One of the more significant developments in computing in recent years has been the wholesale adoption of VoIP systems by businesses and increasingly by home and mobile users. Simply put, VoIP systems remove the costs and restrictions imposed by the traditional PSTN service providers.
Because of digital convergence among other things, the initial objective, to replace PSTN connections with digital connections has grown by leaps and bounds into fully-fledged integrated communications environments supporting media connections, not just voice.
Businesses are now presented with options among others to improve their presence and reduce their costs. Here are five such.
Cost reductions through Call Security
In the past, PBX systems were location based. Extension numbers were tied to a physical location such as a desktop. The ability to restrict calls was linked to the physical device. Anyone using the handset could only make the calls that were allowed for that extension number, for example, local calls only, no national or international calls.
VoIP systems are by contrast person based in that an individual uses a PIN number to log-on to the VoIP system wherever they might be. They can log-on from the traditional desktop handset or by using SIP technologies from a smart device. Call security, therefore, becomes person based rather than location based. The ability to make calls resides in the individual profile. Applying call security according to individual needs becomes that much easier.
Using VoIP can make a business seem much larger than it actually is. Two examples are automated call forwarding and departmental assignment.
With automated call forwarding, calls made to a local number are automatically forwarded to a central number. In this way, a company can seem to have a local presence, but in actuality operate a central support organisation. Many companies have done this with their call-centre operation. For example, British Airways operated a centralised call centre in India. All calls to a local or national call centre were automatically forwarded there.
With a departmental assignment, different extension numbers can be published for sales, finance, procurement, and so-on. However, they can be automatically forwarded to a single extension number. The company looks like it has different operational departments when in reality it does not.
Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”)
An organisation that operates a call-centre to provide customer support can tailor its VoIP system to support a CRM environment. The VoIP system can be linked to a database application. In this environment, the call-centre operative will have customer information displayed on a local computer screen when that customer calls in. The data is retrieved using the incoming telephone number. The operator can then answer the call with “Good day <customer name> “ giving a much more personal and warm aspect to the interaction.
Often details of previous and current interactions with that customer are shown giving the ability to deal more effectively with the customer. VoIP provides that capability.
Automated Documentation Support
A large part of customer support is providing documentation, usually product related. This obviously can be accomplished via a website application, but most VoIP systems can also provide this facility.
The requestor dials a number, taken for example from a media advertisement and is presented with the option to email a document to a specified address. In this way, the requestor receives the information they want, and the company has an email address for future marketing activity. All without any manual intervention thanks to VoIP.
Automated Call Handling
There is nothing more frustrating than calling an organisation and being forwarded from extension to extension as your call is not answered. The use of calling, hunting and auto-forwarding groups maintained by the VoIP system can significantly ease that pain.
While they are similar there are differences between calling and hunting groups. Calling groups allow anyone in that group to pick up a call for anyone else in the group. For example, a call to an extension where the normal answerer is unavailable can be picked up by someone else nearby. This is especially useful after hours where desks are unattended.
Hunting groups automate this process. If a call is not answered after a certain time interval it is automatically forwarded to another extension number. Calling and Hunting groups often work together to improve customer service.
Auto-forwarding is particularly useful for support and alarm calls. The VoIP system can be programmed to auto-forward calls to a particular number to another number, for example, the duty engineer. The forwarding can be done manually by manually programming the number into the extension profile itself, or in some cases can be accomplished via a calendar. In this way, incoming calls should be answered, not just ring out.
The increasing sophistication of VoIP systems now enables small businesses to punch above their weight and bring improved customer service levels at little or no cost.
Even before digital convergence gave fresh impetus to the VoIP revolution, VoIP was being adopted by small and large businesses worldwide.
The development of SIP and the emergence of SIP Trunk providers allowed further progress to be made by providing mobility and integration with other digitally based communications to provide a Unified Communications environment.
SIP Trunks work by using a SIP capable PBX to replace the physical connections provided by traditional POTS suppliers. In essence, a SIP Trunk is the virtual equivalent of the physical wire provided by the POTS supplier, instead of running over a digital connection (data circuit). It can support voice, data, streaming media, and video services, an ideal combination of services for businesses seeking to implement that Unified Communications environment.Continue reading
In recent times there has been a quantum increase in the use of digital communications, both in the business and domestic sectors. Businesses use IP Telephony to reduce their communications costs, improve interactions and service levels with staff and customers and present a better business image to the world at large.
