Category Archives: The Cloud

3 Ways to Improve Employee Productivity with a Hosted PBX

Hosted PBXOne of the most important factors in a company’s success is their employee’s productivity levels. There tend to be two schools of thought on the matter; either develop incentive programs or use restrictive policies to ensure that they remain working. However, there is potentially a simple answer. When you provide your employees with the best possible tools, they’ll be able to do their job efficiently. There are many different tools to help people work and communicate more effectively, but Hosted PBX has features that not only provide something new but also allows companies to get more out of the resources they already have in place.  

Less Downtime for Technical Problems

An outage can be extremely problematic for any employee who is on the phone for long durations throughout the day. Hosted PBX solutions alleviate this problem because troubleshooting them is far easier. Furthermore, if a user’s individual phone they can use the softphone on their computer or in an app on their mobile phone.

Increased Mobility

Many industries have seen a rise in remote employees in recent years. Without a tool like Hosted PBX, it would be difficult for these employees to stay in constant communication with the office. Hosted PBX allows these employees to access the company’s communications system. Additionally, their calls can even be routed from their desk phone to whatever app or computer they are working from.

Unified Inbox

Many employees have stopped listening to their voicemail due to time constraints. Who wants to listen to ten voicemails just to get to the one that is relevant? Hosted PBX has a helpful feature that converts voicemail to mp3 files in your e-mail inbox. This permits you to sort through them and find the relevant ones that much quicker.

A Hosted PBX solution has benefits to any company. Not only can help reduce costs, but it can increase employee productivity by giving them a tool that permits them the ability to perform their jobs efficiently. If you have any Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

The Most Important Benefits of Virtual Call Center Software

virtual call centerMost business owners know what a call center is. A call center is typically a large group of call center executives working in a single location. What is a virtual call center though? Though only difference is the location. A virtual call center removes the large investment and resources necessary to handle a customer service team. The emergence of virtual call centers has allowed even the smallest of businesses to use call centers. Below we’ve outlined a few of the biggest benefits of virtual call centers.

Mobility and No Location Consent

Virtual call centers permit you to hire agents all over the world. This provides you with a larger talent pool, all the while ignoring distance. Another benefit of remote call center employees is that they won’t have to commute, which can play a role in reducing office stress. Self-oriented and relaxed environments tend to increase efficiency as well.

Reduced Upfront Cost

Virtual call centers cost less than traditional ones because you pay less in office rent and don’t have to invest in as much hardware. Unfortunately, traditional call centers require hosted servers, a PBX, and phone terminals.

A perceived drawback to virtual call centers is that customers will be able to tell the difference. Fortunately, this is not the case. Thanks to virtual call center technology, customers won’t be able to tell that your employees are all scattered in remote locations.

Eco-friendly

Virtual call centers are cloud based, which are better for the environment; their data centers use less wattage to provide back-up power and cooling for their data centers due to superior hardware setup. Also, as mentioned as above, your employees don’t have to burn up as much gasoline traveling to and from the office.

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

Mitel Completes ShoreTel Acquisition – What’s Next for Mitel Partners?

Mitel partnersMitel recently announced the completion of its ShoreTel acquisition. Last July Mitel announced that they had reached a deal to acquire the company. The move was likely motivated by increased customer demand for cloud-based solutions. The newly merged corporation will be the #2 company in the Unified Communications (UC) market. However, what does this mean for current Mitel partners and customers?

A UCaaS Market Leader

In a press release, Mitel reassures their clients that the merger is one of two compatible companies. Mitel views their merger with ShoreTel as a method in which to make each company stronger. As case in point, the merged company now has the #2 market share position in the global Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) space. In their release, Mitel also made it clear that they want all Mitel partners to share in their success.

As companies around the globe seek to transform their enterprises through cloud communications, Mitel therefore is now in a better position to aide them. Mitel and Mitel partners can now better incorporate a inimitable suite of cloud solutions and applications.

What does this mean for Mitel partners?

