Wavelink Blog

Benefits of a Phone System in the Cloud [Infographic]

Infographic Benefits of Cloud

 

 

 

 

 

In today’s competitive environment, businesses are looking for ways to cut communications costs, utilize solutions that minimize IT resources, and allow employees to remain connected regardless of location. That’s where Cloud-based business communications comes in. The beauty of Cloud applications and VoIP phones systems are that they are located in secure data centers, and vendors take responsibility for owning, configuring, and managing them.

More than a hosted PBX, Switchvox Cloud is a full-featured Unified Communications (UC) solution designed for SMBs. Now you can take advantage of powerful UC features, including presence, instant messaging, conferencing, and mobility all for a low monthly rate. Check out this infographic to see all the benefits of having your phone system in the Cloud:

 

cloudinfographic

Technology Solutions to Help Grow Your Business

Small and midsized businesses (SMBs) looking to grow need tailored technologies and solutions that can help their organizations meet business demands without adversely affecting the time, budget, or resources needed to get ideas off the ground.  In a study by the Boston Consulting Group for Microsoft, SMBs that led in technology adoption increased annual sales 15 percentage points faster than companies that didn’t adopt new technology—and they created jobs almost twice as fast.

So what does it take to be a leader in technology?  Which technologies and services should be embraced in order to grow your business? Here are some key identifiers:

 

Embrace the Cloud

When you consider cost and resources, building and maintaining an in-house IT infrastructure can be a challenge for businesses of all sizes, especially smaller businesses and startups. Thankfully, the evolution of hosted services enables you to allocate your IT workforce to higher priority items, while a Cloud vendor takes care of maintaining your hosted software platforms and infrastructure for you – saving you money and resources. Also keep in mind that investing in a service such as VoIP shifts telephony into the world of IP, so all of your business functions such as fax, email, and video all flow over your network. As a result you will see significant cost savings that a landline phone system will never be able to provide. Furthermore, by hosting portions of your IT off-premises, you have the power to scale the services up or down depending on your usage and budget.

 

Mobilize your Business

Back in February of this year, Google announced it would give higher priority to mobile-optimized websites via phone searches, while penalizing non-mobile-friendly sites. The company gave web developers two months to complete their site updates, and the new algorithm went into effect yesterday, April 21, 2015. With Google being the search engine king and mobility leading the way in how users access company information, it becomes imperative not to ignore a change such as this. Invest in a mobile-friendly website, which includes large text, easy-to-click-links, and pages that scale to whichever size screen the users are accessing your site on.  If your site is mobile-friendly, you will rise in Google rankings and drive more traffic to your site, which will grow your business.

This test will analyze a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design

If your business has VoIP, the mobility capabilities are extremely beneficial for the growth of your business. Advanced features such as simultaneous ring and softphones allow you and your employees to stay in touch whether you’re in your office, on a business trip, or working from your couch.  Having total mobility allows your business to thrive under any circumstance, which of course enables growth.

 

Get Social

Businesses, especially those with lower marketing budgets, need to look into social media as their number one tool for growing their businesses. Get your business listed on Yelp!, use a social check-in tool such as Foursquare, and list your business on Google Places so your customers can easily find you and get directions to your location.  Do you provide a service like pest control or landscaping?  Get listed on Angie’s List and encourage your customers to leave reviews about their experience using your services or products.  To keep all your listings up-to-date, use a service like Locu that lets you manage all your online business information in one place.  Not only are a majority of social media services free for businesses, they are a great way to communicate directly with your customers to answer questions or address concerns.  These free tools do require frequent updating and maintenance to remain effective, so assign the time and effort required to someone capable of handling it.

 

Unify Your Communications

One major step toward business growth is to shore up company communications – and this is accomplished through adopting and embracing Unified Communications (UC). UC provides the tools and features that your company needs to not only handle current challenges, but fuel and sustain new growth for your organization.

 

 

Softphones and Business Apps for SMBs: UC Tech Chat [Video]

iphone_digiumWhat exactly is a softphone? How does it work? Who in your business would most benefit from using one? If you’ve ever considered using softphones but were hesitant to ask some basic questions about them, then we’ve got you covered. You can get all the details in this week’s UC Tech Chat video (along with a look into some top apps for your business), but here’s an overview of softphones to get you started.

