Wavelink Blog

4 Things to Keep in Mind When Switching to SIP

 

 

SIP Trunking is gaining ground quickly in the business world, as more and more are realising they can save up to 70% off of their monthly communications costs. SIP is a simple calling protocol (which is explained in full detail in this blog post); however, there are some things to keep in mind when making the switch. Five, to be precise:

1. SIP Needs Security

Since SIP is in plain text, it doesn’t take an IT genius to decipher a SIP session (call). Without the proper security measures, anyone can run a packet capture tool (such as Wireshark) and extract audio from calls. The good news is this is an easy problem to solve with Secure Real-Time Transport protocol (SRTP) and a Session Border Controller (SBC), which is basically a firewall for SIP. Check out this No Jitter article on the fine art of choosing the right SBC, and this Digium blog post on tips for effective UC security.

2. Make SIP Priority

Between the Netflix streaming and file sharing, chances are you have a lot of traffic on your network. When you decide to implement SIP trunking on top of that, you may have delays in video buffering, slow email send speeds, and decreased audio quality on your VoIP calls. To avoid this, make sure you utilise the standard QoS feature found in most business-grade routers and switches. The QoS feature will ensure your voice calls receive priority on the network, ensuring the available bandwidth is delivered straight to them before the YouTube video download.

3. Prior to SIP, Know Your Network

When switching to SIP, it’s important to have an accurate idea of how many concurrent calls your business makes. Review your call logs and understand the total number of minutes your businesses uses and how many concurrent calls you make at your busiest times.

The second thing to understand on your network is that SIP survives on bandwidth, and a lack of it can cause poor audio, dropped calls, and busy signals. Good thing bandwidth is cheap and readily available! Make sure you have enough to support the maximum number of concurrent calls your business requires (Number of max concurrent calls x 100kb/sec = average bandwidth per call needed). Add the bandwidth required to the amount you already use for business duties, and you should be good to go.

4. Don’t fax via SIP

For more reasons than this blog post will get into, faxing over IP can be very messy. In very simple terms, a fax message cannot be compressed in the same manor as a voice packet, so unlike a phone call with poor audio (where you can still understand what the person is saying), if there is any packet loss, the fax is likely to fail completely. Faxing also requires more bandwidth than a phone call. That being said, if faxing is important to your business and it needs to be over IP, then you should have a specialist help you set it up to ensure it’s done properly. If fax is vital to your business, then you should place your critical fax applications on a dedicated analog line to guarantee quality.

These are the four most important considerations when switching to SIP, and they should all be covered and explained to you in full detail when you contact a vendor. If you have any further questions about SIP trunking, please contact the Digium Sales team or type in “SIP” in the blog search bar for more posts to read on this subject.

4 Trends Disrupting Retail and How to Respond

By Jim Kander, Practice Leader – Retail, Global Sales & Services, Spectralink

The explosion of mobile applications has resulted in new, more complex buyer journeys and purchasing behaviours. Today’s digital shopper often leverages the in-store and online shopping experience simultaneously. For example, they may browse through merchandise at a physical store while at the same time use their smartphones to compare prices and produce reviews, and have their family and friends instantly weigh in on shopping decisions via social media. Once they decide to make a purchase, they expect instant gratification, often paying more to receive their merchandise on the same day.

The ongoing changes in buyer behaviours have led a number of industry observers to forecast the demise of brick and mortar retail locations as we know them. Some predict that retail will change more in the next five years than it has in the past century, and that the extinction of physical stores isn’t far off. While our view is less dramatic, we anticipate significant changes are inevitable, and that retailers must act now to stay competitive.

To understand the current and future state of the retail, we must look closely at four key trends that are driving and, in some cases, disrupting modern retailing:

1. Mobile and related technologies
In addition to making purchases, comparing prices and locating stores, consumers can now use their mobile devices to redeem coupons, access loyalty programs, scan QR codes and receive or provide recommendations for a particular purchase. Mobile devices are used to help make a purchasing decision if not to actually make the purchase in the store, thus Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) is becoming more popular with retailers. A report by Infogroup indicates that the number of retailers using mPOS systems will triple by 2018. Since consumers are using their mobile devices throughout the shopping journey, they expect retailers to help enable their journey via enterprise mobile devices, like providing real-time inventory availability and order completion.

