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Business Phone Systems Chicago

4 Reasons Unified Communications as a Service is Replacing Premises-based Phone Systems

The business communications industry is seeing some of the greatest changes of its time. The leading driver being the steady adoption of the cloud, specifically unified communications (UC) and the delivery of these services, better referred to as unified communication as a service (UCaaS).

As we see in every space, products have life cycles. It’s becoming clear that the premises-based phone systems that many businesses relied on are quickly approaching the end of theirs. According to Gartner, there has been a 6.6% decline in premises-based revenue over the last 5 years.

So, why the steady decline of premises-based revenue?

Many businesses today are faced with aging premises-based phone systems and are left with the choice to either replace them with the same technology or migrate to newer technology like cloud-based UC solutions. Premises-based systems have a tough time competing with cloud based UC systems in several key areas. Here are 4 reasons why UCaaS is rapidly replacing premises-based systems.

1. Cost

From large enterprise businesses, all the way to small non-profit organizations, everyone is looking to reduce costs and become more cost-efficient. Companies are moving away from systems that require high upfront capital expenses and are gravitating to solutions that allow them to pay for only what they actually need and use. With premises-based systems, upgrading an entire system is no longer a financially attractive option, with many systems requiring a longer commitment and the inability to scale.  Cloud-based UC models offer greater flexibility, with financing options and the ability to add and remove services and users whenever needed, providing businesses with the assurance that they can scale at anytime with ease.

2. Advanced Features

Businesses are no longer interested in replacing older phone systems with newer ones that offer the same functionality. Companies today are looking for mobility, flexibility and more efficient ways to collaborate and work. Cloud-based UC systems integrate traditional telephony solutions with other communication and productivity applications on an internet protocol (IP) network, enabling a myriad of capabilities, including audio, web and a video conferencing, company-wide chat, presence, email, file sharing and integrations with leading CRM solutions. The enhanced capabilities that cloud UC solutions are able to deliver are much more equipped to meet the growing demands of the modern workforce.

3. Maintenance

Premises-based switched telephony systems, typically a PBX or IP-PBX system, can be time-consuming, complex and costly to maintain, requiring dedicated IT staff to manage the systems and servers for even the most basic of changes. With the additional costs and complexities, companies are fleeing to the simplicity and maintenance-free technology of the cloud. Unlike equipment that just depreciates, the cloud continues to update automatically and often for no cost. Cloud-based UC systems, which are easy for both employees and administrators to manage the features of the system without IT support, provide the ability to save even more time and money, while improving operations.

4. Security    

Premises-based systems don’t offer much in the area of security, with equipment and critical data all stored on site.  Cloud-based UC systems on the other hand, especially those that utilize the cloud for 100 percent of its storage and processing are hosted on the provider’s servers and accessible through an encrypted web browser, ensuring that nothing is left  on-site where it could be vulnerable to hacking, theft or damage.  The best cloud UC providers even guarantee calls using the public internet are encrypted from the handset into a secure network, ensuring call data remains protected and confidential. An added assurance is offered by the most secure UC providers  who encrypts calls, messages and recordings with Transport Layer Security (TLS), cryptographic protocols that provide communications security over a provider’s network, and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a symmetric encryption algorithm. Some cloud-based UC systems even allow internal IT staff to change user settings through flexible web portals that work across multiple devices. Offering these additional internal abilities, like controlling who is permitted to forward voicemail, further safeguards private information.

Businesses today are becoming more strategic with their communications investments. In addition to the desire for enhanced capabilities and collaboration features to improve employee productivity and customer service, they are also looking for solutions that are future-proof, secure and allow for growth and expansion. This extreme market shift and steady rise in cloud adoption and UCaaS is an indication that businesses are seeking a more holistic communication solution that extends well beyond voice communications.

If your businesses is looking to move to the cloud or upgrade to a more secure cloud-based UC solution, Prime Telecommunications can help!  Our award-winning unified communications solutions are 100 percent cloud-based, making it more secure and easier to use and manage than any other system.

Our solutions operate solely in the cloud, eliminating the reliance on phones, servers and power to operate and ensures nothing is stored on-site where it can be vulnerable to threats or theft.  With encrypted calling, messages and meetings, and its intuitive online dashboard, which features customizable user profiles, employees can quickly, easily and securely manage any feature of the system from anywhere, eliminating the need for IT support, increasing productivity and ensuring business continuity.

