Category Archives: Hosted PBX

Are You Unhappy with Your Hosted PBX Provider?

Hosted PBXThe Virtual PBX (also known as Hosted PBX or Cloud PBX) has been a great benefit to companies. However, the product is only as good as the provider; if you’re experiencing problems with your Hosted PBX, it may be time to switch providers as opposed to ditching the service altogether. If you’re experiencing any one of the following, it may be time for a change.

 

Too Expensive:

While it is never a great idea to go for the cheapest price, it is undeniable that a lot of businesses are paying way too much for their Virtual PBX. For those businesses, it may not have begun that way; they may have started out at a reasonable rate, but their provider gradually raised their rates over time. Other businesses may have experienced a rate hike after their first contract ended. Either way, doing a VoIP comparison is probably a good idea if you feel like you are paying too much for your Hosted PBX.

Poor Customer Service:

If your provider isn’t offering superior and timely support, it might be a good idea to switch providers. A lot of businesses justifiably switch due to the customer representatives being rude and not knowledgeable. Sometimes this can simply be due to the provider’s sales outmatching the rate they are growing their customer support team, but either way, the customer is in their rights to make a change if they aren’t happy with the customer service.

Lack of Local Support: 

Cloud business phone systems have been a leap forward in telecommunications, but that doesn’t preclude the need for an engineer having to visit the site from time to time. If you have a local provider, this typically isn’t a problem; having a non-local provider, however, means that geography can sometimes impede them in getting an engineer out to your company in a timely fashion.

The Good News: Changing VoIP Providers isn’t Hard!

Before Hosted PBX, businesses had to spend a lot of money on their business phone system. To justify the expenditure, they had to hang on to the system for a while—which meant that switching providers due to poor service was unheard of.

With cloud business phone systems, making a change is simple. Nearly all businesses use an industry standard SIP phone, so changing providers doesn’t mean that you must change your phones too. Furthermore, cloud PBX hardware is in a data center, so you don’t have any expensive on-site equipment to replace either. Switching is as simple as your new provider programming the phones to recognize the new VoIP system.

If you are interested in Hosted PBX or have any other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Why You Should Have a Business Phone System Auto Attendant


Business Phone System Auto Attendant
Here at Advanced Communication Systems, we understand the importance of a company giving their customers a good first impression. Typically, the first interaction a customer will have with your company is via phone, which is why it is vital that you have a great business phone system auto attendant greeting. The two most important aspects of an auto attendant is that it be professional and that it serve as an efficient conduit to whomever the customer needs to speak to; the last thing you want is to annoy the caller before you even get the chance to speak to them. Not only does it help the customer, but your employees won’t be tied up on calls that an auto attendant could handle. If you have a hosted voice business phone system, the auto attendant feature is something that can reduce a lot of aggravation in the office. 

Crafting a Business Phone System Auto Attendant: Step 1

            The first step in assembling a professional and efficient business phone system auto attendant is creating a call tree. The call tree is how you route a customer through your business phone system. The first rule of a call tree is to not have the caller jump through hoops to speak to someone. If you overload the customer with too many options, you will only frustrate them.

           As far as the greeting itself, you want to be sure that it is professional and simple. One example could be, “We appreciate you calling John Doe Company:  If you know your party’s extension, you may dial it now.  To speak to an Agent, press 1, for Office Hours press 2, for Accounting press 3, For the Company Directory press 4, or to speak with the operator press 0.  To hear this message again, press #.”

           It is important to allow the caller the option to bypass the call tree and speak to a live person by pressing 0. Too often, callers will get irritated and hang up if they aren’t permitted that option.

            Also, be sure to include the company directory feature; in many instances, callers know the person they want to speak to, but they can’t recall the extension. You shouldn’t force the caller to navigate the call tree or speak to the operator;  it is simply another unnecessary hoop that can be avoided with the company directory option.

