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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

Small Organizations Need Big Business Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Jul 16, 2019 9:18:00 AM

To compete in today's environment, small businesses need enterprise level features and capabilities found in Hosted VoIP phone service. Settling for low-featured phones or over spending for a complex phone system isn't necessary, and small businesses can rise above their competition with improved communication practices.

Small Organizations Need Big Business Phone ServiceHosted VoIP is affordable, flexible, and scalable.   Businesses only purchase the number of VoIP Phones they need, and can easily scale up as the business grows.  This keeps the overall cost of a phone system commensurate with the size of the business.  There's no longer a need to install an overpriced, larger phone system to provide the features you need on the hope that you will grow into it.

Businesses across all industries are using Hosted VoIP.  Retail, professional service firms, healthcare clinics, manufacturing offices, construction companies, and non-profit organizations have all implemented Hosted VoIP, as the system is flexible and customizable to fit the unique needs of every business in every industry.

VoIP features deliver communication advantages.  Every business looks to create an advantage over their competition.  With Hosted VoIP, you can design a call flow and auto attendant that is unique to your business environment with your customers in mind.  You can increase access to your customer facing employees with virtual phones, direct dial numbers, call groups, and other levels of programming.

Small Businesses Choose Hosted VoIPNow, the key is finding a Hosted VoIP provider that understands these needs and is built to support small business.  Such providers will do the programming and on-going administration for you, freeing you up to concentrate on your business. These providers also deliver affordable, consistent rate plans and not plans that increase as you add features. 

If you've been delaying getting your business on Hosted VoIP, chances are that your competitors have already made the switch.  This technology has never been more affordable.  Feature sets continue to grow and the technology is now proven with time.  Reach out to a Hosted VoIP provider today and see how affordable and applicable it is for your business.

 

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

Tags: small business phone service

Consider Separating Your Data and VoIP Networks

Posted by Mark Greim on Jul 15, 2019 9:18:49 AM

With business internet usage continuing to increase, contention for bandwidth between your data and VoIP activity can create problems.  Yes, the convergence buzzword has been replaced with contention!

Why is this happening?  Businesses are evolving faster than the ability for suppliers of bandwidth to keep up with demand.  More are using cloud computing applications, using the internet to move data to a host server rather than to servers on their local area networks.  On-line data backup is another such application.  General use of the internet continues to accelerate, both for personal and business purposes.  With the sky-rocket adoption rate of smart phones, the lines between business and personal have blurred, and office internet usage is following suit.  Social media is not only a personal outlet, but a business tool and resource.  Buying practices have shifted toward internet research and ecommerce, and marketing activity has followed. Separate Data and Voice Networks

I’m looking at my personal browser.  On a daily basis, my browser auto-opens tabs for three social media sites, four cloud applications, news, and Google.  Each application is actively worked throughout the day.  This is becoming the norm, and it requires a lot of bandwidth to perform efficiently.

What is the impact on VoIP applications?  When a company uses a hosted VoIP service, voice packets travel over the same internet connection as the data packets.  Good VoIP companies will provide a quality of service device or program your router to prioritize voice packets over data to ensure that your calls remain clear and free from interruption.  However, if the internet connection is highly saturated with activity, even the best QoS routines will be compromised.  Phone conversations can experience poor voice quality and phones can lose their registration and go off-line.

What can be done?  Where available, you should look at your internet provider’s capability to add bandwidth to the circuit or change to a provider who has the ability to grow with your needs.  Depending upon your internet usage and needs, you still may have occasional contention between your voice and data traffic.  Again, make sure your VoIP provider has the capabilities to implement QoS on your network.  However, an alternative may be to separate your voice and data network.

Finally_Make_the_Move_to_VoIP-3With a separate voice and data network, your calls and phones will no longer be impacted by your data usage.  Many VoIP phones have two ports on the back which allow for a computer to share an Ethernet cable to the network.  The phones and computers can still share an Ethernet connection to the servers, but they will simply be directed out disparate internet connections.  This can be accomplished by setting up a vLan on your switch or by simply assigning the phones separate IP addresses and route them out the new internet connection.  Your network manager or your hosted VoIP provider should be able to assist you with this programming. 

