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Hosted VoIP Unified Communications

3 Things You Can’t Overlook When Scaling Your Business

Let’s face it, the companies that have successfully mastered rapid growth over the last several years have adopted a scalable business model.  Efficiency has proven to be essential to modern growth success, with the recipe for scalable growth featuring the perfect combination of simultaneous revenue growth with minimal cost increases.

So, how do businesses today manage to scale successfully?  What we can learn from the most successful and highly scalable businesses, is that initial investments in technologies which help to increase efficiency and fuel automation are also key in supporting sales growth in the future.

Often overlooked in the plan for scalability, but perhaps the most crucial is an organization’s communications infrastructure and here’s why.

Communications is the lifeline of every business, whether it’s communicating with customers or collaborating internally, no business can grow effectively without including communications technology in their plans for growth.

Here are 3 things you can’t overlook when planning to scale your business.

1. Supported Collaboration for Mobile and Distributed Workers

Businesses today are comprised of multiple locations, with employees traveling and working remotely. Therefore, seamless collaboration and unified communications organization-wide is a necessity for every modern business, but especially one with hopes for effective growth.  According to a recent report by Mitel, businesses lose an average of $11,000 per employee every year due to ineffective communications and collaboration solutions. Fortunately, cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) solutions bring together essential communication functions like company-wide chat, presence and video conferencing, in addition to traditional telephony features and services to allow for more seamless collaboration. UC solutions which are 100 percent cloud-based, provide even more capabilities as features, settings and services are stored exclusively in the cloud, making them accessible and manageable from any device, anywhere. This is not just important for efficiency, but is where the real cost-savings comes in. Not only can businesses save on rent, enabling more remote workers to operate securely in locations where limited employees are needed, these solutions drastically reduce downtime during disastrous circumstances. Having the ability to reroute calls, listen to and respond to voicemail messages, update greetings and collaborate via video conference or chat remotely, ensures business takes place regardless of physical location. With the average business losing an astonishing $5,000 per hour when they are down, this is quite the savings.

2.  The Flexibility to Scale

Whether your growth is rapid, planned or unexpected, having communication technology in place that offers the ability to fluctuate based on your business demand is critical to cost control. Functions, such as adding and removing services, employees, equipment, and even locations at anytime with ease allows you to scale efficiently. Not to mention, it ensures costs remain low. By having the flexibility to scale and pay only for what you need and use, you eliminate wasted fees for services and users that may no longer be needed.

3. Efficient Communications

Efficiency has been a key theme throughout this post because it is fundamental to scaling a business. With the right communication technology in place, the automation of key functions are enabled. Whether its utilizing auto attendants to help answer and field incoming calls to save employee time and resources, or it’s having a communications solution that enables administrators to make company-wide changes across any location or many other benefits for enterprise organizations where significant savings and increased efficiency can be achieved. An immense opportunity for efficiency lies in the integration of existing customer relationship management systems (CRMs), such as Salesforce, Google, Skype and others with your business communications. This provides the ability for an even greater return on both investments and the opportunity for optimal efficiency and time-savings.

Regardless of business size, achieving successful growth not only requires an increase in revenue, but having the right technology in place to support the most critical areas of your business’ growth. Communications technology and collaboration tools are not only essential to your daily operations, but vital to your long-term success. Ensuring you have the appropriate communications technology in place is a key step and one that should never be overlooked in your strategic plan.

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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

Use HD Meeting to save money interviewing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

7 Things Every Customer Portal Should Offer

When it comes to your business’s communications, the interface that you use to manage it can make all of the difference.

Not all customer web portals are created equal. We’ve identified the criteria you should look for in order to achieve the highest level of productivity and the most enjoyable experience.

1. Integrated Technology

Businesses have a plethora of communication services beyond their phone system, like hosted email, online fax, video conferencing software and toll-free services. Gone are the days where you need multiple systems and logins to access and manage them all. Look for a system that is supported by one platform that will centralize all of your services and offer you a single-point of access to everything you need.

