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Best practices in Business Communications Business Phone Systems Chicago

The Best Problems in Business and How Cloud Phone Systems and Storage Can Help

The business world is full of opportunities and potential problems. The funny thing is, some of the problems that a growing business can face along the way might not sound like problems at all. As a business grows, it will face new challenges that it will need to overcome in order to continue to grow and thrive. Accelerating growth might sound like nothing but good news, but knowing where to turn for support when these “problems” arise is of paramount importance.

Thankfully, modern technology can help. To be more specific, cloud-based technologies are stepping up in several big ways to help businesses of all sizes overcome the challenges they face on their long road toward success. Here are some of those challenges, along with some of the ways that the cloud can help.

Moving into new offices and adding new employees is easy and cost-effective with a cloud phone system.

Expanding Into New Offices

There’s nothing more exciting than expanding a growing business into new geographical territories. Granted, that excitement is frequently tempered by a sense of anxiety. What if the new company branches don’t perform as well as the original? What if the new offices aren’t conveniently located?

Those are questions that will be answered in time. As your company expands, however, there are steps you can take along the way to ease the transition. One of the biggest challenges when expanding to a new location is the question of communication infrastructure. You’ll need to install additional phone lines in the new location to maintain inter-office communication.

Thankfully, cloud phone systems have stepped up to help ease this transition. Using an existing high-speed Internet connection, an IP phone system can easily be scaled to add new locations to your phone network. This also means that the days of expensive phone line installations are over.

Adding Employees

Along with new offices comes the addition of new employees. Any growing business needs to make sure it has the talent it requires to stay on top of the increased workload. The aforementioned cloud phone system solution can help to lessen this burden as well. An existing IP phone network can add new lines for new employees in no time at all.

The cloud can help out in other ways, too. An expanding workforce means more people will need to access the same business assets. Cloud storage can be a huge boon to employee collaboration. Whether they work in the same office or in another city, your most important documents and other digital assets can be stored in a central location for quick and easy access.

More Customers

Perhaps the best “good problem” a business can have is to see a large influx of new customers. With increased demand comes a need for increased supply, and your company’s responsibilities will grow with each new customer.

The cloud can come in handy here as well. Cloud-based phone systems are easily customized, meaning you’ll have greater control than ever before over the way incoming calls are handled. What this means is that you’ll know with a greater certainty that your ever-growing customer base will have their calls directed to the proper department. In this way, maintaining excellent customer satisfaction is easy, even as you begin to face a greater demand for your products or services.

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Best practices in Business Communications

What a Phone Call can do that an Email Can’t

When the soundtrack of your office is a sea of keyboards, it can be easy to forget that calling is even an option. We’re getting so accustomed to the ease and speed of an email that, it seems, some people are losing their appreciation for the phone call.

The two may both be forms of communication, but don’t be fooled: they are not equals. Emailing is great for quick communication and exchanging documents, but there are many situations in which a phone call is far more useful. Before you carry on a relationship in which you and your client never hear one another’s voices, consider these advantages of talking on the phone.

Help Avoid Getting Lost in the Shuffle
Of course, there’s no guarantee that the person you’re calling will answer the phone, in which case, yes, you might just be another voicemail on their answering machine. But many of us spend the day at our desks, and while emails might sit in your recipient’s inbox for days or even weeks – potentially being forgotten – phone calls demand immediate action. If you want to get things moving along more quickly, speak directly with a person.

Have a Beginning and End
In an email conversation, even if you’re lucky enough to get an immediate response, that doesn’t mean your follow-up questions will. A person can get distracted and stop answering an email chain, which means you’re left without answers and without a solidified date and time to continue the conversation. You can ask and respond to all questions while you have the other person’s attention, and set a time for a follow-up call, which is not the protocol for emailing.

