Blog

May 9th, 2016

2016May9_VoIP_BSo you’ve noticed that the work rate in the office has been slowing down lately. Perhaps it’s because the job is too stressful. Or maybe most of your employees live far away from the new office. Whatever the reason, it’s probably best to try something new. But what can you do to get your employees to be more productive? As VoIP systems gear companies towards a more mobile workforce, work at home strategies can be just the solution you need. Here, we explain how small businesses and their employees can benefit from work at home strategies paired with VoIP.

It’s good for business

Many businesses have misconceptions about their employees choosing to work from home. They assume that their employees will be less productive if they are not within the office environment. However, this is far from the truth. As a matter of fact, according to a Harvard Business Review study, work at home policies for your small business tends to be more beneficial for your company. This is thanks to the combination of cloud computing and VoIP technologies, which can easily migrate the office environment virtually anywhere with an Internet connection. Along with this, VoIP services can empower your small business and work at home employees in a number of ways:
  • VoIP technologies allow you to keep your employees on track with an array of management tools like barge, monitor and whisper which allows you to coach and micro manage your employees.
  • The cost of business resources, furniture, space and sick days are reduced when there is an effective way for your employees to work at any location.
  • VoIP services promote continued collaboration between employees even if some of them are not in the office, allowing workflow to be more efficient.
  • As a business owner, VoIP gives your company more opportunity for growth. You can communicate and hire people from different countries with minimal cost.

Perks for employees

Work from home policies with VoIP systems isn’t just good for business either. It’s also good for your employees. As more of their workload is digitized, working from home or anywhere else has never been easier. In fact, studies have shown that employees who took days to work from home were actually more productive. Part of this is because it gives them a break from the stressful office environment and, with a VoIP service readily available to them, they feel as if they haven’t missed a day’s worth of work. With the right VoIP systems installed, employees can easily collaborate with co-workers.

Using VoIP at home also saves your employees from long and costly commutes in the morning. They can simply pick up their VoIP device and join the conference meeting without physically being in the boardroom. Furthermore, employees who want to recall important events during conferences or seminars can use the VoIP call recording feature. This way, employees can make sure they are correctly approaching their work in their own time.

VoIP requirements for remote workers

If you’re convinced that working from home is a good solution for your company, it is essential that the VoIP service provider that you choose offers the features listed below:
  • Voicemail: a must for any VoIP device. This feature will record a missed call and send you an email of the audio file.
  • Call forwarding: allows your employees to simply take and transfer calls between VoIP devices and their smartphones.
  • Whisper, monitor and barge: allows you to check on your employees. If they’re in a business call you can still contact them without disrupting the call. This is also a good tool for call coaching.
  • VoIP integrated to shared documents: products like Office 365 let your employees access Skype while collaborating on a Word document. This means your employees can give instant feedback and correct each other without the need to send emails.
Many companies are now benefiting from a mobile and remote work environment. Although work at home strategies may seem like a risky venture, making the most out of your VoIP technologies will keep your employees happy and productive. If you want to learn more about the VoIP services that we offer and where it will fit in your company, give us a call.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
April 19th, 2016

2016Apr19_VoIP_BWhen considering a VoIP solution, many small business owners have a lot of reservations. What if the call quality is unsuitable? What if your staff struggles with the technology? What if you have to deal with the headache of installing an additional network? All these assumptions can prevent business owners from giving VoIP a try, but are they legitimate? Absolutely not. Here’s how you can avoid them while optimizing your VoIP solution.

Use the same network for voice and data

A popular reason many businesses choose VoIP is to cut costs, which is exactly why you should run voice and data on the same network. Running them separately will significantly increase set up and running costs. And doing so will add an extra layer of complexity to your business that is completely unneeded. Regardless, choosing to combine your voice and data does take a bit of thought to ensure you don’t bump into unnecessary issues. So ask your provider the following questions before getting started:
  1. Will you be able to scale the service as needed?
  2. How much bandwidth will you need to cover both data and voice? Does your business have enough?
  3. Can you make modifications to the network?

Prioritize voice communication

VoIP saves you money. But you don’t want to do so at the cost of the integrity of your business. If you have unreliable voice communications with clients and colleagues, this can tarnish your reputation. This is why voice needs to take priority on your network over applications and other Internet activity if a bottleneck occurs. You can do this by setting the QoS (Quality of Service) on your router to prioritize voice and VoIP traffic. This can help provide clear voice communications without lag or interruption.

Provide comprehensive staff training

As with most technologies, VoIP has a learning curve. While many business owners are happy to give a few quick tips to their employees along with a brief manual, the training often stops there. However, what if your employees encounter problems with the technology while they’re on the phone with a customer? With proper training you can avoid such scenarios. What’s more, your training also gives you an opportunity to share some of the more advanced features VoIP has to offer such as in-call coaching, hot desking, and call screening.

