How an Internet Fax Can Help your Small Business

Internet FaxAny small business owner understands how valuable their customers are; you can’t afford to lose them through subpar service. A VoIP Business Phone System can help boost your business. One feature in particular, an Internet Fax, is especially useful.

Why use a VoIP Business Phone System?

One way to retain your customers is to enable an avenue for constant communication. Through a VoIP Business Phone System, customers can reach your company easier than ever before. Some of the basic features of VoIP are customized voicemail systems, call transferring and automated attendants. VoIP Business Phone Systems can also save you money. Not only does it increase client retention by providing a better customer service experience, but it much more cost effective than older phone systems.

What is the benefit of an Internet Fax?

An Internet Fax is just what it sounds like; an electronic fax system that sends faxes directly to an email account. It is efficient because all of your reports, memos, etc. can be accessed straight through email. The biggest advantage of an Internet Fax is that when you have a customer that doesn’t have a fax machine, you can email them the paperwork via Internet Faxing.

It is inevitable that technology will one day make everything paperless, and the Internet Fax is just another step in that direction. Recent upgrades to Internet Fax software also allow you to create PDF forms.

To wrap things up, small businesses are typically intending to grow, and what better way to do so than to generate profits and engage with more clients? This is why the internet fax with VOIP Business Phone Systems have become what most businesses are using when they are looking to establish themselves. If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

4 Ways Cloud Phone Systems Help Healthcare Practices Stay HIPAA Compliant

HIPAA CompliantHIPAA (also known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) mandates that all kinds of healthcare practices to safeguard the privacy of the personal health information of their patients. Telephone usage also falls under HIPAA guidelines. Electronic personal health information (or ePHI) has to be safeguarded from unauthorized people. Below are four examples of how a healthcare practice can benefit from an HIPAA compliant cloud business phone system:

Provide staff with EHRs and patient information from PMS apps upon incoming calls.

Cloud phone systems are typically integrated with business CRM software so that customer information is recalled instantly. This tool saves office staff precious time when handling insurance claims or making appointments. In terms of HIPAA compliance—which states that patients must be reached only via the numbers that they have previously requested—it displays these provided numbers prominently.

Video calling can extend physician reach to underserved areas and workplaces.

Facetime and Skype are not HIPAA compliant. However, if a healthcare practice purchases a HIPAA-certified cloud business phone system that includes video calling, they can use this feature for better informed consultations.

Video calling aids and encourages use of online patient portals.

Healthcare practices can place Video calling aids in a patient’s online portal. This increases the odds that the patient will actually use it. Once the patient logs into the secure website, they can also schedule appointments, send secure messages to doctors, and view labs.

Easily retrieve voicemails and other call recordings attached to EHRs and PMRs.

Many VoIP services offer call recording, which is growing in popularity among healthcare practices. Call recording can assist in employee training and documentation of remote visits. These recordings must have encryption however, and a HIPAA-certified cloud service is the way to go.

With all of that said however, healthcare practices must remember that HIPAA-certified cloud services are only half the battle. To effectively remain HIPAA compliant, practices must also establish policy, training, and enforcement. If you have any questions regarding disaster recovery or business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

How to Determine if a Cloud-Based Business Phone System is Right for Your Business

cloud-basedRegardless of your specific business phone system requirements, it should be versatile enough to handle your needs. If your present system is lacking, you should consider the following benefits of a cloud-based system.

Efficiency

Cloud-based systems offer web-based customer portals, thereby allowing them greater efficiency than many older systems. You can also add additional features as your business grows and your needs increase. For example, you can add call queues which help you manage the volume of incoming calls.

Full Integration

Cloud-based systems have better connectivity, which is great for employees who are often on the move. Furthermore, cloud-based tools permit better consistency in productivity by integrating your email, voice and video conferencing, and customer relationship tools.

Flexibility

As mentioned above, as your business grows and changes, your phone system must also adapt. Cloud-based solutions allow you to scale your system up or down without the headache. If you are opening new offices or adding additional employees, you can easily add extensions.

Enhanced Control

Cloud-based solutions aren’t located on a specific piece of hardware at a single location. The advantage of this is that your employees will have access to all of their features regardless to where they are. This is especially advantageous to small businesses, because they can operate as if they were larger corporations.

Cost

Cloud-based systems are less expensive when compared to different business phone systems choices.

Improved Customer Service

Your customers will love you for switching to the cloud; they will always receive a quick response thanks to features like the auto attendant and the virtual receptionist. The aforementioned features help direct calls to the appropriate employee. You can also create unique greetings for each employee.

If you have any questions regarding business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

How a Telecom Consultant Can Help your Business

telecom consultantOwning a business requires a lot of tough decisions. However, hiring a telecom consultant can help ease the burden.

Time Savings

Unfortunately, the person in charge of comparing the prices and services of different telecom providers already has a full schedule. Oftentimes the business ends up with a provider that doesn’t end up fitting their needs. If you select a telecom consultant to represent your needs, they take on the task of finding a provider that meets your needs. In many cases, your telecom consultant will also contact the provider if issues arise. This way, your employees can focus on their job rather than their phones.