Avoid Miscommunications
In an email, there’s no way to tell a person’s tone of voice. You’re unable to emphasize as well through text as you are with your voice. If you’re typing up a long email, important points are easily missed, especially when the person starts skimming. If something is extremely urgent, that might not come across in text. Additionally, emails might make you seem upset, angry, or lighthearted when that’s not how you’re feeling. Getting on the phone and having a real conversation ensures that you’re both on the same page.

Get to Know Each Other
It’s hard to let your personality shine in an email. Take advantage of the informality of phone calls and have a good laugh with your client, or ask how their kids are doing. This can strengthen your relationship and give them a better impression of you, especially if you’ve never met in person.

Multi-Task
Now that cloud phone systems allow you to take your business phone on-the-go, you can quickly call and follow-up with a client while having lunch by yourself or while stuck in traffic. Have these communications while you’re thinking about them so that you never forget to make the call. This is especially useful for people with busy schedules, which, let’s face it, is most of us!

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Best practices in Business Communications

How can I Lock Down my VoIP Network?

Whenever we begin the Great Transition from one form of technology to another, the one concern that plagues the providers of the new technology is security. Skepticism about the security of a new and unknown type of technology is one of the biggest things that makes potential customers wary about making the switch.

VoIP is in a sort of grey area where it’s no longer the newest technology on the market, but still, not everyone has adopted it yet. Therefore, a lot of people know the benefits about switching and are planning on doing so, while others are new to the technology and still figuring it out. For anyone in either of these camps, there are things that are important to know.

The main thing to bear in mind is the fact that the security of your WiFi connection has little to do with the security of your VoIP. An insecure WiFi connection does not necessarily mean that your VoIP connection is insecure, and vice versa.

That said, here are some ways that you can rest assured that your VoIP network is secure.

Require Password Protected Logins Every Time
It may be quicker and easier for your employees to click the “keep me logged in” button, but that’s also a great way to weaken your security. If you want to know that your network is secure, require every username to have a password, and require the username and password to be entered every time the program is launched. This adds a second layer of security – even if a hacker is able to breach the network, they’d still need to hack a specific password to gain full access.

Make Ample Use of Fraud Detection
Most VoIP providers offer a type of “fraud detection” monitoring that recognizes when a user is logging in from an unusual location, using the program for an unusual amount of time, or any other type of abnormal behavior. This is your best way to nip a problem in the bud should any security breaches occur. Luckily, a hacker is only able to access one user’s access at a time, so once you notice an issue arising, you can cut them off and change their login information.

Use Common Sense when Working Outside the Office
One of the best things about VoIP is that it allows you to access your business phone system from home, but when you’re outside of the office, you need to be extra careful (read: have common sense). Don’t let anyone know your password and don’t store your password on your personal computer. Be wary of who is around you if you’re working in a café or some other public location. It’s basic security stuff, but it goes a long way. You could have the most secure network in the world, but still have an issue due to a simple mistake.

The fact of the matter is that no network of any kind is perfect, but when you understand what you’re working with better, you can take charge of its security.

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Best practices in Business Communications

How to Streamline your Sales with a Cloud Phone System

Streamline your Sales

It’s remarkable how many companies ignore common opportunities to earn a little good will from their customers. One thing that’s commonly ignored altogether, or at least taken for granted, is a frustration-free telephone system. If your business relies heavily on customer interaction, particularly for sales, then you owe it to yourself to modernize your phone system… and streamline your sales in the process.

Prime Telecommunications is one of the leading providers of business phone systems; our powerful and reliable VoIP service is trusted by business people all across Chicago since 1993.

At Prime, our business is your business. When companies turn to us to provide cloud based phone systems, it’s because they want to provide the absolute best experience for their employees and customers alike. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what sets our business phone systems apart from traditional phone services, and how your customer will ultimately reap the benefits.

Traditional phone service isn’t very forward-thinking as far as customer experience is concerned. One of the many ways that businesses frequently fail to deliver to their customers is with their phone system. When placing calls, whether to create a new order or to simply contact customer service, customers don’t want to have to wade through frustrating layers of phone menus. Instead, they want assurances that their call will get where it’s going immediately, without pushing dozens of buttons.