Crafting a Business Phone System Auto Attendant: Step 2

            The last step to creating a functional business phone system auto attendant is an after hours greeting. The last thing you want is for the caller to navigate the tree only to have to leave a message! You should always let the caller know immediately that the office is closed and that you will return their call as soon as possible. A typical example is: “Thank you for calling John Doe Company.  We are currently unavailable to take your call.  Our normal business hours are Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.  If you know the extension of the person you wish to leave a message for, you may enter it now.   To leave a message for an agent press 1…… etc.…”

            By crafting a superior auto attendant that gives your customers an impression of professionalism and efficiency, they will know that they have made a good decision in patronizing your company; the alternative will leave them searching for a different business instead. If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

The Four Most Essential Business Phone System Integrations

Business Phone System IntegrationsHosted phone systems are popular for a plethora of reasons, but one of the best things about them is the business phone system integrations that you can use to link to other software/solutions. If you adopt a VoIP system that permits you to manage numerous business functions through a single, unified system, you can have better customer service and reduced operating costs. I have listed the four most essential business phone system integrations your business phone system should have.

Cloud Backup Features

Cloud business phone systems are great, but some businesses worry about what will happen if their VoIP provider doesn’t take the proper steps to ensure that customer contact information and calls records are kept safe. Having cloud backup features can minimize the risk of losing important data and automatically copy your VoIP information. Regardless of what happens to the provider, your information will remain intact.

CRM Software

Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, software compiles customer data, organizes it, and uses it to manage sales and find new opportunities for growth. When you combine your business phone system and your CRM software into one integrated interface, customer service reps can have relevant data at their fingertips during calls. By keeping records and details about all customer service calls, you can serve your clients more efficiently. This will strengthen your relationship with them and increase the likelihood of them becoming repeat customers.

Accounting/Bookkeeping Software

Reliable accounting software is a must for any business. When you integrate your account software with VoIP, your accountants can monitor transactions from their phone or laptop. This allows them to quickly identify errors or irregularities . Marrying accounting software with VoIP also allows you to send reminder calls to clients who are late in their bills.

Microsoft Outlook & Email Clients

The best thing about integrating Microsoft Outlook and VoIP is that that you can simultaneously make calls and manage emails. Companies that opt to use Outlook usually store the bulk of their contacts there—including phone information. When you integrate them, you don’t have to look up numbers in Outlook before you want to make a call. Instead, your Outlook information is automatically available in your phone network. The other nice feature is that you can receive messages as audio files in Outlook, which means that you can check your phone messages without having to leave your computer.

If you are interested in Business Phone System integrations or have any other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook.

How to Boost Concentration During Business Phone Calls and Conferences

Business Phone Calls and ConferencesThere have been many transformations to the business phone system in the past ten years, and we’ve greatly altered the way we communicate with clients and customers. With that said, one of the most effective communication tools is still the phone call or conference call. Unfortunately, some of today’s technology prevents calls from being as effective as they could be and reduces concentration during Business Phone calls and conferences. 

For example, employees frequently bypass their desk phone in favor of their mobile phone. Despite employees comfortable relationship with mobile phones, they aren’t exactly the best way to handle large call volumes. For one thing, mobiles have limited battery life and it is not atypical for an employee to miss a call due to a dead battery.

However, the biggest problem with an over reliance on mobile phones is erratic signal strength. This particular problem multiplies in a busy office setting when numerous devices are attempting to connect to a limited capacity cell.

This is where the desk phone comes in; after all, there’s nothing worse than dropping off  due to poor coverage or a dying battery during an important call. With a desk phone, this problem is nonexistent. Desk phones also tend to have much better call quality.

Which brings me to my point: is there a variation in concentration levels when comparing desk phones to mobile phones? If employees are using a mobile phone that has poor call quality, inconsistent cell coverage, and poor battery life, are they going to become disengaged and frustrated?

