Topics:@voipproviders voip voip providers communication benefits small business public speaking entrepreneur networking Augmented Reality successful business tech products
Here at Best Company, we reached out to VoIP industry leaders and business professionals who have had personal experiences using VoIP technologies. Read on to hear what they had to say: What is VoIP? Simply put, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a modern phone system that uses the same networks that your business already uses for the internet. This make it possible to bypass conventional phone lines. This phone system is managed by a VoIP company and your information, calls, etc. are kept in the cloud. Typically, you will pay for this service through a month-to-month contract. Some of the most popular benefits are automatic call forwarding, voicemail to email transcriptions, and the ability to see detailed data of calling history. VoIP basics Uses the internet to make calls “VoIP is a way to use the internet to make telephone calls. It allows you to use your computer to make calls to other computers, much like you would from a phone to another phone. With VoIP, the call is sent digitally, rather than over analog phone lines. Since VoIP does not use traditional phone networks, it is cheaper compared to traditional phones.” — Nikola Baldikov, Brosix "It uses the underlying technology of Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) to connect two parties." — Saurabh Jindal, Talk Travel “When sending anything over the internet, that data is packaged up as something called a packet based on a particular protocol. The protocol simply describes the method of packing the data. When it is received, the recipient looks at the protocol so that it knows how to unpack this particular packet. It's like taking something apart to ship it and including assembly directions for whoever opens the box. VoIP is simply the protocol used to pack up this data. This tells the recipient that this particular packet is audio and should be unpacked that way." — Shayne Sherman, CEO, TechLoris Common among remote workers “VoIP technology is becoming more common among businesses, freelancers, and remote workers” — Ryan Pitylak, CMO, ZenBusiness Industry changer “The technology first came to light in the mid-nineties as a way to get around long distance charges. But, the early versions were rough, as the internet was considerably slower back then. And you had to listen to ads before during and after calls. These days, VoIP tech has grown from something that kind of worked to an industry that is changing the way we communicate. Everything from video calling to sending faxes is possible over the internet. It's even possible to run a full call center using VoIP technology.” — Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO, GetVoIP "This digital phone service is more extensible and often more reliable than a landline public switched telephone network (PSTN, also known as plain old telephone service, POTS) provided by the local phone company. Companies and individuals can access VoIP phones wherever there’s a reliable internet connection through a VoIP telephone or a computer. VoIP’s portability makes it particularly useful for companies with distributed call centers and sales representatives." — Abby Dykes, Technology Advice Advantages of VoIP Better scalability "Scalability is referred to as the ability of a system to add an extra workload within the system without affecting its current performance and efficiency. In other words, if you want to add a new user, then it will not affect the existing system’s performance and efficiency. A benefit of VoIP is that to add something you will not need to change anything in the existing system. In technological terms, VOIP voice to digital signals occurs using software not from hardware, so it will be easy to alter and maintain the entire system without interrupting any component." — Tarun Gurang, iFour Technology Little to no additional hardware "VoIP solutions require little to no hardware or setup and provide individuals and businesses with an array of communications options that can increase collaboration and productivity. Like other cloud communications, VoIP takes advantage of mobile and on-the-go access, making it easier to manage your personal and professional lives from anywhere." — Anand Janefalker, Founder and CEO, UJET Increased productivity "By using VOIP technology, every employee can multi-task without any interruption, increasing their productivity and directly increasing the productivity of an organization. VOIP allows users to attach documents, conduct meetings, manage contact lists, access voicemail, and share data via video conferencing. That makes it indistinguishable compared to traditional telephonic communication. Employees can also work remotely, which also cuts down utilities and office space for organizations. Hence, any employee or organization can stay in touch with their clients from anywhere at any time through a variety of channels." — Gurang Lower cost "The benefit of VOIP is that you save the money you'd spend on a land line, anywhere from $35 to $50 a month, so the savings are significant." — Maryanne Steidinger, Critical Manufacturing "Long distance call costs can get expensive, but VOIP services are generally affordable (can be as cheap as $10 per person) and don’t generally require additional fees for long distance calls since it just requires an internet connection." — Colin Ma, Founder, Digital Software Products Disadvantages of VoIP Unfortunately, VoIP also presents its own unique set of obstacles that typical landlines don’t face. Slightly less reliable than traditional phone lines "Even if there are issues with the internet, many VoIP services have a fail safe that will forward it over to your cell phone number; you don't even have to have the backups installed. However, the VoIP phones go through the cloud and because of that, there can be issues. Traditional land lines don't have those issues because they don't go through the cloud. However, the trade off for innovation is worth it. If you don't switch to VoIP, you are going to get left behind." — Brian Peterson, VP of Engineering, Dialpad Internet outages "The biggest limitation of VoIP is its dependence on a stable internet connection. Since a VoIP service is significantly affected by the quality of a broadband connection, it becomes less reliable as a communication channel. Users have to put up with distorted voice quality simply due to congested networks and poor bandwidth. In some cases, a specialized VoIP router may be required to enable a smooth experience during crucial calls. Even with stable networks, data packets can be hit with delays or errors in re-assembly causing latency and jitter. This can be a major hurdle in using VoIP as a single trusted source of business communication." — Damien Martin, ShuftiPro “If your internet connection goes down, you lose your phone service as well, especially if you live in an area that has blackouts or brownouts, this would be a consideration. Landlines do not have this problem.” — Maryanne Electric power dependence “Because it relies on the internet, it has its own set of setbacks. If there are internet issues, then the quality and reliability of the calls are affected. It also needs electricity to run so you won’t be able to use it during power outages, unlike regular telephone networks.” — Kenny Trinh, NetBookNews