2. Intuitive Design

Time is of the essence, so having a customer portal that offers a modern, user-friendly design that is easy to manage for both managers and employees and does not require any IT support will save you time, money and hours of aggravation.

3. Adaptability

Today’s workforce is mobilized. No one can afford to be tied to their desk phones or computers, so the platform to manage your critical business communications needs to match your work style. Your web-based customer portal should be accessible and work the same on each of your devices: smartphones, laptops, tablets, IPads® and desktops.

4. Permission-based Controls

When it comes to your business’s communications, different employees and departments have different functions and levels of authority. Having a customer portal that offers customizable user profiles based on user personas allows administrators to grant employees access to only the features that are applicable to their role.

5.User-Centric Functionality

Simple and fast is what we are all looking for when we manage anything related to our business. Your customer portal should offer user-centric technology like drag and drop capabilities, click-to-dial phone numbers, the ability to upload, listen to and record greetings, pay bills, view call history, listen to voicemail and import contacts, all from one central website.

6. Support

With multiple site locations and communication services, it can be challenging to manage issues and contact support for each of your services. With a modern customer portal, you should have one-click access to contact support, chat live, open and view support tickets, access their online community and view how-to videos and support collateral for each of your services.

7. Collaboration

Many companies have multiple locations and employees that travel, so finding a platform that supports your communication services and can increase your connectivity across sites is a win-win. Features like real-time presence that showcases the availability of each of your coworkers before you contact them and the ability to initiate or join a video conference with just one click, allows your team to collaborate easily no matter where they are.

 

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Hosted VoIP

Three Invaluable Tips for Cloud Safety

One of the arguments most frequently made for switching to the cloud is the fact that it is secure. And, while this is true, nothing is perfect. You’d always rather be safe than sorry. Especially for retailers and financial institutions, security is paramount – although not every institution makes it their top priority. Companies should always be operating as though they are at risk for a data breach, because in essence, it’s always a possibility.

Something that not many people realize is that the vast majority of news-making data breaches have occurred on out-of-date network systems with similarly out-of-date security measures. Embracing the cloud means embracing the latest technology, whether that’s in organization, integration, or, yes, security.

What we’re trying to say is that yes, it’s time you upgraded to the cloud and no, you shouldn’t be afraid that the cloud will put you at risk for security breaches – they’re much safer than the legacy servers you’re probably using. But, once you do move to the cloud, it’s important to employ best practices to keep your business safe.

Here are three tips to achieving cloud safety.

Keep your Staff in the Know; Monitor BYOD
It’s becoming increasingly common for companies to have their employees bring their own devices, better known as BYOD, to work. Some employees even prefer this over having separate computers, phones, etc. While this may be efficient for your company’s needs, it’s important that everyone understands how to keep their devices safe. Hold frequent meetings to let staff members know what could happen if their devices fall into the wrong hands, what applications are secure and which aren’t, and how to protect themselves. A lot of companies have made it mandatory for employees to lock/password protect their computers whenever they are away from their desks, which is never a bad idea.

Encrypt, Encrypt, Encrypt
Chances are, the cloud platform you’re using will encrypt your data automatically. That said, platforms do not always encrypt the data that is synced to mobile devices. It might be a good idea to look into file-level encryption to play it safe if you have employees who work remotely to any degree. Having this extra level security is entirely worth it – if only for your peace of mind.

Always Stay on Top of Security
Security should be your priority. It may seem obvious, but surprisingly, only 40 percent of financial businesses think a data breach is a risk they face, even though small data breaches are incredibly common. Revisit your security often to see what new things you can do to stay safe, and have frequent trainings to ensure everyone understands the consequences of not doing so. You can never be too safe.

Like we said before – it’s time to embrace the cloud and enjoy the integration it offers. You can now have your e-mail, applications, and phone systems all hosted in the cloud. That said, safety should always be #1 in your business, and it applies to the cloud as well.