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Best practices in Business Communications

Use Video Conferencing from Chicago Hosted Business VoIP for HR

 

Hiring top talent is critical to the growth and success of every organization. Each company has its own process. Even after your human resources department, or recruiting agency narrows down hundreds of applicants for each job posting, the interview process with the most qualified candidate pool can still be a daunting and expensive task. Here’s where video conferencing technology can simplify the hiring process.

After candidate applications and resumes are carefully reviewed, your next step is most likely to set up an initial interview in-person or over the phone with several of the most qualified candidates. However, in-person interviews can be costly to bring all the candidates in, not to mention time-consuming. Sure, there are phone calls, but they are not as effective at showing you the whole picture, literally. Meeting face-to-face through video conferencing software, especially when it pertains to hiring employees can really tell you a lot and save you a ton of time in the process.

Narrow down candidates more efficiently
For one, you have the opportunity to screen candidates more thoroughly to see if their resume and application match up before moving them further along in the interview process. Speaking with candidates via a brief video conference gives you the opportunity to evaluate their verbal and non-verbal communication skills, without having to do lengthy in-person interviews. You can better evaluate if they would be a good fit for the role than you can with just a phone call. How professional do they come across in terms of their appearance, attire and posture? Do they communicate effectively and display confidence? Are they energetic and excited about the potential role? Visual cues are critically important. And, if your company will be using video conferencing in your daily business, it’s a great opportunity to see each candidate’s comfort level with this important business technology.

Include colleagues easily
Another great benefit is the ability to include other key decision makers in the interviews who may be working from another location or traveling. This is a common hiring issue, and instead of delaying the interview process and potentially losing qualified candidates, multiple parties can participate in the interview process from any device, anywhere. This is incredibly useful and not to mention, practical.

Simplify geographic challenges
For out-of-state and international candidates, you may even opt to just do a series of video interviews and skip the costly and complicated in-person interviews all together. This is becoming an increasingly more popular method for hiring top talent located elsewhere. This powerful tool can save both you and your candidates time and money.

In sum, video conferencing provides your business with a cost-effective, time-saving and efficient way to interview and hire new employees. There is a great deal that can be learned from video interviews and many ways it can help to expedite and simplify the hiring process altogether. This will most definitely become a more common hiring practice and one that can really benefit your business both now and in the future.
Posted on April 19, 2016 by Vic Levinson

Hiring top talent is critical to the growth and success of every organization. Each company has its own process. Even after your human resources department, or recruiting agency narrows down hundreds of applicants for each job posting, the interview process with the most qualified candidate pool can still be a daunting and expensive task. Here’s where video conferencing technology can simplify the hiring process.

After candidate applications and resumes are carefully reviewed, your next step is most likely to set up an initial interview in-person or over the phone with several of the most qualified candidates. However, in-person interviews can be costly to bring all the candidates in, not to mention time-consuming. Sure, there are phone calls, but they are not as effective at showing you the whole picture, literally. Meeting face-to-face through video conferencing software, especially when it pertains to hiring employees can really tell you a lot and save you a ton of time in the process.

Narrow down candidates more efficiently
For one, you have the opportunity to screen candidates more thoroughly to see if their resume and application match up before moving them further along in the interview process. Speaking with candidates via a brief video conference gives you the opportunity to evaluate their verbal and non-verbal communication skills, without having to do lengthy in-person interviews. You can better evaluate if they would be a good fit for the role than you can with just a phone call. How professional do they come across in terms of their appearance, attire and posture? Do they communicate effectively and display confidence? Are they energetic and excited about the potential role? Visual cues are critically important. And, if your company will be using video conferencing in your daily business, it’s a great opportunity to see each candidate’s comfort level with this important business technology.

Include colleagues easily
Another great benefit is the ability to include other key decision makers in the interviews who may be working from another location or traveling. This is a common hiring issue, and instead of delaying the interview process and potentially losing qualified candidates, multiple parties can participate in the interview process from any device, anywhere. This is incredibly useful and not to mention, practical.