Guest Post by Sam O'Brien It's been a big year for augmented reality (AR). All the giant tech players such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon have invested heavily in the sector in 2019. But companies in Silicon Valley aren’t the only ones taking an interest. AR is being used across a wide range of the following industries: Telecommunications Construction Education Engineering Healthcare Live events Military Real estate Video entertainment In May 2019, there were 1.5 billion AR-compatible mobile devices in use. With the continued rollout of new AR-capable cell phones, this figure is only going to increase. By this point, you're probably thinking this sounds like a technology to get on board with. You would be correct. Experts have predicted the AR industry to be worth $25 billion by 2025. The benefits of its use are expected to be wide ranging and, while it is still an emerging technology, AR is already looking set for a promising future. How publishers are taking advantage of augmented reality Whichever industry you’re operating in, it is important to embrace the advantages of new tech as it comes in. Publishing is no different. Publishers have been quick to realize some of the possibilities that will come with AR. From interactive books to promotional experiences and learning, AR is set to transform our lives — bringing us even further on our journey from the physical and into the digital world. Assistive AR for telecommunications Telecommunications is an industry that’s being quickly transformed by advances in tech. Intelligent phone systems, like those delivered via VoIP Phone System, offer firms a range of new options. Customer service agents and others have a whole host of new features at their fingertips. Learning those systems can take a while if you use traditional training methods. That’s where AR can come in to support the telecommunications field. The different capabilities of new telecoms systems can be far more ably displayed via AR. AR training manuals and assistive resources make on-the-job training more intuitive. AR visualizations of a system in action make it much simpler for agents to learn their roles. They can see new systems as if in action. That’s without ever having to have direct contact with customers or clients. For publishers, that represents an opportunity. They have the chance to create and disseminate those kinds of manuals. With AR, they can create training materials for customer service teams that firms, large and small, will use across their organizations. Often, too, the full extent of the materials can be delivered via an AR-enabled phone or headset. That makes the manuals and resources both easier to produce and to consume at point of use. AR and books Augmented reality is set to take the immersive experience of reading to even greater heights. Development is currently underway into AR reading materials, from illustrated comics to science journals. Comic book powerhouse Marvel has been using AR for some time. It has published a string of successful AR comics and its first AR publication, Avengers Vs. X-men No.1, was released as far back as 2012. A more recent example of how AR and books can be combined to great effect is the Marvel graphic novel Masters of the Sun. The graphic novel was released alongside an AR app, which gave readers the chance to dig deeper into the storyline. The same approach is being used by publishers across a range of sectors. For example, in the case of the popular children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, AR creates a logical add on to the story, enhancing the reader’s experience. Used in this way, augmented reality is a method for creating a rich universe for readers to explore. This approach is being replicated by a wide range of publishers covering everything from children’s books through to content for adults. Assistive AR for medical professionals, accountants, lawyers, construction and engineering personnel Publishers in the professional service sectors are also set to see a huge transformation in the way they produce books and websites, using AR to benefit learning, training, law, finance, and a host of other subjects. The February 2019 release of the Microsoft Hololens 2 headset showed just how quickly AR tech is developing. Medical professionals now have the ability to source information from science and medical data banks. Doctors are already engaging with AR resources to maximize their efficiency and success when treating patients. AR is enabling workforces to stay focused on the job at hand by sourcing relevant information and augmenting existing knowledge whilst they’re actually completing the task. AR provides resources for professional assistive services too. AR toolkits are already making a significant impact and new market opportunities are opening up every day. Publishers are already creating apps that allow customers to undertake repairs on their home goods. Training booklets will never be boring again. AR gives construction and engineering workers the ability to learn about health and safety measures and practice tasks safely while ensuring the work is done correctly. The possibilities are limitless and publishers are just starting to realize the potential of augmented reality. Imagine being able to practice brain surgery from a textbook, without risk to a patient. You can learn to weld from an online educational resource, without any material costs. Publishers are already creating whole networks of data banks to provide information, which will be crucial for the roll-out of AR tech within the industry. Augmented reality in the education sector Augmented reality will be a boon for the education sector too, providing a whole new medium through which to engage with learners and advance their knowledge on a wide range of topics, including how businesses communicate. Emerging educational tech is expected to be worth $250 billion by 2020, and AR is a leading force in the market. Rather than showing just an illustrated image of a heart, with AR the publishers of this book on the human body were able to create a far more engaging visualization of a beating heart. It’s easy to see how this technology can be applied to math, geography and other subjects. And AR doesn’t just make education more engaging for students, it enables teachers to explain abstract and difficult concepts more easily through 3D modelling. The importance of staying relevant as AR use grows It was Nelson Jackson who said, “I do not believe you can do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and still be in business tomorrow.” We're set for a future that's vastly different to the present. When you work in a competitive market, it's imperative you keep up with changing trends. AR presents a wealth of opportunity for publishers, and the industry must grab the chance to develop engaging AR websites, apps, programs, databanks, games, and more. Another huge opportunity presented by the use of AR is data collection. Users will login to access AR downloadable content, giving publishers vital insight into their audience. Perhaps now is the time to improve your business intelligence capability to ensure you can take full advantage. With massive industries lining up to get on board, AR has already attracted a lot of attention and investment. Auto manufacturers, education, the military, healthcare, retail, science — AR will affect them all. But the AR potential for publishers, in particular, is close to limitless. There is no time like the present to get behind this tech and really push the envelope. Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as X-Cart and Vxchnge. You can contact him here.