Domestic users can now use VoIP to talk with and see far-flung friends and relatives easily and cheaply over long distances from their smart devices using VoIP capable apps like Skype and WhatsApp. No more expensive long-distance calls.
The terms VoIP and IP Telephony are often used interchangeably to describe digitally based communications. Are they, in fact, the same thing, or are there technical and non-technical differences?Continue reading
VoIP for Business provides a range of benefits, including substantial cost-savings that make it a must-have for most businesses. However, as with most IT advances, VoIP has attracted the dark side of the developers. Hackers and scammers are using VoIP for Business as a way to steal data and execute hacking exploits.
As with other types of malware attacks, business need to be aware of how these exploits are executed and what preventative measures they can take.
The first thing to understand is that most successful hacking attacks are by having users provide sensitive information. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, and they are increasingly using VoIP to steal personal and company data or just cause mischief.Continue reading
Thanks to digital convergence, Voice over IP (“VoIP”) business systems are commonplace in businesses worldwide. Most major Telcos, networking companies and many third-party suppliers provide VoIP for Business systems and services as part of their hardware and software repertoire.
As usual, you need to be careful before committing money and resources to a particular VoIP for Business solution by making sure you understand exactly what you want. You need to consider the functions required of your VoIP solution and set them out in a wish-list. Knowing your budget is also essential. You can use these criteria to measure solutions and see how closely they meet your needs.Continue reading
The advent of Voice over IP telephony (“VoIP”) has radically changed the face of communications for both personal and business users. It has opened up opportunities for enhanced, and substantially cheaper communications, especially for long-distance and international calls. VoIP for Business has provided communications options that are not possible with a fixed line environment.
However, the prudent personal and business user needs to be vigilant to make the best return on their investment and achieve the lowest possible international call rates.
Here are three simple tips for personal and business users to make sure that they accrue the full benefit of cheaper international communications.Continue reading
One of the more commonly encountered results of the digital convergence between voice and data is the IP PBX System. There are obviously costs and benefits to moving to IP telephony, and a business needs to consider if it should move to a IP PBX System and if it chooses to, when is the best time.
Typically, an IP telephony installation consists of a central PBX function and VoIP phones on user desks. Rather than dedicated cables needed for traditional non-IP systems, conversations are digitised and carried over the cabling that supports the office network. For the very small business there is the option of a Hosted PBX system, where the IP PBX is hosted at an external service provider.Continue reading
A digital revolution in communications has been ushered in by the convergence of telephony with television, video and IT networking. This revolution is driven by a digital voice distribution protocol Voice over IP, (“VoIP”).
VoIP telephony in both home and business is one of the fastest growing segments of the VoIP market. It provides advantages in cost, in mobility and increased functionality with a range of compatible devices.Continue reading
We have all been frustrated at poor voice call quality on phone services. It can be noise or chopping on the line or sounding like you have breathed helium. VoIP is no different. The typical business will refer problems to the business VoIP phone service supplier providing the VoIP support contract. It causes further frustration and delays if the fault is not with the VoIP for business system and the business needs to make a second support call to another service provider.
In the event of failure or call poor quality there are a few steps that the business can take prior to making the call to make sure that the problem does not arise elsewhere and the support call can be correctly placed.
Poor call quality can arise in at least three areas: the business network itself; the VoIP system – centrally and at the desktop VoIP phone for business; and the Internet or PSTN service provider.Continue reading
The convergence of telephony with television, video and IT networking has enabled a digital revolution in communications. At the core of this revolution is Voice over IP, (“VoIP”), a digital voice distribution protocol. All sizes of business are replacing their existing telephone systems with VoIP systems from a specialised VoIP provider operating over the company network.
Most businesses will need the assistance of a VoIP provider to help them navigate through the various options available in tariff plan, equipment, and feature selection. There are several websites that compare and contrast the best UK VoIP providers. It will also be useful to ask other business owners their experiences.
The first introduction of a VoIP phone system to an organisation is a lot more than just changing the handset on the desk. The features and functions offered by a VoIP system to the end user are a world apart from those of the traditional telephone system.Continue reading