Wavelink Blog

[Infographic] Mobility Is Driving the Internet of Things Smart School

What Exactly Is An Internet Of Things Smart School?

46% of those surveyed believe smart schools will have a major impact over the next one to two years. The benefits cited include: increasing student engagement, taking advantage of mobile learning, enabling more personalized education, improving efficiency, and reducing costs.

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Faxing Over IP: Why is This So Difficult?

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Evaluating, purchasing and implementing a Unified Communications (UC) system is a big project with its share of technical and financial considerations to make. While some UC deployments can seem complex, it’s surprising to realize that oftentimes, the most “complex” obstacle to overcome is… faxing. Ah yes, faxing. Faxing has been around in one form or another since the American Civil War era and has been handled by telephone systems since the 1960’s – and it’s a thorn in the paw of most UC deployments. Why is this the case? A more pressing question may be, considering all the advancements in email, document sharing, and electronic signatures, why do we still need to fax?

First, let’s understand why fax is still around. There are two industries in particular that are driving the continued use of fax: healthcare and legal. Healthcare professionals are bound by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which requires all communication between providers and patients to be secure. Many recent security breaches have shown that email is not quite there yet, so faxing documents is the primary option for healthcare organizations. In the legal world, courts are much more likely to accept fax documents as opposed to email. Attorney A. Paul Genato of Princeton, New Jersey-based Archer and Griener, P.C says, “…some court rules accept fax signatures in lieu of original signatures and have not been updated to include signature copies sent via email.” Until document security improves, the legal system will continue to be cold on email and fax will continue to live on!

So what about faxing over IP? Why is it such a challenge for IT to implement? The answer to this question is that faxing has never been a perfect technology. How many times have you gotten the dreaded “Fax transmission failed” confirmation sheet, even with a fax machine connected to a dedicated analog fax line? I’m sure the answer is much more than once. Now, take that same process and put it on your data network with all the other traffic, and you have a recipe for trouble. The protocol used for faxing over IP is called t.38 and it has proven to be sufficient for companies where faxing is not a priority, but not for businesses reliant on fax as a key facet to their success. Unfortunately for IT staffs looking to deploy a new phone system, faxing may still need to be a consideration for you. If your company doesn’t use fax too often, modern IP fax options either built into a phone system or sold separately from a 3rd-party will work just fine. If you are in healthcare, legal, or another industry heavily reliant on faxing, you may want to consider doing fax the old fashioned way, with a dedicated analog fax line.

Customise and Track Call Campaigns with Unified Communications

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With today’s technology and analytics tools, businesses have more visibility into lead sources than ever before- to the point at which it can become overwhelming. You can measure everything from email open rates and promo codes used, to YouTube views and filled-out-forms. But what about phone calls? According to ConversionSciences.com, a phone call is worth between 500 – 1,000 percent more in revenue than a completed form will generate. For industries outside of basic e-commerce, the vast majority of leads and sales come in via phone, so customizing and tracking their journey is vital. Implementing a Unified Communications (UC) solution like Switchvox is an easy, effective, and affordable way to do this. Here are some of the UC features that help the most with your call campaigns:

  • Intelligent call routing allows your employees to route calls to specific departments based on which campaign the customer is calling about. If you have separate numbers for each marketing campaign (for example, you have one for a digital billboard display and one for an email campaign), you can set up automatic routes to get customers to where they need to be, without asking.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) lets your business record and play back additional information to callers as they reach your system. You can customize the message for each phone number used. If a customer sees your billboard ad for a free lawn evaluation and calls the number listed, you can tailor the message to appeal to that specific promotion.
  • Caller ID control with Switchvox allows a business to customize the caller ID that the employees see, which lets them know which ad campaign likely triggered the call. For example, your employee will see something like 555-555-1212 billboard ad on their computer and phone when the incoming call is received. This enables the employee to answer the phone and be prepared to address the messaging in the ad.
  • Mobility allows your employees to receive campaign calls from their mobile device and still see the proper Caller ID information. This means your traveling sales team has the same control as your in office team.
  • CRM Integration