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Top 10 IVR Mistakes

I have a few years under my belt voicing prompts for Asterisk systems and many other business phone systems, and I can tell you that there are some universal mistakes that I see on a consistent basis that deviate from IVR best practices. Most make sense if you simply think back to the last frustrating IVR you found yourself trying to navigate. So here they are — my top 10 IVR mistakes in no particular order:

  1. You Try To Make Your Company Sound Bigger

I have voiced intro messages which sometimes exceed 15-20 options — and most of them just re-route back to a single point of contact. You press accounts receivable, payable, tech support — it all ends up at the same friendly CEO/accountant/chief bottle washer. I’m a small company, too — so I understand the necessity in wearing numerous hats. Just be aware that too many options point to an obvious attempt to sound bigger.

  1. Your Most Critical Information is Buried at the Bottom

I recently voiced a system for a heart clinic with — see above — 12 different options to choose from, and the very last option said: “If this is a medical emergency, please hang up, and dial 911.” I’d put that first and foremost. If you were having crushing chest pains and happened to dial your cardiologist’s office instead of 911, wouldn’t you want to be set straight — sooner than later? That goes for customers who are having technical support issues with the internet service you provide/support — let’s give those people with an emergent need a gateway to get to a person — fast.

  1. You Give Lengthy Directions to Your Office/Facility

If you must provide an option with driving directions — and I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a good or necessary thing, especially with the prevalence of GPS features in all phones and most new vehicles — keep them as short, succinct, and as pertinent as possible. (“Turn left. You’ll see a war memorial on your left, and a Piggly Wiggly on the right..” is probably too much detail to give.)

  1. You Over-Estimate People’s Attention Spans

They’re shorter than you think. All previous points I’ve made so far point towards this basic fact: keep it short. Front-load it with the most crucial info at the top. Announcers and voice-over professionals have known for years that secret to a good demo is to put your best stuff at the beginning — front-load it the most impressive stuff. And don’t inundate people with more information than they need, especially at the all-important point of entry.

  1. You Want to Voice It at a Slow Pace

I suppose this is open to interpretation, and can be more of a judgement call than anything else in terms of how slowly you say the voice prompts.  For example, if I’m voicing a pharmaceutical information line geared at seniors, I’ve been asked to take a more meticulous, exacting pace — taking into consideration hearing issues and reaction time. Fair enough. For practically any other industry, particularly those dealing with high-tech, industry-forward aspects,  (especially if there’s a high chance of repeat callers) let’s fly through your phone options at a fairly energetic pace. People’s time is valuable; and their frustration levels can be exacerbated by an announcer’s plodding, leisurely pace.

  1. Mispronouncing Your Staff’s Names

When working with professional voice talent (or whomever is recording your voice prompts), it’s important to provide correct pronunciations for your team members. I’m pretty good at pronouncing place names (even those unfamiliar to me), and I’m pretty intuitive and a great guesser. But nowhere is there a greater chance of mispronouncing than with proper names — and it’s surprising how little direction I get with that. If you’re having someone voice a phone tree with *any* names where you think there might be multiple pronunciations or there’s a name that is often botched, please provide a pronunciation guide.

  1. You Go Overboard With Niceties

There isn’t a person who has been on hold in the last twenty years who hasn’t been thanked profusely for their patience, told that their business is appreciated, or that our time is valuable. We hear it so often, if fact, that it frequently comes across as disingenuous. I try my hardest to sound as sincere and earnest as possible when voicing such platitudes; I implore the writers of IVR and on-hold systems to re-think the over-peppering of scripts with too many niceties. People get it. They know you’re busy giving someone else the same legendary service that you look forward to giving them — just keep the glad-handling to a minimum.