Simplify geographic challenges
For out-of-state and international candidates, you may even opt to just do a series of video interviews and skip the costly and complicated in-person interviews all together. This is becoming an increasingly more popular method for hiring top talent located elsewhere. This powerful tool can save both you and your candidates time and money.

In sum, video conferencing provides your business with a cost-effective, time-saving and efficient way to interview and hire new employees. There is a great deal that can be learned from video interviews and many ways it can help to expedite and simplify the hiring process altogether. This will most definitely become a more common hiring practice and one that can really benefit your business both now and in the future.

Categories
Best practices in Business Communications

5 Reasons Every Business Needs a Unified Communications (UC) Solution

 

No matter what type of business or size business you have, the one aspect that you cannot afford to neglect is the communications you have with your customers. Businesses today are reaping the benefits of adopting one reliable solution for all of their communication needs thanks to the evolution of cloud-based unified communications (UC) solutions.

Here are 5 reasons why every business today needs a quality unified communications solution in place.

1. Cost
If you think about all of the individual services, equipment and staffing your business requires to communicate with your customers, you will be shocked at your monthly expenses. Communications, no doubt should be an investment, but one that is affordable. Quality and affordability are often both difficult to achieve, but thanks to modern cloud-based unified communications solutions, both are now obtainable. Every business should be looking to adopt a full service, subscription-based UC solution, one where everything is included. When we say everything, we mean it. The best UC solutions will include your phones, advanced calling features like auto attendants, unlimited calling, online faxing, video conferencing, toll-free and the latest mobile apps and tools, all for no capital expense. When you think about the value of this and what you can eliminate, for example, your fax machine costs and maintenance, modernizing and unifying your communications into one cost-effective solution is a no-brainer.

2. Disaster avoidance
When you think of disasters in business, you immediately think of revenue lost and unanticipated costs. Disasters can range from man-made interruptions to natural disasters like hurricanes and blizzards that can affect your business for days on end. With a cloud-based unified communications solution, disasters are no longer a concern. Communications can remain intact because all of your features and services are managed and accessed through a secure, online portal from any device. This means, that you can forward your calls to any number and voicemails can be retrieved from anywhere you are. Features like auto attendants, can also be used to inform customers of office closures. So, while your physical place of business may need to close, your communications with your customers will never be down.

3. Mobility
One of the greatest benefits of a cloud-based unified communications solution is the mobility and flexibility they provide. The world has become forever mobilized and so should your business. You no longer need to be chained to your place of business waiting for calls, or be worried about giving out your personal cell phone number. Cloud-based UC solutions offer the mobility to get calls on any device, through features like mobile twinning, where your business phone and mobile phone will ring simultaneously, so you never miss a call or mobile softphones, where you can make and receive calls on your mobile device using your business number. The ability to make business happen wherever you are and on whatever device you choose, is a benefit that no business should overlook.

4. Scalability
No matter what type of business you have, your hope and plans are for growth and profitability. Since the speed of growth is unknown, it is often difficult to plan ahead when making important investments, such as your business technology. Fortunately, cloud-based UC solutions allow you to scale up and down as needed. Having the reassurance that you can add and remove new employees, services and equipment instantly, gives you peace of mind and more control over your bottom line.

5. Productivity
With a cloud-based UC solution, your employees productivity level gains an instant boost. Not only can employees from any of your locations communicate on one system through 3 or 4 digit extension dialing, but they can also chat live through a secure, online customer portal. New tools like video, audio and web conferencing allows your employees to meet, collaborate and share documents from any device, anytime.

Cloud UC solutions offer countless advantages to businesses and help to ensure it is business as usual, no matter what takes place or where you or your employees physically are.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of UC solutions? We offers an award-winning, 100 percent cloud-based unified communications solutions, and we have  more than a decade of cloud experience. Click here for more information or a free quote for your business.

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Business Phone Systems Chicago

What do all these VoIP acronyms mean? Here is a glossary for you

Confused about a particular term or concept while learning about VoIP?  Allow the experts at Broadview to help clarify any question you have with our alphabetical glossary explaining the major themes in VoIP telephony.  If you still have questions, feel free to contact our team, we’re happy to help!

What are Analog Audio Signals?