With a cloud based phone system from Prime Telecommunications, you have absolute control over your phone system, and therefore over your customers’ satisfaction. Our VoIP phone systems let you make changes to your phone menus at will, using any computer that’s connected to the same network. You can be sure that your automated phone system is always up-to-date following company expansion or restructuring; your customers will always be able to use the most up-to-date menu because of your ability to make on-the-fly changes.

Then again, maybe you don’t want to rely on the automated approach. With VoIP, the choice is yours. If you’d prefer to add a personal touch to your customer’s experience, you also have access to a powerful suite of call management and routing services when you switch to VoIP.

You’ll be able to monitor each incoming call on a case-by-case basis, and choose how to deal with it. Depending on the caller ID information, you can answer it directly, have it forwarded, or transfer the call to the appropriate department. It’s a great way to ensure that your customers are taken care of quickly and efficiently, cutting down on customer frustration and ultimately improving your sales and your bottom line.

Of course, a business phone system powered by VoIP provides many other features, which we encourage you to experience by viewing a live demonstration on our website. You’ll be amazed at what the cloud can do for your productivity. From mobile access to our reliable and easy-to-use line of cloud-enabled phones and smartphone apps, all of your communication needs are taken care of with a cloud based phone system from Prime Telecommunications.

Remember: your business is our business. Just as your company’s reputation hinges on your customers’ satisfaction, our reputation depends on yours. When you choose Prime, you’re not just getting cutting-edge technology: you’re getting support from a company that cares about your success as much as you do.

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Business Phone Systems Chicago

6 Reasons Business Communications are Evolving from Legacy Voice to Hosted VoIP and Cloud UC

Businesses are turning to cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and unified communications (UC) solutions for myriad reasons: to control and reduce costs, manage complexity, increase productivity, and enable easier collaboration. But for many organizations, VoIP and UC implementations can be challenging to manage. Luckily, communications service providers (CSPs) can remove the complexity and alleviate the need for internal IT staff to manage and maintain the solution. According to recent IDC survey data, hosted and cloud solutions will continue to gain significant traction and significantly outpace on-site solutions.

Organizations surveyed in 2014 that had deployed VoIP:

  • 33% said they had a hosted VoIP solution.
  • An additional 29.6% indicated they planned to implement hosted VoIP in the future.

Organizations surveyed in 2014 that planned to implement UC:

  • 41.7% of current UC users said their organization had deployed a premises-based UC solution.
  • 61% planned to implement a hosted/cloud UC or UCaaS compared with 30% who planned to implement an on-site UC solution.

Here are 6 reasons why business communications are evolving naturally from legacy on-site voice systems to hosted VoIP and cloud-based UC solutions. To read the full IDC report, click here.

 

1. Shift in How Businesses Communicate

When it comes to how professionals communicate, it will always come down to voice. Voice communications will always be an essential aspect of conducting business in today’s fast-paced environment. But the way in which organizations communicate is shifting from siloed, legacy voice platforms to integrated cloud solutions.

2. BYOD Explosion

Business professionals are redefining how and where they work. The proliferation of mobile devices, fueled by BYOD and the consumerization of IT, combined with the increasingly distributed and virtual nature of workforces are key drivers of this shift.

3. Growing Comfort Level with the Cloud

The accelerating adoption of managed, hosted, and cloud-based communications solutions is being driven by organizations’ growing comfort level with cloud delivery models. Although businesses will continue to invest in on-site solutions, their growing comfort level coupled with increasing numbers of hosted and cloud-based services in the market has led to faster-than-expected adoption. As a result, the available UC delivery and deployment options now include managed, hosted, cloud-based and hybrid offerings, far beyond the traditional, premises-based offerings that dominated the market a few years ago.