  1. Your Company Name is Impossible to Pronounce

It’s understandable this is sometimes avoidable but I offer it as something to consider. I ran into an interesting dilemma after I chose the name for my company — The IVRvoice.com. When looking at the web address or e-mail address: www.theivrvoice.com , for example, scores of people have said: “Oh! It’s…..THEIR VOICE.com.” Umm, not exactly. It really has to be carefully dissected if you hope to have someone type it in correctly, and people need to understand the acronym IVR for it to make sense. That’s visual. I encounter many firms who have an unusual company name, which I have frequently gotten wrong until I was educated about the correct way to pronounce it. If I — a professional voice — gets it wrong, how often does the general public mispronounce it? Not to mention, it can be difficult to hear or understand on voice prompts. Think very carefully when naming your company about how the name sounds — and what the margin of error would be for mispronouncing it. If you have one of those challenging business names, just be sure to carefully enunciate on your IVRs so that it’s clear people have the correct number/place of business when calling.

  1. You Impart Too Much Company Information in the Opening Greeting

Save all but a brief company description for your on-hold component — in your opening message, saying the briefest of blurbs about what the company does is sufficient. I voiced an opening message that talked about the company’s history, how long they’ve been in business, the products they offer, and why they’re better than their competitors. All that would be great to play while someone’s on hold — not before any department options have been given.

  1. You Haven’t Read Your Copy Out Loud

Many glitches in awkward wording don’t make themselves evident when you’re simply scanning them visually — it’s really important to read your IVR script out loud to catch any odd phrasing and redundancies.

Want to learn more from Allison Smith on IVR best practices? Join us at Astricon 2016 and meet her in person!

[Press Release] Wavelink launches new Health Practice

Paul Craven appointed Health Practice Lead

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We would like to welcome Paul Craven to Wavelink and we look forward to working with you.

 Wavelink, a value-added distributor of enterprise mobility and unified communications solutions, today launched its new health practice. Paul Craven has been appointed to lead the health practice, with a focus on bringing together solutions for Wavelink’s partners targeting public hospitals, private healthcare groups, and aged care facilities across Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

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Top Switchvox Capabilities for Healthcare Professionals

Digium’s Switchvox Unified Communications (UC) solution is so flexible and easy to manage that it fits in well with the majority of businesses – from schools, to call centres, to ‘Mom Pop’ shops across the country. However, the combination of features, integration capabilities, ease of use, and price point all make it the go-to solution for healthcare facilities across the country.

We have several customer references and success stories from medical practices, and from those we have compiled a list of the top Switchvox capabilities healthcare professionals are thankful for:

 

Mobility

Nurses, doctors, techs, and office administrators are constantly on the move – in and out of offices, on lunch break, travelling to another office, or taking an on-call shift while at home. Switchvox’s mobility with fixed mobile convergence (FMC) capabilities allow staff members to select up to five phones of any type, including smartphone (iPhone or Android), VoIP, analog or soft phone, to converge with their Switchvox extension. Staff members using their extension via smartphone have all of the same capabilities as their desk phone, including call controls, visual voicemail, call recording, conferencing, and more.

  • “The doctors don’t want to give out their private numbers, but they do want the staff to be able to reach them at any time, so we are getting their cellphones set up with Switchvox Mobile so that can happen” – Brian Steingraber, Director of Information Technology for Kidney Specialists of Minnesota
  • “There is so much you can do with Switchvox and the UC platform in mobility that it is somewhat overwhelming. The IT department and I experiment with the functionality. Some are using the Switchvox app for the iPhone so they can get voice mail and email through their smartphone. A few of us are experimenting with tablets” – Cory Kendrick, IT and telecommunications manager for Summit County Public Health
  • “We have several employees who move from office-to-office and don’t really have desks of their own. Switchvox mobility allows those employees to use softphones, and they love it” – Aaron Reymann, Director of Operations for Inland Eye Specialists

 

Call Routing IVR

With Switchvox, medical practices can automate the call flow with both call routing and use of the interactive voice response (IVR). Staff can create easy-to-follow menus for patients to reach the appropriate department, or create custom routes based on caller ID information.