Finally, voice calls do not require much bandwidth (80 kb/s non-compressed).   Dependent upon your concurrent call maximum, your alternative connection may not be required to be very large.

Capture some statistics on your network usage.  Compare this with the anecdotal complaints from your employees about internet speeds and VoIP call quality and then investigate your options for more bandwidth and/or disparate connections for voice and data.

 

About the author:  Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of VoIP 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 Bandwidth Requirements, Voice Quality

My Phone System is Failing! What do I do?

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 10, 2019 10:20:00 AM

Every business with an analog phone system faces this question at some point.  The first sign that something is wrong typically is that you are having difficulty securing replacement handsets or other components.  The manufacturer has long since put that system on "end-of-life" and is looking for you to upgrade to their newer model.  You're able to hold on for a while by finding parts on Ebay until your actual service vendor indicates that they will no longer be able to support your system, which really disturbs you because you've been spending a small fortune with them to keep the phone system alive!

SIP_5ptchecklist_300x400.pngDoes this sound familiar?  We hear from businesses all the time who have been able to hold off on phone system replacement, but have been experiencing these end-of-life conditions and spending a lot of money and resources to avoid the replacement.  The worst feeling is the fear that something catastrophic will happen to their system and they won't be able to get it back going again.

Well, there is good news for you.  Most businesses have or are moving to a Hosted VoIP service.  What this means is that they will never have to worry about phone system replacement again!  Moreover, because they are not actually buying a phone system to sit on-site and they are only purchasing the VoIP handsets, the cost to do this is much lower than purchasing a replacement system.  It may even be less than the maintenance costs spent annually to keep your old phone system alive!

phone.jpgHow is this possible?  The Hosted VoIP provider is responsible for maintaining the phone system and keeping it state-of-the-art.  Your business will receive the benefits of service enhancement and never have to monetarily fund or physically replace a phone system again.  Your VoIP handsets should last years.  At sipVine, we use Polycom or Cisco phones and we rarely have one go bad.  If one is damaged, it can simply be replaced.  If that model is no longer available, you would receive the upgraded model and it would work alongside your other phones without issue.  There are not many areas of infrastructure investment where you are no longer concerned with obsolescence.

Virtual_Phone_Mobility.jpgWhen you begin your review of Hosted VoIP services, you will see a vast number of areas of improvement when compared to your old phone system.  Providers may have different approaches, but you should be able to program you flow of calls and your auto attendant to better match the needs of your internal and external customers.  You can create situations where your customers always get to the person or group they are looking for.  There are strong features surrounding mobility and virtual office locations.  The general feature set is robust, providing small and medium-sized businesses with an enterprise level phone system.

The bottom line is that you should be able to save money on the monthly service and the upfront purchase of the capital.  You will become more efficient and improve your communications with your customers.  And, you'll never have to search Ebay again for replacement parts!  So, if your phone system is failing, contact a Hosted VoIP provider 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: Hosted VoIP, Phone System Replacement

How VoIP Technology can Improve Your Business

Posted by Mark Greim on Jun 10, 2019 9:44:21 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?

Virtual Phone for Remote StaffRemote 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.

Remove Walls to Communication with Business VoIP-4Easy 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

Multiple Location Businesses Doesn't Mean Multiple Phone Systems

Posted by Mark Greim on May 13, 2019 10:07:11 AM

Businesses with multiple locations are perfect matches to reap the benefits of a Hosted VoIP phone system.  Standardizing the phone system and service across the entire organization creates operational efficiencies, financial rewards, happy employees, and delighted customers.

Phone Service for Multiple Location BusinessesAt the heart of the solution is the fact that each business location no longer needs to have an on-site phone system and a separate agreement with a phone service provider.  With Hosted VoIP, the "system" is essentially built and maintained by the Hosted VoIP provider and accessed by the business via their internet connection.  Thus, it essentially is the same phone system for the entire organization regardless of where the phones are deployed.  Local phone numbers are ported to the Hosted provider and the provider is able to secure more direct dial numbers for the location if required.

