Unified Communications Gives Your Employees Freedom and Efficiency!

If you value your business, you should consider adding a unified communications system. Simply put, a unified communications system bundles all communication functions into a single, seamless platform. As more businesses adopt this, the workforce has grown more remote and dispersed. Here are some of the great benefits.

Simple Collaboration

When a business adopts a unified communications platform, employees are given the freedom to collaborate as easily as if they were side by side in a conference room. Unified communications makes it possible to reach anyone or gather any information at any time. If you have multiple platforms you are sacrificing ease and utility.

Quick Time to Information

Legacy unified communications systems have a higher amount of human latency than today’s fast-paced business environment can abide. When information is stored across numerous systems, employees tend to be less efficient. When you have an integrated, personal unified communication system,  worker’s data, contacts, applications, and other information are stored in one place. When an employee doesn’t have to toggle back and forth or search for information, they are much more efficient.

Optimizing for the Next Generation

Millennials are predicted to be nearly half of the overall workforce by the year 2020. Their communication preferences are vastly different from past generations. Younger workers typically prefer tools like live chat, video conferencing, and third party applications. Personal unified communications systems allow younger employees to utilize tools they favor as well as more traditional methods.

Maintenance Strategies to Ensure your Business Phone System Remains Operational

Have you ever considered, what would happen if your business phone system crashes? It’s a scary thought, as even a short disruption in services would be extremely problematic and frustrating; it may even result in havoc to business operations and result in considerable losses. There are multiple tactics your company can take to ensure the worst doesn’t happen. Below we have listed a few of the most important ones. 

  • Defective phone systems can damage your business productivity and reliability. There should be planned maintenance checks and back up plans to deal with any outage.
  • Early detection of faults can prevent major losses in business. A regular maintenance plan can ensure that minor faults don’t become major problems.
  • Scheduled backups ensure a simple disaster recovery plan in case of an unexpected issue.
  • Your service provider can aid your business in software and technology upgrades. When they are carried out, it guarantees a secure and reliable business phone system.
  • Most importantly, an overall, well planned maintenance program allows for total peace of mind for business owners. The risk of not having an efficient maintenance plan includes inflated labor expenses in case of emergency services, loss of competitive edge.  These cascading effects can bring the entire business system to a standstill.

Considering how much most businesses rely on their business phone systems, a dependable maintenance program is one of the most important strategies for a company to take in guaranteeing that your system is always operational. Furthermore, at Advanced Communication Systems we use the latest technology updates to ensure that your communication system is reliable.

An effective maintenance plan for business phone systems is important to ensure business continuity.  Large organizations depend heavily on various communication channels like fax, voicemail, communication and web connectivity and thus need a reliable business phone system for seamless and effective functionality.

Our typical maintenance program may include the following features based on the requirements of your business and budget:

  • Necessary software upgrades
  • Faulty equipment repair and replacements
  • Infrastructure changes
  • On-site and remote support for diagnosis and fault correction
  • Preventive maintenance checks
  • Dedicated plans to minimize costs

 

5 Ways to Ensure Your Next Conference Call is Productive

The modern business world operates differently than it did in the past. Many businesses today have remote employees or clients spread across the world. Subsequently, successful conference calls are a must. Below, we’ve listed five tips to ensure that your next conference call is productive.

Most Important…Punctuality!

Being punctual is a good strategy in all facets of life. Just like it is rude to show up in person late, being tardy to a conference call sets the stage for an unproductive call. Not only do you run the risk of the other callers being annoyed, but it also takes time away from the agenda.

Don’t Skip the Introductions

Usually all of the callers are familiar with one another, but it can be a mistake to skip the introduction. When you enter the conference call, stating your full name ensures that everyone knows you are on the call and will prevent any potential confusion.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mute

When you aren’t speaking, hit the mute button. Oftentimes, loud offices are more irritating that you realize. Not using the mute button can bog down the call with unnecessary distractions.

Clear Call

Don’t make the call from a noisy or busy area. It is also a poor idea to call in an area with dicey cell reception or from your car.  If the call is with a new client and/or very important take the time to have a clear line and show the customer that they come first at that given moment.

Keep the Call on Topic

If you are leading the call, make sure it stays on topic. I’ve found that having a printed agenda is quite useful. If you stick to your agenda throughout the call, you will find it much more productive.

Hosted IP Business Phone System Vs. Premised-Based IP

Advantages of Hosted IP Business Phone Systems

With Hosted IP Business Phone Systems, you only have to pay for what your business requires. Due to how easily you can scale the system, a growing business doesn’t have to predict future growth but can rather add additional seats as you need them. Furthermore, Hosted IP Business Phone Systems are simple to move if your business ever needs to relocate.

Hosted IP Business Phone Systems also have a wealth of features small businesses can enjoy. Find me/Follow me capabilities, Conferencing and Voicemail to Email usually aren’t available if a business is on a limited budget. Your business wouldn’t even need to hire an IT person because they are handled by the system provider.

