  The price per user increases with features added.  Other providers have a rate that includes all features provided.  Still others have a declining rate schedule based upon the number of users on the system, along with lower charges for low-use "convenience" phones, such as conference room and break room phones.

The indicator here is to compare the features received in your existing or proposed bundle (that you're paying a premium for) to a provider that has a one rate for all features approach.  Chances are you can find a rate for the same level of features that is less than what you are paying under the feature bundle approach.

Leasing phones - When entertaining a Hosted VoIP provider to replace your current phone system, you are required to purchase VoIP phones that work on their network.  Even though the capital cost of a Hosted VoIP service is much less than purchasing an on-site phone system (VoIP enabled or analog), many businesses are enticed by a leasing option  for their phones.  These lease arrangements are built for driving more long-term advantages to the provider, not the customer.  You are either tied into a term contract to have this option or you end up paying much more for the phones than you would have if you would have paid for the capital up front.

When examining the lease option, see if it has an end.  Multiply the amount of payments and make sure that you are comfortable with the premium you are paying for the phones over time.  If there is no end and you pay the rental for as long as you have the service, do not enter into that agreement.

Surcharges - This is always the surprise of every phone bill.  Rarely are proposals made to reflect the surcharges you will be paying.  As you know, traditional phone service providers layer on 15% to 30% in additional charges for surcharges, fees, and taxes.  Some of these are legitimate fees collected and passed through to the government regulators.  Some are add-on charges for the benefit of the provider’s bottom line. 

There are some Hosted VoIP providers who absorb surcharges into their rates.  It is always best to know that what you are being proposed will be consistent with what you will be paying on a monthly basis.

Going with a Hosted VoIP phone service will provide your business with the opportunity to save money and advance your communication features.  Pay attention to these indicators and you will assure yourself of securing a long-term financial benefit.



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

Tags: small business phone service, Phone Service Bill

Call Queues vs. Ring Groups – Hosted VoIP Delivers Both Options

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 12, 2019 3:19:51 PM

You do not need an expensive phone system to enjoy the benefits of call management via a call queue or ring group.  Securing your service with the right Hosted VoIP provider who can effectively consult with you and program your call flow to balance customer needs and employee capacity will deliver the benefits you are looking for with your hosted system.

For high inbound call volume companies, a hot debate is whether to utilize call queues or ring groups.  There are benefits to each, but let’s start with a general description:

Ring Group – Inbound calls are directed to a set of employees and they ring all phones atRing Groups the same time.  If no one is available to answer, it can be programmed to roll to a back-up group or move into an auto attendant.

Call Queue – Inbound calls are directed into a queue, where the caller is on hold for an available attendant.  Employees need to log in and log out of the queue to accept calls.  Programming and system capability differ widely at this point, but typically there are either opt out processes or time out process that direct callers to an automated attendant.

The beauty of the call queue is the equitable distribution of calls to employees in the queue.  Callers typically will hear hold music and messages while they wait.  Depending upon preferences of the company and their customers, the length of time in queue is a programmable variable.  The challenge with call queues is the management of the employees from a log in/log out perspective.  If someone forgets to log out, calls could be directed to an unattended station.  Again, there are some programming variables to solve for such an issue, but it could lead to some longer hold times for a caller or two until the programming kicks in.

Ring groups are more of a static program with a fixed number of rings between groups and ultimately to an auto attendant as a back-up.  Callers can either hear ringing or hold music while ringing.  The automated attendants serve as back-ups and can provide for routing to people or departments or for message delivery.  The benefit of this approach is that employees in the group are free to move about without worrying about logging in and out of the queue.  Additionally, the fixed amount of time before back up groups or attendants are engaged is seen as a benefit.  The downside is potential inequity of call disbursement between members of the group.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to striking the right balance between customer preference and employee management.  Companies that bring a solid understanding of customer preferences to the table are a step ahead in programming the right solution. 


About the author:  Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of Hosted VoIP Phone Service. 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, Configuring digital phone service

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