Guest Post by Nahamani Yisrael Successful entrepreneurs come from all walks of life and in all shapes and colors. Even amid individuals from the same ethnic or socioeconomic group, there is a wide variety in how group members process thought. This form of diversity among business owners adds a unique layer to the business environment. The way in which these individuals see the world around them allows each to solve various societal problems through their product and service offerings in their own one-of-a-kind way. Regardless of the industry in which these individuals operate, as leaders of their respective organizations entrepreneurs are often tasked with introducing their brand to new audiences. Quite often this is done through networking and public speaking engagements. Speaking on behalf of one’s company, especially in front of large crowds, can be intimidating to anyone, however introverted entrepreneurs often find these task particularly daunting. Recently I had the opportunity to attend a networking event where Angela Jenkins, Vice President of Human Resources of YWCA of Cincinnati, sat on a panel of African American career women. Jenkins spoke to a group of hundreds of women leaders, entrepreneurs, and aspiring career women. She was poised and succinct and delivered encouraging words with what seemed like great ease. After the event I approached her to commend her on her powerful delivery which conveyed her passion for the subject matter at hand. Through our brief conversation I learned that she considered herself to be an introvert, I was shocked yet intrigued. As I began working on this article, I was reminded of our brief encounter. I reached out to Jenkins to learn more about her tactics for overcoming her natural sense of apprehension in order to deliver a powerful message to her captivated audience. She agreed to allow me to interview her for this article, and we met for brunch near her Downtown Cincinnati office. During our face-to-face interview, Angela Jenkins advised me of how she was thrust into a leadership role at U.S. Shoe when her supervisor became unexpectedly ill. With little time to prepare, she took on the responsibilities that the role presented, including facilitating trainings for new hires. As her organization grew, through the acquisition of Lens Crafters, a then young company with an intense growth trajectory, Jenkins's speaking responsibilities also increased dramatically. Jenkins attributes her success during this period to a strong mentor who continuously encouraged her to pursue personal development and pushed her to achieve her goals. “Because of my natural introverted tendencies I don’t typically seek out leadership opportunities, but given the circumstances I was the best person for the job,” says Jenkins. Introversion itself is a cognitive behavior that causes the individual to reflect inwardly. One’s inward reflection may erroneously be deemed as shyness or quietness; however, shyness and quietness are both social phenomena, not cognitive at all. In an effort to gain a better understanding of how introversion affects leaders, I reached out to one of my former college professors, Julian Mendoza. Mendoza is an innovation and venture consultant. He is also a member of the Adjunct Faculty at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio where he often teaches leadership courses to students at The Williams College of Business. “Many people misinterpret introvert behavior as social cues. A thoughtful pause is just that: a pause to think. The introvert brain wants to take in as much input as possible. That takes time, as does the processing.” Mendoza further explains the template-driven nature of introverted individuals. “Additionally, if the person is “pattern-oriented”, s/he would seem startled (like a deer in the headlights) if the new inputs are very strange to the pattern models that were carefully developed and now kept on the shelf as ready templates.” While the nature of introverted individuals may seem slower to respond than extroverts, the careful, deliberate response in many cases may be superior to someone who just blurts out the first thing that comes to mind. Sitting across the table from Jenkins at our brunch, I could see that she was taking in every aspect of the room around us. She sat facing the doors where she could input each new arrival into her mental template of the room. The words she used to answer my probing questions were very deliberate and well thought out. I could tell that she wanted me to succeed in creating an impactful article that would help shed light on how introverted leaders could capitalize on their uniqueness and excel at public speaking and networking. I took this opportunity to ask her for some specific tips that I could share with readers. Her answers came very easily to her, as if she had been waiting for me to ask this exact question. “Always practice and prepare!” she said almost immediately. “When preparing for a speaking engagement, I do a lot of reading. I always write out notes, well basically bullet points, to remind me of what I want to say.” Thinking back to that March morning when I first encountered Jenkins, I couldn’t remember seeing any look at any notecards or pause to review any bullet points. “Do you actually use them during your speech?” I asked for clarification. “No, not really, I just feel more comfortable knowing that I have them,” she answered. Jenkins paused, giving me time to jot down my notes before she delivered her second tip. “Find someone who is stronger than you and allow them to coach you.” For a moment I thought she was speaking to me personally, but soon remembered how she had praised her mentor at Lens Crafters. According to Jenkins, this individual always set the stage for her to excel, providing her with all of the resources she would need for constant improvement. The part of Jenkins's statement that stood out to me was being coachable — taking feedback with grace and applying said feedback to future endeavors. Jenkins, by being coachable, was able to learn from every speaking engagement. Though she may have been nervous at first, at the end of her speeches she typically ended with an “OMG moment”, from which she drew the courage to do it yet again. Most introverted individuals know that they are unique. This uniqueness gives them qualities that add value to their respective organizations. Jenkins hopes that more introverts will be given opportunities to step outside of their comfort zones and share their message with the world. With a lot of preparation and a bit of encouragement, introverted entrepreneurs can effectively deliver their message to both large and small groups of individuals, who could potentially be their next big client, referral source, or brand ambassador. Here are a few tips that can help you excel at your next big networking event: Prepare an elevator pitch — Practicing your elevator pitch in a safe environment is the best way to increase your confidence and help you work out any kinks in your spiel. Try having someone record you as you give your pitch. Not only can you go back and review it, but you can also post the final version on your social media profile and let your friends and followers know about your business. Arrive early – Try arriving a few minutes before the event starts. This gives you additional time to get over your natural jitters and allows you to meet new arrivals one by one versus entering a crowded room of unfamiliar faces. Take along a companion – The goal of networking is to meet new people and introduce them to your business and/or brand. You may feel more comfortable knowing that there is someone in the room with whom you are familiar. However, make sure that you step away from time to time to give yourself an opportunity to mingle. Stake out your safe space – Find a quiet corner to which you can retreat should you begin to feel overwhelmed. One tactic is to leave a book or briefcase in your safe space so that others can see that you have claimed this space for your own. In the event that there aren’t any such spaces that you can use for this purpose, there is always the option to go to the restroom or step outside to catch your breath. Recharge your batteries after the event – Be sure to schedule downtime after each big event to allow yourself time to recharge. Resist the urge to stack appointments as this does not permit you the necessary self-care time that introverts often require. Nahamani.org works with organizational leaders and provides public relations management and PR coaching. These services are designed to help our clients obtain both media publicity and paid speaking engagements. Clients of Nahamani.org often have a great product or service, but need extra help getting their brand message to the right individuals. Nahamani.org provides them with the resources they need to propel their brand to the next level.