– These signals are used to transmit voice data over telephone lines.  This is done by varying or modulating the frequency of sound waves to accurately reflect the pitch of the sound.  The same technology is used for radio wave transmissions.

 

What is Asterisk?

– A software implementation of a telephone private branch exchange; it allows attached telephones to make calls to one another and to connect to other telephone services such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.  Asterisk is open source and is often customized and rebranded.  People worldwide are familiar with the code – including hackers, which has become a major battle for competitors that use them.

 

What does ATA stand for? What is it?

– ATA, or Analog Telephone Adaptor, is the hardware device that connects the conventional telephone to the Internet through a high speed bandwidth line.  It also provides the interface to convert the analog voice signals into IP packets, deliver dial tones, and manage the call setup.

 

What does an Auto Attendant do?

– An auto attendant is an automatic response system that handles incoming calls and directs them to the appropriate phone or message through various options.  For example, a voice presents options to a caller such as press 2 for sales or press 5 for accounting.

 

What does bandwidth refer to?

– Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred from one point to another in a specified time frame.  It is usually measured in 1000 bits per second (kbps)

 

I’ve been hearing a lot about BYOD lately, what does that mean?

– BYOD or Bring Your Own Device refers to the alternative practice of allowing employees to use a personally selected and purchased device within their company’s secure corporate network.  The practice usually refers to smartphones but can also apply to tablets, laptops, and other network connected devices.

 

What is call hunting?

– A calling feature for inbound calls that will “roll past” a busy signal or try multiple numbers until the call is answered.

 

It seems like everything is in the cloud these days, can you explain what cloud communications are?

– Internet-based voice and data communications where all telecommunication applications, switching and storage are hosted by a third-party outside of the group using them, and they are accessed over the internet.  Cloud telephony refers to voice services and more specifically the replacement of conventional business telephone equipment, such as a Private Branch exchange, with third-party VoIP Service.

 

What is a codec?

– Short for Code / Decode, it is software used by devices to convert or transform a data stream. For instance, at the transmitting end, codecs can encode a voice, video or data stream for easy transmission, storage or encryption. At the receiving end, they can decode the signal in the appropriate form for viewing or listening. They are most suitable for audio, videoconferencing and streaming media solutions.

 

What is direct inward dialing?

– DID or direct inward dialing refers to a service with a company’s PBX system that allows an enterprise to allocate individual phone numbers to each employee.

 

What exactly is dual-tone multifrequency?

– DTMF is the standard system used by touch-tone telephones in which it assigns a special frequency, made up of two separate tones, to each key so that it can be easily identified by a microprocessor.

 

What is dynamic host control protocol?

– DHCP, or dynamic host control, protocol, is a communications protocol that allows network admins to supervise and distribute IP addresses from a central point to each computer or device on a network.

 

How does find-me/follow-me work?

– This feature allows calls to find you wherever you are, ringing multiple phones (such as your cell phone, home phone, and work phone) all at once.

In telecommunications, what does full duplex mean?

– Full Duplex refers to the ability, in telephony and data communications, for both ends of a communication to simultaneously send and receive information without degrading the quality of intelligibility of the content.

 

What does hot desking mean and how can it save me money?

– Hot desking is an organization tactic for offices that involves multiple workers sharing a single physical work station or surface during different times.  The “desk” aspect in the name refers to an office desk being shared by multiple employees on different schedules rather than each employee have their own desk.  This can allow a company to minimize the number of desks or number of phone lines, resulting in savings for the business.

– Hot desking also refers to one employee being able to move from desk to desk, office to office and turn that phone into his/her own, including phone number, speed dials, feature preferences and voicemail. This enables employees to move freely both within an office and between multiple offices.

 

What is a phone system’s interaction voice response?

– A phone systems’s IVR is an integrated software that speaks to callers through the use of menus and voice responses.  Callers interact with the IVR by using keypad entries to get voice responses with real-time data.

 

What does IP stand for?

– IP is an acronym for Internet Protocol which defines the way data packets are moved between the source and destination.   On a more technical level, IP can be defined as the network layer protocol in the TCP/IP communications protocol suite.

 

What is my IP Address?

– Your IP Address is a unique numerical label associated with each device participating in a network that uses IP for communication.  The address serves two primary functions: network interface or host identification and location addressing.