In addition to the features UC facilitates for your call campaigns, it goes even further by measuring the results of your efforts:

  • Call Reports allow your business to run reports by incoming phone number so you can see exactly how many calls the custom call campaign generated, including which days and times were the most popular. This is valuable data for your next call campaign.
  • Queue Reports allow managers to understand the performance of employees. These reports give metrics such as customer wait times, talk times, answered and abandoned calls, and much more. These are valuable insights that can be used in determining employee scheduling and performance reviews, as they provide a birds-eye view of how the campaign is being handled on your end.
  • Call Logs allow you to track an individual call from beginning to end. Managers can see who talked to the caller, and if the caller was transferred or disconnected for any reason. These logs are especially valuable in customer complaint situations.
  • Scheduled Call Reports can be set up to be automatically sent to a manager’s inbox on the day, time, and frequency that they choose. If you’re out of town but want to take a look at how well your half-off sale is performing (which you promoted with a unique phone number), you can view your custom reports anytime, anywhere.

Customers are increasingly using their smartphones for browsing websites, purchasing products and services, and calling companies directly. In fact, last year Google reported that 70 percent of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results, so tailoring the phone call experience for your customers is imperative. Unified Communications solutions like Switchvox have the features and tools your business needs for effective call campaigning and tracking

Sign up for a personalized demo today and explore all of the Switchvox features.

 

Channel Focus: From Resellers to Strategic Service Providers

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Resellers. Value added resellers (VARs). Managed service providers (MSPs). Trusted advisor. These are among the terms commonly used to describe a vendor’s channel partner that services small and mid-sized business (SMB) customers for a range of IT needs. Now, there’s a new term that’s popped up to try and better describe the changing partnership between the SMB and the reseller: Strategic Service Provider.  Is this a better way to capture the value that a reseller provides to that SMB customer?

The Rise of the SSP

In the past, technology solutions utilized by SMB customers often came together by accessing a collection of multiple companies (or partners) specializing in specific areas. One partner would typically handle the data infrastructure, another the telecommunications, and another the desktops and laptops, etc. Many different IT partners were needed to support the entire technology needs of a business. Today, the different services listed above are easily consolidated and provided by fewer partners. With this consolidation of services, some channel industry experts are saying it’s time to re-evaluate how partners are classified and start adapting the Strategic Service Provider (SSP) moniker.

How did we get to the idea of a SSP? The rise of value added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) started the shift toward consolidation of the IT service offerings by a single partner. Telecommunications is a prime example. Traditionally, this service was provided by a separate reseller from the data infrastructure partner. Now, most voice services are carried over the data networks utilizing VoIP; a data integrator/reseller can add this service to their portfolio and eliminate the need for a separate specialized provider.

The SSP Advantage

In the ever evolving technology channel, the SSP will play a critical role delivering a new type of information technology service to SMBs. The basic premise of a SSP involves getting to know a business’s current processes, problems and overall business goals before executing and implementing a solution. You may be thinking that is what the MSPs, VARs and traditional resellers of today are doing.

The main difference is the SSP provides all the IT services for a business in a cloud and services model with an in-depth understanding of the business. The solution is no longer in a silo, such as selling and integrating only a phone system. The SMB can now leverage the business process and technology expertise of the partner (or SSP) to provide a complete solution for the entire business. Such a solution can be cloud, premises or a hybrid mixture of theses components. The main advantage for a business when choosing to work with a SSP is utilizing a model of service that’s delivered at one monthly price and includes all the IT services tailored to fit the needs of that business customer.

Many factors are driving the shift to SSPs: the ever changing technology fueling the race to the cloud, the shift to a recurring revenue model for resellers, and the customer’s desire to have a single advising partner with solid business acumen for all their IT needs. Consolidation of services and payment combined with solid business operations knowledge is an attractive model for the present and future SMB.

As an existing reseller, if you don’t already offer a complete IT package of services/solutions based on one monthly price, it might be time to consider moving to this model. It offers the customer a single resource to call when there’s an issue (a resource that fully understands that business) and the customer only has to pay one bill for all services. For resellers already implementing this model of service, it’s a matter of whether or not to go with the industry trend of calling yourself a SSP to better position your company as a strategic partner.