4. Businesses want Cloud Benefits, Now and in the Future

Business communications are naturally evolving from legacy voice systems to cloud VoIP and UC solutions as organizations reevaluate their existing solutions and consider the benefits of moving to a cloud-based model:

  • Control and reduce costs
  • Simplify the delivery and management of communications
  • Boost productivity and efficiency
  • Facilitate migration to a converged network
  • Encourage collaboration internally and externally with customers, suppliers and partners.

In fact, some organizations are deploying cloud-based UC or unified communications as a service (UCaaS) not only because they believe their users will leverage the advanced features immediately, but also because the additional functionality will be there whenever it’s needed.

5. Demand for Mobile, Video & Social

The popularity of mobility, video and social business applications is also contributing to rising demand for cloud solutions that seamlessly integrate UC capabilities with advanced voice capabilities, mobility and collaborative apps. Businesses are considering how UC can enable new applications, help solve business process challenges, and enable users to communicate and collaborate whenever and wherever they want using any device. However, these applications and services must be easy to deploy and manage as well as intuitive and simple to use. That’s where online customer portals that centralize management of all UC services comes into play.

6. Centralized Management

Over the past few years, CSPs have paved the way for providing UCaaS by integrating unified messaging (email, voice, and fax messaging), IM, conferencing (Web, audio, and video), presence, and mobility with the underlying telephony and call management capabilities already resident on hosted VoIP platforms. An example of one such centralized portal is Broadview Networks’ innovative MyOfficeSuite®. The  MyOfficeSuite® portal enables customers to control everything within the OfficeSuite Phone® UC solution – phone, voicemail, email, HD Video and web conferencing, Android® and iPhone® apps for mobile access, online fax service, Instant Messaging and more.

To learn more, download the full IDC report.

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Business Phone Systems Chicago

Become More Efficient with Apps for Productivity

It’s hard not to associate mobile apps with absolute distraction, since some of the most popular are social media apps like Instagram and games like Candy Crush. That being said, apps can and do often use their force for good. In the working world, we need all the help we can get when it comes to productivity, and these apps are here to lend a hand.

Evernote
There are times that you think to yourself as you’re leaving work that you’ll look over that report at dinner, or research that topic early in the morning before work, or that you HAVE to remember to do that thing on your lunch break. And then some spare time rolls around, and you realize you forgot the necessary documents on your home computer, or you took a note somewhere and you can’t remember where you put it. Evernote for Apple, Android, and Windows solves this issue. It integrates your information – like your notes, calendar events, and documents – across platforms so you can access and change them anywhere. It’s like taking your home to work and your work home.

ClearFocus
We’ve all had “those days” at work where we just can’t seem to focus long enough to get anything done. One solution to this is the Pomodoro Technique, which alternates short breaks and long periods of work. You can do whatever you want on those short breaks, but you have to work during the working periods. It’s been shown that frequent breaks can improve mental agility, but it’s also a good way to boost your motivation to get things done. ClearFocus is essentially just an app that acts as a timer for this, and with it, you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish. This particular app is only available for Android, but there are plenty of Pomodoro timers available for Apple, too.

Abukai
The last thing you want to do when you’re on a business trip is lose track of your expenses. The busy days can make this challenging, though – before you know it, your wallet is overflowing with expense repors. Abukai, for Apple, Android, and Blackberry, can help solve this issue by allowing you to take pictures of your receipts and automatically create fully itemized expense reports. One less thing you have to worry about when you get back!

Focus@Will
Are you the type who likes to whistle while you work? The Focus@Will app for Apple and Android will stream music specifically chosen to create productive work conditions. Don’t get distracted by Spotify’s suggested tracks or by creating the perfect Pandora station. Just tune in and start working!