  • “One of the biggest concerns in researching a new phone system was to find a solution that still allowed patients to reach a live person during office hours, and not a computer. Although price points were certainly a big consideration, the ability to continue personalized communications for our patients while using the automated IVR only after hours and on holidays topped the list of feature requirements in our search” – Brian Steingraber, Director of Information Technology for Kidney Specialists of Minnesota
  • “Now when a person calls looking for their birth certificate so they can get a passport, SCPH can transfer the call to Vital Records across town, just as though it were down the hall, without their having to hang up and call another number” – Cory Kendrick, IT and telecommunications manager for Summit County Public Health
  • “I can change the call flow to and from certain departments, change call options, change extensions, and move phones whenever I need to, something that was very time- consuming with the Nortel” – Aaron Reymann, Director of Operations for Inland Eye Specialists

 

Call Reporting

Switchvox provides Call Logs and detailed reporting that deliver more data than just who called and when. With these reports, staff members will know if a call was transferred, put in a queue, who dialed, and why that caller hung up. Detailed reports show high and low volume calling periods, which helps managers adjust staff schedules accordingly.

  • “We set up the IVR so calls never ring directly to the front desk, but instead go into the call centre. The ability to track calls and pull reports has shown that the practice is getting an unprecedented 100 calls per team member, per day, so you can understand how hectic it was before” – Aaron Reymann, Director of Operations for Inland Eye Specialists
  • “Customer service has improved 10 times over and we have a much higher rate of connected callers than we did before. We have reports we can print that help us with quality control, figuring out problems and showing us areas for improvement based on call behaviour. We had no way of knowing when calls were dropped before, or how many times someone called, or how long they were left on hold. We can track all of that now — thanks to Switchvox” – Cory Kendrick, IT and Telecommunications Manager for Summit County Public Health

 

Integration Patient Information

Switchvox easily integrates with third party solutions, so the amount of information staff members can receive is endless. Integrate with your patient management system to access important patient information as soon as the call comes in (such as appointment schedules and account balances). Integrate with an appointment reminder solution to automatically remind patients of their upcoming appointment, with options to confirm or cancel. Staff members can also route calls based on the caller ID, so Betty can be directly transferred to the nurse instead of navigating through the IVR menu.

  • “… not only is patient retrieval automatic, but the call centre team members don’t have to navigate their way through the patient management system to gather information, ultimately delivering both more efficient and more effective care for our patients” – Aaron Reymann, Director of Operations for Inland Eye Specialist
  • “[Older patients] have a hard time following the menus and do not like having to punch in a bunch of numbers and listen to multiple messages to reach their doctor or nurse. With Switchvox, we will program the route table with their caller ID so their call will go directly to their doctor or nurse without them having to go through the auto attendant. Older patients will really like that feature!”- Darrell Reaves, President of ICS (installed Switchvox for Cullman Primary Group)
  • “FormFast employees were not anticipating the extent of the detailed information from Salesforce that could be accessed through the Switchvox system, which is a huge help to the representative while on the phone with a customer. It was like night and day for them to be able to read past notes and make notations on customer records. In the past, everything was manual, done by hand, which included a lot of human error. Now all the records are right there in front of the representative, and the caller has no idea the calls are not coming from an office or a call center” – Mark Ratliff, Analyst for Form Fast

 

Cost Efficient:

Implementing a Switchvox solution can save money in several different ways. First, many medical facilities no longer have to pay a phone provider for each system they own at each location. Monthly circuit costs can be reduced via a SIP provider, and the actual cost of phone calls is significantly cheaper over a facility’s already existing network. Medical practices with a Switchvox solution save an average of 40-60% on their monthly communication costs. To see how much your practice could save, visit our ROI Calculator.