The best way to solve the aforementioned issues is to invest in an advanced business telephone system. With a great business telephone system, you can marry the ease of a mobile phone with the sophistication of a business telephone system. A great phone system will likely increase your concentration during Business Phone calls and conferences. Here are the things to look for when getting a business telephone system:

Latest Bluetooth technologies 

By opting for a business telephone system with an upgraded version of Bluetooth integrated, employees not only get crystal clear calls when using a Bluetooth handset or headset, but they get a similar freedom that they might achieve from their mobile device.

Mobile integration 

Allows mobile calls to be received on an employ’s desk phone, in effect increasing the audio quality.

HD audio 

HD audio is among the best quality audio available. A sealed acoustic chamber is recommended for the speaker phone. Sealed acoustic chambers avoid feedback loops and stopping tiny vibrations from interfering with the audio.

Avatars integrated into the desk phone 

Viewing an actual image of the person makes the call personal and can improve the back and forth on calls.

By choosing a business telephone system with these features, employees will be a lot more attracted to their desk phones. Odds are, they will accomplish more throughout the day.

If you have any questions about Business Phone calls and conferences please contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Pros and Cons of Desk Phones and Softphones

Desk Phones and SoftphonesThe primary types of VoIP business phones are desk phones and softphones. As you’re probably aware, desk phones are the physical phones that sit next to your computer at work. Sometimes they appear akin to and analog phone, but instead of being a landline, they are actually connected to the IP network.

Softphones, while also a type of VoIP business phone, are entirely different. They are apps that are installed on your PC or laptop. They have dialing pads not unlike a cell phone. Softphones can also have applications for your mobile devices.

Determining the best fit for your company can be tricky. Below, is a quick guide to the pros and cons of desk phones and softphones, so that your company doesn’t spend money on a phone that doesn’t work for your business.

Desk Phones

Desk phones have been entirely redeveloped since the creation of VoIP. What you might imagine when you think of a ‘traditional desk phone’ is not relevant to a VoIP desk phone.

Advantages and Disadvantages

This may go without saying, but people are used to desk phones. Even if the VoIP desk phone is entirely different than that of a landline, people are still comfortable with them. The other great thing about desk phones is that they tend to have superior call quality. Unfortunately, desk phones are more costly than softphones. Furthermore, the cost of a desk phone can increase with the more features you add to them.

Softphones

A softphone isn’t truly tangible; it is a software program on your PC or smartphone. It, via the Internet, allows users to make or receive calls over that Internet connection. Softphones generally offer a very friendly user experience.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Softphones are installed quickly, because tangible equipment isn’t required. They also boast a budget friendly option to businesses. As long as a user has Internet connection, they can get or receive calls from anywhere. However, if your lose your Internet connection, or your equipment computer or smartphone crashes, you will be unable to use it. Also, if you aren’t a fan of headsets, you may not prefer using a smartphone on your computer, as you will need it to respond and listen to calls.

At the end of the day, you will have to decide which pros appeal most to you and which cons are deal breakers. As with all business phone systems, you have to determine what your company needs to fulfill its’ communication requirements.

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

How to Chose the Right Business Telephone System Based on Your Company Size (Part 2)

company sizeAs we discussed in Wednesday’s blog, trying to decide on a business phone system can be challenging considering the vast array of options on the market. One of the biggest factors a business should take into consideration is company size. Your company size will largely determine the right business phone system for your business. In our last blog, we discussed the best business phone options for personal, small, and medium sized businesses. Today, we will examine the most popular choices for large businesses and enterprises. 

Large Business and Enterprise

Popular Options:

  • Business VoIP / Unified Communications
  • SIP trunking
  • On-premise PBX

Large businesses have entirely different needs than that of smaller or medium sized businesses. Large businesses have numerous office locations, unique sales and support operations, and executives with personal assistants. Usually large businesses will need unlimited calling packages, CRM and business software, and multiple local and toll free phone numbers. Most large businesses will also need call center capabilities.