Are you ready to move to the SSP model?

New Phone System Training Tips

[Podcast] Reaping the Benefits of Clinical Smartphones

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In many professional environments, deskbound workers can typically leverage email, instant messaging and personal video apps such as Skype to communicate and collaborate with clients and colleagues. But what about in hospitals where mobile workers such as nurses and other caregivers don’t spend much time at a desk, but still need to stay connected to their patients and team members?

Join Spectralink’s Ben Guderian, Senior Director of Product Management, as he shares how healthcare organizations can reap the benefits of clinical smartphones including improved patient outcomes, nurse efficiency and care coordination. Considering a mobile device strategy for your healthcare environment?

Listen here

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Why security is essential in planning wireless network deployments

The Internet of Things, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) office environments, and cloud-based applications are contributing to rapid changes in how organisations deploy and use wireless networks. With these changes come new security challenges for wireless networks and different approaches to deal with them.

Ilan Rubin, managing director, Wavelink, said, “Security should be one of the biggest factors when planning an enterprise wireless network deployment. Wireless networks can be used by hackers to gain unauthorised access to networks and access sensitive information.

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How Switchvox Helps Improve Customer Service

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Excellent customer service is essential to the success of your business, whether interactions take place in person, online, or over the phone. Problems will likely occur, but there are ways to manage it so that it satisfies your customer and meets business needs. So what bothers customers the most, and what can businesses do to prevent it?

Consumer Reports National Research Center recently conducted a survey to identify the top customer service complaints consumers had in the past year. Here are the results:

  • Can’t get a person on the phone: 75 percent
  • Rude or condescending salesperson: 75 percent
  • Got disconnected: 74 percent
  • Got disconnected and could not reach same representative: 71 percent
  • Transferred to representative who can’t help or is wrong: 70 percent
  • Company doesn’t provide customer service phone number, or makes it difficult to find: 68 percent
  • Long wait on hold: 66 percent
  • Many phone steps needed: 66 percent
  • Repeatedly asked for same information: 66 percent
  • Proposed solution was useless: 65 percent
  • Unsure whether on hold or disconnected: 62 percent
  • Can’t speak with a supervisor: 62 percent
  • Phone menu doesn’t offer needed option: 61 percent
  • Voice-recognition system works poorly: 61 percent
  • Salesperson is too pushy/makes sales pitch for unrelated products or service: 60 percent

As you can see, the majority of customer complaints involve a company’s phone system. The good news here is that inadequate technology can be replaced, but the key is to be aware of possible pain points in the customer’s journey prior to upgrading. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken, and not every vendor has a solution that solves issues specific to your business.

Like many of our customers, Clark’s Nutrition Natural Foods store had a priority list of features and capabilities they required in their new phone system. It was important to CEO Ray Clark that they stay ahead of any potential customer service issues and make every interaction over the phone a pleasant one.

Clark’s old phone system lacked the ability to transfer customers appropriately. Switchvox solved this issue by creating one centralized hub for customers to call into and be directed to any of the four store locations or departments by an easy-to-program IVR. Their second requirement was mobility, so that customers could reach specific department employees on their cell phones. Also, they needed a dedicated customer service line in order to maintain a paper trail and follow up on requests.

One feature after another, Digium’s Switchvox UC solution delivered the capability Clark’s Nutrition required to make life easier for customers calling in and the employees helping them.

While it is noticeable when customers have a pleasant experience with your business, it’s memorable when they have a bad one. As a business owner looking to upgrade your phone system, it’s important for you to be proactive and choose a solution that avoids complaints before they affect your company’s reputation.

See how Switchvox helped Clark’s Nutrition stay ahead of the customer-service-curve

Read Full Success Story  

 

Wavelink delivers Extreme Networks solutions

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Wavelink, a value added distributor of enterprise mobility and unified communications solutions, today announced an agreement with US-based software-driven networking company, Extreme Networks, to be a wireless mobility specialist for Extreme Networks solutions in Australia and New Zealand.