How does this solution create the best phone service for multiple location businesses?

Same Phone System Means Standardization

Each location is deploying the same type of VoIP phone and phone features.  Such a standard allows for common approaches to training and establishing call handling procedures.  Employees can move from location to location without the need for retraining, and customers can build a level of call handling performance regardless of who is handling their call.  Employees can also retain their direct dial number and internal extension if that is appropriate for the situation.

Call flows and auto attendant messaging and options can be standardized across the organization.  Again, this limits confusion among the customer base and contributes to brand consistency.

Same Phone System Means Efficiencies

Hosted VoIP creates opportunities to develop better procedures for handling communication.  Not only are multi-site businesses able to delight their customer base, they and drive real cost savings.

Virtual PhonesInternal communications are improved with Hosted VoIP.  Employees can extension dial or transfer calls to employees regardless of where each employee is located.  It is much easier to collaborate with peers in such an environment.  Internal meetings can be conducted over a conference call which can be set up as an extension to dial.  Employees who are out of the office on appointments, away from their desks, working remotely, or working from home can be more accessible with a soft phone app on their smart phones.  Extension dials or call transfers will go to their soft phone app when it is turned on, eliminating the need to leave voicemails or engage in a forwarding process to a cell phone each time these employees are away from their desks.

External communications are also enhanced with Hosted VoIP and commonality between locations.  Employees can have direct dial numbers.  Where appropriate for their role, they can provide external callers with their direct dial number and eliminate the need to go through a receptionist.  The soft phone app works well for external callers as well, and they will be happy to connect with their intended party even if they are not at their desk.  Of course, if that party is busy, voicemails can be  delivered to email so urgent messages can be reviewed and returned as quickly as possible.  Additionally, auto attendant routing can direct callers to the appropriate party for their particular need regardless of whether that employee is at the location called.  For example, the accounts receivable department may be located at a headquarter office, but each remote location's auto attendant has the option to route to accounts receivable.  When selected, callers are routed to a ring group of employees in that department at the headquarters.

Centralize Functions with Hosted VoIPCentralized processes and call flows by function is where real savings and customer satisfaction can be realized.  Each organization is different, but solutions can be customized to the unique call flow requirements and staffing scenarios.  Below are some examples:

  • Shared reception model - Each location may have a reception or main line ring group set up. In the cases where businesses want calls answered and avoid auto attendant routing, branch locations can serve as back-ups for each other.  So, if one location is busy handling callers, the next call can route to a back up location or locations.  External callers would have no idea that their call was answered in another town, just that it was answered.  Callers can be easily transferred to their intended party regardless of where that employee is located.
  • Centralized functions - Businesses can centralize the handling of certain type of call activity. Using "customer service" as an example, all calls designated for customer service can route to a centralized team.  This assumes that the responsibilities and functions of customer service are consistent between locations and can be handled centrally.  Instead of employing a customer service team at each location, a centralized approach can build a team based upon call demand and drive cost savings.
  • Decentralize teams - Now for the beauty of a common phone platform, you can actually decentralize common call flows.  Taking the customer service example again, instead of deploying the team at a central location, you can create a team regardless of the location.  So, you may have eight locations, but deploy five customer service representatives wherever they are located.  Calls can be transferred to a customer service extension which would ring to that group or callers can be directed to the group via the auto attendant.

Same Phone System Means Financial Benefits

Highlighted previously are ways to utilize the common phone system to drive efficiencies and cost savings.  These are areas where the greatest opportunities reside for creating large financial benefits.  However, businesses selecting Hosted VoIP can also receive some direct benefits on their telecom costs.

