Is A VoIP Phone System Good For A Small Business?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Is VoIP worth it for a small business? The short answer is 100% Yes! In fact, VoIP makes the perfect communication solution for all-sized businesses, big or small. Let’s look at the reasons why VoIP phone systems make sense for your business:

Pay less, save more!

You will be able to reduce your communication expenses by handling all your communication needs for offices, mobile and data services with one single provider. This not only saves you money, but also saves your precious time!

No management or maintenance needed

For a hosted VoIP service, your provider will manage and maintain the network, hardware and all for you. Let the experts do the job for you so you can focus on your core business! [Read more…]

Top Reasons To Record Your Business Calls

The 3cx Phone System, the voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone system that Tech Experts sells and services, has a call recording feature that’s quite popular. The service has been available for quite a while now.

However, many small- and medium-sized businesses don’t take advantage of the technology that lets them prioritize customer interaction. When used properly, call recording can strengthen your company’s reputation and boost customer satisfaction.

Here are a few reasons to consider a 3cx Phone System with call recording:

Improve customer service
One of the most important reasons why businesses should always record their calls, no matter its significance, is to ensure high-quality customer service. By reviewing calls, managers can understand how their agents have been dealing with customers, find out whether or not they’ve followed company protocol, and pinpoint any aspects that can be improved on.

Without call recording, managers would have to listen to each call in real time, which is a time-consuming process. By recording each call, not only will your managers save time, but your employees will also be motivated to perform at their best every time they’re on the phone because they know their calls can always be reviewed.

Upgrade employee performance
According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning, people only remember 10% of what they’ve read, 50% of what they’ve seen and heard, and 90% of what they’ve done. By providing your agents with actual recordings of good and bad calling examples during training sessions, and have them simulate calls afterwards, they’ll be able to learn better and provide high-quality customer service faster.

Retrieve missed details and prevent litigation
With hundreds of phone calls daily, it’s understandable if your employees don’t catch every single detail. And for companies that require their agents to manually input information during calls, there’s always a possibility that they’ll forget or miss certain information. Needless to say, this could lead to disgruntled customers. If not properly handled, this can harm your reputation, reduce work opportunities, and if things escalate, proceed to litigation.

VoIP’s call recording feature lets you replay saved audio files to make sure you haven’t missed any details, ensuring that all customer demands are met. And if you ever get into a dispute with your clients regarding who said what, you can always retrieve the exact audio file and have both sides listen to it, saving you thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Understand customer preferences
Have you ever received an inquiry about a product or service that’s not included in your offerings? While your agents usually jot these requests down and pass them on to the relevant personnel, they may end up forgetting some if numerous calls are being made that day. Tiny issues like this can lead to potentially huge losses. With call recording, you can review all your calls at the end of the day. You’ll have a better picture of what certain customers are looking for so you can address them better.

VoIP allows businesses to make on-demand calls affordably, and its call recording feature helps companies improve their customer service and prevent litigation. If you think business VoIP is right for you, or if you have any questions, give us a call at (734) 457-5000.

VoIP Poised To Replace Traditional Phone Lines

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is not a new technology, although many of us are just learning of this internet-based communications protocol.

First used in 1970, VoIP uses your local area network (LAN) to send small digital packets over the internet to the recipient. Advances in the reliability and sound quality have encouraged end-users and businesses alike to cut the cord on the traditional phone-line and adopt the more versatile, and yes, less expensive telecom solution.

As we see it, there are nine reasons VoIP outperforms traditional phone lines aside from the cost. They are:

Your business is not static. It is cyclical. Guessing each upgrade cycle how many lines you will need is frustrating and can be expensive. If you guess too high, you pay much more than you need to.

If you guess too low, you can stagnate your business growth. Additionally, legacy solutions have a limit as to how many phones can be connected – but VoIP does not. The possibilities are limitless when it comes to VoIP.