More Options

As touched on above, there are numerous options for telecom providers. Most business owners are only aware of the prominent ones in their local area, which is how they end up getting stuck with a provider that doesn’t work for them. There are various options though; many providers don’t even advertise that much. Only a professional telecom consultant would be able to provide you with these options.

Prevention of Problematic Service

Providers will frequently attempt to offer services that they can’t actually deliver. They even will offer these services with large incentives. Unfortunately, this always leads to service outages and harm your business. Your telecom consultant, however, works for you as opposed to the service provider. If a provider is trying to offer you something that they can’t live up to, your telecom consultant will let you know.

Cost Savings

Telecom consultants can get you more bang for your buck. If you’re seeking new services or just better prices for existing services, a telecom consultant can handle the negotiations and navigate the rapidly fluctuating telecommunications world.

A telecom consultant can also audit your current phone bill to make sure you aren’t wasting your money on services you don’t actually need. If you are tied to a contract, telecom consultants can often find ways to alter the terms of the contract without violating it.

If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

How to Phase out an Aging Business Phone System

aging business phone systemThe typical business phone system functions about 7-15 years. If your system is in that range, you have to consider end of life options. It’s important to stay educated about phone systems because manufactures eventually stop supporting older model systems. If your aging business phone system fails and you don’t have a backup plan, it can cause your company serious harm.

Replacing the Existing System

Since you can only keep an aging business phone system going so long, you have to consider what system you are going to move to next.

IP system manufacturers have begun to replace traditional systems for a number of reasons. IP systems offer:

  • More/better features
  • Better integration with third party applications
  • Simpler moves, adds, and changes
  • Presence management and unified communications options
  • More cost-effective carrier options

An IP business phone system still represents a significant investment however. Similar to a traditional system, you still have to pick a platform to fit with your specific business needs. As stated above, there are numerous benefits to switching to an IP system, but it is expensive. Therefore, you should consult with an IP telephony expert ahead of time so that when your aging business phone system is no longer functional, you won’t have to start from scratch.

Move to a Hosted PBX Platform

Instead of a brand-new IP system, you could also opt for a hosted system. While a hosted system functions in many ways like a normal business phone system, it is much different; rather than taking up physical space in your office, it resides in the cloud.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of a Hosted system is the cost advantage. Hosted PBX usually charges by the user, along with long distance calling and phone numbers at a flat fee.

Hosted PBX isn’t great for some businesses however, and (as with IP systems) you should consult with an expert prior to making any decisions.

If you have any questions regarding disaster recovery or business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook. 

 

 

Benefits of an Auto Attendant

auto attendantAlmost every business owner has a business phone system. However, many of them, in spite of the benefits, haven’t set up an auto attendant. An auto attendant is essentially a digital receptionist. Without the need of a human, it can automatically route calls to different lines.

Odds are you’ve encountered one in your personal life. Messages like, “Thank you for calling XYZ. If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it at any time. For sales, press one…” are auto attendants. However, if it’s not set up correctly it can drive a client or customer crazy. If it’s set up correctly though, it can have numerous benefits.

Benefits of Having an Auto Attendant

There are several benefits besides efficient call routing as well. They can provide a vital cost savings to benefit as opposed to a live receptionist. Furthermore, customers now have better access to businesses after hours. If you’re concerned about losing the ‘human touch’, it is still beneficial to have an auto attendant as a backup. If your receptionist is busy, you can use the auto attendant rather than a messaging service.

The first thing to remember about an auto attendant is that you should tailor it to your customer base. They can play different welcome greetings and can route incoming calls differently based on specific days/times of the week. For example, during non-business hours, it can inform your customers of your hours and automatically route them to a voicemail box rather than putting them into a call queue.  

An auto attendant is an efficient way for all businesses to deal with its incoming calls. It leaves your customers with a professional first impression. If you have any questions regarding business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Is SIP Trunking or PRI better for your Business?

PRIToday’s telecom market allows companies access to a numerous types of business phone systems, two of which are SIP Trunking and PRI. While some may consider the two indistinguishable, they have differences in terms of versatility, equipment, and cost.

What is PRI?

PRI is more of a traditional form of business phone system communications. It relies on the Public Switched Telephone Network and requires a circuit switch and physical phone line. Each line has 23 voice channels in order to handle simultaneous calls. You purchase additional connections per circuit of 23 channels at an additional cost. In other words, if you want to up your call capacity, you will have to install more lines.

What is SIP Trunking?

The biggest difference between PRI and SIP Trunking is that the former connects virtually to the aforementioned Public Switched Telephone Network. It routes all your VoIP calls through the Internet as opposed to through a physical line. Arguably the best thing about SIP Trunking is that you can combine data, voice, and video in one line and does not limit the amount of voice channels you can use.

SIP Trunking is also more cost efficient than PRI; SIP connections are sold as per call path. If you need to increase call volume you purchase more SIP Trunks (each one allows for 2-3 users).

Major Differences Between PRI and SIP Trunking
Cost

PRI requires you to pay per-minute fees if you want to make long distance phone calls. SIP Trunking, on the other hand, permits you unlimited local and long distance calls.