Guest Post by Rob Stix Defined by strange vanacular and acronyms, VoIP can feel like an overwhelming prospect for business leaders. It is difficult to understand exactly what services VoIP offers and how they help your business instead of hinder it. As a VoIP expert, let me share some answers to your questions about VoIP safety: How can VOIP help prevent phone scams? What other security threats are posed to VoIP? What's a solution that can help counteract these threats and solidify VoIP as an efficient and secure form of communication? Is it worth it to switch to a VOIP system? How can VoIP help prevent phone scams? VoIP's best feature is that it can easily block calls that look fraudulent compared to traditional lines. If you've had the misfortune to receive a call from a scammer, a quality VoIP system allows end-users to block specific numbers via a portal that they have access to. In other words, if you receive a call from a scammer and suspect foul play, all you have to do is hang up and block the number. There's no need to ever worry about having to receive another phone call from that number again or to worry about calling your provider to report the situation. Since technology is continuously evolving, VoIP is constantly catching up, making its security not entirely incorruptible, inspiring scammers to take advantage. However, you'll only be victimized if you make indisputable mistakes, such as sharing your personal information while on the line with an unknown number or by never updating your password. These are common mistakes everyone should be aware of when using a technological device in today's day and age. What other security threats are posed to VoIP? Phone scams are not the only threat that is posed to VoIP; one to watch out for is the denial of service attacks. DOS is essentially scammers who target your network and flood it with dummy data, staggering the system and slowing it down. By doing so, this attack will open the door for malicious code. Counteracting such an attack can be done by monitoring for insecure endpoints, identifying risk-prone devices, and employing extremely effective firewall protection.VoIP Phishing, otherwise known as Vishing, is also rather prevalent at the moment. This threat is caused by individuals with malicious intent to redirect your calls to another line, then connect to online scammers looking to suck funds from the caller. What's a solution that can help counteract these threats and solidify VoIP as an efficient and secure form of communication? As I've mentioned before, VoIP has yet to be perfected and will take some time to do so due to technology continuously evolving. With that being said, VoIP systems depend on packet-switched telephony to maintain open communications. The very transmission type itself can be at risk of developing interruptions between two active lines. This occurs because call data is streamed in packets over the network, which means unwanted snoopers can intercept it and gain the upper hand. What we've developed to get around this is with full encryption, active network monitoring and a host of other security-focused features. This security system automatically blocks any IP addresses that are questionable automatically via an algorithm. We also monitor closely calls coming from high-risk geographical areas. Is it worth it to switch to a VoIP system? If you're wondering if it's worth it to switch to a VoIP system, even with all of these threats, it absolutely is. In today's world, these types of threats are common for anyone with or without VoIP. Overall, VoIP is a fast, efficient, high-quality, and incredibly secure communications solution. It's a sophisticated technology that the world is progressively adapting, leading us all to more efficient forms of communication. However, if you are still worried about the threats, combine your VoIP system with a cloud-based VoIP services that utilize an internet connection. By doing so, that second line will serve as a backup and your business will be better protected from interruptions. Rob Stix is the CEO of DirectNet, a company with over 50 years of experience providing communications solutions.
