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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

Tear Down Walls with Business VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Jan 30, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Leave the talk around building walls to the American political scene.  As a business owner, your business will benefit by figuratively tearing down walls and removing barriers to communication with the help of a Hosted VoIP phone service.  With Hosted VoIP, the walls of your business become translucent, as your phone system is no longer confined to your physical location.  Additionally, as the world becomes more and more "always-on" in terms of communication, your business can adjust communication practices to meet the evolving demands of your customers.

Hosted VoIP:  A Be Anywhere Phone System

By its very nature, Hosted VoIP delivers a single phone system to wherever your business is conducted.  Because the system is cloud-based, the business deploys physical or soft phones where it best meets the internal communication needs and the demands of their customers.  Making all of the phones work together as one system and implementing a call flow is a function of programming and does not require physical phone systems where you deploy resources.  This opens the door for extreme flexibility and creativity and will give your business an edge over the competition.  Examples of ways businesses have torn down the walls and deployed Hosted VoIP are listed below:

  • Expanding the Business Presence Beyond a Primary Location - As a business grows, pressure on square footage can become acute. Instead of adding resources to a tight environment or going through the expense of moving a business, a business owner can look at alternatives to placement of employees.  Locations can be added where resources are plentiful or economical or in areas where business volume dictates.  Virtual employees can also be deployed where it makes sense for the business, allowing for expansion without taking on the cost of new locations.  A Business VoIP phone service can tie all of these employees together on the same cloud-based system, facilitating efficient internal communication while external callers are served as if everyone was under the same roof.
  • All Locations Work as One - There are certainly direct economic advantages of all business locations being on the same phone system. Through Hosted VoIP, phone bills are typically lower as there are economies of scale built into most pricing practices of the hosted VoIP providers.  Indirectly, the business can benefit through the programming of the service to best meet the needs of the business and demands of the customers.  You can centralize main line calls, where all locations incoming calls are directed to a central group of people.  Calls can be directed to where the customer is best served.  You can decentralize functions as well.  For example, a customer service group can be made up of several employees located in several different locations.  Businesses can right size their functions based upon call requirements, not the number of physical locations.
  • Inclusion of the Mobile Work Force - Many businesses have employees spend a lot of time in the field, whether it be sales personnel, site managers, or service technicians. Most utilize the personal or business cell phones to conduct their business.  Thanks to soft phone applications, these employees can receive and make calls on their business number or extension and not have to give out the cell phone number.  When they make calls, they are delivering the caller ID of the business, not the cell phone.  Voicemail messages are crafted for their business, and not a personal cell phone.  This can be advantageous to the business in many ways.  Calls can be transferred to the employee without needing to think about whether they are in the office or on their cell phone by transferring to the extension.  External callers don't have try to reach this person via a cell phone, they just call the business or the direct dial of the contact.

Meeting the Customer Demands

Remove Walls to Communication with Business VoIP.jpgWith the flexible deployment options described above, call flows and communication practices can be revamped to meet the growing demands of an always-on customer base.  Calls can be answered all of the time, regardless of where the resources are deployed.  Auto attendants can route callers by need to the appropriate group of employees, again with no requirement of location.  Direct dial numbers can be judiciously utilized for customers who need direct contacts.  After hours on-call personnel can be equipped with soft phones.  Calls can be programmed to deliver to the entire group, but the only ones that will ring are to those designated to turn them on for the period.  No complicated programming or a physical requirement to be in the office is necessary.

These are just a few examples.  Every business is different and the caller demands can vary widely.  However, the flexibility offered by a Hosted VoIP service provides the business with the opportunity to be creative.  Let your imagine fly and think of ways your business can communicate better with your customers and prospects and set your business apart from your competition!

 

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 service, Phone Service for Multiple Locations, virtual workforce, Business VoIP

Mobility Options with Hosted VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Jul 22, 2013 10:16:00 AM

Deploying mobility options is a great way to fully utilize your Hosted VoIP phone system for your business and drive customer satisfaction and office efficiency.  Hosted VoIP services provides a new outlook for your phone system, as you no longer are confined to the walls of the office for your communication practices.  Such options include the utilization of soft phones for your cell phones, tablets, and laptops, engagement of cell phones in the call flow, and the establishment of remote office options for personnel.VoIP Mobility Options

Soft Phones – Working in conjunction with or independently from your VoIP desk phone, soft phones can provide several advantages.  They are set up as your extension in your business on your laptop, tablet, or smart cell phone.  When you turn on these phones, you can dial out and deliver the caller ID for your business instead of that of your cell phone.  You can basically take and make calls anywhere you have an internet connection.  This mobility option provides a measured improvement in customer contact and satisfaction for associates who are on the road or out of the office frequently.  When using these devices, it is recommended that you are on a WiFi network and not relying on 4G or 3G cell service. 

Engagement of Cell Phones in the Call Flow – Again, for employees who are highly mobile or out of the office, calls to their direct dial number or internal extension can be programmed to simultaneously ring or forward to their cell phones.  This increases the ability for key customer contact associates to receive that important phone call while they are away from the office.   If they are busy and do not answer their cell phone, the call is routed back to their office voicemail.  Of course, voicemails can be delivered to email so they can receive and listen to the voicemails and respond quickly.  One important note is that if the associate hits “ignore” on their cell phone, or if the phone is turned off or out of service area, the calls will be picked up by the cell phone voicemail.

