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Hosted VoIP Unified Communications

We make VoIP Easy for Business

What is VoIP for Businesses

For those not familiar with VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, it is an Internet telephone service that takes the place of your regular landline phone. It has become a very popular choice for business owners worldwide. VoIP is often the cheapest choice in telecom service, but the price does not compromise its quality.

Business VoIP systems work just like the landline phone systems that you are used to using: the end-user experience is no different. If you need to make a call, you just pick up the phone and dial. The real difference is behind the scenes. Internet calling is much cheaper than traditional landline calling, and many VoIP providers offer lots of special features for businesses to improve your user experience like voicemail boxes, hunt groups, etc.

A VoIP business service uses your existing Internet connection to connect with a hosted PBX(private branch exchange). A hosted PBX is the system by which phone calls are routed into and out of your office. Hosted PBXs may be managed in off-site locations, or they may be virtual systems, which are hosted entirely online (via cloud technology). With a hosted PBX, you can help your business save valuable resources that could be better used in other ways.

How Can Business VoIP Help Your Company

Let’s consider how a VoIP business service can help save your company money and at the same time can give you a better business telephone system. A VoIP business service makes employee to employee communications easy and efficient. And a better telephone system will result in a better customer experience, which means a better chance of customer satisfaction.

Most VoIP services come with a list of standard features like, voicemail, caller ID and three-way calling. However, there are also some advanced features available with some business VoIP solutions that are specifically designed to improve employee productivity:

  • Remote extensions allow satellite offices to function seamlessly as part of the main branch.
  • A virtual receptionist routes calls automatically. This will allow you to eliminate the cost of a receptionist. It will also create the perception of a larger more professional business for customers.
  • Voicemail to email means you don’t need to have phone access to keep up on business matters. A voicemail to email feature will forward your voicemails to your inbox as attachments so you can listen to them from any place where you can get an Internet connection.
  • Virtual fax: Allows you to send or receive faxes through your email. Unlike some other features of VoIP business, virtual fax may come with varying monthly charges in addition to your monthly bill. However, these prices are very low, generally around $5 for 500 faxes.
  • You can get a virtual phone number in different local area codes to attract customers in targeted regions.
  • Simultaneous ring on multiple phones allow calls to get answered more quickly, allowing customers greater access to your services.

These features will increase the productivity of your employees, and enhance customer interface.

Getting Started with Business VoIP

As a small business, you should not be intimidated by the thought of installing a VoIP business system. With our VoIP services, you will have access to a very reliable customer support team that can help you with any problems when implementing your VoIP solution. Our on site installation and in person project management is what separates us from the other plug and pray providers that you may have heard about. Our goal is to make technology easy for you!

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Hosted VoIP Unified Communications

How to make your business attract Millenials

Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce in 2015. By 2025, they will account for more than 75 percent of the U.S. labor pool. The millennial workers bring immense value to a team, including self-motivation, creativity and enthusiasm. To ensure a stable, productive and engaged team tomorrow, organizations should create a culture with sophisticated technology where millennial employees can thrive and provide maximum benefit to the company today.

Recruiting and retaining millennials requires companies to cultivate a work environment with the flexibility, open dialogue and collaboration they value. Offering cloud-based communication technology that’s available anytime, anywhere and from any device, is vital to a happy and productive team. Below are additional tips businesses can use to allow millennial employees to thrive.

1. Enable Smooth and Secure Access
Some of the greatest benefits of cloud-based UC solutions are the mobile, flexible and economical access they provide. Seamless remote work and team collaboration requires businesses to fully embrace the cloud to ensure universal access for employees working off-site. This applies to everything from company data and current evolving projects to routine meetings. Housing data and servers in a truly 100 percent cloud-based solution also provides a much more secure, disaster-proof way to store business information.

2. Rethink the Phone
As businesses transition to next-generation technology across the board, they should be sure to upgrade their phones, the heartbeat of team collaboration in a workplace. Selecting a cloud-based phone system offers full access to tools that foster two-way dialogue and encourage collaboration. In addition, a streamlined online portal where employees can manage the technology themselves, molding it to fit their own workflows and processes instead of the other way around is vital. For example, if employees can configure their personal phone settings within the cloud, rather than on a physical device, switching from an office location to home will be effortless. It also allows businesses to leverage features that enhance mobility like softphones, which employees can use to make and receive calls on any internet-connected device using their business number.

