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 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.
To 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.