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Mark Greim

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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

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

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