3. Connect Co-Workers
Connecting employees with each other in a real-time manner improves individuals’ flexibility, ensures full-team collaboration and reduces money and time spent traveling. When vetting different video conferencing tools, businesses should select an online-based HD option that allows face-to-face meetings and makes screen share and collaborative editing simple. A more informal solution to consider, that has become a must-have tool for employees, is internal chat to help maintain strong working relationships and encourage real-time collaboration. Businesses should select a chat tool that integrates with all other communication channels and is available on desktop and various mobile devices to ensure the smoothest communication.

Creating a collaborative, flexible environment requires deliberate action and consideration of leadership to ensure all team members have universal access to key documents and are supported with sophisticated communications channels like cloud-based phone systems and video meetings. Whether team members are in another office, working at home or onsite with clients, business leaders staying ahead of the curve by attracting and maintaining millennial employees must put a technology plan in place to empower team communication and collaboration.

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Hosted VoIP

What Your Call History Can Tell You About Your Business

 

In business, your call history can really tell you a great deal. Having insight into your entire company’s communications can be beneficial to improving various areas of your operations.

As managers, reviewing call activity gives visibility into employee performance, customer needs and issues, as well as your sales and marketing efforts.

But, who has time to review call activity the old-fashioned way?

Thankfully, with modern UC technology and state-of-the-art online portals, the ability to view and analyze critical call data is simple.

Viewing call history as a whole doesn’t provide much insight. However, when inbound and outbound call data can be broken down and evaluated by departments, individual employees, phone numbers and even extensions, a great can deal can be learned.

Our Call History component is a good example of how built-in business intelligence tools can make the reporting of this critical data work for your business’ needs.

For instance, running reports for the longest and most frequent calls your customer service department makes and receives can provide perspective as to which customers require the most assistance and whether or not you may need to monitor or intervene in order to keep an important account. It also gives you a better idea of your personnel needs throughout the day and individual employee workloads, which can help to improve staffing efficiency.

For sales departments, outbound calling is critical to sales results. So, having the ability to view all the outbound calls by day, week, month, employee or region provides you with a valuable performance evaluation tool and a concrete way to improve productivity.

Inbound call reporting for specific phone numbers is a great way to track marketing campaign activity. When designating a specific phone number for a new campaign, you can instantly see the results based on the amount of call activity.

Customizable call reporting is also a crucial component; every organization has different needs, so having the ability to create customized reports will enable you to get to a more granular level in your analysis.

As you can see, diving deeper into your call analytics can really help to improve employee performance, sales, marketing and customer service throughout your organization. So, be sure to take advantage of the important call data that is already available to you. And, if you are not using a system that provides you with the advanced technology and reporting you need, check into our  award-winning unified communications solutions.

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Hosted VoIP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hosted VoIP

Moving To A Cloud Phone System Will Save Your Business Money

More businesses than ever are using the cloud for their business processes and the same goes for phone systems. One of the key benefits businesses are finding with cloud phone systems are cost savings. The following are just a few reasons why cloud phones can save your business money.

Greater Efficiency. Cloud phones offer the ability to integrate business process applications such as CRM, ERP and ATS. This enables employees to streamline communication both with their colleagues and with customers. For example, as the phone starts ringing, a complete customer record can appear on the phone screen. Not only does this save time, it also enables a richer conversation between the employee and the customer.

Increased Productivity. Cloud phones can shave minutes from everything an employee does. For example, knowing which co-workers are available at any given moment can save up to 20 minutes a day, according to a survey by market research firm Chadwick Martin and Bailey. That frees up to 86 hours a year for each employee – time that can be spent on initiatives to help the business grow.

Reduced Toll Calls. For businesses with offices in international markets, the savings on toll charges can be significant. When companies internationally implement cloud phones across all their global offices, for instance, they can reduce toll call charges by two-thirds.

Lower IT Costs. Cloud phones also enable businesses to shift responsibilities from their IT department to the vendor. By having others manage their IP telephony in the cloud, a company reduces its costs. Businesses no longer have to purchase, install and maintain applications or hardware, lessening the need for dedicated IT resources.