In most cases you will find a softphone used in conjunction with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This form of computer telephony uses an Internet connection to deliver voice information online. VoIP calls can go over a standard Internet connection on your local network, Wi-Fi, or even a cellular data network, such as 3G or 4G.

Once you have a softphone client and an Internet connection, all you need is a provider. Although anyone can download and use the free softphone software, a VoIP service provider must provide the underlying VoIP phone service over which the calls are carried.  A softphone is registered with the service provider, and often a phone number is assigned.  Calls to and from the softphone are routed over the service provider’s network. The features and functionality of each softphone will vary somewhat from one softphone provider to another. However, our Switchvox softphone includes all features ( Check out this episode of Digium Live for information on all the features and capabilities of Switchvox Softphone for iPhone).

So who benefits from using a softphone? Remote employees, frequent travelers, call center employees, long-distance callers, field sales agents, and anyone looking to save money on phone calls. For users on the go, especially those who travel abroad, softphone service allows them to conveniently make calls from their smartphones and laptops, saving them the hassle and expense of using a hotel phone or roaming on a cell phone. This technology is perfectly suited for small to mid sized businesses because it’s affordable an easy to upgrade.

In this week’s episode of UC Tech Chat, Jason and I discuss how softphones have recently evolved in the tech world. Also, we will share our favorite mobile apps that make business a little easier.

 

Watch this week’s full episode of UC Tech Chat, now. If you have questions, or want to join in on the conversation, use the hashtag #UCTechChat on Twitter to discuss each episode.

The Age of Unified Communications (UC) and Your CRM

As a former salesperson that now focuses on business intelligence (BI), I know how important it is for a business to have access to the right tools and the most useful data. It wasnt that long ago that as a salesperson I had only a basic phone and a notebook with prospects and customers names – and had to sit at a desk to schedule appointments.  To get orders your customers either had to fax over a purchase order, mail it, or you had to pick it up yourself. Im not even that old, but sadly this is accurate. A lot has changed over the years, including the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based solutions, mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which in turn has ushered in the ‘always on’ employee. Of course, these changes have allowed sales tools to evolve, too.

There was also a time when a customer relationship management (CRM) tool was nothing more than a glorified electronic Rolodex. But with the rise of CRM solutions from companies like Salesforce.com and SugarCRM, the functionality of these types of tools has dramatically changed.  Now, a salesperson can use a CRM solution to not only manage his or her prospects and customers, but also manage pipeline, forecasting, and integration with marketing automation tools. It can even provide visibility into orders through integration with back-end systems. This level of functionality is important not only to the sales team, but to your entire business.

The evolution of CRM tools becomes even more interesting when you consider that business phone systems have changed a lot, too.  Over the last seven years businesses have adopted Voice over IP (VoIP) phone systems, which are typically much easier than their analog/digital counterparts. This is especially true if you need to run reports and have APIs integrate with other applications. Increasingly, companies are also seeing the benefits of a full Unified Communications (UC) platform. UC provides a way to funnel voice and instant message communications (and other advanced features) through one “unified” system, and connecting internal and external people no matter where they are physically located.

A good UC solution with APIs can push data to your CRM to provide screen pops so you know who is calling, before answering that ringing phone.  This is a huge advantage for your company’s sales, customer service, and support teams.

 

Salesforce CRM on phone system

Know who you are talking to before you answer the call

 

What about other benefits for your road warrior sales teams?  Do they sometimes struggle to log customer calls while away from the desk? CRM platforms are now utilizing mobile apps so that when you place or receive a call, it can prompt you to log a task record about the conversation.

The UC platform can also be setup to give ‘one number finds me.’  That means you no longer have to worry about where the salesperson is when a call comes in – the call will find the salesperson. The salesperson just gives his or her direct inward dial (DID) number, and the call will then ring their desk phone, the home office, and the mobile phone (or whatever series of phones is set up to ring).  The sales rep can even look at either the computer screen or his/her mobile phone for additional information on the caller. Not only do they know who is calling, but they can see an order history for existing customers, or maybe even additional information specific to that person (like the customer’s birthday).