Even with this change, Mitel partners themselves won’t have to make any alterations. With the acquisition finished, Mitel and ShoreTel plan to begin the work of integrating. Even with the change, Mitel states that their top priority is still to support and inform their partners. Their release further states that within the next ninety days their partners can expect:

  • Mitel partner programs not to change.
  • The Mitel portfolio will not change.
  • The ShoreTel portfolio will not change.

Mitel concluded their statement by saying that as information changes, their partners will be informed well in advance.

If you have any questions on Mitel, or other Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

The Most Important Considerations When Buying a Small Business Phone System

small business phone systemThere is a vast array of small business phone systems on the market. When a small business wants to upgrade or switch to a different phone system, the choices can seem overwhelming. Many small businesses operate on an Internet Protocol (IP) network. This is the same network that connects employees, devices, and information recourses. Thus, how does a small business choose the most appropriate phone system for their specific business? We’ve assembled the most important considerations when buying a small business phone system below.

Know What Your Users Need

At the end of the day, your small business phone system only needs to do one thing: give your people the tools to be more efficient. Do your workers need one phone number to ring to multiple devices? Do they need prompt access to mobile communication or video? Therefore, these are features and capabilities you may want to include:

  • The ability to make and receive calls from smartphones or tablets
  • Automated attendant
  • Mobile softphones, for using a computer as a phone
  • Video or web conferencing support
  • Paging and intercom
  • Unified messaging (including email, text message, or phone notifications)
  • Instant Messaging
Be Prepared for Change

A great small business phone system can change the way your employees conduct their daily workflow. While all change requires an adjustment period, it should be a good change! A new small business phone system that doesn’t improve the way your office functions, probably isn’t the one for you.

Reduce Your IT Costs

The fantastic thing about small business IP phone systems is that they also consolidate your communications into one platform. Not only does this decrease IT strains, but it also reduces communications expenses.

Talk to Your Trusted Advisor

Before making a purchase, you should always speak to a provider or vendor. They are knowledgeable in what features and capabilities best fit your company’s business goals.  

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

How to Handle an Obsolete Business Phone System

obsolete business phone systemIt happens to the best of phone systems. At first, your business phone system simply requires more repairs and updates than it used to. Soon, the maintenance fees pile up and you have a difficult time finding technicians and general support for your system. One day, your provider announces the End of Life for your system; you now have an obsolete business phone system.  

What now?

What End of Life Means

The first thing you should know about having an obsolete business phone system is that it won’t be available after the end of sale date. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to purchase new or replacement parts after this date. This is problematic for businesses who wish to expand or require repairs on their system.

Your obsolete business phone system also won’t be able to receive updates. You shouldn’t underestimate how important those updates are; without them, your system will be vulnerable to security threats.

At the end of the day, if you experience issues with your phone system, there won’t be anyone to call. Your only option if you stick with your obsolete business phone system is to search out technicians who have experience in older technology. That can get expensive very fast.

How to Handle End of Life

Therefore, one of the best things you can do if you have an aging phone system is to get a technology assessment. A technology assessment will determine if there is a better way for your business to meet its communication needs. Cloud communications are a fantastic option if they have reliable internet, and companies who switch to the cloud often experience consolidated costs and expanded features.

Even if the cloud isn’t for you, you must begin researching alternatives as soon as possible if you have an obsolete business phone system. If you are proactive, you can make the switch to newer technology without any disruption in your workflow.

If you have any questions on aging Business Phone Systems, or other Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

5 Benefits of Cloud Communications

cloud communicationsThe cloud is often mentioned in conjunction with business phone systems. However, what is it exactly? Simply put, the cloud is a network of servers that hosted by a third party. They can are anywhere over the Internet. When you place a call utilizing cloud communications, you are accessing the Internet to place your call as opposed to a traditional landline.

Modern communications indicate that cloud communications are only going to get more prevalent. Many businesses are switching to the cloud because it offers a host of benefits that you can’t find via traditional landlines. We’ve listed some of the biggest benefits below.