Disadvantages of Hosted IP Business Phone Systems

While Hosted IP Business Phone Systems offer multiple advantages, there are a few drawbacks. Some users have expressed concern that the voice quality isn’t quite as superior as they anticipated.  If your business is set on a Hosted IP Business Phone System, research the service provider beforehand; oftentimes voice quality differs depending on who you chose.

Another disadvantage is that Hosted IP Business Phone Systems are one hundred percent dependent on your Internet service provider. If they are experiencing downtime, your phones will also be down.

Advantages of premised-based IP phone systems

Premised Based IP Business Phone Systems are highly customizable. If you want to change your number or add new users it can all be completed on-site without having to go through your Service Vendor. You also have more control over your choice of features that would typically cost extra if you were using a Hosted IP Business Phone System.

Disadvantages of premised-based IP phone systems

If you select a Premised Based IP Business Phone System, you may need to hire a dedicated IT person to maintain and troubleshoot the on-site system, or at the least have a phone technician that you can use piecemeal should issues arise.  

 

Mitel’s Smartphone Integrated IP Desk Phones

Mitel’s 6900 Series Business Desk Phones are one of the most cost effective business telephones on the market today. Mitel also continues to drive mobile innovation for its customers. With seamless mobile integration, the Mitel 6900 series has turned the traditional business phone into a natural extension of a mobile device.  Here are just a few features that I favor.

Wireless

Our world is phasing out cables. Mitel’s 6900 Series Business Phones are no exception.  With their WiFi connectivity you can be free of your desk phone! They also have integrated Bluetooth Sync for all those great smart phone connectivity features.

The 6900 series of Desk Phones even have the capability to charge their mobile devices from their desk phones. This feature erases the days of seeking out an outlet solely to maintain a cell phone charge.

Seamless Connectivity

The 6900 series of Desk Phones was designed to bridge the gap between your smart phone and your desk phone. You can share your contacts between both devices, meaning that when you’re not in the office you don’t have to worry about writing down or memorizing your colleague’s number’s. Furthermore, automatic handoff allows you to answer a call at your desk, and seamlessly continue on your smart phone if you have to leave the office.

High Resolution Displays

This series of business phones even comes with high-resolution color screens. This allows for an interactive experience, and even an executive experience. Hi-resolution displays eliminates contact lists with large amount of pixels and low screen resolutions. In my opinion, the best part of the hi-resolution display is the exclusive smartphone integration Mitel has included in the 6900 series. Moving a step beyond the standard VoIP cell phone application to maintain office connectivity, these new business phones will aid users in seamless connectivity.

More and more customers are searching better mobile and desktop integration. Physical desktop devices are clearly evolving to feature complementary functionality with mobile devices. 

Avatar-based Caller Identification

The 6900 Desk Phones also feature an avatar-based caller identification system. Now, when you receive a call, an avatar and name will pop up on the hi-res color displays, which allows the user to identify the caller much more quickly. 

 

Methods to Overcome Challenges Within Contact Centers

The biggest challenge all businesses must overcome is how to deliver fantastic customer service at the lowest possible cost. Contact centers are not alone in this regard. In today’s blog, we will examine a few specific methods they can employ to conquer this challenge.

First, your agents must have real time access to the data they require. Dashboard delivered insights, KPI reports, and alerts can permit managers to tweak forecasts and schedules when unexpected events transpire. Managers can use the aforementioned tools to run scenarios and prepare for innumerable contingencies. These also allow for call recording and scoring, meaning that agents will receive the training and coaching they require to deliver exceptional customer service. 

The data gathered with these tools will allow the contact center manager to act on varied insights in a proactive manner. Every call center shift will be ready to deliver the great customer service that keeps customers loyal and happy. When your contact center is operating at peak efficiency, costs will be reduced as well.

Even greater cost savings can be accomplished when contact center technology is provided via the cloud as a subscription service. This will eliminate the requirement to invest in additional hardware and software. Under this model, contact centers only have to pay for the time and capacity that they need. For a smaller contact center, this means you can greatly lessen your upfront costs, while maintaining the option of scaling up as needed.

Call Center Workforce Management Solutions

Adding workforce management (WFM) to a call center solves several workplace issues simultaneously. Here are five of the most prevalent call center challenges and how WFM can be of assistance.

  1. Scheduling Adherence

Creating schedules should be easy enough with a WFM; however, ensuring that all agents stick to those schedules is a different matter. Typically you can determine what happened once a shift has concluded, but that isn’t helpful in real-time. Once you have implemented workforce management a call center can monitor and record the schedule adherence status of all agents in real-time. This includes log in time, log out time, lunches and breaks. This alleviates many issues, because any potential problems can be identified quickly and handled right away.

  1. Looking Ahead

Forecasting deals with predicting the correct amount of agents with the right of skill sets in place every shift, every day. When this happens, call centers remove high costs that stem from overstaffing, and the customer service issues that result from understaffing. Workforce management automatically collects, analyzes and processes the data, resulting in an accurate short term and long-term forecast.

  1. Exceptions

Workforce management also manages and processes exceptions in a manner that exchanges all prudent information to all appropriate parties. It accepts or rejects each exception instance based on personalized company criteria, and ensures that there isn’t any confusion on the part of the agent or management.