Having access to this detailed information by integrating your CRM tool to your phone system means sales teams can have more productive conversations with customers and prospects. As Salesforce and other CRM solutions continue to evolve, you’ll want to make sure that your business phone system can keep up, too.

 

Are you making the right impression with customers and prospects?

Switchvox, Digium’s award-winning UC phone system, helps your company make an impactful first impression, every time.

Phone Systems and CRMs for Customer Service

Watch this on-demand webinar to see how Switchvox can: enhance communications with mobility tools, provide automation to ease the burden of day to day tasks, and tie into your CRM or database to provide valuable customer data for your caller

Getting More from Your Unified Communications (UC) System

asterisk-trainingEven with the high value that a Unified Communications (UC) system delivers to businesses of all sizes, there are some factors that could prevent you from getting the most from your phone system. Fortunately, one of the more common challenges companies run into during a UC deployment is also one of the easiest to overcome: a slow adoption rate. After implementation, you may notice that employees are not using all of the available UC features. In large part it’s because they simply do not know how to use the tools.

In a recent Softchoice survey of 750 end-user employees and 250 IT managers, 71 percent said they use fewer of the communication tools than their companies actually make available to them. Why? Over one-third of respondents admitted they did not know how to use some of the UC tools they have access to with their phone system. As with most technology roll-outs, companies face challenges in getting their employees to adopt UC technologies- but a solid implementation strategy can easily remedy that issue.

The main culprits that lend themselves to the underutilization of UC include: Lack of understanding, lack of employee and management buy-in, and lack of training.

To avoid under utilization, follow these guidelines:

Bring Everyone On Board

Lack of familiarity among employees and IT can create roadblocks for adopting a complete UC solution. To avoid this, make sure you are assessing your end user requirements by anticipating their needs, as well as your larger company goals. Get a cross-section of employees involved in the system evaluation and buying process to discover what features they most need. Make sure these employees also demo the system to see its capabilities, firsthand. When comparing vendors, ensure that those capabilities or UC features are indeed easy to use (which is the intention). Involving key stakeholders in the evaluation process when upgrading your business phone system will help you identify problem areas in your existing system (from a user perspective),as well as provide crucial end user feedback on the new phone system prior to deployment.

Knowledge must be Taught

When it comes to UC, knowledge is power – and that knowledge must be taught. In addition to ensuring awareness, leaders should provide adequate training on UC tools and features. According to the same Softchoice survey, one-third of employees, revealed they did not receive training, and half of those who did receive training indicated they got less than 30 minutes. One way to improve retention following training is rather than just showing employees how to use the UC system, help them also understand why the features will be useful to them. Discuss how a specific UC feature can improve productivity and save them time, and then offer ongoing job-specific training so users are comfortable with the tools..

To rollout a complete training program, consult your UC vendor or reseller about a train-the-trainer program and online training classes (or self-paced videos). These types of training options make it easy to teach your IT staff on the proper way to train end users. With the right guidance provided to both the IT department and the end users, your UC system’s features are more likely to be used at full capacity and become a tool that makes tasks easier and communications more convenient.

digium-training

Management Buy-in

As with most new initiatives and product purchases, having someone in a position of authority to oversee the transition is needed for it to be successful across all users. Another reason to have management buy-in is to keep employees mindful and responsible for using the system’s features. Brian Ferguson, our Switchvox Product Marketing Manager, emphasizes the responsibility factor by stating, “Management buy-in is important for monitoring and making sure employees are updating their status, using their mobile apps and using the other features available within the system until it becomes a habitual part of their workflow. If the end-user evaluation was done correctly, the features of the system are actually needed, and employees should be using them in order to gain the benefits of a unified communications solution.”

As with most worthwhile ventures, deployment (and adoption) of a UC system does not happen overnight, but the technology is worth the small effort it takes to guarantee its use. In order for your organization to fully realize the benefits, do your homework first: Understand UC and its capabilities, keep the end-user in mind when choosing a system, properly train employees, and get manager buy-in. Leveraging technology partners to provide insight and recommend the appropriate features for your organization will prove invaluable and have a direct impact where it matters most: on your bottom line.

SIP Trunking for your Business

DigiumSIPSIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is the standard communications protocol for voice and video in a Unified Communications (UC) solution across a data network. A SIP trunk replaces the need for traditional analog, T1-based Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) connections with termination instead provided over a company’s public or private Internet connection through a SIP provider. These SIP providers, often referred to as Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSP), provide PSTN service on a per minute or channelized pricing model.