No installation fees

As soon as your company makes the switch, you will begin saving money. Cloud communications are in an off-site server, and thus, installation of equipment and hardware isn’t necessary.

Scalability

Cloud communications facilitate growth for small businesses. Companies who are expanding (or scaling down, for that matter) don’t need to change any hardware to add or remove extensions. The changes are all done through the internet. This also helps reduce costs—and headaches—when your company decides to expand.

No downtime losses

One of the best benefits of cloud communications is continuity. Local weather and power outages don’t affect your cloud communications. In any event, redundancy should safeguard against other causes of downtime.

Disaster recovery

As we’ve mentioned, data is stored off-site. Thus, disaster recovery is simple. If you have any issues with the physical desk phone or hardware, you shouldn’t lose any data.

Productivity 

Cloud Communications are also simpler to use. It is a more streamlined system for your employees and permits them to focus on their work instead of their phone.

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

VoIP and SIP: What’s the Difference?

VoIP and SIPVoIP and SIP are often confused for the same thing, but they are actually different. VoIP defines the kind of phone call (over Internet), and SIP refers to the method used to enable VoIP calls between different devices. Let me explain. 

Defining VoIP

Voice Over Internet Protocol is a rather broad term that discerns Internet calls from landline calls. VoIP operates over the Internet by digitally transmitting the voice signal to another telephone. VoIP usually operates with a mobile or browser-based application via an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP).  

Defining SIP

One of the communications protocols used to transmit VoIP calls is SIP.  Phone calls always have two endpoints, and simply put, SIP defines the messages and governs essential elements of the phone call. SIP can also enable video conferencing, media distribution, and instant messaging.

The Workings of VoIP and SIP

Simply put, SIP is the protocol and VIP is the conduit. But how do they work?

VoIP condenses audio by way a codec into data packets. After that, it compresses them across an IP network, where it de-compresses them into audio at the other end of the connection. Dedicated desktop VoIP phones, softphone applications, and mobile devices (i.e. cell phones) are typical examples of VoIP endpoints.

In the IP protocol, the IP packets move through the Internet via nodes (devices and routers discovered on the way from source to destination).

IP telephony differs from traditional telephony in the sense that in traditional telephony the line or circuit between source and destination is always dedicated and reserved (also known as circuit switching). In other words, traditional telephony tends to be more expensive because of the overhead.

If you have any questions on VoIP and SIP, or other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

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 Shouldn’t Forget About VoIP Security

VoIP SecurityEver since VoIP was developed, it has been an enormous aid to businesses everywhere. It has allowed businesses the freedom to communicate in ways that weren’t previously imagined. However, you shouldn’t forget about VoIP security. While VoIP has a plethora of benefits, it is also vulnerable to fraudulent activity, security breaches, and DDoS Attacks. Fortunately, you can achieve VoIP security if you enact some preventative steps.

Fraudulent Activity

Regrettably, any business that uses VoIP can become a fraud victim. Sometimes, they won’t even realize that there has been fraud occurring until they receive their phone bill. When you choose a VoIP provider, you have to ensure that they offer fraud detection and protection. You can also prevent fraud by placing authentication systems on your business phone system. One example of this are personal passcodes.

DDoS Attacks

A DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is an attempt to overload a network with requests. DDoS attacks don’t penetrate your system, but busy signals do render it unusable. The best way to avoid a DDoS attack is by working with your VoIP provider to make sure detection and deployment methods are in place. Also, be sure that your team is knowledgeable about DDoS attacks so that if it happens to your business, they will know what they are dealing with.

Consider Carefully

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling as though your company isn’t large enough to break into. Unfortunately, attackers will find reasons to target any system, and attacks can happen anywhere or anytime. VoIP has certainly been a major asset in providing more connectivity to users, but it does come with risks. The best way to stay safe—and get some peace of mind—is to put your security in place. 

If you have any questions regarding VoIP security, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Twitter.

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.