  • “When I showed [the County Health Board] the additional $40,000 in savings resulting from the elimination of re-occurring costs and connectivity, it became clear Switchvox would pay for itself in 4 years, where the Cisco would have taken 11!” – Cory Kendrick, IT and telecommunications manager for SCPH
  • “Not only is Switchvox flexible and expandable leaving us plenty of room to grow, but it has cut costs drastically, which was one of the main objectives of the project” – Cevin Doppmann, Network Engineer for Strategic Health Care
  • “We didn’t have a dollar figure for a budget, but Switchvox definitely saved us money. The Shoretel system was triple the cost of Switchvox for the same features, and we really like the ability to expand” – Mark Ratliff, Analyst for Form Fast

Click the banner below to discover how your practice can improve patient care with Switchvox

 

4 Not-So-Obvious Softphone Selling Points

While there is a time and a place for the desk phone (and they aren’t going away any time soon), more and more companies are jumping on the softphone bandwagon. For those of you who aren’t familiar, a softphone is essentially a software program that behaves like a telephone. Calls are made via the Internet, using bandwidth (you may know this as Voice over IP, or VoIP), and many have similar functionality as their desk phone counterparts.

Brand Consistency

Presenting a consistent brand message is central to maintaining professionalism and gaining customer trust. A softphone makes it possible for employees to provide their customers one phone number to reach them wherever they are located- in the office, at home, or on the road. From your customer’s perspective, they will feel like they’re calling your corporate office regardless of where you are located or which device you are using.

Convenience Privacy

With softphones, every employee extension is tied to the company’s phone system, so customers don’t have (or need) access to their personal cell numbers; only the business’s caller ID information is shown. This is ideal for two specific situations. First, when an employee leaves a company, this privacy layer eliminates the possibility of the employee poaching customers and taking their business along with them. Second, it is for the safety of the employees that customers don’t have their personal mobile numbers, as after-hours calling abuse (especially from an angry customer) is not uncommon. Also, softphones provide additional features that are useful when customer interactions go south, such as call recording and voicemail to email. Call logs are also useful to show the time each employee spends on the phone with customers. If Steve spent 3 hours talking to a customer at 3AM, that may be worth having a conversation about.

Visual Voicemail / Voicemail to Email

Let’s face it- no one likes checking their voicemail. In fact, conglomerates Coca-Cola and JPMorgan both completely eliminated corporate voicemail due to lack of use by employees. While saving money obviously wasn’t the main motivator for Coca-Cola, the company estimated it would save about $100,000 a year by cutting the service (meanwhile, I just learned that voicemail can be a very expensive service for companies- wow!).

While some companies have no need for voicemail, others rely on it. Either way, companies should make it easier for employees to access and handle voicemails if they want the service they pay for to be utilised. Some softphone apps, like Switchvox, include a visual voicemail feature, which is very similar to the iPhone’s voicemail layout. If a customer details an issue they are having in the voicemail and the employee needs a manager to hear it, it can easily forward the voicemail as a .wav or mp3 file via email. If a generic voicemail is left on a receptionist voicemail, he or she can forward the voicemail by email to the appropriate department or person to handle. Important voicemails concerning personal information, issues, or anything else worth keeping, can be filed in a customer’s CRM profile for future reference.

Cost

As an extension to VoIP, softphones take advantage of its low-cost nature and eliminate the need to invest in desk phone hardware for every employee. Companies can save hundreds to thousands on communication expenses by offering their mobile employees a softphone pre-loaded with the same functionality their in-office coworkers have access to.

Switchvox registers your softphone as a true SIP device, and enables the same functionality and feature set as a desktop phone- and it’s all included for one low price.

  • Receive and make calls including extension dialling directly from your mobile device
  • Advanced call control includes transfer, 3-way conference and record
  • Control your status and see real-time status of your contacts
  • Incredibly simple configuration
  • Connectivity on any WiFi, 4G, or LTE network

Click here to learn more about the Switchvox Softphone

 

Customer Service Pain Points a UC Solution Can Solve

More than 70% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. When a customer calls into your business with an issue, a poorly designed or outdated phone system can throw them over the edge, and you can quickly lose them as a customer. Understanding the most frustrating experiences customers have with a business’s phone system is the best way to design a solution that enhances your customer’s experience by solving their issues quickly and efficiently.