The SIP trunking adoption rate will inevitably grow in the coming years, according to an Infonetics Research report, which stated that 58 percent of American businesses said they plan to use SIP trunks in 2015, up from 38 percent in 2014.

 

Conference Call Etiquette: How To Improve Your Next Meeting [Video]

Conference calls are a common and convenient way for businesses to hold meetings, but they’re not always as productive as we would like. Following conference calls that become time wasters, it’s not uncommon to hear this complaint: “That’s an hour of my life that I’ll never get back!” It doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of conference call etiquette rules that can be incorporated into these meetings to improve the overall communication and increase productivity among conference participants. Here are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts for your next call:

Conference Call Do’s:

  • Watch the clock. Make good use of everyone’s time.
    • Come to the call with an agenda, clear objectives, and role expectations.
    • Make sure to provide a quick overview at the start of the call as well as a quick summary at the end of the call.
  • Introduce all parties on the call. Always introduce participants to each other and acknowledge new attendees as they join the call.
  • Ensure participants are following along. When referring to slides during a presentation, number the slides and clarify as you move from one slide to the next so that all callers can easily follow along.
  • Pay attention. This may seem to be a given, but it’s not always that easy to do.
    • When you’re on a conference call at your desk, it’s often very tempting to check e-mail, work on documents or do other personal work. Typing on a keyboard is disruptive, however, and callers can hear you. In addition, you may miss the flow of conversation and progress in the meeting.
    • When you’re in a conference room, avoid using your mobile device to check e-mail during the conference call.Conference Call Etiquette
  • Forward incoming calls to voicemail. When joining the conference call from your desk, be sure other incoming calls will not cause a disruption.
  • Turn off your cell phone ringer, pager, etc.
  • Speak using a ‘normal’ tone of voice. Today’s conference phones offer excellent acoustic clarity. Yelling or speaking too quietly is distracting.

 Conference Call Don’ts:

  • Don’t put the call on hold. If you have to step away, use mute hold because music is very disruptive to others on a call.
  • Don’t interrupt. Give others a chance to finish what they are saying before speaking.
  • Don’t have side conversations. They are a distraction to those listening from the other end. 

 

 

Digium Live: Trends in Unified Communications with Frost and Sullivan

Digium Live Frost and Sullivan UC Trends

Are you curious about how Unified Communications (UC) solutions are evolving in the current market, both for SMBs and enterprise organizations? In this week’s episode of Digium Live, we take a closer look at industry UC trends.

I had the honour of talking with Rob Arnold, principal analyst, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for Frost Sullivan. Rob has over 20 years in the telecommunications industry and has been tracking shifts in UC and collaboration, fixed-mobile convergence, and other technologies and tools that are reshaping the work environment.

In fact, during our conversation, I asked Rob specifically about user experience and personalization and how those trends are influencing UC and the expectations that businesses have from UC tools. We also talked a bit about the desk phone’s lifespan given the increasing dependency upon mobile devices and the demand for UC mobile apps. Rob also addresses some things to look for in the second half of 2015.

This episode of Digium Live provides a truly interesting look at the communications market, specifically around UC and the business requirements that continue to shape future tools and features. Take a few minutes to hear for yourself what Rob has to say about these important industry trends and how they may impact how your business communicates.

 

Watch this weeks episode of Digium Live! and tune in every two weeks for a new episode

UC For You: The Road Warrior

Business travel can be pretty awful, especially for those who consistently spend a large portion of their work week on the road. Day after day, having to deal with delayed or canceled flights, fickle rental car companies, bad airplane food, and skimpy hotel continental breakfasts… any one of those things is enough to test a person’s patience. Yes, the business traveler, or “Road Warrior” has a difficult job: meeting their goals by connecting to their customers, co-workers, and managers with little or no face-to-face contact in the office. And when it gets down to it, the company’s business communications system may be the only thing keeping that Road Warrior in sync with the happenings back at HQ (aka, the corporate home office).

