Back in the day, most businesses had an in-house PBX system connected to the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”), operated by a manual or automatic switching system. Then came the Internet and digital communications. The in-house PBX was connected to the PSTN and the Internet using a SIP Trunk.
Strictly speaking, SIP Trunks were not necessary since a PBX could connect using standard landlines. However, a SIP Trunk could provide additional functionality such as call forwarding. Then came VoIP, connecting a digital phone system running on an internal corporate network to the Internet, again often over a SIP Trunk.
Over the last few years, businesses have been steadily embracing remote access to their systems, either supporting working from home or remote access to eCommerce systems. This is often in addition to implementing VoIP systems to accrue their costs and operational benefits.
Other remote access systems used increasingly over the last few years have been collaborative communications systems, both free-standing and supporting integrated voice and videoconferencing, like Messenger, Zoom, and NetMeeting.
The “as a Service” concept has become common as Cloud usage expands. We now see SaaS, “Software as a Service” and PaaS, “Platform as a Service” for example. There are other implementations of the concept, generically known as XaaS In terms of customer service, CCaaS, “Contact Centre as a Service” has begun to gain some traction.
What is XAAS?
In its simplest terms, XaaS is where an IT service is delivered to the end-user remotely using Cloud Technologies. VoIP, including VoIP Phones, is an example where the configuration of the handset, user profiles and perhaps phonebooks and contact lists are delivered from a central repository in the Cloud held on a hosted server.Continue reading
Many businesses have recognised the need for improved customer relations recently. Many customers have moved to an online basis, often as e-commerce rather than a physical business. As a result, their customer management arrangements (“CRM”) need to be upgraded.
Often CRM is a part of a wider unified communications system, where all internal and external communications, voice, video and data are linked on a common set of standards, platforms, and information sources. A VoIP implementation is a key part of that.
Simply put, a contact centre is a portmanteau term for a central point from which all customer interactions are managed. It is usually a combination of call centres, offline support centres, and other channels of customer interaction. They may operate using a common Customer Response Management system (“CRM”).Continue reading
Digital Convergence, and the creation of a Unified Communications (“UC”) platform have been embraced by many organisations. A UC is the movement of all digital communications traffic, data, VoIP for business and video, over a single physical network through a variety of software platforms.
Obviously, maintaining optimum response times for all classes of traffic is necessary, especially for VoIP for business and video. It is a vital balancing act that IT performs, usually through the creation and management of Quality of Service protocols.
Cloud VoIP has become an essential part of most business communications strategies. It gives real operational cost benefits, and improves business operations and public image.
Part of the process is selecting the correct VoIP phone type for each user for a range of mobile and desktop units.
One of the first steps in any Cloud VoIP implementation is to determine where VoIP handsets will be needed, the type of handset, and if the supporting infrastructure is available at the installation point. The two main types of handset are software applications on smart devices, and physical handsets connected to a cabled or WiFi network.
The last two years have seen a major shift in IT towards Working from Home and remote access to systems. Because of lockdowns, and the closure of physical outlets, the pandemic has closed some businesses and forced others to move to e-commerce.
Two major disadvantages of Working from Home include the increased communications costs with the staff member, and a feeling of remoteness and isolation when they don’t interact with team members and other members of staff regularly in person.
Many businesses have already installed VoIP to take advantage of the cost and operational benefits of a Unified Communications platform. If the company has a high-speed and stable Internet connection, and most with e-commerce will, it is easy to use the corporate VoIP system to extend communications to staff Working from Home to overcome these problems.Continue reading
As a consequence of the pandemic, many businesses have moved to a Work from Home and remote access basis. The way they do business, the way they interact with customers and customers interact with them has radically changed.
This has meant a sea-change in internal corporate structures. New Internal and external corporate communications have placed intense pressure on IT as they implement VoIP or Cloud Phone systems on a restricted budget.
Companies that have implemented VoIP Phone Systems have seen the financial and operational benefits of VoIP Phones, but have also seen the downside reducing the cost savings. High maintenance costs, unstable internet connections, and poor quality connections are common issues.
One effect of the pandemic has been a quantum increase in remote working and working from home. IT strategies have morphed from strategic to survival as they change to cope with the new business imperatives.
In remote working the need to communicate increases, and it is even more important in helping to maintain team morale and manage projects with a geographically dispersed workforce.
Collaborative applications like SharePoint, Zoom, NetMeeting, and Skype have become the norm in business. Cloud storage as a means of document sharing and project communications is now essential. A Cloud Phone, a phone that uses Voice over IP (“VoIP”) over the Internet is becoming indispensable for productivity, privacy and general communications.
More than ever, business communications are vital to a business’s success. Customers and suppliers need to get in touch. The company needs to maintain an Internet presence to market its goods and services and support an e-commerce facility. Geographically dispersed businesses need business communications to link home office, manufacturing sites and depots at home and abroad
New company business, communications and IT strategies need to reflect the new realities. Many companies are looking to implement an Integrated Communications Strategy that defines a common look-and-feel throughout the business.
Love them or loath them, call centres are a fact of life nowadays. Looking at them from a business standpoint, they are an essential component of a cost-effective and efficient customer service environment. VoIP for Business makes implementation a practical proposition, even for the smallest business.
However, the quality of service delivered to the customer can make or break a relationship. A high-level customer experience is the goal. When, for example, they hear “You are number 47 in the queue”, they will hang up and not call back. The tone and style of the interaction with the agent are vital.
That is where planning the interaction and why inbound and outbound call monitoring is essential. It usually takes the form of a call centre quality monitoring programme. Knowing service levels and their quality is not just metrics.
Effective CRM using VoIP for Business is the balancing of agent efficiency and service quality.
First of all, what is call monitoring? It’s the listening in on agent and customer interactions and the recording of them for later analysis. “Your call may be recorded for quality purposes”.
The upsides of call monitoring are both qualitative and quantitative. Measurement of response rates and customer attitudes tells you if waiting times are acceptable. This assists with resource planning. Customer attitudes also tell you if assistance is effective and if an agents performance is acceptable.
VoIP for Business has become commonplace in the business and personal marketplace. Most businesses use it, bringing them many benefits. The increases in Increased remote working and working from home following the restrictions imposed by the pandemic has meant many more small businesses using VoIP for Business.
Originally VoIP meant a level of expense that put out of the reach of the smaller business, but shelf-units and PC-based virtual PBX software have brought VoIP for Business well with the reach of even the smallest business and SoHo users. The increasing availability of Internet access, especially the roll-out of fibre to the home, is also providing benefits to digital telephony. That has, in turn, driving a need for VoIP in smaller businesses.
Before VoIP, whenever an employee left the building they were by and large uncontactable, with the possible exception of catching them at a client, at home in the evening or in their overnight accommodation. This meant communications between staff, the office, and each other were difficult at best. All that has changed with the advent of affordable Business VoIP. Simply put, with Business VoIP and its inbuilt video-conferencing capability, individuals and teams need never be uncontactable, inside or outside the office. It is now possible to be truly mobile.