  1. Intraday Forecast/Schedule Management

Intraday management is always a challenge due to intricate resource considerations. An integrated WFM solution can scrutinize intraday workload information that will result in pre-emptive actions for managers instead of reactive actions.

Is your organization ready for the Mobile Consumer?

Marketing, sales, and customer service professionals all understand that a successful company is able to predict their customers’ buying behavior. Companies that correctly utilize this tool will be able to close opportunities, recognize new prospects, and provide uninterrupted support. In today’s world, it is more important than ever to shift towards a customer engagement approach intended to react to the modern consumer – the Mobile Consumer.

The habits of customers past:

The modern consumer is immensely dissimilar than customers of the past. Just ten years ago, most customer exchanges with businesses were limited to phone calls or physical visits to business sites; customers would only relay their customer experiences with a relatively small number of friends and acquaintances.

A new brand of mobile consumer:

Current consumers are rewriting the rules of customer engagement.  Present business strategies aren’t capable of covering as wide a net as they need to—inhibiting a business’s capacity to achieve its goals and adequately serve customers. This new brand of customer is best described as the “mobile consumer.”

Did you know that roughly fifty percent of the world’s population is comprised of unique mobile users?

These mobile consumers now have access to the products, information, and services businesses offer at unprecedented levels. Over one-third of all Internet sites are now being served to mobile devices. This means that your business must be ready to interact with customers on their terms—whether they’re sitting in a doctor’s office, riding a train, or in line at the grocery story, mobile consumers demand to do business whenever and wherever.

Expanding mobile commerce:

It’s imperative to mention that this new mobile consumer has more than just access to the information they want and the capability to complete a transaction at their convenience; they also have the capacity to share that experience with their friends – your customers and prospects – in real time.

Nearly two in four people now has an active mobile social account.  In other words, these customers can share their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with countless people in the blink of eye. This makes it more important than ever for organizations to understand mobile consumer behaviors, ensure they are positioned for success and guarantee that customers get the service they expect.

How to support the mobile consumer:

To support the modern consumer, and thus operate a modern business, it’s important not to forget that the impact of the mobile consumer. Look across your organization and determine all the possible points of engagement. Predict how customers expect to engage via text, email, social media, Web chat, voice, video, self-service or other touch points. The best strategies will place an employee in the proper place at the proper time to support customer requests in real time. To do otherwise, in this modern age, will almost certainly result in the consumer taking their business elsewhere.

What Peripheral Equipment does Your Business Telephone System Require?

In some instances, peripheral equipment can make or break your business telephone system. This holds true whether you are installing a new system or merely upgrading your current business phone system; either way, you will have to consider what additional equipment your business will require to get the most use out of your system.

You are probably aware of the term ‘peripheral hardware’ in conjunction with your computer (i.e., items such as your mouse, printer, scanner, etc.). In terms of a business phone system, the most common items are things like headsets and speakers.

Just as you did when selecting your business phone system, you will have to consider what your business needs in order to best serve your clients and what type of business you are running. If your business takes a high number of calls throughout the day or employees frequently need to input data on their computers during calls, telephone headsets aren’t just a luxury, they are a necessity. Many businesses find speaker phones just as vital; speaker phones can be useful in the aforementioned scenarios, but they are also valuable during impromptu conference calls.

While headsets and speaker phones tend to be the most popular peripheral items, many businesses select cordless phones or remote IP phones, as well. Choosing the right peripherals depends entirely on your daily business needs.

ESI – Much Improved VoIP Implementation and Support

ESI, a pioneering producer of IP business telephone systems, has launched a suite of applications that will assist customers and resellers support ESI VoIP solutions from pre-sales to post-installation.

Esi-Networx, the most popular application contained in Esi-Tools, has been improved to boost support for customers in LAN and WAN problems. It evaluates a LAN for any possible issues and subsequently simulates the brunt of an ESI IP business phone system to decide its fitness for an IP installation. Esi-Networx then generates a comprehensive report that details parts in need of network design adjustment before the introduction of an ESI phone system. After installation, Esi-Networx can regularly monitor the network’s performance to assure that the quality of voice traffic is satisfactory.

One of the other great features of Esi-Tools’ diagnostic applications concern the ESI Remote IP Feature Phone. Esi-Check scrutinizes the link from the Remote IP Feature Phone to an ESI business phone system. It supplies users with an inconspicuous option to evaluate lost packets, jitter, available bandwidths, and latency between them. Esi-Address is an easy application used to program Remote IP Feature Phones.

Esi-Access and Esi-Admin are applications that assist in the installation and programming of ESI IP business phone systems. In addition to habitual programming, Esi-Access has been enhanced to guide the installer through the programming of Esi-Link, ESI’s IP multi-site networking software. Esi-Access allows the programming of every aspect from IP addressing, to remote location name and numbering. Esi-Admin allows the end user to program functions such as extension features, system speed dials, message notification options and the programming of Group, Q&A, and Information mailboxes.