More Opportunities for Innovation. Because the vendor is focused on managing the cloud phone system’s software and hardware, businesses don’t need to incur the time, resources or costs associated with upgrades. What’s more, they can be confident they’re working with the most current package, which provides them with a competitive edge.

Faster Disaster Recovery. When trouble occurs, the vendor deploys its own IT experts to resolve the issue. Businesses don’t incur additional costs resulting from having their resources troubleshoot problems or risk losing business because phones are down.

Faster Collaboration. With cloud phones, employees can take advantage of functionality that enhances collaboration. Services such as instant messaging and video conferencing are built into the phones, allowing employees to connect, converse, and make decisions more quickly.

When evaluating the savings associated with cloud phones, it’s essential to look at the financial outcome at least five years out. This is the best way to determine the true cost of ownership, as employees become better trained and the kinks are worked out of the system.

If saving money is a driving factor behind moving to cloud phones, businesses have plenty of good reasons to make the switch

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Hosted VoIP

Auto-Attendant: What’s the Point?

 

One of the most highly-praised features of OfficeSuite® Phone – the easy-to-use cloud UC system – is the virtual auto attendant, and as someone who has never used it, you may fail to see the hype. That’s understandable – after all, you could just as easily hire, even outsource, an operator, right?

That may be true, but there are some things that auto attendants offer that operators don’t, so let’s go into detail about that.

Not Just Professionalism – Consistent Professionalism
Everyone has off-days, whether they’re in a bad mood or simply not performing at their maximum potential. Computers, however, do not. Auto attendants follow rules flawlessly, route calls logically, and make sure that all callers get the same experience. Plus, since auto attendants operate on logical routing trees, you can make sure that certain types of calls are prioritized over others if you choose. No one gets the grumpy operator, and no operators get grumpy callers. It streamlines your business, makes sure every call goes where it needs to go, and keeps mistakes out of the mix, delivering you better customer service.

Branding Opportunities
While your callers wait to be re-directed, there’s going to be a radio silence. If you use an auto attendant, though, you can fill that silence with some company branding to promote a new product, inform the caller about useful features, or simply play some good music. All you have to do is have a voiceover recorded if you’d like, or choose the type of music you think your customers might like to hear, and launch it, which can be done right from your computer, smartphone or tablet via the MyOfficeSuite® customer portal. All of these things contribute to the caller’s experience, and ultimately affect their opinion of your brand. You can change them out as often as you like!

Make Use of the Cloud
When you use an auto attendant through your VoIP provider, you’ll make ample use of all the benefits of the cloud. You can integrate your incoming calls with third-party apps such as Salesforce® and other CRMs. Access and monitoring is, in turn, easy to control.

If your power spontaneously goes out, your caller won’t be disconnected since the call is being taken through the cloud. The call can be redirected to a mobile phone to ensure business continuity.

The cloud also allows an auto attendant to direct calls to employees who may be off-site, assuming their phones have been re-routed to wherever they are.

Plus, if you need to make a change to your call routing or hold music, you can do it from anywhere – it’s in the cloud!

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Hosted VoIP

Common Obstacles of Communication Technology in Business

 

A business’ success and its employees’ ability to communicate are directly correlated. Communication amongst one another as well as with other businesses and clients is crucial. That’s why newer and more powerful technologies for communicating are popping up every day.

Of course, with new technology comes the potential for speed bumps, and smoothing them out is essential for maximizing the efficiency of using communication technology. Technology issues that entrepreneurs will face in business run the gamut, and mastering them is something to consider spending time on.

Researching Communication Technology
Often, it’s not the technology itself but rather finding the right communication product to use that is problematic. Before investing in a new email platform or phones for the office, it’s important to read reviews, compare prices, and have a consultation with representatives from the company. You want to know what their support availability is like, whether the product will be useful for a business the size of yours, and whether it can help you to accomplish your goals.

Maintaining a Website
Making a website for your company seems simple, right? Many people don’t realize that a website isn’t just a basic source of information. It also acts as a sort of business card and a way to engage potential customers. Therefore, you need to streamline the communication aspect of it and make sure you stay with the times. Having a knowledgeable development and design staff can help with that aspect of it, but sometimes it’s a good idea to consider implementing an instant chat client to immediately answer customer questions.