The key to gaining a competitive edge is moving faster than your competition. VoIP solutions can manage changes in volume and users within minutes and removes any ceiling that might affect your communications solution as you grow.

In this modern work environment, employees are demanding more flexible work arrangements, including the ability to take and make calls from anywhere.

Statistics even show how flexible work arrangements also increase employee productivity, allowing workers to still connect even during a sick day or outside appointment. VoIP enables this type of mobility through a simple dashboard that allows you to choose which line will get the call.

Advanced features
VoIP is evergreen. Meaning it will always deploy the most advanced features on the market with no additional cost to you as the end-user.

Updates are automatically filtered and deployed to your location through the same lines the device uses to communicate.

Digital communications technologies like VoIP and Unified-Communications-as-a-Service have one huge distinctive advantage over copper lines: flexibility.

The phone number associated with the device is not tied to one particular device in one specific situation. Instead, several devices can be tied to the same extension, and you can decide which device should ring at which time.

Or, if you forgot to change your call flow and need your calls to reach you only on your cell phone and you have left the office, internet-based dashboards enable you to make those changes on the fly and from any internet-connected device.

Reduced complexity
In the golden days of business telephony, the effort and expense to install a PBX was costly – between paying for the certified individual to set up, install all devices, and do adds, moves, and changes throughout the span of the technology’s lifetime, to the simple cost of buying the equipment, paying for the electrical needs to run it and the space to house it.

Every interaction with the system required certified engineers. A new employee’s ability to communicate was dependent on the schedule of the technician to be able to add the user. But VoIP removes all of these complexities. The solution is mostly software-driven, instead of specialized hardware, and accessed with a simple graphical user interface (GUI).

Day to day management of the solution can be handled by administrative personnel, reserving your IT staff for the more complex needs of your business.

A myth has surrounded VoIP and cloud solutions almost since inception. There has been a perceived security risk to a corporation’s data that has persisted, even though the myth has frequently been debunked. Recent studies have found that on-premise solutions are at the same amount of risk of a breach as cloud solutions, and sometimes even greater risk.

A survey by Alert Logic back in 2012 actually found that on-premise solutions were at a greater risk of compromise and data loss, with on-premise solutions being attacked 61.4% and cloud solutions only 27.8%. The fact is, as your service provider, we put your security at the top of our mind when devising and offering solutions such as VoIP and other cloud offerings. Our staff is certified and participates in frequent educational opportunities to learn about the latest cyber-security risks and protection strategies.

VoIP is not new and has been used in some form since the 1970s. It has recently gained popularity as the technology has grown and proven itself to be a serious competitor to the traditional telephone.

Because VoIP has been in use for almost 50 years, many of the original sound quality issues have been resolved. Thanks to innovations in sound compression and advancements in IP connections, VoIP actually provides superior sound quality as long as there is a high bandwidth and robust internet connection.

Business continuity
You may have heard horror stories about VoIP connections and outages. And while in those early years, these stories were warranted. Internet connections were wildly unreliable, and since VoIP ran over these connections, if they went down, so did your phone.

But now, internet providers have made considerable strides in the reliability and strength of their IP connections, making outages rare.

Add in cellular technologies as a failover, VoIP solutions can actually failback on the cellular 4G or 5G network and continue services in the event of an internet outage, meaning you remain connected regardless of the status of your internet connection.

It is no longer a matter of if, but when the copper lines that have serviced our telephones for generations will be phased out. Major carriers, such as AT&T and Verizon, have listed a sunset date for the maintenance of these copper wires to occur next year. Yes, in 2020, if a copper line goes down, the operator will not need to replace the line, but instead, transfer your service over to the digital solutions.

Start your migration today, and avoid the headache of a forced migration when you are least expecting it. Talk with one of our staff today to see how we can help you manage the transition and keep your business connected.

Why VoIP Is Taking Businesses By Storm

Communication is key in business, and with the rise of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), communication has improved drastically. When phone calls can be made over the Internet, doors open for businesses.