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Best practices in Business Communications Business Phone Systems Chicago

9 Considerations for Selecting the Best Audio Conferencing, Video Conferencing and Web Conferencing Service for Your Business

9 Considerations for Selecting the Best Audio, Video and Web Conferencing Service for Your Business

By this point, businesses know why they need web and video conferencing. They need to gather teams of people from different locations; they need to reduce spending on travel; they want the flexibility to join meetings from smartphones and tablets; and the list goes on. More efficient collaboration means stronger teams, which result in faster speeds to market for new products and campaigns.

As you’re comparing video conferencing software, keep these considerations in mind.

1. How Will Your Business Use Online Meeting Software Now and in the Future?

Ask yourself two questions, ‘How will we use it today, and how should we use it tomorrow?’ The obvious use cases will be the answers for the first question: you’ll use it for internal team meetings. But how else could you use it? How about interviewing your customers to see where you can make improvements? Why not use it for training employees, especially if you have people in disparate offices or people who work from home? Why not host webinars to help answer those questions your prospects ask in the beginning of the sales cycle?

Once you determine your current and future needs, make sure you find online collaboration tools that can support what you want to do today and down the road.

2. Will it Work on Mobile Devices?

If your web and video conferencing software does not work easily on smartphones and tablets, then you’re inhibiting use. Today’s business people do not sit in the same office all day, every day. We travel to other offices, we go on-site to visit customers, we meet with vendors, we have lunch with colleagues, etc. So you need to make it easy for people to connect and collaborate from anywhere. The best video conferencing software enables people to join from their desktop computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet.

3. What is the Total Cost for Everything You Need?

You could go and buy teleconferencing, web conferencing and video conferencing separately, but why would you? It’s more expensive, and it is a hassle to use different services at different times, or layer them together. (A great example is having to use a separate audio bridge with your online meeting services.) That’s why finding a unified solution is the way to go. It makes it easier to use and lighter on your wallet. Our OfficeSuite HD Meeting™ is a great example– you get audio conferencing, web conferencing, and High Definition Video meetings for one low monthly price.

Besides finding a unified solution, the other word of caution here is to ask what features are included. For example, some providers offer the ability to share keyboard and mouse control and High Definition video, but those are optional features that are only included in the premium plan. In comparison, both of those features are included with OfficeSuite HD Meeting, and it costs about a quarter of the price of the most popular services on the market.

4. How Easy is it to Use?

This seems like an obvious consideration, but you would be surprised to find that not all conferencing services are easy to use. I have used several over the last few years, and one of the most popular ones (I won’t name names!) does not work well for me. It forces me to go through two different steps every time I have to join a meeting. It’s also not easy to allow another person to share their screen without giving them complete control. This may just be a personal preference, but you will find that many services have the same type of functionality but they work differently. Figure out which services offer free trials and take each one for a spin. We offer a completely free trial of OfficeSuite HD Meeting, so try it out!

5. Video Quality

In an age of text-style communications that are devoid of facial expressions and vocal tone, we often miss the full message that people trying to share. How often have you misinterpreted an email or text message because there were no accompanying social cues? The vast majority of communication is non-verbal. In fact, research has show that as much as 93% of what we’re trying to say is communicated non-verbally. Knowing this, you must find a video conferencing solution that offers high quality video. Face-to-face video meetings are only as good as the picture that comes across. If you can’t see the other person very well, you’ll miss their quick smile and their hand gesture.  With OfficeSuite HD Meeting’s dynamic voice detection feature, the screen changes to display the live video of the person who is currently speaking so it’s easier to catch these important social cues.

6. Flexible Audio Options

Having flexible audio options makes it easier for people to join and participate no matter where they are. There are two options for audio: you can dial in using a phone or use your computer’s audio (and plug in a headset if you wish). You can easily switch between the two options, even during a meeting. Having these options makes it easy for people to join meetings whether they are at their desk or in the field. While sharing your screen or showing a video for the other participants to see, you can share computer audio as well so that your meeting attendees get the full experience. And unlike other online collaboration tools, the audio conferencing is included with OfficeSuite HD Meeting.