The best option for large businesses are unified communications services. Most frequently these will come from business VoIP providers. Business VoIP has an online interface that permits account administrators to add users and configure features in real-time. They also offer web-based products that incorporate voice, video, and messaging, as well as other collaboration tools like multi-device compatibility and screensharing, to give a complete business communications solution.

Some large businesses prefer even more control over their business phone system. With SIP trunking and on-premise PBXs, companies have more customization options. The drawback is that SIP trunking and on-premise PBXs necessitate on-site servers and hardware. If you elect to go this route, you will need an in-house IT team to maintain and update the system.  

Customization isn’t the only advantage; on-premise solutions are often selected for security purposes. National companies, government agencies, and banks all have strict requirements to ensure secure communications. Doctor’s offices also need special HIPAA-compliant business phone systems to encrypt patient data.

Business Telephone Service: Finding the Right Fit

There are a plethora of business phone system options on the market, but recognizing the size of your business can eliminate a lot of options that simply won’t work. With that said, landline phone systems, in general, aren’t a great option for any sized business in the modern world. Besides being outdated and expensive, they have poorer call quality, less features, and are problematic in terms of scaling. Landlines will also typically require a business to sign a lengthy, non-negotiable contract.

Company size is one of the biggest factors when determining the best business phone system for your company, but it isn’t the only factor. A business will also need to consider their budget, as well as a business phone system’s reliability, user experience, and capabilities. Choosing the best business phone system will mean considering all of the above.

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

How to Chose the Right Business Telephone System Based on Your Company Size

company sizeTrying to decide on a business phone system can be challenging considering the vast array of options on the market. One of the biggest factors a company should take into consideration is how large it is. Therefore, your company size will largely determine the right business phone system for your company. We’ve listed some of the most popular choices below, organized by company size.

Personal or Small Business (1-5 users)

Popular Options:

  • Consumer VoIP
  • Residential VoIP
  • Dedicated mobile work phone

Most small businesses (or personal home offices) don’t require a complicated business phone system, and they can therefore usually suffice with a limited feature set. In some instances however, you might be able to get consumer or residential VoIP solutions (something like Google Voice) that are simple to maintain and setup.

There is always the option of getting a dedicated smartphone separate from your personal cell phone. If you only have one or two users though, this is an attractive option.

Small and Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs)

Popular Options:

These types of businesses can’t get away with skimping on a business phone system. SMBs usually have moderate call volume and depend on good call quality, reliable service, voicemail management, and scalability for new employees. Many SMBs also have remote employees and multiple office locations.

Thus, SMBs on a budget might want to consider bundling VoIP and Internet services offered by their respective cable companies. These types of business phone systems will frequently have additional features like caller ID, voicemail, and conferencing.

Virtual business phone systems, on the other hand, have higher service reliability and more advanced features when compared to consumer VoIP solutions. These types of services operate directly from your computer, smartphone, or tablet to create a virtual phone network. In addition to inbound/outbound calling, these services also have basic call routing and call handling features.

Cloud phone systems are hosted business phone systems that offer web-based user portals and can be used with compatible deskphones and/or softphone apps. Cloud phone systems are a step up in terms of features, and they have video calling, extension dialing, queues, and conference calling.

On Friday’s blog, we will take a look at the best options for large businesses and enterprises, and then we will offer a few concluding thoughts.

In’s and Out’s of a PBX

Let’s clear up the mystery about PBX phone systems.  PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, and it is the hardware, or physical equipment, that controls the phone lines and extensions of a company. It manages inbound and outbound calls, as well as moving calls between internal phone extensions. It is the nuts and bolts of your inter-office phone system. A PBX system will give a company the ability to have one central phone number with extensions for every employee. This saves on a company’s monthly phone bills by letting employees share phone lines.

Features of a PBX

There are a multitude of features that a PBX phone systems offers: Auto attendant, call forwarding, call waiting, music on hold, conference calling, conference bridge, dial by extension/name and voicemail to email. Advanced features like find-me-follow-me are very useful for companies with highly mobile employees or sales forces.