To ensure your staff can maximize their VoIP experience, your training should include the basics of how the software, hardware and data flow operates. You should also include the procedures to take when encountering a problem with the technology and how your voice and data staff can work together for optimum VoIP performance. Once you’ve done that, don’t forget to test your employees on what they’ve learned and answer any and all questions they may have.

VoIP presents a unique opportunity for your business to gain a more advanced telephony solution while cutting costs. Call quality does not have to take a hit. If you’d like to learn more about how VoIP can improve your business, call us now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
March 30th, 2016

2016Mar30_VoIPGeneral_BVoicemail, Do Not Disturb, and call recording are among the few reasons why companies choose VoIP services to solve their communication needs. However, there are features that can be overlooked by small businesses such as customizable hold music or in-call coaching, to name a few. So if you want to get the most out of your VoIP service and ensure a more efficient work flow, it’s worth checking out these underutilized features.

Busy lamp field

Nothing too fancy about this one. The busy light simply notifies you when people can’t take your call and frees up some time to wait for them or call someone else. With this feature, you avoid disrupting someone from an important phone call. It also saves you time from walking across the office just to see that the person is already occupied with another call.

In-call coaching

If you would like to give your employees some training on how to speak with clients over the phone, you can now do it virtually. Using add-on services like barge and whisper, you can help point your employees in the right direction when they’re dealing with a client. Barge enables you to silently monitor your employee’s phone conversation with a customer. While whisper allows you to provide comments on how your employees are doing while they are on call and without the customer knowing that you’re there coaching your staff.

Hot desking

With hot desking, you can potentially take calls from any IP phone without having to be at your desk. Imagine, for example, you’ve been transferred to a new office for a few days and can’t be bothered to set up a new IP phone. Hot desking solves that by transferring your phone preferences over to another IP device -- meaning, your voicemail, speed dials, number extension, and other customized settings can be accessed wherever you happen to be working from.

Hold Music

Sometimes what determines whether or not a client is willing to be put on hold is if the music is entertaining enough to keep their ear on the phone. Certain VoIP services allow you to customize your hold music so your customers will no longer have to listen to cheesy background music.

Hidden conferencing features

Many companies go to VoIP providers because it’s a cheap service that reduces the need to travel to meetings. However, a lot of people don’t use the other features that can help make a video meeting operate more efficiently. In the same call, you can mute other people, organize internal voting systems, and more.

Hands-free dialing

Hands-free dialing saves you from having to look someone up in your phonebook. This feature adds a button above someone’s email address that will let you call that person. From here you can redirect the call to your phone or better yet, connect with your clients over a video conference.

Call screening

Often a forgotten feature that is provided by many VoIP services, call screening displays the caller ID on your device and allows you to take whatever action you’d like before picking up the call. If you are getting a personal call you can simply choose to transfer the call over to your cell phone. Alternatively, you can also choose to hang up if it’s someone you don’t want to talk to.

Click-to-call

Click-to-call is a website widget that allows your website visitors to call you by simply clicking on a button on your page. This helps make call to actions effortless for the visitor since they don’t have to physically dial your number on their phone. You risk losing potential customers who don’t want to look at your contact us page to access your services. With click-to-call, they only have to tap on their smartphone to get a hold of you.

Analytics

Nowadays, cloud-based VoIP services excel in providing you with methods to analyze your data usage. It can show you a database of who is calling you the most, who you’re calling the most, a geographical distribution of your customers, and cost. With this data you can choose to focus more of your company’s efforts into a particular client or customer.

The next time you wonder if there is an easier way to do something when you’re in a phone call, take comfort in the fact that there are several features that can really make organizing your communications systems a lot easier. Consider using some or all of these features to get the most out of the VoIP service you paid for. To know more about the latest in VoIP trends and services, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
March 9th, 2016

2016Mar9_VoIPGeneral_BWhether we’re using a laptop, a mobile phone or a tablet, communication has never been easier. Thanks to increasingly stable and fast internet connections, Voice over IP (VoIP) services have replaced phone calls as a cheap and accessible alternative. This has caught the attention of many business owners and some have even adopted these VoIP solutions for their business. So when it comes to your company, you may be flirting with the idea of VoIP as well. If so, here are some things to consider before purchasing a particular service.

Flexibility or ease-of-use?

Choosing between a hosted or managed VoIP setup depends on the type of service your company is willing to pay for. Would you prefer flexibility or accessibility?