How would you like to increase efficiency, engage employees, and provide better customer service across your entire business? Well, these are just a few of the benefits of using VoIP technology instead of landlines for your business’s phone network. With benefits like these, you’re probably wondering how much it’s going to cost to introduce VoIP in every one of your locations. But the beauty of VoIP is that it can significantly reduce your overall telecommunication costs. Interested? Let’s take a look at the top six reasons for switching from landlines to VoIP for your business phone service. Reduce your business costs Increase uniformity for a stronger brand Improve customer service Increase efficiency across the business Secure your company's communications Improve remote workforce inclusivity 1. Reduce your business costs Saving money is the number one reason to use VoIP in your business. The price per call is lower, particularly for international calls, and billing is often much simpler than it is for landline services. Businesses just like yours are reducing their phone service costs by as much as 50 percent by switching to VoIP. "Gartner predicts that, "... by 2021, 90 percent of IT leaders will not purchase any new premises-based UC infrastructure." This [figure] was 50 percent … in 2018." — BusinessWire Setting up and maintaining landlines is around 60 percent more expensive than installing and running VoIP (Nextiva), and handset costs are lower for VoIP phones than for standard telephones. On top of all this, VoIP networks reduce the amount of bandwidth you use by filling the space left by silent calls (roughly 50 percent of all VoIP calls) with data to improve efficiency. VoIP systems need fewer lines than a landline service, which require more lines as the estimated number of calls goes up. With VoIP, you can consolidate your lines and simply add more in the future if the demand grows. 2. Increase uniformity for a stronger brand Working styles have transformed in the last two decades. The internet and mobile networks mean more people now work outside of an office. With a VoIP system, everyone gets to use an office number. Remote workers no longer have to use their mobile or home phone to call customers, which improves privacy, increases contactability, and reduces expense claims. All calls appear to be from the local exchange of the virtual number, making communications seamless for your customers. You can attach any number of extensions to your one business number, which means the entire business uses one phone system to put calls through. An efficient, fast, and secure phone network like this makes bottlenecks a thing of the past, giving you happier customers and a huge competitive edge. 3. Improve customer service VoIP systems enhance your customer service in a number of ways. First, they let you put calls through to multiple devices at once. That’s especially useful if the person you’re trying to reach is away from their desk, or if there’s more than one person who can help you or (even better) a waiting customer. Second, VoIP users (whether office-based or remote) can set their availability and provide automated assistance with canned responses, such as a message that explains the opening hours for their office. Additionally, they can set up the system to try multiple extensions before putting the customer through to voicemail. Third, call quality can be significantly higher on VoIP. This is because the frequency range for VoIP extends to 7000 Hz, compared with a maximum of 3400 Hz for landlines. The higher range improves voice clarity and intelligibility (GL). And finally, fourth, VoIP networks are actually more reliable than landlines. The idea that your business would be stranded if the internet was unavailable is a myth. While it is true that VoIP relies on an internet connection, it is also possible to redirect calls from a location that becomes unavailable. Sending them to a mobile device or another site instead can reduce the inconvenience of connection loss during, for example, stormy weather. 4. Increase efficiency across the business VoIP systems can improve efficiency in several ways but perhaps the best of these is that you can send VoIP calls to an email address for later action or filing. Digium estimates that using unified communications in this way can save an employee up to 40 minutes per day. Add that to the 30 minutes a day saved by being able to find an employee with the first call, and you’ve got a significant time and cost-saving. What’s more, calls can be recorded. Playing back a recorded call can allow for greater accuracy as well as improved employee monitoring and protection. 5. Secure your company's communications Cloud-based VoIP solutions give your IT team greater control over in- and outbound calls. Call logging and traffic monitoring can be used to assess staff productivity and find peaks and troughs, which can be particularly useful for customer service employee scheduling. All good quality VoIP service providers have firewalls and intrusion prevention systems in place, but advanced features that depend on your provider and tariff can include: ring-fencing geo locations limiting call routes limiting access implementing credit thresholds You can also combine your VoIP technology with a VPN (a virtual private network) to encrypt connections and further protect the communications of your employees. 6. Improve remote workforce inclusivity There has been a rapid increase in 'bring your own device' (BYOD) in recent years creating a large mobile workforce of hot-deskers. These employees often work at remote locations or from home, and it makes sense for them to work from a portable device that they are familiar with. And when they are in the office, according to Gartner, BYOD workers bring an average of 1.7 devices with them. The risk with BYOD business methods is that the employee does not feel as much a part of the company. They’ve got no permanent office, desk, computer, or colleagues nearby - and that can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. VoIP can help reduce these feelings. Web conferencing is a great way to do this, and it’s incredibly simple over VoIP. As well as the well-being benefits of increased contact with the office, BYOD workers also benefit from: instant messaging virtual meetings sending documents sending faxes to email getting voicemail into their email inbox Remote employees can access company directories and voicemail, just as they would in your office. For employees who spend time out of the office at appointments, the ability to video or audio conference with the office is a bonus. They don't have to travel back to the office after a meeting and they can consult with the team from wherever they happen to be, which reduces travel time and expense claims. Is your multi-location business ready to reap the benefits of VoIP? There are compelling reasons to make the change from landline to VoIP. That average 50% cost-saving alone is difficult to ignore. However, as you can see, there are more advantages to VoIP than a simple cost reduction. Perhaps most importantly, your business will appear as one cohesive brand to your customers, and that can only be an advantage in today’s market. With VoIP services becoming more reliable, more secure, and more cost-effective every year, it’s surely only a matter of time before you make the switch. Sam O'Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a global UCaaS systems provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as BambooHR and Vault. You can contact him here.