7. Recording and Streaming

There are many reasons why you might want to record a meeting: for training purposes, to create webinar replays, to share video interviews, and more.  But what good is a recording if you can’t easily play it or share it? Make sure you ask what type of format the recordings come in. You might be shocked to learn that the most well-known services only offer proprietary recording formats, which means they’re not easy to play and definitely not easy to share. That’s why we made sure the recordings that come with OfficeSuite HD Meeting are standard MP4 video and MPEG 4 audio formats. They can be saved to any folder or drive you want. Other providers charge storage fees, but ours is cloud-based storage so there are no fees. What if you want to play a video during a web meeting? Not all web conferencing software supports audio and video streaming, so that is another good question to ask.

8. Outlook® Calendar Integration Only?

This goes back to the ease of use consideration. If your video conferencing service integrates with your calendar, sending invites is fast and easy and requires only one step instead of two. Many conferencing services offer calendar integration but only with Microsoft Outlook®. For all you Google users out there (like me!) you’ll be happy to know that OfficeSuite HD Meeting integrates with your Google calendar as well. With just the click of the mouse I can schedule a meeting and create a new calendar invite ready to share with others. And everything needed to join the meeting is in the invite, even phone numbers for people who do not wish to use their computer audio.

9. Customizable Screens and Meeting Rooms

Depending on the meeting you’re having, it might be easier to view your screen in different ways. You might want full screen video so it’s easier to see the person who is talking. If you’re looking at a presentation with your team, you probably want the gallery view so that the PowerPoint® is front and center and everyone’s video cam is shown on the right-hand side. Not all video conferencing services offer different views, and many do not offer customized personal IDs which allow you to customize your meeting room number so that it’s easy to remember. For example, my boss changed his to 867-5309. As a result, that song is always in my head, but it’s easy to join his meetings because I never forget it!

Contact Us! We are here to listen!

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Business Phone Systems Chicago

5 Alternatives to having On-Hold Greeting Melodies

We’ve all been that customer who impatiently waits on hold for assistance, listening to the “Please hold, your call is valuable to us” message over and over again as the theoretically calming symphony music plays in the background. Depending on how long you have been listening to the on-hold greeting, you may even be ready to throw your phone against the nearest wall.

Since you’ve had this feeling of enragement and customer dissatisfaction, it makes no sense for you to do the same thing to your customers. When used correctly, the on-hold greeting feature is a valuable tool for keeping loyal returning customers and making strong first impressions for new customers. Cloud-based phone systems provide you with the option for making your on-hold greeting unique to your company, so make sure you spend the time to make it that way. Break away from the default settings, so the greeting will be something to be remembered by and will contribute to the customer’s positive calling experience.

Here are 5 alternatives to using the traditional on-hold greeting melodies:

 

One: Change the Music

Play actual music people want to listen to. Unless you are a Mozart lover or classical enthusiast, most people don’t want to hear the typical classical music. Think of your audience. If you are selling teen apparel, play songs from the top pop hits for your customers to hear. If you are a movie review company, geek-out with the Star Wars theme song in anticipation of the newest movie approaching. Think about geography. Maybe your callers would appreciate country. After tracking the call location, you could find your customers want to hear Bollywood or blues. Music evokes emotion, memories, and feelings. Align the music with your mission statement so that playing reggae vs. Christian, vs. indie will make sense. Take a look at your music now, because most likely, you can do better than classical music.

 

Two: Pitch Your Product (within reason)

Another typical call. You just need help with transferring your phone number from one service provider to another. Meanwhile, they are blasting you about the latest and greatest data plan and YOU DON’T CARE! You just want your phone fixed—that’s all.  On-hold greetings serve as a prime opportunity to market your product and promotions, but be smart about it. Your customers are calling for help and the majority of them don’t want an overaggressive 10 second pitch looped as they wait for an hour. Hopefully, you don’t have your customers waiting that long anyway…but be sure that you have a reasonable sell that the customer could even benefit by relating to their problem.

