Not 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 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.
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.
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.
Many 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.
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 Many people make their calls on headsets but use outdated equipment.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.
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.
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.
There 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
VoIP 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.
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).
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.
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.
Hosted 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
In our last installment we discussed how VoIP voice packets tend to get garbled in a congested network. This time, we will delve into how to separate your VoIP network from the rest of your Internet traffic. Here’s how:
Have your office put in a separate wired Ethernet network just for VoIP. This way you won’t have to plug the PC to the computer port on the back of the VoIP phone. This is very cost-effective and is typically simple to do. Once you have a dedicated Ethernet switch for the VoIP LAN connected to a broadband router, you should be able to manage as many simultaneous calls as necessary. If you calculate the maximum number of simultaneous calls and revisit that number from time to time, your voice quality will be as good as it can get with anything under your control.
Of course, the trick is to figure out how much broadband bandwidth is right for a company of your size. Right now, many VoIP salespeople make their bread and butter by telling customers that they can do away with the costly phone lines and share their existing LAN and connection to the Internet. While this is cheaper, the call quality will suffer if (as previously discussed) someone in the office is uploading a large file.
Some ISP’s have figured out that the better solution for perfect VoIP calls is to offer a dedicated VoIP broadband connection. Many of them are already offering their large customers this option, but the writing on the wall is clear: sooner, rather than later, a separate VoIP network will become the norm rather than the exception.
One of the most important aspects of maintaining a viable business is consistency. If your clients are to remain loyal, then your business has to deliver a quality product and service during each and every customer interaction. This presents unique challenges for companies with multiple branches and sites. How are you to appear as one company with one image if you have hundreds of employees spread out at different sites? It can make delegating duties among branches nearly impossible. Hosted VoIP might be the solution for such businesses.
Hosted VoIP systems do not require a lot of upfront costs for individual sites. With an analog business phone system, each site would need to purchase a separate system and coordinate amongst themselves. With a hosted system, your company would essentially be one site located in the cloud. You simply have to advise what the address is for each individual site and within days your business can have an operational system.
Once the system is programmed, setting up your hosted VoIP business phone system is as simple as plugging the phones into routers and switches. There is no need to deploy IT to each location which saves your business time and makes your initial deployment quicker. In addition, if any problems arise IT will not have to rush to each and every site to troubleshoot.
Ease of Changes
If your business is seasonal or on a high growth trajectory, VoIP is ideal. As your business grows or scales back, you can alter how many seats/phones you want with a pay per month plan. Many providers allow month to month contracts for your multi-site business phone system knowing that you will have to adjust; you can keep the phone handsets for each busy season, but the recurring pricing would change as needed.
Imagine for a moment that you are a sales manager at a rapidly expanding company and you’ve been tasked with assembling a remote team of fifty sales reps…
Your company is located out of Washington D.C., but the majority of your reps will mainly work from a home office. Much of their time will be spent on the phone, either calling prospective customers or following up with existing clients. Most of them can use their smartphones on the go. However, business calls are ideally conducted on a private line to ensure reliable call quality.
The problem is that it is nearly unfeasible to set up and maintain private business phone systems in each of the reps home offices. With a traditional business phone system lacking VoIP, there are many complex steps to ensure that your remote workers are connected to the company’s internal network:
Cloud-based VoIP technology has solved many of these challenges. A cloud-based VoIP business phone system has made setting up a remote worker as easy as connecting a phone to the Internet and downloading certain software. There are no other setups or maintenance schedules and employees can now enjoy the conveniences of a home office without suffering the inconveniences of being out of the office.
Contact Advanced Communication Systems, LLC at www.advcomsol.com for details!