Here are some of the common customer pain points with a business phone system, and how a Unified Communication (UC) solution can solve them:

Pain Point : Inadequate staffing long hold times. (The customer might say, “I’ve been on hold for over five minutes. Maybe you should hire more people to answer the phones.”)

How UC Solves: Managers can correlate agent staffing with call reports, which show the heavy and low-volume call times during the day. Appropriately staffing call center agents based on call volume reduces on-hold time for customers, enables issues to be resolved faster, and can save on costs.

Pain Point: Confusing phone menu (IVR). A poorly designed IVR is a very frustrating experience for customers, yet the majority of businesses have just that: an outdated, unhelpful, confusing IVR . (The customer might say, “I pushed 2 for support and it transferred me to sales. Can I just speak to a manager now?”)

How UC Solves: The IVR was designed for several reasons: to enable customers to help themselves without involving an agent, to route customers to the correct agent who can help them with whatever they need, and to provide general business information. A solid UC solution will provide businesses with several options for their IVR needs, including stock voice prompts (Digium’s voice prompts feature the official Voice of Asterisk, Allison Smith), stock music, extension setup, and integrations allowing for more advanced features and capabilities. With the correct tools, your business can create a helpful IVR that will reduce customer frustrations and get them the information they need, faster.

Pain Point: Lack of communication mediums to work through a technical issue. (The customer might say, “I’m having an issue with this feature… there is a little box and a confusing popup thingy. I wish you could just see what I’m seeing.”)

How UC Solves: A web-based solution allows for collaboration among internal and external users (customers and agents) without the need for plug-ins, separate applications, or passwords; all users need is an Internet connection. Some customer issues are hard to explain without visually seeing what’s happening. In cases like this, the right UC solution allows employees to screen share or host a live video session to walk the customer through an issue or to demonstrate a feature.

Pain Point: Having to repeat information. (The customer might say, “I already dialed in my case number, and now you’re asking for it again?”)

How UC Solves: In addition to a well-designed IVR, CRM integration enables an agent to view detailed customer records as soon as the call comes in (including recent case numbers). If there is an issue, the agent can identify the appropriate person to handle it, check their presence to see if they are available, send them an instant message to give them a heads up about the call, and then route the call. While the IVR provides options for customers to be directed to the appropriate person, the CRM screen pop provides the agent information about the customer. With these two UC features, the agent should have a good idea of who the customer is and how they can help before they even engage in conversation.

Pain Point: Lack of proper agent training (the customer might say, “You aren’t understanding what I’m saying. I need to speak with a manager!”)

How UC Solves: Barge and Whisper features allow a manager to interact on a customer call by joining the conversation (barge) or speaking to the agent without the customer hearing the conversation (whisper). These features are also useful when training new call center agents on the appropriate (and inappropriate) ways to handle a customer issue. These conversations can also be recorded and filed in agent’s personnel folders or used for future training sessions.

Read how Clark’s Nutrition solved several customer-service pain points by implementing Switchvox

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5 Tips for the Best IVR and Auto Attendant Messaging

If your company has an IVR system, chances are good that it might be the very first impression of your business for many of your customers or clients. Your IVR scripts are essentially your company’s first line of customer service, so you want to make sure your message to them is on point. Here are some simple ways to do that by creating a well-written IVR script and ensuring your voice prompts are helping your caller’s experience. Let’s take a look at this basic main menu IVR script sample and review the 5 reasons why it works.

IVR Script Sample

Hello and thank you for calling [Your Company Name]. If you know the extension of the person or party you wish to reach, please enter it now.  For sales, press 1. For technical support, press 2. For billing and payment inquiries, press 3. For more information on our company, press 4.To speak with a live representative, press 0 at any time. To repeat this message, please press pound.

1. Greet Your Clients From the Start

As we mentioned, your IVR script’s opening line should be as pleasant and professional as if you were shaking hands with a new client or business partner for the first time yourself. A quick intro is a perfect way to lead into your company’s menu option, which will efficiently direct your callers to where they need to go.