First, VoIP offers businesses a consistent and full-time presence. Whether an employee is at their desk or out of the office, VoIP allows for incoming and outgoing calls to multiple devices using the same phone number.

For example, your employee may start their day in the office answering calls with their desk phone. After lunch, when they are scheduled for field work, they can take those same calls using VoIP software from their MSP. This makes for easy accessibility to clients, and it allows for your employees to be easily contacted by clients.

VoIP software is also very user friendly. It allows for easy call transferring and parking through the use of your desktop, and it provides seamless navigation of call queues and phone availability.

VoIP services also typically allow for users to easily see which of their coworkers are available, away, or busy at the moment.

This makes for efficient communication within a business.

Another integral part of business communications is the security behind the phone calls you are making. Home phones are different as it doesn’t matter too much if you and your uncle’s conversation is leaked, but in the business world, phone calls house sensitive information and a breach in phone system security could be detrimental to any business.

Although VoIP breaches can be accomplished, they are much harder to achieve than tapping a traditional phone system, leaving your business safer and far more secure.

When it comes to running a business, one of the main focuses must be reliability. Luckily enough, on top of all the other benefits of using a VoIP system, the reliability of the system is just the same as that of a traditional phone system. It could eventually become a more reliable system for making calls though.

Due to advancements in the field, more emphasis is put on Internet connectivity in businesses, so better software and systems will be put in place to upgrade your VoIP experience. In addition, many businesses have backup Internet connections, making a VoIP system far more reliable than a phone system in this instance.

One of the great parts about VoIP is the quality of your calls. Rather than hearing static, spotty audio, or having calls drop, VoIP call quality is fantastic. Calls are clear, understandable, and only have about a 20 millisecond delay for audio.

If your bandwidth can already handle all that your business needs on a day-to-day basis, there will be no problem with the quality of your VoIP calls.

VoIP is the future of business communications. With all of VoIP’s features, reliability, quality, and easy accessibility in mind, it’s no wonder that businesses across the globe are dialing into VoIP systems. Even as VoIP systems dominate, they continue to grow every day with new features to propel the ease of accessibility of the product.

Is VoIP right for your business? Call us today at (734) 457-5000 and we can give you direction on upgrading your phone system.

Why You Should Consider VoIP For Your Business

A growing number of small businesses are switching from traditional landlines to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems. While it can be an uphill task to overhaul the entire telecommunications system of any small business, it is definitely worth considering in light of the ever-increasing costs of traditional services. In fact, according to In-Stat, almost 79 percent of American businesses use VoIP phones, a 37 percent increase since 2009.

VoIP is a method of making phone calls using the internet as opposed to using typical landlines. VoIP services integrate IP phones, which look pretty much like traditional office phones, except they plug into an internet connection with an Ethernet cable.

Cost effectiveness
The biggest VoIP attraction is low cost. Since it is internet-based, hosted systems usually require little to no hardware investment apart from routers, Ethernet cables and the phones themselves, which are offered at reduced prices. According to estimates, the monthly service fees can run up to 40 percent less than traditional phone lines, and many providers offer monthly services with no long-term contracts.

VoIP is particularly cost-effective, if you have employees working from satellite offices or telecommuters. A telecommuter can take a VoIP phone home and make calls by plugging it into his home internet connection to make and receive calls on the company lines at no additional cost.

Other benefits
Certain VoIP service providers have introduced mobile apps that allow workers to make and receive phone calls on their mobile devices using the company phone numbers. Their privacy is therefore protected since they do not give their personal phone number. In addition, the company owns the line so if an employee leaves, calls are routed to the company rather than the employee’s cell phone.

While the mobility and scalability of VoIP systems are attractive features, there are some drawbacks to consider. For instance, since phones depend on an internet connection, if the connection fails, the phones would be dysfunctional. You can still as a precaution measure automatically drive incoming calls to voicemail or redirect them to the user’s cell phone.