As part of the new agreement, Wavelink will have access to Extreme Networks’ full portfolio of solutions, including ExtremeWireless 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless LAN, the ExtremeSwitching range, and Extreme Networks’ acclaimed suite of network software including ExtremeAnalytics, ExtremeControl, and ExtremeManagement.

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Technology in Education: Critical UC Features for Teachers

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In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Day 2016, I thought it would be nice to take a look at how Unified Communications can help make communications easier for teachers inside and outside of the classroom.

Effective communication on campus is vital for helping students learn and keeping them safe. Whether it be among faculty members, students and teachers, teachers and parents, or campus-wide, every faculty member has their own unique communication needs. Teachers in particular benefit from unified modes of communication due to their diverse set of responsibilities- many of which they end up taking home with them. Implementing a Unified Communications (UC) solution on campus, such as Switchvox, provides teachers the features they need to do their job to their best of their abilities. Whether they need to call the school nurse for a broken arm on the playground or host a long-distance conference call with parents, teachers deserve technology that enables communication to be mobile, personalized, and accurate.

Mobile Communication

UC softphone applications enable teachers to have the same connectivity on their mobile phones as they have on their desk phones, including the ability to access contacts, set up or join conference calls, and make outbound calls using the school’s caller ID, keeping their personal number private. Technical Director of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Massachusetts, Sheri Cheng, says the Switchvox softphone allows the school to stay in touch with individual faculty members who may not be on campus at a given time, including their sixth grade history teacher on maternity leave. “Although she is out on leave from teaching, she is still actively involved in [school] events, so we have many reasons to stay in contact with her on a regular basis,” Cheng says.

Personalized Communication

Teachers spend a lot of time outside of the classroom throughout the day. Whether it’s playground duty, cafeteria monitoring, of field trips, getting in touch with them via legacy system can be a hassle. With the presence UC feature, teachers can let everyone on campus know where they are located or what their class is doing. Using the call rules feature, they can personalize the order in which their phones ring. For example, if Ms. Jacobs is in-and-out of her classroom all day, she can set incoming calls to ring twice on her desk phone, then automatically transfer to her mobile phone. Or, if she is home sick and doesn’t want to be bothered, her “out for the day” status automatically adjusts her call rules to send all incoming calls straight to voicemail. Instant messages are a useful feature when faculty needs to relay a message without disturbing a lesson. Also, important information that isn’t appropriate for the intercom system can be sent via instant message, such as an early dismissal or a heads-up on a fire drill.

Oftentimes, a teacher needs to discuss the details of an upcoming field trip, answer questions about an assignment, or hold a long-distance parent-teacher conference. An easy way to accomplish this without having to make several individual phone calls is through a personalized conference room. Conference rooms can be accessed by individuals or involve several parties. As an inner city school with numerous students from non-English-speaking families, Roxbury Prep uses Switchvox UC conference rooms to host a language liaison to ensure proper communication during conference calls and progress updates.

Accurate Communication

Communication among parents, teachers, and school administration is vital, and needs to be accurate so that situations can be handled appropriately. With a UC solution, call recording can be enabled for any extension, and can be a helpful way for teachers to keep a digital archive of important phone calls or conferences. Also available with UC is a personalized voicemail system for each extension. The voicemail-to-email feature enables voicemails to be emailed to teachers in a .wav audio file. If Ms. Jacobs receives a message from an upset parent, instead of trying to relay the information to the principle, she can simply forward the audio file straight to the principle’s email, which ensures accuracy. Also, since student records are migrating from file-folders to digital, important voicemails can be digitally archived and easily accessed.

As you can see, teachers are responsible for much more than creating lesson plans and grading papers. With a legacy phone system, teachers are restricted in where and how they can be reached, causing frustration for faculty members and parents, and safety concerns during an emergency. Unified Communications solutions, such as Switchvox, include all of the features teachers need to be reachable and to make communications mobile, personalized, and accurate- allowing them to focus on their number one responsibility: to shape the minds of our children.

Want to know more about UC for teachers? Visit Digium Education page for more resources, including school success stories, guides, webinars more!

 

 

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