Managed VoIP means that your company is in charge of managing and maintaining the on-site system. While initial costs are generally greater due to hardware and maintenance fees, when it comes to managing your own telecommunications network, a managed VoIP system provides your business with more versatility and control.

On the other hand, with hosted VoIP systems, you leave the cost of new hardware and the maintenance of the telecommunications network entirely to a third party. This also frees your company from the burden of having to monitor and update your own telecommunication technologies. For many small businesses a hosted VoIP option is the more attractive choice as you only pay for the services you use from your hosted service provider, and these initial fees tend to be lower than the alternative.

Do you want to be more technically involved?

Deciding between a managed VoIP system and a hosted one depends on how much you are willing to be involved in the management and maintenance of your VoIP setup. Generally, many companies with limited IT knowledge tend to take the hosted VoIP option while those who have more resources to customize their own telecommunications network are more willing to go with an on-site VoIP setup.

Have you considered mobile VoIP systems?

With VoIP systems, telephony is no longer bound to a specific phone network. Modern employees now have a multitude of communication tools to choose from all while accessing them anytime and anywhere. Choosing VoIP systems that offer mobile integration can provide your workers with the ability to access video conference calls and answer direct calls even when they are not in the office.

Does your business intend to expand?

When choosing the right VoIP system, you have to make sure that the service provider can complement your company’s plans for growth. With so many mobile devices being made, selecting a VoIP service that is compatible with the latest technologies can keep you ahead of the game.

Cloud-based solutions can help ease your expansion plans because these services will constantly update your telecommunications network for you. This means you never have to worry about your technology falling behind in functionality.

Check your internet connection

Regardless of which VoIP provider you choose, it is important to note that a strong and stable internet connection is necessary in order to support your communications network.

Before purchasing from a specific VoIP provider, you should find out if your company requires a dedicated broadband or leased lines. While leased lines provide voice quality, opting for dedicated broadband services offer higher internet speeds.

How much does it cost?

An important point to consider for your business is how much you are willing to pay for a specific VoIP system. Firstly, check how much the hardware and installation of the service costs. Then look at how much a provider will charge for managing, updating and maintaining your telecommunications system.

Finally, make sure that a VoIP provider’s services meet your company’s communication needs. If the VoIP provider is offering a bundle of services that your company might not even require, then it might be in your best interest to choose a different provider that charges more affordable rates.

While picking and deploying VoIP systems can seem like a daunting task, they have become vital tools for any good business to function. If you are planning to install a new VoIP system, consider some or all these factors to ensure you’ve made the right decision. And of course, if you’re looking for a provider, our experts are happy to help in any way possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
February 19th, 2016

2016Feb19_VoIPGeneral_BVoIP - the mere mention of the word can send shudders down a business owner’s spine. With such an odd name, it may make little sense to utilize something so unfamiliar in your business. You may want to know more about it before committing to a full blown system for you and your employees. Like, how does it work? And, how can it help your business? That’s why we’ve created this list of four apps that enable you to take VoIP out for a test drive.

WhatsApp

The increasingly popular WhatsApp provides more than just text chats between users. There is also an call option, the equivalent of VoIP calls with the option of using video. So if you’re texting with a business colleague, friend or spouse, and need to communicate more clearly or face-to-face, you can easily switch your text chat to a more personal voice or video one. WhatsApp texting and VoIP service is free to download and use, and is available for all major smartphones.

Skype

Even seldom Internet users and the non-tech savvy are likely to be familiar with Skype. This VoIP trailblazer was allowing users to place calls over the Internet long before many even knew what VoIP was. But for those who are unfamiliar with this service, Skype users can place voice or video calls to other Skype users for free. You can also call a landline or mobile that doesn’t use the app for a very small fee. As for new changes, you can now conduct conference calls with the group video calling function that Skype has recently added.

Viber

Like Skype, you can use this service to place free VoIP calls to other Viber users. You can also call non-Viber users for a low fee, which is usually less than most cellular service plans. And because Viber is primarily a mobile app, it also has some nice benefits if you’re using it on your cell. Unlike other free VoIP services, Viber doesn’t require a username. Instead, you simply use your cell number as an identifier, which makes it easy for you to call contacts on your phone. What’s more, it also doesn’t eat up a large amount of data per call, only using 250KB per minute.

Viber is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices, and requires no registration to use the app.

Google Hangouts Dialer

If you’re a Google Apps user, you’re likely familiar with Hangouts. What you may not know, however, is that you can install an app, Hangouts Dialer, that enables VoIP calls. Once Dialer is installed to the Hangouts app, you can use it to call any phone number in the world, including landlines. Best of all, most calls to Canada and the US are free.