There have been so many books, seminars, and information sessions on how to communicate more effectively. But how does this take place in your work place, in your home, and in your life? Communication boils down to these 12 key aspects: Maintain eye contact Have a sit down chat Be honest Train Listen Understand context Network Use the sandwich technique Be direct Know your audience Ask questions Don't assume 1. Maintain eye contact Eye contact shows you are actively listening and engaging. With eye contact, you are taken more seriously and you can tell that the person you are discussing things with is also actively listening. Eye contact is vital for communication because it shows you are not distracted. Do not be on your phone, because you cannot focus on two things at once and maintain eye contact. "Good body language enhance the voice and supports the content. Your facial expressions, hand gestures, and overall body must be aligned with your words or message you are delivering. For example: Will it be adequate to say 'Be happy' to the person standing next to me, with a sad face? No! Moreover, make eye contact with people. It shows you are trustworthy. If you are talking one-to-one, make eye contact for 9–10 seconds and then break away. Repeat this pattern during the whole conversation. If you are addressing a larger group of people, follow 'Z' formation. It means, make eye contact with people sitting in the back at left and right corners, then with a person sitting in the front left corner, and finally to someone at the front right. Just like we write, 'Z.' It is one way of covering larger groups that do not practice this method all the time." — Martin Luenendonk, Cofounder and CEO of Cleverism 2. Have a sit down chat The best time to do this is when you start a new role. A sit down chat is a good opportunity to establish expectations, boundaries, and rules. This helps to make sure that everyone is on the same page and communicating effectively together. By establishing ground rules right away, it is easier to communicate in the future. "One great strategy for good communications is always expectation management. Sometimes what we want to say is not recieved the way we want it to be received. So I learned that it's always good to ask again how they understood it, if they match your expectations, and maybe agree on a result. Communication is two-way, so both parties should make sure that their message is well received." — Karla Singson, PREP 3. Be honest Honesty is the best policy when it comes to communication. By being completely honest and open, you set yourself up for success and you set a good reputation for yourself. "In all aspects of my life I believe it important to handle communication openly and honestly. Especially challenges. People always ask me how I have such a high capacity and it is because I do not let things fester as I once did. I also promote using my 'Three-P Method" of Pausing to Pivot to a Positive to help with challenges. Even when you cannot pivot to a positive, there is always a lesson to learn." — Kerry Wekelo, Actualize Consulting 4. Train yourself Whether or not your company trains for effective communication, you should always train yourself. There are fantastic TED talks to watch and apply as well as exercises like putting your phone away and eliminating distractions. "The best place to start learning how to communicate effectively is outside a corporation. Spend a few years working at unprofitable or even philanthropic pursuits and learn the art of communication as part of giving rather than having an agenda of taking for oneself. Working for churches, nonprofit organizations, and school boards offers few taking opportunities, and so they make great training grounds for the art of giving your time, attention, and effort to other people. Inherently, the goal is service and to get and give help. Without the constraints of a personal agenda, one becomes a better communicator." — Julie DiBene, Tough Things First "Ideas for how to train for better communication and how to communicate better overall. Plan more challenging communications and consider the different personality styles involved. Do the communicating – make that call or send that email As you are talking or writing be more aware of how you are communicating and how they are likely to be receiving the interaction. Review your results. Was it a 'successful' communication? If so, do more of that for that person. If not, reflect on what didn’t go well. Ask for feedback if appropriate and adapt accordingly. Don’t get upset by failure. Take it as useful feedback of what not to do next time!" — Dee Clayton, Simply Amazing Training 5. Listen “The real key to effective communication has very little to do with what you say, but rather, with what is happening when the other person is speaking. Great listening. Really great listening is about truly going into the world that the other person is describing and occupying. That means being attuned, fully present in that moment, and absolutely not crafting your response, or wordsmithing the thing you mean to say, or responding to the alert that you just received a text message. By listening keenly, without an agenda, we pick up the critical cues that lead us forward in the conversation. That way, no matter what item launched the conversation — even if it was an agenda of yours — you can fulfill it in a way that is germane and digestible to the person with whom you are speaking”. — Amie Devero, Managing Director of Amie Devero Coaching and Consulting 6. Understand context “Effective communication is about understand with whom you’re communicating, first and foremost. There’s nothing more important in communication than context. This can be true if you’re speaking publicly to a large audience, or having a one-on-one conversation with someone who’s having a rough time at work, or maybe a personal issue outside of the walls of the office that is affecting their work within the walls. Understanding how this person is doing is vital to crafting the message in a way that leads to your desired action. Sometimes tough love is what’s needed to help someone get a message, other times it may be a more gentle touch. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach to communication can be a recipe for disaster. This is especially true in work settings where you’re dealing with a wide variety of personalities and approaches to work.” — Kris Hughes, Senior Content Marketing Manager 7. Network "Use events such as mixers, receptions and 'minglers' as an opportunity to practice your communication skills. For example, you've got a new idea you want to pitch at work, so go to a networking event with the goal of talking to people and telling them about that idea. Use the time to practice being concise and to see if you are clearly communicating the value. Networking is also simply good for practicing the art of listening, which is an important piece of communicating well." — Beth Bridges, The Networking Motivator 8. Use the sandwhich technique "Include the following in your techniques: respect, patience, measure, and positivity. One of my favorite ways to explain what I need from my employees is called the 'sandwich technique.' If your message is 'you need to create a longer, more detailed report for the next meeting,' you should first introduce what was right about the report that the employee produced. For example, it had a great design, and the key information was there. Thank the employee, but then let them know that it will be best to have everything the report had, with the addition of XYZ elements. Being specific helps a lot! Part two of this is never to use the 'because I said so' technique. The technique works neither with kids at home nor at work. We are intelligent beings, and being told what to do without an explanation can be easily forgotten. It's not about disobeying the authority or ignoring your competencies. It's rather about not being able to memorize the effect without the cause. Always give a rationale behind your requests or comments. If you approach the communication respecting the person and taking into account their point of view, you'll be able to communicate much more effectively." — Tony Arevalo, Carinsurance 9. Be direct "Be direct, but not too pushy. Try to state things as clearly as you can, but do not