 

Three: Tell a Joke

A different approach would be telling a joke. This could be a risky business move, but if done right, it is also a very unique strategy. There are many “don’t rules” which hopefully by common sense, you know as well. Don’t make them purposely corny, don’t make them crude or insensitive, and don’t repeat just one. Do have music breaks in between, do slip in business relevant jokes, and do use story jokes for potential calls that will require the customer to be on hold for quite some time. Again, this is a sensitive and risky option, but done with the right company, with the right taste in jokes, it could be a true winner.

 

Four: Provide Random Facts

People like the games Trivia Pursuit and Trivia Crack because they enjoy hearing random fun facts. Facts are endless, so running out of options and being forced to loop won’t be a problem. Keep the pace consistent, use a likeable voice that’s going to be talking for quite some time, and pick topics interesting to your customer. What’s an interesting topic? Probably whatever the person is calling about, so keep it relevant. If you are a technology company, talk about fun hacks you can do with your TV or phone that people don’t know about. Maybe even relate the fact to what your company offers as a subtle pitch. If you offer nutritional drinks and juices, maybe your facts include a list of different vitamins and supplements customers need for boosting bone density, hair color, muscle damage repair, etc. that happens to be contained in your drink in large quantities.

 

Five: Switch It Up!

Make sure your customer who called six months ago is not listening to the same on-hold greeting. Especially taking advice from the other following points, you should be changing your greeting often. Depending on your time, weekly or monthly would be ideal. There are ways to reuse your greeting content, but be smart about it. Save the content, mix up the order, and use it a few months down the road. You don’t need to create new material all the time, but it’s good to switch it up once in a while. Regardless of how awesome the music is, how funny the joke turns out, etc., your customer would prefer not to hear the same thing month after month if they are frequent callers.

In this day and age, it’s good to be different in every possible way. Your business will stand out and can generate more business with simple small changes like adding value to your on-call greeting. Having a VoIP dashboard with easy access anywhere can allow you to do this. Experiment with your options and see if you receive higher reviews with customer satisfaction.

Contact Us! We are here to listen!

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Business Phone Systems Chicago

Fall in Love with Your Business Phone System

Let’s face it, the word “love” isn’t typically the first word you hear people use to describe their business’ phone system, but with the advanced functionality that cloud-based systems can deliver, it should be. The quality and efficiency of your communications with your customers and your team is key to your business’ productivity, reputation and success.

Here are 7 must-have phone features that are sure to make you fall in love with your business phone system.

1. Mobile Twinning
Mobile twinning is one of the most convenient phone features, especially for those who are in and out of the office frequently. Twinning ensures that you never miss a call, no matter where you are. This eliminates the need to give out multiple phone numbers or worse, have to lug a work and personal cell phone around with you. When mobile twinning is enabled, your office phone and cell phone, or any phone number of your choice, ring simultaneously. It’s perfect if you’re not sure where you are going to be. Plus, it offers the ability to switch back and forth from each device, without the caller every knowing the difference. This is ideal for anyone who ever works outside of the office.

2. Voicemail Transcription
Listening to voicemail has become almost obsolete, but in business, we don’t have the luxury of not listening to our voicemail messages. Or, do we? With voicemail transcription, you can read your messages instead of listening to them. Genius! Messages are transcribed for your convenience and sent right to your email inbox. While they may not be 100 percent accurate, you can see who called and get the gist of what they needed to determine if you need to call them back or not. This is a huge time-saver, but also extremely convenient if you are in a noisy area, or in a meeting and listening isn’t an option. And, if you ever do want to listen to the message, the recording is also sent to you as a wav file attachment. This feature will forever change the way you feel about voicemail.