Deciding on Communications Media
Technology has changed the way businesses reach out to their clients and work internally. While phones used to be the only necessary technology, you now have to decide if you want cell phones, a cloud phone system, conference call capabilities, video chat services, et cetera. On top of that, you need to select data plans, put together a customer service team, choose a reliable e-mail platform, and more. Gather a list of practical options and consider whether or not they will be useful within your industry and for your company in particular. Don’t underestimate the need for a customer service team that can respond to emails – as your company grows, you’ll find you can’t do this yourself in a timely manner. You don’t want inefficient communication, or an unnecessary overuse of budget, to become an issue down the road.

Social Media
Many companies don’t even consider social media to be a communications technology, but that’s a very dated way of thinking. Though it’s a recent phenomenon, it’s an important one. Do you have someone manning your social media profile, ensuring that the tone is consistent, customers are being responded to, and branding opportunities are being maximized upon? It’s worth considering having a consultation with Social Media Marketing experts if you’re not seasoned in this area yourself.

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Hosted VoIP

Small Business, Big Image

Small businesses have the advantage of portraying a much larger image than ever before thanks to advances in technology. In the past, the number of employees, your budget and the number of locations were indicators of how large your business’s presence and reach throughout the community could be. Fortunately, now, no matter how small you are or where you are located, you can easily compete with the big leagues in terms of your image, and without the cost.

Here are some simple ways your small business can portray a big image.

Website: Your online presence is by far the most important asset for your company, as more people search for companies online than any other method. Websites can be as complex and simple as you’d like and can be created and hosted for practically nothing. The most important thing is to have consistent branding and keep an up-to-date and informative website. The goal should be to create a modern and clean-looking site that showcases your products and services in the best light possible. If photos are appropriate to your industry, such as a restaurant or retail store, be sure to visually display your product as well. Most importantly, include critical details like your contact information, location and hours of operation.

Social Media: Social media is a must for every business these days and a free way to communicate with your customers and advertise your company and product. Start small. Facebook is one of the most user-friendly and common outlets for businesses of all sizes. Start your business page and ask customers to follow you, introduce specials and post relevant content and photos daily or at least a few times a week to increase your presence and following.

Online Reviews: Word-of-mouth and recommendations are still gold, but these days, online reviews on popular sites like Yelp, Google+ Local and Angie’s List speak volumes. Create business accounts on these commonly viewed sites and ask your happy customers to write reviews. Be sure to respond to reviews that are negative and learn from what your customers are saying. It can be a great source of exposure, but also insight into what is working and what is not.

Digital Receptionists/Auto Attendants: A huge advantage with cloud-based phone systemsare Auto Attendants or Digital Receptionists which ensure your incoming calls are all answered and directed to the appropriate place, not matter who is physically available. An advantage of this is to project a professional image with every single call and save yourself on having a designated employee to answer every incoming call. The most common reasons for calls are hours of operation and directions. Using an Auto Attendant will reduce the number of routine calls that have to be answered by 25%, plus will ensure that callers are directed to right person every time.

On-Hold Greetings: The best cloud-based phone systems include on-hold greetings and music options which can make a big difference in how your company is portrayed. While customers are on-hold, you can promote and advertise specials, your website and upcoming events to boost your sales or attendance to events for free. Plus, your company sounds larger and more legitimate with professionally recorded messages or music while callers are waiting on hold.

800 Numbers: Another great feature that helps to project a larger company image are 1-800 numbers. They can be used in a variety of ways, such as designating a phone number for advertising campaigns to track results, to direct calls to a specific employee, or to just project a larger company image in a specific location. They are a great way to centralize calls for little to no cost.

 

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Hosted VoIP

Time to Value for Small Business Cloud Phone Services

  • Time to Value

When considering a purchase of small business cloud phone services, metrics like Return on Investment (ROI) andTotal Cost of Ownership (TCO) are often considered. This makes sense for larger businesses, but often the key metric for small business or a startup is more time sensitive. For businesses that are highly time sensitive Time to Value (TtV) is a better metric.

What is Time to Value (TtV)?

Time to value describes the amount of time between making a business decision or incurring initial cost to receiving the value from the decision or investment.  Value in this case is the desired business goal or benefit.

This is a different metric than the often used Time Value of Money (TVM). TVM is a calculation of what today’s money is worth in the future due to its earning potential. TVM is generally used when money is being loaned or will be received at some future time.

