Category Archives: Voice over IP (VoIP)

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.

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.

The Pros and Cons of Unified Communications

Unified CommunicationsOne of the biggest advantages of modern telecommunications is Unified Communications. Unified Communications, or UC, merges voice, chat, video, mobility, and presences management and puts them on your laptop, smartphone, and other devices. The best thing about UC is that busy people can stay in touch and not miss important meetings and events in the office. Not only does it permit better communications in general, but it improves customer service. It sounds great, but is there a downside?  

Pros of Unified Communications
Softphone

Ever since the development of softphones, they have beneficial to remote workers. Soft phones run on your laptop or smartphone and connect you directly to your desk phone. Not only can you make and receive calls as though you were on your desk phone, but you can check voicemails, call logs, and the directory from it.

Voicemail to Email

One of the other great features of Unified Communications is that you can get your voicemail delivered into your email account. Now, if you’re on the go or have a few spare minutes prior to a meeting, you can catch up on your voicemails. In many ways, it’s less complex and more convenient than calling them up from your desk phone.

Find me Follow me

Find me Follow me (or Twinning) connects your smartphone to your desk phone. Whenever someone dials your DID number, not only does your desk phone ring but your smartphone does as well. This decreases the likelihood of playing phone tag with a colleague or client.

Cons of Unified Communication

One of the biggest drawbacks to unified communications is that you are a little too available. Unfortunately, work can often seep into your free time. Now that everyone is available all the time, instant responses have become the new normal. While all of these features are fantastic, it is advisable that you implement some rules and set clear expectations in regard to response time.

The other challenge is that sometimes IT staffs forget that there are voice applications operating on the LAN and routed to the internet. If your LAN, IP address or ISP changes, all of your UC features may stop operating. You’ll have to work with your IT staff to make sure that any changes are during business downtime.

Unified Communications should be a vital aspect of your business communications. Even if there are some downsides, the advantages far outweigh the negatives. If you have any Business Phone System questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

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 Top Benefits of VoIP Analytics

VoIP Analytics VoIP Business Phone Systems have changed the way companies communicate. VoIP offers features such as mobility, scalability, and cost savings. However, one of the most overlooked features is VoIP analytics. VoIP analytics is the study of your voice processes in order to gain actionable insights. It is one of VoIP’s most powerful tools, because it allows a business to not only monitor but act on data-based insights.

VoIP analytics is especially powerful for sales based companies. VoIP allows you insights into employee performance, sales campaigns, average customer sentiment, etc. Once you have access to the data, the possibilities are endless.

VoIP Analytics Data

VoIP Analytics gives you access to the following data points:

·         Number of calls answered during a given time

·         Recognizing time-frames when phone traffic spikes

·         Geographic location of calls

·         Time duration of calls

·         Average customer wait-period

Craft a better calling experience

The biggest benefit of VoIP analytics is probably in the customer service department. Sales managers, by using the data from analytics, can better hone their strategies. For example, by knowing their customer’s call patterns, they can find ways to reduce wait-periods.

Showcase customer trends

One of the other benefits of VoIP call analytics is that you can record and play back as many different calls as you want to.

When it comes to VoIP call analytics, you can record and hear back to multiple calls as you require. Sales managers can search keywords such as ‘cancel’ and listen to all the calls containing their search. This is a powerful feature, as it can help elucidate trends.

Thanks to VoIP analytics companies don’t have to rely solely on customer feedback surveys if they want to gather trends on their business. If you have any business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn.

The 5 Most Important Aspects of VoIP Business Phone System Preparation

VoIP Business Phone System preparationVoice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has innumerable benefits, but there are a few accompanying challenges. The good news is that these challenges aren’t difficult to overcome if you prepare accordingly. We’ve listed the six most important aspects of VoIP Business Phone System preparation below.

Calls

The first thing you should determine is what kind of calls you need to make. There are a couple of different ways to make a VoIP call; from a desk phone, from a computer, or from your smartphone. Prior to making any networking decisions, you need to figure out how you are going to make calls.

Cables

Another important VoIP Business Phone System preparation is to get the correct Ethernet cables. Cat 6 cables are one of the better choices, but they may prove too costly for smaller businesses. Cat 5e cables are a more budget friendly option, and should work fine for most businesses. However, potential VoIP users should avoid older Cat 3 cables, as their capacity and compatibility is not a good fit for VoIP.

Power Supply

Next, you need to ensure that you have the appropriate power supply. Power over Ethernet (PoE) cables are the best option; they allow devices not plugged into an AC source the ability to draw power from your internet.

Router

Like many things on this list, you need to determine if your router is able to handle the new traffic from VoIP. If your router doesn’t have Packet Per Second (PPS) capability, you should upgrade it. PPS capability provides traffic shaping and allows you to prioritize voice and video data on your network.

Firewalls

Software-defined firewalls are vital to VoIP Business Phone System preparation. Software-defined firewalls are designed to filter internal data traffic and packets as opposed to only data traffic.

These tips should aide you in making the proper decisions regarding your new VoIP system. If you have any questions regarding VoIP or business phone systems in general, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Five Features to Look for When Selecting a School Business Phone System

school business phone systemIt may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to the needs of a school system, but business phone systems are one of the most important aspects of keeping students, teachers, and staff better informed and safe. Unfortunately, many school systems are still using decades-old phone systems. Such systems necessitate frequent maintenance and typically end up costing more than merely purchasing a new system. Newer VoIP (voice over IP) offer a much better alternative business phone system for a school system. Below, we’ve listed five features to look for when selecting a school business phone system.

Emergency 911 Monitoring

These days, schools must be vigilant about the safety of their students and staff. Whichever school business phone system you purchase must include a built-in emergency monitoring feature. Newer VoIP systems can notify school administrators via their desk phones and email when someone makes a 911 call. The notifications even tell you which room number initiated the call. This is important because the emergency dispatcher can also quickly recognize which room to send emergency assistance to.

Flexible Extension Dial Plan

Emergency 911 Monitoring is quite dependent on this next feature. Most schools require six-digit extension dialing, which will permit them to build an organized dial plan. Schools typically use the first two digits in the extension to specify the building, the third digit to specify the floor, and the last three to specify the room number. Flexible extension dialing not only makes emergency 911 monitoring possible, but it also creates cohesion and convenience in your dial plan.  

Ease of Use

Once you finally have a new VoIP phone system, you don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to use it. A properly designed school business phone system should be easy to operate. It should also be easy to access via the internet so that you can make adds, moves, and other changes.

User Training

Many people don’t like change. Attempting to switch your staff to a new phone system can present a difficult adjustment period. To ease the growing pains, you should have training sessions on the new system. Not only does this shorten the adjustment period, but it also allows your staff the opportunity to take full advantage of VoIP’s features.

Price

As with any purchase, price can make or break your decision. Who wouldn’t love to have the latest and greatest? Sometimes though, you have to prioritize your needs so that you don’t burst your budget. However, one of the advantages of VoIP is that it tends to pay for itself; with little upkeep and maintenance fees, you’ll inevitably find that after time it costs you less than hanging on to your old system.

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

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.