2. Keep it Short Sweet

The prompts in this IVR script sample are both direct and on message. Be concise. Remember, the time your caller spends navigating your menu is not just their time, but the time you could be more directly engaging them in a more meaningful way. We can all get frustrated with IVR prompts that seem as long as a Tolstoy novel, so in order to keep your callers focused on the menu options you are offering, try and keep your prompts economical. The caller’s attention span is shorter than you think.

3. Sometimes Less Is More

In keeping with the theme of concision, we find that IVR scripts featuring a long list of departments can sometimes be difficult for callers to navigate. Too many options at your main menu, and impatient callers start hanging up or pressing 0 for a live representative right away. A good way to avoid losing your caller is to keep a menu that is easy to digest upon first listen. Try narrowing the initial list of department options down to a few general groups (my recommendation is five choices, initially) and expand from there.

4. Departments First, Extension Second

Unfortunately, an all-too-common common mistake in many IVR scripts is the simple way each menu option is phrased. It is much easier to first get your caller’s attention by first announcing the department they may wish to reach (“For sales….”) followed by the extension number (“….press 1”). This phrasing gives your clients time to process the options and make their decision, rather than the other way around (“Press 1 for sales”). It may seem like the minutest of details, but it is far more effective at directing your callers efficiently.

5. When Was the Last Time Anyone ‘Dialed’?

This is a bit of antiquated terminology that really has no place in any modern IVR Script. Maybe 40 to 50 years ago people were ‘dialing’ with rotary phones from their homes, but in today’s fast-paced world, most of us have iPhones that operate at lightning speed. The prompt message “press” is a far more representative instruction today. Again, many clients and other businesses will draw an initial impression from their first IVR experience with you. The last thing you will want is for your company to sound behind the times.

Of course, as times change and IVR systems modernise, new trends and best practices emerge for better call navigation and caller efficiency in your phone system.

Following these suggestions will help to draft a good solid framework for your Asterisk prompts, and provide a smooth-flowing experience for your callers!

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Let me help you build the perfect IVR.

Click here to listen to the voice prompts I have recorded for Asterisk Switchvox solutions.

World-class Art Museum Replaces Antiquated Phone System with Switchvox

Milwaukee (Sized)

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) is a world-class institution filled with tens of thousands of famous pieces of artwork. Although many of their antiquated masterpieces draw in large crowds, the same cannot be said for “antiquated” technology. MAM realized having an old, legacy phone system was simply bad for business. When they began their search for the perfect communications solution, they discovered not all phone systems are created equal; in fact, many of the big players in the market simply offer bloated prices on complicated systems.

The MAM is located in a 341,000 square foot, state-of-the-art museum in the heart of Milwaukee, housing an impressive 30,000-piece art collection. The building itself is a true masterpiece designed by Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava. It features vaulted glass ceilings, suspension bridges, and a moveable sunscreen. Over 400,000 visitors per year walk the cathedral esque halls of the MAM, making it one of the most popular attractions in Milwaukee.

As a top tourist destination for the city, it is imperative to have a reliable communication system to provide the pertinent information that visitors call for every day. When MAM’s digital Nortel system began failing, they knew they had to replace it quickly. The first option they turned to was a solution offered by tech giant Google. With a recognizable name and a perceived image of quality, MAM erroneously selected Google Voice as the cure to their communications problems. While the system did have its advantages, the shortcomings were much more prevalent after implementation.

When MAM returned to their search for a communications solution, they were tempted with big brand systems. As an art museum filled with recognizable works from famous artists, it is easy to understand the lure of a popular brand name. In their industry, the more recognizable a name, the better quality it must be. However, as their search continued and popular telecom providers were giving competitive bids of more than $150,000, MAM turned to Digium partner Munger Technical Services for guidance.

