Posts Tagged ‘softphone’

Is Your Phone System Prepared For Growth?

May 13, 2009

Most businesses start out small and grow larger as they become successful. Along the way their focus varies from growth to quality depending upon their business cycles, industry trends and general economic conditions. As they grow they change how they use their computers and networks; shouldn’t they pay the same attention to their phone systems?

Small traditional phone systems were hardware dependent. The features were basically built into the handsets on the desktop and the key system unit (KSU) in the back room. As the company grew, more KSU extension boxes were added to the back wall to supply the needed capacity for phone lines and extensions. The system worked but it was expensive and it limited the ability of the business to rapidly change phone details and priorities that the company needed. After a few years of using a KSU system it could become difficult to find the hardware necessary to implement what was needed for a growth cycle.

Modern VOIP phone systems on the other hand are built for rapid growth without obsoleting your old equipment as fast as the KSU systems seemed to do. VOIP systems are software driven and can be frequently updated to maintain their winning edge of new technology and firmware updates. Need a dozen new handsets? No problem, just deploy them, register the new IP phones with the IP-PBX phone server and set them up with names and extension numbers. Easy, quick, and no trips to the dreaded back room where the network and phone monster lives with boxes, racks and cables.

This is a crucial factor in comparing ROI for the new VOIP phone systems against the much older KSU style or even hybrid style phone systems. VOIP systems will have a much longer useful life and maintain their technological edge because they can be fully reprogrammed and updated at any time without new hardware expenses. A business can add more concurrent phone line capability and more extensions without buying any new equipment except perhaps additional handsets as needed. That too can be avoided by the use of softphones, programs that are installed on the desktop screen and look like a cell phone that you click on with a mouse to make it function. Add a headset and a softphone runs exactly like a desktop handset without spending the money for the hardware. Softphones can also be used to create a telephone extension out of a laptop computer that is as mobile as your sales and technical support workforce on the road.

The most important factor for a successful business to grow properly is to accomplish it with a plan. That plan should be checked by a competent phone vendor so that you can see where your company is now, but also where you project to be in six months, a year and in five years. Do you have the right phone system to scale up without throwing the entire technology away? Will your phone system be malleable enough to grow with you at minimal expense without forcing your company to be limited by inadequate phone system capabilities? Will your company be able to add features and derive benefits from growth in your phone system because a competent phone vendor is there to explain and implement them right away? Can you gain a competitive advantage because your phone system metrics and Call Data Reports teach how to best use the phone system to have happier customers when they call into your company?

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

“Productivity Through Technology”

Connecting to Your Office Phone System From Anywhere

April 16, 2009

An assumption that most business people make about phone systems is that they only work with phone handsets installed on the desktops at their office location. This is because they were trained on old world technology, meaning pre-VOIP digital systems. New 21st century technology has changed everything in what can be accomplished for your business.

While it is true that most people will prefer to have a typical phone handset sitting on their desk because that is what they are used to, it doesn’t mean that new ideas about virtual phones can’t be considered. One of the great technological advances in VOIP phone systems is the “softphone” which is a software program that performs just as a hardware handset but exists entirely on your computer monitor.

The softphone program is installed on each computer that needs access to the VOIP IP-PBX. It can be placed on a desktop to replace the hardware handset or it can be loaded on a laptop computer as well. With either method a wired or wireless microphone and speakers are used to speak and hear the phone conversation. A wireless connection can be either a typical Plantronics-type headset or a Bluetooth style headset that is very popular today.

The installed softphone looks like a cell phone mounted in the middle of your computer screen. You use your mouse cursor to click on the parts of the phone just like you press the buttons on your actual cell phone. It is extremely simple to learn and to use effectively. The softphone gives you the same capability that the hardware handset does, perhaps even more!

Many hardware IP phones have an integrated LCD screen that displays information about the phone calls. A softphone can show more information and associated programs such as a “Heads Up Display” or HUD complement the softphone and complete the incredibly useful utility package on your screen. More on the HUD program in a future article…

Once installed, the softphone looks for the IP-PBX computer running your office phone system anytime it is connected to your own Local Area Network at your office or via the Internet. This happens at your home, at a clients office, at a Starbucks or any other hot spot where you can go online. The softphone connects to the IP-PBX as an extension of your phone system and has all the same capabilities as if you were sitting at a desk in the office. Voicemail, dialing directories, day/night/holiday mode, etc. (Shhhhh, it even works from the golf course if you have an “aircard” to provide Internet access from anywhere in your providers service area).

Some businesses totally replace the hardware handsets with softphones to save money, others do it for convenience and mobility. Think of an insurance adjuster or a sales person out on the road most of the business day. The softphone provides connectivity to the office phone system to a degree never seen before. They are also easier to upgrade than a hardware handset on your desktop. New uses for virtual softphones are being evolved every day. Talk to your VOIP phone vendor and see how they can improve your employee’s connectivity.

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

“Productivity Through Technology”