Both the Time to Value and TVM attempt to address the consideration of time, but in different ways.

Startup & Small Business Time

For startups and small businesses time is often their most precious commodity. The industry likes to focus on ROI, which factors time but not always in a way that matters to a startup or small business. Small businesses and startups are often on the clock trying to make their business successful before running out of time.

ROI helps you understand how long it will take to pay back an initial investment. This is useful when there is a large capital expenditure, but for cloud services this often misses the point. Time to Value is very aligned with how small businesses and startups tend to think. It is focused on the speed of which money spent returns value.

What is the TtV for cloud business phone services?

To answer this question we must first look at the benefits that drive most small businesses tocloud business phone services. I wrote a post awhile back on the top reasons small businesses go to the cloud, so I won’t rewrite it here. Let’s review these reasons and the Time to Value for each:

  • Cost – Most startups and small businesses go to the cloud to avoid a large capital expenditure on a phone system With cloud business phone services this value is delivered day one.
  • Scalability – Startups and small businesses don’t want to be penalized for adding or removing a line. Again, the time to value is pretty much immediate with most cloudbusiness phone services offering adds and removes at no cost.
  • Security – Managing cyber security can be a real burden for small businesses. Cloudbusiness phone services shift this burden to the service provider and the value is received immediately by customers of all sizes.
  • Integrations – Many small business cloud phone services offer integrations to CRM and Support platforms. These integrations typically require a little configuration, but value is often received the first day. Cloud business phone services also offer APIs enabling startups and small businesses to create their own custom integrations. The value of these integrations is not received until the development work is completed.
  • Flexibility – This benefit is partially described under scalability above, but there is added value from picking and choosing features. Most cloud business services provide plans where the customer can have a limited feature set for a lower cost and add features as they grow. Again, this value is received pretty much immediately by the customer.
  • Disaster Recovery – Most startups and small businesses don’t have the time or money for a full blown disaster recovery plan, however flying without a net is rarely a good policy and customers often require this. Going to the cloud solves this problem in a critical business area, communications, immediately upon activating the service.

So the short answer is unless you need to develop a new integration Time to Value is immediate. Some might dismiss TtV for its simplicity, but it is often the most important metric for startups and small businesses. We would encourage you to consider it with your next major purchase.

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Fraud Protection: Keeping Your Business Phone System Secure

 

Common headlines these days are exposing the countless threats of Internet hackers. Businesses that utilize cloud-based phone systems operated via the web are often concerned with security and fraud protection.

Fortunately, major carriers like Broadview, have sophisticated fraud detection systems and protocols in place. A commonly reported scam or hack within business phone systems results from hackers calling into a phone system’s voicemail, trying different passwords until one works and making outbound calls via one of the voicemail menu options.

Broadview proudly addressed this concern many years ago with our award-winning OfficeSuite® Phone system by eliminating the rarely used call-out feature from our voicemail options all together.

Another commonly reported concern is overnight cleaning crews racking up costly international calls on company’s bills. With more advanced cloud-based phone systems, you have the ability to restrict outgoing calls, with the exception of emergency calls during after hours. Closed or after hours can be also defined however needed and vary by employee or group through the Business Hour function, regardless of how many different shifts you have. We also always recommend that our customers update their “permission profiles” by turning off any calling permissions that employees do not need or should not have, especially when their business is closed.

Although, our customers can rest easy knowing that their systems are secure, we recommend that everyone incorporate the following three practices to ensure optimal security for your business.

Change your passwords– Although it can be a pain to remember new passwords, it is a great measure to keep your system secure. We recommend changing your password at least once a year and choosing something that is difficult for others to guess. We offer our customers the option to have passwords that contain up to 10 digits, which are significantly harder for hackers to crack than four digit passwords.

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

Use Common Sense when Working Outside the Office– One of the greatest advantages of cloud-based systems is that you can work from anywhere. Just be sure to always use common sense. Don’t ever share your password with anyone, write it down and or store it on your personal computer or other devices. Theft of computers and devices is common, so ensuring that your passwords are protected is critically important.

No network is perfect, but when you utilize a cloud-based phone system that has the proper security and fraud protection in place and instill your own routine preventative security policies, your business will remain secure and be less susceptible to fraudulent threats.