forget that the foundation of all good communication is respect and kindness. Don't forget to listen with empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand another person's feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Emotional acceptance, closely related to empathy, means that once we understand another person, we can also accept what he or she feels or thinks, whether we agree or not." — Andrew Taylor, Net Lawman 10. Know your audience "The most important aspect of effective communications is knowing your audience. In order to drive action you must be able to understand what motivates them and use language that resonates with them. The best way to learn about your audience is to ask them about their likes, dislikes, and their experiences. You can do this by having informal conversations, or by having them complete an electronic survey. You can use free tools such as Survey Monkey or Google Forms to make it easy to store the data." — Nahamani Yisrael, Cofounder and CEO of nahamani.org 11. Ask questions "Often, what we DON’T say is more important than what we do. How we communicate the content of the message can powerfully impact whether the intended message is heard, understood, and applied. Asking detailed, open-ended questions in response to communication shows interest, engages the messenger, and ensures that we fully understand the intent, scope, and content. After all, how can a person take action correctly on a message they did not fully understand? Eliminate distractions before giving the message. If the message recipient is busy, ensure you have their full attention before beginning. If message is lengthy, write down questions as they arise to answer at the end of the message. Don’t get sidetracked and miss important information by answering a question immediately. Always offer opportunity for questions at the end. “Is there anything I can explain better?” or “How can leadership help implement this?” (if complex actions are required) — John D. Hanson, Author/Consultant/Keynote/Trainer 12. Don’t assume "Never skip an individual’s point of view to assume they would understand it wasn’t a valid point. Don’t ignore and delay getting back to people about anything that you are supposed to talk on. Let them know you are working, show them the progress from time to time, and help them visualize how plans are materializing. Discuss everything in detail and let them know you would try your best to fulfill every stakeholder’s suggestions and grievances." Gargi Rajan, Head of Human Resources at Mettl
Are you in charge of telecom decisions for your small to mid-sized business (SMB)? Are you confused about whether you should be looking into solutions for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) or Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) vendors or both? If you are confused about these buzzwords, you have come to the right place.This article will explain the difference between VoIP and Unified Communications, how they work together, and how they can help your (SMB) save money and increase productivity. What is VoIP? Voice over internet protocol, or VoIP is a technology that provides phone service via the internet instead of the publicly switched telephone network (PSTN). Applications are endless. It can be used for home phone service, mobile calling, businesses networks, and even frontline call centers. With VoIP service, users can make and receive phone calls to local or virtual numbers without needing an actual, physical phone. Phone calls can be placed with a computer or mobile app, but can also be extended to old-school analog telephones with a special adapter, like MagicJack or Ooma, or to Session Initiated Protocol internet phones, or SIP phones. Andy Abramson, CEO of Comunicano, Inc says, “A good VoIP provider will provide a mobile app that works on iOS and Android devices which integrate with the smartphone or tablet's dialer, so it can be your primary calling service. The app needs to work both as a dial through where it is able to present your VoIP number after dialing over your mobile operator's network and also work over LTE/4G and Wi-Fi where it can offer HD audio quality, so calls between the SMB team members are all in high quality audio (or video).”Instead of sending your voice over the physical phone line, your voice is turned into digital data and sent as packets through your internet connection. When you are talking on the phone, software is decoding data at the source. In the business world, VoIP and Unified Communications or UCaaS are often used interchangeably or in conjunction with each other. Let’s explain a little about how they differ and how these two technologies work together. What is Unified Communications, UC, or UCaaS? "'Unified communications' (UC) is the buzzword right now with VoIP, where all of your chat, conference calling, email, phone calls and voicemail are on one platform,” explains Brian Mulligan, VP of Sales at the Kelser Corporation.Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) follows the internet service business model where XXaaS means “something as a service.” Examples include Kindle providing books as a service and Netflix offering movies as a service. UC companies are providing access to Unified Communications software tools as a service. They are giving their software, infrastructure, and/or platform to businesses to use for a monthly or annual fee. UC features While UC can be hardware or software-based technology, UCaaS ups the ante by using each voice user’s account and, with cloud technology, makes hundreds of other functions possible. One of these is easier access to your voicemail. Mulligan explains, “Voicemail to email integration is a great feature when you are traveling or out of the office where a voicemail is put into a WAV file and sent to you as an email that you can listen to directly from your mobile device, without having to login to the phone system, enter passwords and take more time out of your already busy day on the road.” Additional examples of UC calling features include things from call recording and analytics to time-saving functions like ring groups and features that improve customer experience like customized interactive voice response (IVR) system and hold music or messaging. UC collaboration tools UCaaS instantly adds more value to your business’s VoIP system by offering collaboration tools within the same platform and allowing for communication via voice, video, text, and messaging. What if you had an extra half hour per work day? How would you use that time? Collaboration tools include video conferencing, desktop sharing, file sharing, communal calendars, scheduling, and presence sharing, so that you know when your boss is in a meeting, away from the desk, or just out of the office. UC can help you and your employees to be more productive and save time. UCaaS functions helped companies save an average of 32 minutes per day, per employee in a recent study. RingCentral’s team messaging can even lead to a 64 percent productivity boost. Unified communications features can save companies with 100 employees up to 191 company-wide hours per day. Increased availability is a big factor in phone-based business segments like customer service centers.Not only do UC tools can help make internal collaboration easier, but they can also improve the experience with external clients and customers by making you more available. In addition to voice calls, additional modes of communication can include business SMS text messaging, live text chat, and video chat, as well as file sharing. In PC Mag, RingCentral Vice President of Collaboration Mike Pugh lauds how blending these formats lets conversations and interactions exist in a continuum rather than just one channel. He concludes that that this movement towards a conversation continuum is “both new and impactful to SMBs.” VoIP and UC in contact centers Many business cloud providers offer contact center solutions for companies with a heavy B2C presence. These solutions will include VoIP service for inbound and outbound internal and external phone calls, but add on the ability to communicate with coworkers and customers with chat, email, and SMS text messaging to offer customers multiple contact methods, hence the name “contact” center instead of “call” center. Managed vs. hosted VoIP These