Posts Tagged ‘phone features’

VOIP as SaaS (Software as a Service)

May 1, 2009

One of the true innovations in office technology has been the idea of SaaS or Software as a Service. This means that a software program is accessible through a local or wide area network by an employee to perform a task. The program does not have to be loaded on every computer, it just has to be reachable through your network.

 

Some examples that have been gaining favor are QuickBooks run via the Intuit website, various Managed Service Provider programs (N-able, Kaseyan, etc.) and antivirus scans of your computer through the Internet from the companies’ main office. Most people are unaware that a VOIP phone system acts much in the same way and provides many features as SaaS.

 

Back in the ‘old’ days before VOIP, phone handsets on your desktop were fed a dial tone for connectivity but then had to supply 95% of your features as built-in hardware in the actual phone. If you needed “Do Not Disturb (DND)” you pushed the DND button. If your phone did not have a DND button, well, you just didn’t have that ability. If you wanted to “CallForward” your phone to a different location temporarily, you made a hard transfer by pushing a long sequence of buttons, sometimes having to repeat the commands to set them. That was time consuming and at times difficult.

 

If you wanted “Distinctive Ringing”, a specific ringer tone for certain callers, you could search for ways to accomplish that but most likely you were out of luck. “Repeat Dial”? “Last Number Redial”? “Contact Lists” (Caller ID replaced by text of your choice when a specific number calls in to you)? All of these features are software-driven in a VOIP phone system. It doesn’t matter which VOIP IP-phone you have on your desktop; you will be able to use these features when you need them. Your phone system will not be obsoleted too quickly because as the software advances, so do your usable features.

 

Compare that to a key or hybrid phone system where you may be locked in by the hardware features well beyond your need to change them or add new features. Phone systems are not cheap. They are a vital part of business and demand study and tough decisions to make prior to purchase. You certainly do not want to make a wrong decision that will be with you for ten years.

 

VOIP phone systems allow your company the ability to change the system as your company grows and prospers. The technology you buy today is not necessarily the technology you will need in three, five or ten years. Using a software-driven system such as VOIP with Asterisk and trixbox can extend the useful and productive investment that your company makes in your phone system. Ask your phone vendor how much change can be incorporated into your phone system without buying any new hardware. Ask your phone vendor if new features can be added within a day or two simply by turning on software features that are already there but just not used yet. You may have a labor charge but should not incur any parts or software charges, If you do, it may be time to consider the smart way to build your phone system right from the start, VOIP with SaaS as its operating system.

 

Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 281-501-6464.

 

“Productivity Through Technology”

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New Years Resolutions for Your Phone System

April 8, 2009

Most of us make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions to make them come true. Unfortunately we become complacent or lazy and never seem to follow them through. Here are seven resolutions for the phone system in your office that are easily performed and will really help your business become more successful.

1) I will be friendly to all callers. You never know who someone knows and how a good experience will help you in the long run. Consider your phone skills as important as face to face networking.

2) I will test my own phone system to experience it as if I was a client or prospect. Have you ever called your own system to see how long it takes to reach someone? How difficult the menus are to navigate? How much time there is to leave a voicemail message? How loud or soft the volume is for speaking and for on hold music?

3) I will review my AutoAttendant menus to verify that they are accurate. We all periodically change our personnel and menus. Does your menu system reflect exactly what you want it to do? Is the flow control right for today or for a year ago?

4) I will make sure that the employees are trained in the phone features that they should know how to use. Frequently employees do not get proper training to use the phone system. Have your phone vendor come in for a periodic update and extra training so that everyone knows the fundamentals that you paid for plus any new features that they should learn.

5) I will make sure that every employee who needs a phone has one on their desk. Do any of your employees have to share phones? That lowers productivity by causing people to wait for a time when they can make calls instead of getting them done right away.

6) I will keep a log of all phone system problems to see how often they occur so that they can be fixed by the phone vendor. If you have any issues and cannot tell the phone vendor what they exactly entail or how often they occur, it will be more costly and difficult to fix the problem. Treat the phone system like a computer network and create a detailed written log of what must be fixed.

7) I will review my phone system yearly to have an idea of when the system is due for replacement or upgrade. As the business grows, your phone system needs change. Determine when your system is inadequate by getting the assistance of your phone vendor so that you can budget for the replacement or upgrade as well as plan the best timing for it away from your busy season if you have one.

Select Phone Solutions can help you plan to do all of these resolutions. Your phone system can be mapped and documented so that you have a visual understanding of what you own. Be proactive and manage your phone system instead of letting it manage you. Your company productivity is at stake.

Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 281-501-6464.

“Productivity Through Technology”

“Bad Phone Attitude is Bad for Business”

March 19, 2009

You are really busy at your desk. You have two or three deadlines to meet that day. Piles of papers are all over the place. You know that people are looking for you and you are avoiding them. The phone rings and you mean to say “Hi, this is Bob Jones with Basket Weavers R Us, can I help you?”, but it comes out “WHAT????” That’s attitude. We all try to stay away from attitude but it creeps into our lives. What we should strive to do is minimize attitude and present our normal cheery and professional business presence, especially on the telephone.

How easy is it to judge someone’s attitude on the phone? We all do it. Probably every day. It affects our conversations with coworkers, prospects, clients and family. What can we do to get away from attitude so that we can maximize our effectiveness on the phone? The first thing is to take away the stress that can be caused by being overwhelmed by your situation of the moment. The next is to make sure that using your phone is as easy as it can be, having features that are easy to understand when you need them.

Were you trained in how to use the phone features? A console full of buttons may not be easy to learn by yourself. Did your phone vendor take the time to show you how to use only the basics or did they make an effort to show the really cool stuff that can make you more productive? Did your vendor throw the phone on the desk at installation, see if you had dialtone, grab a check and was out the door? Are the controls and buttons confusing, which in turn makes you frustrated enough to develop a bad attitude?

If you are a business owner or an office manager, you need your staff to use the phone properly as the business tool that it really is. You know that it is a vital part of your business communications. You must have the staff able to use all the latest features and gadgets that enticed you to choose that phone system or you wasted your money. In the end, if the phone is used incorrectly through ignorance or attitude, it will cost you clients, productivity and money.

Select Phone Solutions believes that training the staff on how to use the new phone system is a critical part of the installation. A Lunch and Learn is always provided by Select Phone Solutions around installation time so that the entire staff can be trained the right way. Full user manuals are given to the point person in case they want to look up extra information on the system but everyone has the opportunity to learn the system. An online Phoneapedia is being developed as an extra aid to quickly resolve questions about a VOIP system.

Do you put up with poor performance from your phone system vendor? It may be time for the excellent care that is standard from Select Phone Solutions. Without it, our motto couldn’t work.