The most obvious direct financial benefit is the fact that you are not purchasing phone systems for each location, just the number VoIP phones required.  Not only is this outlay a fraction of the cost of separate phone systems, you no longer have to service or maintain a system.  This also creates an avoidance of obsolescence costs in the future, as it is the responsibility of the provider to maintain and upgrade their system.

There's also an opportunity for economies of scale on the monthly phone service costs.  Some Hosted VoIP providers have a declining rate per user on the system based upon the number of phones deployed.  Others may simply offer discounts for larger opportunities.

Finally, businesses may consider making a portion of their staffing model virtual, reducing the need for physical locations.  Because the phone system is in the cloud, employees can be set up at their homes where appropriate.  Virtual staffing models can be a good employee retention and satisfaction tool.

Every multi-location business is different and has unique opportunities and challenges.  Feel free to contact sipVine anytime to simply discuss ideas and scenarios that come to mind for your business. We love to talk through ideas and provide examples and solutions of what we have in place for similar businesses 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: Phone Service for Multiple Locations

The Non-Profit Organization and Hosted VoIP:  The Perfect Match

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 15, 2019 9:29:23 AM

Every business and organization deserves the benefits of a Hosted VoIP phone system! Internal efficiencies, caller experiences, flexible deployment options, customization options and financial advantages are benefits enjoyed by organizations utilizing Hosted VoIP.Charitable Organizations Need VoIP

Non-profit organizations come in many shapes and sizes with varying means of securing funding or covering operational costs. Often, purchasing a new phone system is deferred or not even considered because of concerns over capital costs. One of the greatest benefits of a Hosted VoIP solution is that the costs are very reasonable and can easily be recovered through monthly phone service savings over the course of months, not years!

There are several reasons for the lower financial outlay when compared to purchasing a traditional phone system. First, with Hosted VoIP, you're not purchasing a phone system at all!  You're only securing the number of VoIP phones you need to operate. Good VoIP phone costs range from $90 to $250, with a standard expectation for a full-featured, top quality manufactured VoIP phone would be $125. Second, you literally would never need to consider phone system replacement again! As time goes on, you may need to replace a phone or add a phone, but it is up to your Hosted VoIP provider to maintain the system and add newer VoIP phone models to their phone system.

There are many Hosted VoIP providers for a non-profit organization to choose from. This provides the opportunity to seek out a phone company who will provide phone service at monthly rates that will save you money when compared to your current phone bill. You may also find local providers who provide who are interested in providing economic benefits to the non-profits in their community. 

Relious Organizations and Hosted VoIPFor example, sipVine, as a way of giving back to their hometown community of Kansas City and all the communities they serve nationwide, automatically discounts the VoIP phones and phone service for their non-profit customers. "Many businesses took a chance on us back when we started in 2005", states Robert Conner, sipVine's CEO.  "We have grown tremendously since then after being embraced by this community and others. We take great pride in sharing this good fortune with our communities by offering discounts to non-profit organizations. We'll find a way to save them money so they can choose to divert the monetary gains toward their mission rather than administrative expenses."

Because many non-profit organizations haven't even considered changing phone systems and moving to a Hosted VoIP phone system and service, it may be difficult to get started.  Below is a list of some of the features that may be beneficial to your organization:

  • Voicemail to email
  • Auto attendant with customization options
  • Unique call flow options
  • Time of day routing and messaging alternatives
  • Holiday scheduling
  • Direct dial numbers
  • Apps to connect your cell phone to the service
  • Conference calling options
  • Virtual faxing
  • Scalability
  • Deployment of phones anywhere

Health Organizations and Hosted VoIPThose In addition to these phone features, also consider the service qualities you want in your Hosted VoIP provider, such as:

  • Local provider with local support
  • Will review your requirements and customize a plan that works
  • Will handle of all of the programming of the phones and call flow and as well as on-going administration
  • Provides training
  • Offers discounts for non-profit organizations

Should your non-profit need any assistance in assessing the benefits of moving to a Hosted VoIP service specific to your organization, please don't hesitate contacting sipVine.  No obligation, of course. We're here to help!

 

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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 Non-Profit Organizations

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