In addition, bandwidth problems could affect the quality of the calls made. If other office activities are consuming the greatest portion of bandwidth, calls will be filled with pauses and clicks, and dropped calls may also occur. There might also be extra charges for connecting to mobile phones or conference calling, and many VoIP providers don’t offer 911 services or charge extra for it.

The future
The increase in VoIP adoption is undeniable, and analysts predict that it will become the predominant business phone service over the next decade.

Is It Time You Had A Failover ISP?

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

So, you may want to ask – what is a failover ISP? Let’s not over complicate it: it is exactly what it sounds like. A failover ISP is a backup Internet connection through a secondary Internet service provider.

This means paying two monthly bills, for two Internet connections. Strong selling point? Probably not for most people. So what is the appeal? Is it something that will be that useful? First, we would need to know a few things.

How much of your business relies on the Internet? Sure, a quick 10 minute outage is an inconvenience, but most businesses will survive, albeit with different levels of comfort and success.

What happens if there is an extended outage? Can you operate an entire day without an Internet connection? How much money would you lose from being offline for an entire business day?

While the answers to these questions will vary, the fact is there are a growing number of daily business operations that utilize an Internet connection.

VoIP phones? No Internet, no phones. Credit card processing? Unless you use an analog telephone line, that’s out too. Rely on email?

Your phone may be capable, but is that something you want to be stuck doing for an extended period? The fact is, more and more, we really on a stable Internet connection.

What impact does lost time have on your daily operation? While I touched on some of the basics here, think about how you could function without a connection. For some people, it just isn’t possible.

If you are a financial institution that utilizes an offsite financial database, you rely on a connection to service your customers. If you are an insurance company that sends and receives quote information over the Internet and take payments through online processing, you can’t operate.

If you have an office with all VoIP phones and every employee utilizes online tools and services, you can’t operate. Or maybe you are a healthcare provider that needs a connection for patient insurance?

You will have to make some choices about losing a day if any of these apply to you. This is a reality and, in some cases, a gamble.

This just isn’t something we need right now.

Understandable for a lot of businesses out there. There are different needs for different business types.

Restaurants, for instance, probably couldn’t accept credit or debit cards if they lost connection. During a temporary outage, you can relay to your customers that you can only accept cash.

If you have a few users and work from a laptop, you can tether your mobile connection. Whatever the case, it isn’t something everyone needs.

Isn’t it just wasted money if my connection never drops out? Not necessarily. With some good IT work, you can route different Internet traffic through your two ISPs.

Consider it like load-balancing. You can also have it set up that if one of your two networks drop, the other one connects automatically. Again, lots of options are available to you.

Think you need a failover ISP?

There are places where you may not have the option of multiple providers, but in most business areas, there are different options available.

So what happens if you do have a second connection? How do you connect to your backup? Is it automatic?

Your IT department or managed service provider, like Tech Experts, can set that up for you. There are many options depending on your specific setup, but being covered against Internet service outages is universal.

VoIP Phones: Is It Time You Made The Switch?

It’s 2017 and, in case you didn’t know, VoIP phone systems just keep getting better. Yes, the landline is losing ground to yet another competitor: VoIP. Cell phones have made home phones much less prominent, but for businesses, there is and likely always will be a need for dedicated multi-line phone systems.

What is VOIP?

For those less tech savvy folks out there, you may not have heard of a VoIP phone before. Even if you have, you may not know what it means. VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” Very simply put: by using software or sometimes a physical converter, phone calls are made over the Internet.

Cell phones may be the reigning champion, but the need for dedicated phone systems will never go away. Many home users that do have home phones have VoIP and may not even know it.

If you are bundling phone service with your Internet and even cable television, then you most likely are using a VoIP system. In most home applications, it is common for your modem to have phone ports which can tie your existing phone jacks into the modem, allowing calls to be made.