3. Softphones
Softphones are perfect for anyone who travels or works remotely. They offer the same functionality of your business phone on-the-go, like caller ID, contacts, using company minutes and extension dialing. Softphones are typically available for PCs, Macs and mobile devices. This will literally turn your desired device into your actual business phone so you don’t have to worry about disclosing your personal cell phone number and can communicate seamlessly internally with your team through your office extension.

4. Auto Attendants
A huge advantage with cloud-based phone systems are Auto Attendants or Digital Receptionists, which ensure your incoming calls are all answered and directed to the appropriate place, no matter who is physically available. Project a professional image and save on having a designated employee available to answer every single incoming call. The most frequent calls are for hours of operation, business location and directions. Using an Auto Attendant will reduce the number of routine calls that have to be answered by 25% and will ensure that callers are directed to right person and information every time

5. Forwarding Calls
If you are not using mobile twinning or softphones, another alternative for flexibility with your calls are advanced forwarding options. The most common of these are to forward calls to your cell phone or to another coworker. If you know you are going to be out of the office and want your calls directed to another phone number or to another team member, all you need to do is program a button on your phone and press the button before you leave to activate it. Then, every call will ring to that phone number instead of your phone in the office. This will ensure your calls will not be missed while you are out.

6. On-Hold Options
On-hold greetings and music options can make a big difference in how your company is portrayed and how your customer’s experience your business. While customers are waiting on-hold, take advantage of this feature and advertise specials you are running, your website or promote upcoming events to boost attendance. Be sure to also select music callers will actually enjoy and that is relevant to your business or target market to make their on-hold experience as enjoyable as possible.

7. Hot-Desking
Hot-desking is a unique and incredibly useful feature. It allows your employees to turn any phone, at any of your other locations or rooms into their own. Whether you are working from a different office location, in a conference room, or at another employee’s desk, by simply logging in to that phone with your passcode, you can turn any desk phone into your phone with all of your settings, contacts, voicemail and speed dials readily available. No longer move phones around offices or try to take phones with you, every phone within your organization can be used by any employee whenever needed; this is a huge convenience and cost-savings.

Cloud-based business phone systems have come a long way and provide the advanced mobility and functionality that modern businesses need to stay competitive. When investing in your next business phone system, be sure that it provides you with these must-have features.

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Best practices in Business Communications

Leverage Tech to Increase Sales

 

At a recent Dreamforce conference, analyst Tad Travis stated his estimate that 40% of sales organizations would begin automating their sales operations with technology. In today’s landscape, we’re already close to that 40%.

Another interesting tidbit he released is that an estimated 50% of large-scale B2B sales companies would use predictive analytics to shape their sales and marketing campaigns by 2017.

These are, of course, just estimates – it’s hard to predict the future. But Travis, who specializes in customer relationship management technology and strategies, says there are major indications that sales representatives are seeking ways to improve their processes. Integrated cloud technology is a major tool being used in doing so – it provides the insights and analytics needed to estimate consumer behavior and adjust accordingly.

FirstRain, for example, is an integrated solution that offers desktop and mobile applications to deliver important client profile information while keeping its users up-to-date on industry updates for maximum efficiency.  Then there is CRM software, like OfficeSuite® Connector for Salesforcewhich connects all of your communication streams to Salesforce, allowing managers to gain insight into individual rep activity and performance and enabling reps with advanced click-to-call and call logging capabilities.

There is also WalkMe, a training service that gets sales reps acquainted with the applications they currently need, such as live chat and enterprise resourcing planning systems. Or, how about Salesforce in general, an integrated cloud service that merges sales analytics with other products for detailed insights.

The lesson here is that these cloud services and their counterparts are already helping to automate so many of the processes that make sales teams successful. They are making it easier to retain customers, address issues, and see what is and is not working in various campaigns. As services like these improve and expand their capabilities, sales representatives will grow to depend on them more in the years to come.

Not only will future applications be able to give a detailed view of what has and has not been working, they will also be able to figure out which customers are purchasing and what they like to purchase. In the years to come, sales will be more streamlined than ever.

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