Remote Personnel – Because the actual phone system is hosted by your VoIP provider, all of the desk phones are connected back to the host via the internet connection regardless of where they are located.  Therefore, companies are able to deploy a work from home option for their associates, or establish offices where a specific skill set of employees are better recruited and deployed.  Associates can have phones at the office and a duplicate phone at a home or vacation home and still take calls as if they were at the home office.  This opens up plenty of efficiencies and applications for businesses.

The key with all of these options is that they can be used to make the office more efficient, employees more engaged and available, and customers more satisfied.  We’d love to talk over your specific application and help provide a solution for you!

 

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

Tags: Hosted VoIP, virtual workforce, VoIP Mobility

VOIP Phone Solutions | sipVine Blog | Virtual Workforce

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 20, 2010 7:44:00 AM

Many small to mid-sized businesses utilize a hosted digital phone service to extend their reach in the marketplace and move beyond the walls of their offices by going virtual with their workforce.  Utilizing a hosted digital phone service can help facilitate this mobilization while providing the impression that you are all under one roof.

I'll provide several examples of how some of our customers are doing just that:

  1. Out of State Employees - one customer has employees that office out of state, yet they want to have the appearance that they are in town.  They were provided phone numbers local to the corporate office so their outbound caller ID appears as if they were calling from the corporate office.  Also, from the company perspective, these employees appear like they were on the same phone system. Thus, the receptionist or other employees can simply dial the extension to reach them.  Additionally, they have been able to consolidate their phone service under one provider and save money.   Finally, because we, like many other VoIP providers, provided unlimited local and long distance calls, they no longer pay for long distance charges for calls made to their own employees!
  2. Multiple Branches, One Receptionist - Another company we serve has multiple branch offices across the country and in Canada.  Phone calls coming into the corporate office or via their toll free line can be handled by a single receptionist (or automated attendant if they choose) and routed to the branch location closest to the caller.  Again, this customer benefits by having all of their branches on the same phone system handled by the same service provider.  They are also able to have phone numbers specific to the branch locations.
  3. Call Center at an Off-Site Location - Another company determined that they could establish a call center in a different city where the resources were more plentiful and less expensive than in their headquarter location. However, they wanted to have phone numbers assigned that made it appear that these customer service reps were in the area.  Hosted digital phone service allows for this, as well as provides for extension dialing or call transferring to headquarter employees as required by the call center reps.virtual workforce through hosted digital phone service
  4. Work at Home Sales Force - I'll talk about our company, sipVine, for this. We have representatives located throughout our metropolitan area as they operate out of their homes.  We deploy the "hotel" concept for days when they come to the office.  Thus, we do not have to add unnecessary costs to our business by adding square footage as we have grown.  The reps have a digital phone at their homes that simultaneously rings their phone at the office.  Wherever they pick up the call is where the call is delivered. Additionally, we have their calls simultaneously ring their cell phone, with an indicator so they know it is a business call.  So, our team can always be reached and they don't waste valuable time driving into the office everyday.
I hope this provided you with a few ideas of how a hosted digital phone service can help you go virtual with your workforce.  Please comment.

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

Tags: hosted digital phone service, virtual workforce

Power a Work at Home Strategy with a VoIP Business Phone System

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 2, 2010 11:13:00 AM

Many businesses are sending their workers home, and not just for a holiday. They have found that there are some real benefits from deploying a work at home strategy.

There are several advantages to having some component of your business deployed at home.  Here are just a few: 

  1. Decreased Costs - Office space costs are a very much an overhead expense. This cost does nothing to improve your margin or promote your business. Companies are downsizing their office space footprint by deploying parts of their workforce at their homes (WAH).  These dollars can be diverted to marketing or other growth initiatives.
  2. Improved Employee Satisfaction - For the right employee (we'll get to that in a minute), working from home can be a big bonus.  Eliminating their commute is a gift of time and money.  Happy people work harder and represent your company better.
  3. Expanded Recruitment Base - Depending upon your virtual resources, your ability to recruit just expanded exponentially.  Are you dealing with a high employment cost, lack of a skilled workforce suited to your business, or competitive job market in your locale?  This strategy just opened up tremendous possibilities for your recruitment.
Here are some tips to making a WAH deployment successful:
 
  1. Identify the right segment of your business to be virtual - A WAH strategyWork at Home with VoIP does not work for all parts of your business or people within it. Moving technical support, customer care, and inside sales/telemarketing are good examples of the types of departments that can be mobilized away from the office.
  2. Create a profile of the right employee and screen your interviews accordingly - Only certain personalities can be successful in a WAH environment. They must be independently motivated, disciplined, resourceful, and technically adept. They also need to be able to establish clear boundaries between work and personal activities.  
  3. Establish the rules - WAH employees need to have a quiet, dedicated space for their work activities.  There's nothing worse than a customer care rep handling a customer issue with the dog barking in the background.  Also, WAH is NOT a substitute for their daycare provider.
  4. Deploy new resources for a WAH workforce - you will need a virtual training program, some methods of monitoring activity, virtual interviewing/screening (potentially), a vast library of intranet resources, and even a help desk specific to meeting the needs of your remote workforce to maximize success.
  5. Deploy the right technology - your WAH team needs to have a reliable internet connection to their homes.  Additionally, a VoIP platform with voice quality assurance can power this program very cost effectively.  Find a VoIP provider that can work with any high speed internet connection, can deploy nationwide, and establish your WAH team on a single platform.  This will make your deployment most efficient and cost effective as well.
I hope these guidelines help.  Please comment!

 

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

Tags: voip business phone system, virtual workforce

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