Differing Types

PBX systems have different kinds of variations that can be tailored according to the unique needs of your company. It can be combined with the benefits of VoIP to create an IP PBX phone system. This type of format works over the Internet as opposed to traditional phone lines.  It can be more cost-effective for smaller businesses. It allows employees to connect to company phone systems anywhere as long as they have access to the Internet. This has been a great benefit to companies who have employees working from home or satellite offices.

Although PBX systems are usually located on-site, offices with limited space capacity can opt to have their system hosted off-site. A hosted PBX system routes call features to your company’s phone through the Internet and can save quite a bit of money. In addition, hosted PBX systems are very easy to scale up or down.  This is terrific for companies who experience employee size fluctuations.   You may have a “peak season” or an “off season” in which case flexibility of the hosted PBX would be very cost effective and convenient.  

 

 

 

Caution: Your Business Is Losing Money By Not Using Cloud Based Business Phone Systems

41468387_sInvesting in a cloud based business phone system is one of the smartest decisions a small business could make. Starting at a low monthly fee, you can get a virtual system that requires little space, empowers the business phone system you already have, rejuvenates your business identity, and even increases incoming calls.

Shrink the Cost of Office Equipment                              

Starting a small business can be a costly endeavor, especially once you factor in the plethora of office equipment you’ll need. If you don’t invest in a cloud based system, you will need to spend money on:

  • Complex phones
  • Faxes
  • Software for contact management
  • Salaries for customer services representatives

By eliminating these expenditures, you can focus on growing your business, all the while keeping up with technological advancements.

Increase Inbound Calls

By investing in a cloud based business phone system, you ensure that you growth potential is unlimited. With a cloud based system, you can add unlimited extensions. Furthermore, you can get a local number for your business. Studies have shown that local numbers increase the odds of a customer calling your business.

Eliminate the Startup Image

Oftentimes, your first impression with a potential client is through your business phone system. All businesses should be able to transfer calls, place clients on hold, and ensure that the phone is answered during business hours. A cloud based system will make it possible to do all that and more.

Consider Why Your Business Should Switch to a Virtual PBX

30910261_sBefore the Internet, only large corporations could afford professional business phone systems, and entrepreneurs were left in the cold.  Now that the Internet has leveled the playing field, all businesses—big or small—can get in the game. With a virtual PBX, business telephony is now available via an Internet download. What this means for small businesses is that they too can boast a business telephone system with extensions, rerouting options, automatic greetings, and other features that used to be the domain of big business.

 

  • CostA virtual PBX doesn’t have the same infrastructure as a legacy phone; the entire service is hosted on your providers’ offsite system. Most providers charge between $20 and $35 a month, which is a fantastic deal for businesses with international customers or remote workers. Even though your system is offsite, you still have complete access to all of your features. Another cost saving feature of a virtual PBX is you don’t have to dedicate a large IT staff to maintaining the system. Some maintenance and updates are actually done automatically through VoIP—since your system is constantly connected to their network, you will receive the newest features as soon as they are available.
  • Custom Number—When you switch to a virtual PBX, you can keep the local number that clients already recognize. This is a huge advantage, especially if you have spent a lot of money on advertising your number.
  • Efficiency—With a virtual PBX, your business phone system is available anytime, anywhere. With what feels like a nearly limitless amount of extensions, you can configure your landlines, mobiles, or international numbers to all ring from the same number without your clients knowing the difference.
  • Integration—Your phone number doesn’t have to be for taking calls with a virtual PBX. You can also use it for receiving faxes and emails. It’s also easy to add an automated phone answering system to your number, as well as conference calling and transfers. When your business phone system is virtual, it means that remote workers can access all of the company’s communication tools with only an Internet connection.
  • Room for Growth—One of the best things about a virtual PBX is how easily it can adapt to a growing business. As you add more employees, just purchase more phones and add them to your current plan. If you have to expand to a bigger office, there is no need to hire a moving company—just put your phones in a moving crate and take it over to the new location!