 

Is IP Telephony different than VoIP?

– IP Telephony is the transmission of voice and fax phone calls over a packet-based IP data network.  IP Telephony is synonymous with VoIP.

 

What is an IP Phone?

– An IP Phone (aka Internet Phone or SIP Phone or VoIP Phone) is a phone system handset that connects to the IP PBX over an IP LAN.  Most often, IP phone look and function like standard legacy phone system handsets.

 

What is jitter?

– Jitter refers to a momentary fluctuation in the transmission signal that may result from an abrupt variation in signal characteristics, such as the interval between successive pulses.

 

What does KBPS stand for?

– KBPS is the acronym for kilobits per second and is used to define data transfer speed.

 

What does lag mean?

– Lag indicated the extra time that data takes to travel from the source to destination and back again which can be caused by poor networking or by excessive processing.

 

How does latency affect my VoIP system?

– Latency, a synonym for delay, is a way of saying how much time it takes for a packet of data to get from one designated point to the destination.  Latency is measure by sending a packet of data and once returned to the sender, that round-trip time is considered its latency.  Any disruptions that cause that time to slow are considered lag.

 

What does messaging refer to in internet telephony?

– This refers to any means of message store and forward.  This includes fax mail, voice mail and broadcast messaging. This horizontal application is the most popular of all other voice solutions. Messaging systems provide for the store and forward of “non-real time” communication. For example, a recorded voice message can be stored for later play back either locally or remotely, or a fax can be received and stored before it is re-transmitted to the ultimate recipient.

 

In terms of VoIP service, what is a packet?

– A logically grouped unit of data. Packets contain a payload (the information to be transmitted), originator, destination and synchronizing information. The idea with packets is to transmit them over a network so each individual packet can be sent along the most optimal route to its. Packets are assembled on one end of the communication and re-assembled on the receiving end based on the header addressing information at the front of each packet. Routers in the network will store and forward packets based on network delays, errors and re-transmittal requests from the receiving end.

 

How can packet loss happen?

– Packet loss can happen due to high network latency or due to overloading of switches or routers that are unable to process or route all the incoming data.

 

What does packet switching mean?

– A means of economically sending and receiving data over alternate, multiple network channels. The premise for packet switching is the packet, a small bundle of information containing the payload and routing information. Packet switching takes data, breaks it down into packets, transmits the packets and does the reverse on the other end.

 

What is PBX and what does it stand for?

– PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange and it serves as an in-house telephone switching system that interconnects telephone extensions to each other as well as to the outside telephone network (PSTN). A PBX enables a single-line telephone set to gain access to one of a group of pooled (shared) trunks by dialing an 8 or 9 prefix. PBXs also include functions such as least cost routing for outside calls, call forwarding, conference calling and call accounting.

 

How is peer-to-peer relevant to VoIP?

– It is a type of network communication that allows file and data sharing between hardware and software without passing through the services of a server. P2P transfer is faster because P2P does not need a server to share files and data.

 

What is the Primary Rate Interface (PRI)?

– The Primary Rate Interface consists of 23 B-channels and one 64 Kpbs D-channel using a T-1 line and can have up to 1.544 Mbps service.   Typically, it is a dynamic circuit that delivers both voice and data, giving preference for voice.  When a channel is not carrying voice it is automatically allocated for data.

What does protocol refer to?

– It is a convention or standard that defines the procedures to be adopted regarding the transmission of data between two computing end points. These procedures include the way the sending device should sign off a message or how the receiving device should indicate the receipt of a message. Similarly, the protocols also lay down guidelines for error checking, data compression, and other relevant operational details.

 

What does Quality of Service of a VoIP system mean?

– The ability of a network (including applications, hosts, and infrastructure devices) to deliver traffic with minimum delay and maximum availability.

 

What exactly is my router?

– A router is a network device that that handles message transfer between computers that form part of the Internet. The messages, which are in the form of data packets, are forwarded to their respective IP destinations by the router. A router can also be called the junction box that routes data packets between computer networks.

 

What does SIP stand for?

– SIP stands for session initiation protocol which is a standard for initiating, maintaining, and terminating an interactive user session involving video, voice, chat, gaming, virtual reality, and more.

 

How does SIP relate to Phones?