Today, we wrap up our blog series, UC for You, by taking a closer look at how Switchvox, with its advanced UC features, arms the dedicated business traveler (and other remote employees) with the proper tools to combat the pain of doing business on the road. Modern UC systems can be a Road Warrior’s best friend. A solid UC solution provides features to help the off-site sales person maintain relationships with clients, while also staying connected with the office and feeling as if they are truly a part of the company – no matter where they happen to be working that day. It’s not uncommon for a remote salesperson to rarely, if ever, meet the corporate support team in person; yet they still have to work together and communicate regularly to meet goals and keep the company on track. Road Warriors need tools that provide the same user experience on the road as they would get sitting at a desk in the office.

Before jumping into the specific UC features that make a mobile worker’s life easier, I want to point out some well known (albeit fictional) “Road Warriors,”  These characters certainly helped focus the spotlight on the plight of the seasoned business traveller – and those who happened to be in their paths.

#1. Del Griffith (John Candy )- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Del Griffith is the lovable, overly-optimistic, and eccentric shower curtain salesman from the hilarious movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Del isn’t the most successful salesman ever, but he certainly is committed. In fact, at one point in the movie, he reveals that he hasn’t been home for years! Now, that’s a Road Warrior.

Del Griffith UC for You

“I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. ‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”      – Dell Griffith

#2- Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) – Up in the Air

Ryan Bingham is the ultimate business traveler. He has the process down to a science and becomes the youngest person to ever accumulate 10 million frequent flyer miles. Although, he’s not exactly the guy you want to see coming to your office (given he fires people for a living). Still, it’s interesting to see how a professional traveler works his magic.

Ryan Bingham UC for You

“Last year I spent 322 days on the road, which means I had to spend 43 miserable days at home.”

– Ryan Bingham

#3 Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) – Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior

This ultimate Road Warrior was so awesome that the movie included the name “road warrior” in the title, “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.” Mel Gibson’s character was a man of few words, but he knew what he wanted. This movie really doesn’t have anything to do with mobile workers or business travelers (other than they too probably want gasoline), but this movie title is just too good not to include in this list.

Mad Max UC for You

“I only came for the gasoline.”- Max Rockatansky

Now that we’ve pointed out a some of the more famous “road warriors” in pop culture, let’s take a closer look at how today’s UC systems can help the mobile worker be a more productive, successful employee.

The Power of the Mobile UC

Switchvox is the perfect fit for companies with a mobile workforce of any size. It allows companies to provide the identical calling and presence features to mobile workers that internal office employees enjoy. This eliminates the disconnect that mobile workers often feel out in the field.

 Switchvox Softphone for iPhone (coming soon for Android!)

The Switchvox Softphone for iPhone gives mobile workers the exact same user experience on a mobile device that you would expect on a desk phone. Remote employees can stay in touch with customers or other internal contacts with standard call control features like receive and make calls, transfer, conference, hold, and send to voicemail. What’s really great is that users also get advanced calling features like call recording and touch-transfer.

The softphone now brings UC features to those in the field that were previously reserved for office employees. This includes features like status, visual voicemail, contacts, and the ability to see who’s available or on the phone with Favorites. The softphone also works on Wi-Fi, LTE giving the user free connectivity from anywhere. And now, remote employees can keep their work and personal life separate because when they make a call using the softphone, the receiver sees the work caller-ID as opposed to their personal caller-ID.

Call Rules

Often called “Find Me Follow Me,” call rules give each user the ability to determine which device(s) ring when they receive an incoming call. They can choose to have all devices ring simultaneously or in some strategic order. Call rules makes sure that people can find them anytime, from anywhere. Now your mobile staff can manage their devices purely by changing their status!

Converged Phones

Converged Phones allow users to have up to sic devices connected together, share the same voicemail, and publish one extension for people to dial. Users can also seamlessly transfer calls from one device to the other.

Reporting:

Even if someone works remotely, Switchvox can run productivity reports on them when they use their mobile softphone to dial out. Now you can monitor the performance of all employees, regardless of where they work.

As you can see, Switchvox is the perfect fit for the mobile workforce. Now is the time to check out a demo of Switchvox and see how you can improve the performance of your mobile staff overnight!

Wireless LANs in your schools – how to make wise decisions

Meru’s Brett Liddle succinctly summarises the WLAN requirements of schools in this great article educationtoday.com.au/article/Wirele…

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