For businesses, a VoIP system can be configured like you are used to. User extensions, call holds or parking, and line transfers – they’re all there, including other features your business may find useful.

Hold music, call directory, and even call recording are all easily put in place, too. There are many different solutions for businesses of different sizes, but the use of desktop multi-line phones works better for just about everyone.

Using a phone that connects directly to an Ethernet line provides great reliability. Most of these phones come with a second port allowing you to use your existing wired connection for your computer to connect the phone, which then sends the connection through to the computer.

This also allows for options of integration with your computer, such as software that can display incoming calls and outgoing calls, service queues, and the ability to call extensions or transfer calls with the click of your mouse.

So what’s better about it?

There are a number of advantages to using a VoIP system. The call clarity is better. The quality is better. Conference calls are easier and more reliable.

The many features provided by using an Internet-based product are surely more than you’d think. There are so many things that make a VoIP system attractive, but none of those will speak to you like the sound of cutting your phone bill down by up to 40-50% a month.

The number of simultaneous phone calls available to your business can be one of the biggest contributors to high costs. Long-distance on landlines can also add up whereas VoIP calling is cheaper per call than landlines, whether it’s local or long-distance calling.

Many businesses can see phone bills over $2,000 a month with a traditional landline system. Imagine cutting that in half. That is $12,000 a year in savings versus landlines. Maybe you’re a smaller business and have 10 employees. Your landline with multiple lines ringing in can cost you as much as $400 a month. Why not save yourself $2,400 a year?

Don’t let the initial cost of potentially buying new phones scare you away. When you are saving 40% a month, you will recoup the initial investment faster than you think. After that, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy better quality, better clarity, and all that extra money in your pockets.

VoIP Is The Ultimate Solution For Small Biz Phone Woes

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

One major technology pain point small businesses have revolves around communications. If your clients and prospects can’t effectively reach your staff, customer support and productivity is weakened. Increasingly, small businesses need more out of their phone system, and VoIP solutions offer more features with less expenses.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is, essentially, phone calls in the cloud. Voice signals are converted to packets that are sent across the Internet and reassembled in the correct order when they reach their destination. VoIP services can be deployed over the Internet or private IP networks (LAN/WLAN).

Why should your business invest in a powerful VoIP solution? There are several reasons, but the most important one is that it’s a huge opportunity to save on your business’s operating expenses. VoIP services can save a small business hundreds of dollars per month on their phone service costs. [Read more…]

How Can Small Businesses Amplify Employee Communication?

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

Using email to conduct important business always starts with the best intentions, like saving everyone time. Just think back to the last time you used email to solve a significant business issue or answer detailed questions from an important customer.

But, sometimes, email creates a disaster of miscommunication. Tone, intonation, and emotion get lost in translation. Messages and ideas are misunderstood. Nothing really gets accomplished.

So, what’s your next step when email isn’t working?

Usually, it’s a meeting in person or a quick conference call. Un-fortunately, those communication methods can create a whole new problem. In an increasingly mobile business world where teams, employees, and customers are spread out over multiple remote offices, work-from-home setups, or field operations, it can be nearly impossible to get everyone into the same place at the same time.

Tethering to the mothership: The lasting value of a virtual phone system
Web conferencing has helped mitigate the above problem. However, the fact that many businesses lack the communication and collaborative tools their team’s need — regardless of where they work — is the bigger issue. For example, even with web conferencing, many remote or work-from-home employees still rely on personal cell phones that aren’t connected to the company’s main phone system.

That’s problematic for a couple of key reasons:

• With personal landlines and cell phones, it’s significantly more difficult for remote employees to access antiquated company systems for voicemail, call forwarding, and conferencing.

• Without a true company-owned connection between the corporate office and the employee, the relationship between the two feels more like a contract gig than a full-time job — hurting employee engagement and retention.