– A SIP phone is a telephone that uses the SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standard to make a voice call over the Internet (for signaling (and uses RTP for media)). The SIP phones come with several value added services like voicemail, e-mail, call number blocking etc. There are (normally) no charges for making calls from one SIP phone to another, and negligible charges for routing the call from a SIP phone to a PSTN phone.

 

How does a softphone differ from a standard telephone?

– A softphone is a software program for making telephone calls over the internet using a general purpose computer, rather than using dedicated hardware that would be needed with a standard telephone.  A softphone is usually used with a headset connected to the sound card of the PC, or with a USB telephone.

 

What is a switch when talking about VoIP?

– A switch is a device that keeps a record of the MAC addresses of all devices connected to it and then channels incoming data from any of multiple input ports to the specific output port that will take the data toward its intended destination.

 

What does TCP stand for?

– Transmission Control Protocol. The transport layer protocol developed for the ARPAnet which comprises layers 4 and 5 of the OSI model. TCP controls sequential data exchange in TCP/IP for remotely hosts in a peer-to-peer network.

 

Why is it called telephony?

– Taken from Greek root words meaning “far sound”, telephony is the discipline of converting or transmitting voice or other signals over a distance, and then re-converting them to an audible sound at the far end.

 

What exactly is VoIP?

– The process of making and receiving voice transmissions over any IP network. IP networks include the Internet, office LANs, and private data networks between corporate offices. The main advantage of VoIP is that users can connect from anywhere and make phone calls without incurring typical analog telephone charges, such as for long-distance calls.

 

What exactly is a VoIP Phone?

– A VoIP phone is one that uses the Internet to route voice calls by converting the voice data into IP packets and vice versa. The phones come with built-in IP signaling protocols such as H.323 or SIP that help in the routing of data to the right destination. A VoIP phone can also be a software application that is installed in the user’s PC. In this case it is known as the Softphone. Also, the calls in this case have to be made from the PC, and not through a telephone instrument.

– See more at: http://www.broadviewnet.com/resources/voip-glossary/#sthash.nZdkwX09.dpuf

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Best practices in Business Communications

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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Business Phone Systems Chicago

What does it all mean??!!!! Learn the Alphabet Soup!

More businesses are moving to upgrade their legacy phone systems, which in many cases have been in place for decades. Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan says the hosted IP telephony and unified communications and collaboration market has reached mass adoption, and predicts the North American market for these services will reach 41.9 million users by 2021.

Companies just starting to research phone systems are likely to face a confusing alphabet of acronyms including VoIP, PBX and UC. What do these terms mean and, more to the point, how do these technologies make a business more competitive?

Let’s cut through the noise and define a few terms to help you understand the technologies underlying the modern phone system.

VoIP  Voice over Internet Protocol enables calls to be carried over the Internet using a telephone or computer. This type of phone system can reduce costs by eliminating the need for multiple carriers. It also enables access to applications and services delivered through the Internet or private cloud connection.

PBX and IP PBX  A PBX – or “Private Branch Exchange” – is a telephone switching system within an enterprise, where users share a limited number of outside lines to make external phone calls. Calls can easily be routed internally, by dialing a three or four-digit number. A traditional hard-wired PBX separates voice and data, but an IP PBX uses VoIP to combine voice and data networks.

Cloud Phone System  Also known as “hosted” or “software as a service” (SaaS), a cloud phone system opens up a wide range of possibilities. By hosting the communications platform in the cloud, a business reduces its cost and IT expenses. Vendors take responsibility for owning, configuring and managing applications and hardware. In addition, such systems allow companies to leverage technology and telephony across many locations.

UC –Unified communications integrates voice and data with critical business process applications, such as CRM, ERP and ATS. And, of course, communication features such as video conferencing, instant messaging (IM), mobility and online collaboration can be integrated into a single easy-to-use IP PBX solution. ShoreTel became a leader in UC by integrating our IP PBX with popular applications like Microsoft Outlook to create desktop call control, quick dialing, visual voicemail, automatic conference scheduling, and phone meeting invitation wizards.

By streamlining communications and enabling better collaboration, these technologies boost productivity and reduce costs, while helping businesses create competitive advantages. No wonder so many organizations are choosing to upgrade.

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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 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

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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