For business owners who are a bit tentative of VoIP, these four apps will give you an easy opportunity to test the waters. If you have any VoIP questions, or are ready to start saving money and install a VoIP system in your business, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
February 22nd, 2012

Because of continued improvements in technology and changes in the way people work, communication in today's business has become richer but also more complex. Unified Communications is a great new way of taming this complexity. Read on to find out how.

Because of continued improvements in technology and changes in the way people work, we now have a multitude of options to communicate with one another. This can be both a boon and a curse, as not only do we have to learn and master a variety of devices from which to communicate—but also contend with an equal or higher number of forms with which to communicate. For example, not only do we make a phone call to talk nowadays, but we also chat, text, tweet, post, like, poke, huddle, share screens, do white board sessions, and more. We can do all of these whether on the desktop computer, laptop, netbook, tablet, desk phone, mobile phone, TV – and soon maybe even from the kitchen refrigerator! Not surprisingly, people have started looking for ways to tame and simplify all of this complexity—and thus was born the concept of "Unified Communications."

Unified Communications, simply stated, encompasses the organization of different communication tools and models so that it can be used and managed in an integrated way, with the goal of improving flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness. To illustrate the benefits of Unified Communications, here are some examples of how it can be used in several business scenarios:

  1. Have a "single number to call" or a simpler way of reaching people. Instead of remembering and sharing a phone number, IM handle, email address, twitter account, and more, you can have just one number or address by which people can reach you—and systems will bridge that with whatever device or application your Unified Communications happen to be on or you prefer. So you can easily have calls placed to your desk phone routed to your mobile phone when you are out, and have voice mail emailed to you as a recording in case you can't answer.
  2. Reaching people when you need them. If you are working remotely, or managing remote workers, Unified Communications systems can indicate your or your colleagues' location or "presence"—i.e., whether you or they are available at the normal location, working remotely, or out in the field.
  3. Synchronous or asynchronous way of working. If you work with people in different time zones you can opt to conference when your schedules overlap, or swap messages that can be answered at their convenience if they don't —and be able to track and tie all of these together.
  4. Richer collaboration. If you work on projects, Unified Communications can allow you or your team to get in touch and collaborate in a richer and more interactive way. While working on a project you can chat, switch to voice calls for better clarity, or conference via video to provide more context, as well as share screens for easier collaboration—all from a single screen or session.
  5. Application integration. Imagine if you had the ability to call people from your email application's address book, or initiate a web conference from your instant messaging tool. With Unified Communications that is all possible.
Unified Communications may sound expensive and complex, but in reality it can actually lessen costs and make things simpler for you and your business. Learn more about Unified Communications and what else it can do to improve your business by contacting us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 16th, 2012

A few years ago, Voice-over-IP or Internet telephony was touted as the next big wave in technology. However, it previously came with a big price tag—but not anymore. With the great strides made in technology the last few years, VoIP is now readily within reach for many businesses—large or small.

If you are running a business, then there is no reason you shouldn't be using Voice-over-IP, or VoIP, to reduce telecommunications cost, streamline operations, and improve the flexibility for your organization today.

VoIP, simply put, allows telephone communications to run over your data network or the Internet. The benefits of this setup are many, and the following are just a few.

  1. VoIP allows companies to maximize investments already made in their network infrastructure. The same network which handles the flow of data such as web access and email can now accommodate voice as well—no need to add and maintain additional wires and devices.
  2. VoIP can allow you to dramatically reduce the cost of communications, especially for interstate or international communications—everything can go through the Internet instead of incurring expensive long distance toll charges.
  3. VoIP allows your employees to be more productive and efficient by giving them the ability to receive and make calls anywhere with a data connection, using their laptop, mobile phone, tablet, or virtually any device connected to the Internet.
  4. VoIP increases the number of features you can use with your phone system. For example, it's easier to add extensions to your phone. You can provide a local number or extension for all your staff without additional costs or cabling. You can also set up sophisticated auto answering routines and call routing. You can marry voice messages with email and faxes all in one inbox.
  5. You can use VoIP as a tool for real-time collaboration—along with video conferencing and screen sharing. You can employ presence technologies that come standard with VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems. Communicate with colleagues about your presence or receive info on the status and whereabouts of your staff.
Previously, all these benefits were only available with a big price tag and a critical limitation—the unavailability or unreliability of the company's Internet connection—but not anymore. With the great strides made in technology and the wide availability and affordability of broadband connections over the last few years, VoIP is now readily within reach for many businesses—large or small

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It's cheap, ubiquitous, and easy-to-use, and any business should have VoIP in their toolset. If you are interested in learning more about how VoIP can help your business, contact us today to find out more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.