Thankfully, there’s a relatively simple way to solve that problem: implementing a new, company-owned communication system that’s flexible, mobile, and collaborative.

One common solution is a VOIP (Voice Over IP) service, which can be based in the cloud or on-site.

The reality is that voice communication is still a far superior — and much more immediate — way for team members to connect with each other. It typically leads to richer, more sincere, and more empathetic communication, which in turn amplifies productivity.

These tools are like a tether to the corporate mothership. They’re a lifeline that allows everyone to feel connected to their colleagues and customers, but in a way that aligns with the mobility and functionality that today’s remote workers need.

Why many businesses are moving to the cloud
Of course, the image of a desktop phone doesn’t exactly convey a sense of mobility. And it certainly doesn’t solve the problem of being able to connect from any location.

That’s where cloud-based phone systems come in.

Cloud-based phone systems allow team members to receive company calls, access corporate voicemail, and set up virtual conferences from a basic Internet connection.

When employees step out of the office, calls can be forwarded and certain features can be accessed from their cell phone.

Traditional phone systems, on the other hand, often hinder remote workers’ communication effectiveness because of their limited mobile capabilities. This often results in lost money, lost productivity, and big headaches. Even worse, businesses often pay more for traditional phone systems in the form of equipment maintenance and outages.

Virtual communication systems create an overall experience that makes people feel like an effective part of the team, wherever they are. No more emotionless email exchanges and no more awkward, disjointed conference calls. At the end of the day, that’s good for your team, your company, and, most importantly, your customers.

Why Your Company Should Make The Switch To VoIP

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

We made the switch to a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system a few weeks ago. I opted for an in-house telephone server, but could have easily chosen a hosted option that didn’t require any hardware in the office except for phones.

A growing number of small businesses are making the same switch. While it can be a lot of work to overhaul the entire telecommunications system of your small business, it is definitely worth considering in light of the ever-increasing costs of traditional services.

What is VoIP?
VoIP is a method of making phone calls using the Internet as opposed to using typical landlines. VoIP services integrate Internet connected IP phones, which look pretty much like traditional office phones, except they plug into an Internet connection with an Ethernet cable.

Cost effectiveness
The biggest VoIP attraction is low cost. Since they’re Internet-based, hosted systems usually require little to no hardware investment. You might need to upgrade your firewall or Ethernet switches to accomodate the increased traffic.

An in-house system requires an investment in a mid-grade voice server, the phone system software, new phones, and possible network upgrades. The equipment cost is around half of what a traditional phone system would cost.

We’ve seen our monthly phone bill drop from over $300 per month to less than $60 using VoIP carriers instead of a traditional phone company.

Hosted fees run from $20 to $30 per extension, which includes all of your local and long distance calling, and the rental of the cloud based phone system.c150103_m

VoIP is particularly cost-effective, if you have employees working from satellite offices or telecommuters.

A telecommuter can take a VoIP phone home and make calls by plugging it into his home Internet connection to make and receive calls on the company lines at no additional cost.

Other benefits
Certain VoIP service providers have introduced mobile apps that allow workers to make and receive phone calls on their mobile devices using the company phone numbers. Their privacy is therefore protected since they do not give their personal phone number.

In addition, the company owns the line so if an employee leaves, calls are routed to the company rather than the employee’s cell phone.

Things to consider
While the mobility and scalability of VoIP systems are attractive, there are a few things to keep in mind. Since VoIP services depend on an Internet connection, if the connection fails, the phones would be dysfunctional.

In a business such as ours, where phones are integral to daily operations and client service, we would strongly recommend a backup Internet connection.

Almost all VoIP systems also have a fail over function, where the system will automatically route incoming calls to another number, such as a cell phone, if the Internet goes down.

The future
The increase in VoIP adoption is undeniable, and analysts predict that it will become the predominant business phone service over the next decade. Our system works great, and I’m glad we made the switch!

(Image Source: iCLIPART)