After detailing their needs, Munger was able to pinpoint Switchvox Unified Communications system as the perfect solution for their phone system needs. Before the consultation, MAM had admittedly been sticking to research on larger brand solutions, which came with larger price tags and more complicated proprietary systems. After exploring Switchvox, they learned they could implement an easy-to-use, feature-rich solution that offered the scalability to grow in the future – and it came in $50,000 under budget. Also, since Switchvox is built on top of open source Asterisk, concerns over future upgrades became nonexistent since they would not be required to buy expensive software or equipment. The finishing touches in the decision–making process came when MAM learned their in-house IT department could easily manage Switchvox without the need to consult outside assistance.

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Learn more about why the Milwaukee Art Museum chose Switchvox over competitors and saved $50,000

Building the Business Case: Convincing Your Boss to Upgrade the Phone System

As more and more legacy phone systems are reaching their end of life, system administrators all over the country are researching their options and taking on phone-system replacement projects for their clients or boss. Technology forums across the internet (such as Spiceworks or Reddit) are filled with system administrators asking other IT professionals which phone system they are using and how their implementation projects are going. While it’s understandable that the first hurdle in upgrading technology is comparing solutions, the second (and hardest) task is often gaining the support, buy-in, and budget needed from decision makers.

Many times, businesses don’t even know what their current monthly communications costs are and simply don’t realise exactly how much money they are dumping into their legacy systems. As a sysadmin, you know the benefits of upgrading a phone system, but you need to present your case in a way that the boss will understand – including cost savings to the business. Your job is to position the proposed technology in a way that effectively communicates the problems it would solve, the additional business advantages it would provide, and the overall return on investment (ROI).

In order to receive approval for a new business phone system, here are some suggestions for presenting your business case to your boss.

Issues with Current System

When presenting your business case for a new phone system, along with your suggested solutions, first remind your boss of the issues with the current system. Are you getting customer complaints about the ability to reach employees? Are the hardware parts becoming impossible to find and order? Did you finally realise you were spending hundreds more than you should be every month for a system that doesn’t even have a conferencing option? Reminding the boss how much your system is holding your business back will make it much easier to present your proposed solution. If you can put data and statistics behind these problems, it makes your case for increased efficiency a lot easier.

Network Evaluation

Based on your complete network assessment and map of the current infrastructure in place, present your proposed solution and state your case as to why it’s the best option. Include:

     Features: Standard and advanced features offered, as well as the advantages of having them. What specific benefits will users experience with these new features? What indirect benefits will the users enjoy, such as streamlines processes or shorter on-hold times?

Here is an example: “As you know, teachers want to be reachable outside of school hours, but aren’t comfortable with parents having their private cell phone numbers. Using the Switchvox Mobile app, teachers can make and receive phone calls to and from parents on their cellphone using their personal extension. The parents only see the school caller ID, and teachers can keep their phone numbers private.”

     Cost: Pricing between an on-premises solution and a hosted solution look very different, as one is an up-front capital expense, and the latter is a monthly expense based on usage. Whichever deployment type you choose, explaining it as an investment that will pay for itself is important (especially when you compare it to what you are currently paying, which is likely to be much higher). If you pay for the on-premise system up front, it will be a lower TCO than a hosted system will be. However, if your business lacks the capital for an on-premises system and has the required setup for a hosted system, the expense become operational, and is based upon usage and number of extensions. While the TCO of a hosted system is higher than an on-premises, the little to no up-front cost is a major selling point to decisions makers. Think of it this way: Netflix has a much higher TCO than your DVD collection, but which one are you getting better use out of?

Another element of cost includes what a new system would save every month in terms of employee staffing, and IT support and maintenance. If you put your phone system in the cloud, you no longer require IT support and maintenance of a PBX server in your building, which “would save [insert dollar amount here] a month in expenses.”

   Timetable: Include an explanation of when you think the system should be deployed, and what impact it could have on the business (example: most schools upgrade their phone systems in the Summer months when staffing is minimal). This

Additional information. Your boss is likely to ask you several questions about this project, so having a solid understanding of your proposed solution is essential. Know about this information or be able to easily access it:

– Support options available

– Manuals training resources (for both IT admins and users)

– Hardware required for implementation (gateways? IP phones?)

– Structure of monthly bill

– Case studies references from businesses in a similar industry

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