Hardware

As mentioned, PRI requires a physical phone line with 23 voice channels. If you want to expand your business you have to install additional lines. SIP Trunking doesn’t require new hardware if you want to grow your business.

Features

If you want additional features with PRI, you have to pay extra. SIP Trunking, however, has customizable features at no additional cost.

Our Conclusion

In terms of equipment, versatility, and cost, SIP Trunking is almost certainly the better choice for your business’s telecommunications. If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

Why a Disaster Recovery Plan is Vital to your Business Phone System

disaster recoveryNot all business phone system hardware issues are necessarily due to crashes. Oftentimes natural disasters are the culprit. Furthermore, fires, floods, and other natural disasters can not only bring down your equipment, but it can render your business premises inaccessible. It is important that you have a disaster recovery plan in place to help your business recuperate all the faster.

Business Continuity

Business continuity refers to the plans and techniques meant to ensure that your business’s vital functions remain operational in the event of a disaster. There are three fundamentals of business continuity.

  • Resilience: Most of the companies achieve this by engineering the critical business functions and supporting infrastructure in a way that limits their risk of catastrophic failure.
  • Recovery: In the event of failure, companies make specific arrangements to recover or restore business functions.
  • Contingency: In the event of resilience and recovery failures, these refer to last-resort plans.
Cloud Calling

VoIP business phone systems have one large benefit over PBX systems in terms of disaster recovery in that they are cloud based. As opposed to housing your data on-site, cloud based systems have data centers around the globe. In the event of a disaster, VoIP services reroute traffic to servers thousands of miles away.

Business Phone System Disaster Recovery: Planning and Prevention

One of the most important tips of any disaster recovery plan is to work in conjunction with your IT administrator or your phone system administrator. This is especially true if your are still using an on-premises system as opposed to the cloud.

Hopefully your business will not be the victim of a natural disaster. However, it always pays to be prepared. If you have any questions regarding disaster recovery or business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

How Advanced Call Forwarding Can Help your Business

Advanced Call ForwardingIn the modern business world, customers expect to reach businesses immediately. However, it isn’t feasible to take each and every call personally. If you have a hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system though, there are some powerful features that can help. The most important for assisting you in this area is Advanced Call Forwarding.

Advanced Call Forwarding allows you to forward an incoming call to either a mobile number or an alternate person if you are unavailable. With this feature you and your staff won’t miss out on any calls. Here are some of the ways in which Advanced Call Forwarding can help your business.

Set up find me/follow me calling for remote workers

Many businesses use remote workers. Remote workers allow businesses to expand their employee and client pool. However, keeping track of remote workers can present a challenge. If you enact find me/follow me however, it makes the task much easier. Find me/follow me is a staggered Advanced Call Forwarding option that allows employees to receive calls at numerous numbers. For example, if a call goes unanswered at the default number, it will ring to a secondary number (such as a mobile number).

Route calls based on time or day

Another frequently used Advanced Call Forwarding option is to route calls to a number or location based on a specific time of day or day of week. This is most commonly used to ensure that all after hour calls don’t go to your business line but to a mobile phone. The best part about this feature is that the caller doesn’t even realize that they are actually reaching a different number.

Prioritize top customers

The majority of hosted PBX solutions also allow businesses to prioritize top customers. Based on your configuration answering rules, a specific inbound number can be directed to a specific number or extension. You can also permit specific contacts to reach your number during off-hours or holidays.

Advanced Call Forwarding permits businesses a large competitive edge and helps them manage calls without breaking a sweat. If you have any questions regarding business phone systems, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Three Ways to Improve your VoIP Call Quality

VoIP Call QualityMany businesses hesitate to switch to VoIP due to concerns over call quality. Will your customer service lines suffer due to the change? The hesitant businesses often recall the past when Internet connections were sluggish and wonder if their own Internet connection is up to the task. That is a fair concern, even if present day VoIP has improved a great deal. Here are a few ways that you can make sure your VoIP call quality is up to your business’s demands.

Use New Headsets

VoIP call quality depends, in large part, on your microphone and earphones. Many people make their calls on headsets but use outdated equipment. These people run the risk of dampening their VoIP call quality. If you try better quality headsets, you—and the people you’re calling—will hear the difference. Headsets with short, insulated cords tend to have better results with VoIP.

Eliminate Jitters

VoIP—as stated—works via the Internet. More specifically however, it works by delivering the voice information in small packets. If you want that information to make sense to the end user, they need to be spaced evenly and delivered consistently. There are a few types of network issues that can disrupt this information delivery. Depending on the severity of the VoIP call quality jitters, there are numerous solutions. If the problem isn’t that bad, try swapping Ethernet cables with Cat 6 cables. Cat 6 delivers information to the source a lot quicker than Ethernet, and thus reduces the odds of it scrambling. If your jitter problem is severe, you can install a jitter buffer.

Lower Bandwidth Use

Sometimes VoIP users simply have an overloaded bandwidth. If your VoIP call quality is suffering as a result, there are a few solutions. You should stop downloads when using VoIP and eliminate simultaneous calls. However, the best solution is simply to spend a little bit on increased bandwidth usage. It depends entirely on how many calls you receive on any given day.

If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.