communications technologies can be implemented in a variety of ways, depending on a company’s size, existing structures, and tech capabilities. What are the options, and which is best for you? Single-tenancy system integrated with on-premises, in-house applications Multi-tenancy programs where clients just use the same platform, the same way A hybrid model, with some features and functions provided in-house and others provided via a hosted provider. Some VoIP providers offer different software tools for an a la carte experience. For example, if your company already uses Skype for Business or Slack, you already have many of the collaboration tools you need. If you want to use VoIP for voice service, then when picking a provider, you can choose to go with one service for all of your needs and dump your old collaboration provider. Or you can choose just a voice service and forgo the provider’s tools to keep using your internal system. You can get multiple pieces from multiple vendors, or you can get most everything you need, all in one place. Next, you must choose between managing your service in-house or having a service provider host it for you, which is more and more popular. This choice comes down to your existing resources. Jeremy Rose, Director at CertaHosting warns that although managing your VoIP in-house is more expensive, “in the long run, it’s giving you more freedom.” He continues, “A hosted VoIP setup, on the other hand, comes without hardware expenses, but you're making your business completely dependant on a third party.” As with most decisions SMBs have to make, you will have to strike your own balance between independence and costs. Who uses VoIP? About 60 percent of companies are already using at least partial hosted UC service, but it varies in usage. Currently, only about 7 percent are using hosted VoIP or voice service. The majority of users are SMBs. However, these number are likely to change in the near future when PSTN telephone companies begin to phase out their traditional phone service offerings. Aaron McCarthy, President of Maven IT explains why: “Traditional phone service is becoming a dying breed due to the fact that the large carriers (mainly AT&T and Verizon) no longer wish to maintain their copper networks. These old networks have become too costly to maintain and these carriers are now beginning to shut down many central offices that were providing traditional telephone service to businesses and consumers. This is being done in favor of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service as it can ride over the internet and is much less costly to maintain.” It is not a matter of whether you will have to make the transition, but when. McCarthy suggests a proactive approach. He says, “At some point in your business and/or consumer life, you will need to make the switch from traditional telecom to VoIP, if you haven’t already. Switching to a VoIP based phone prior to being notified that your carrier’s central office is shutting down is much preferred so that you have time to perform the proper evaluation.”With telecom giants switching off their service, it is no wonder that the UC market is expected to grow exponentially in the next decade. According to Transparency Market Research, the global UCaaS segment is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.4 percent from 2016 to 2024, moving the market from a starting point of $8.23 billion in 2015 to $79.3 billion in 2024. The report also explains that UCaaS solutions will continue to lead the market due to increased adoption of IP telephony, low cost of ownership, and cloud communication platform advancements. What benefits can be offered by switching from standard phone service to VoIP? Depending on business needs, some companies need to add or remove users for seasonal or other business-driven reasons. With hosted VoIP, just as new features can be added alongside existing systems, users can easily be added or subtracted. “Expansion plans should be considered when choosing a VoIP setup, and that the service provider can accommodate your current and future needs. For example, cloud-based VoIP is particularly good at updating and expanding your network,” says Jeremy Rose, Director of CertaHosting. Outsourcing tech Who is going to take care of the system? Do you need to hire an IT administrator when you don't have one? Does the system require extensive training for your team to be able to use it? With VoIP, it's easy. Businesses have the option of outsourcing and IT troubles to another company offering their platform, as well as expertise as a service. As opposed to new landline phone systems, VoIP offers the ease of setting up a phone system without much physical infrastructure changes because it uses your internet. Your new phone system uses the internet that you already have. No new phone wiring is necessary. Installation If SMBs without a highly trained tech team can likely deploy hosted VoIP on their own, businesses save on downtime and install costs. Lower installation costs are necessary when compared to landlines because most of it can be done at a distance. No hardware has to be installed, unless you opt to adapt existing analog phones, or you choose to implement new SIP desk phones. When it comes to hundreds of users, like in a huge business or call center, most providers offer professional setup or implementation services. In addition to decreased installation costs, businesses save money by switching to VoIP through cost of ownership and hardware, as well as ongoing personnel costs like tech support. Initial investment The initial investment for hosted VoIP is very low. Initial investment refers to how much you have to pay upfront to start. These costs can include hardware like adapters or Wi-Fi analog adapters. Hosted UC allows businesses to avoid costly hardware purchases, except for optional desk phones. A server room or rack cooling space isn’t necessary. Back end infrastructure is bundled into your monthly fee. Businesses can avoid the need for infrastructure like control units, analog jacks, and on-premises servers for hosting voicemail. Reducing application friction with software integrations In addition to the multitude of calling features like call recording, call forwarding, and analytics, one of the key things that VoIP and UC offer is the ability to integrate software tools into your calling platform to help increase productivity. “Integrating UCaaS with other cloud capabilities (such as enterprise apps from SalesForce.com) drives user productivity for firms by reducing the friction between business applications and business processes,” says Henry Dewing, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research in Guide to Unified Communications as a Service.With a buffet of software integrations working with different VoIP providers or available for API development, where should businesses start their selection process? Andy Abramson from Comunicano, Inc has some advice to help guide your shopping experience. He suggests, “When it comes to selecting a VoIP provider for small business the most important consideration is what works best for where your business is heading, and not base the decision on what it will be replacing. This involves thinking about the type of integrations with other services you want your phone service to work with. For example, does it integrate with Google's G Suite or Office 365, SalesForce, Service Now, or other cloud-based services? Will your VoIP line be able to be text messaged the same way your mobile device is? Do you need video calling? With more and more digital natives growing up with texting and video being their modes of communication, making sure your VoIP provider offers those need to be key determining factors.” Local, long distance, and international calling With VoIP service, you can place outgoing calls to and take incoming calls via local phone numbers, even if you are hundreds or thousands of miles away. This virtual local presence allows your customers to contact you without having to pay long distance rates when using a landline. If you end up switching to VoIP, what will your phone number be? Depending on the size and scale of your business, whether you are going to be mostly taking inbound calls or making outbound calls, there are different answers. Usually, when you sign up with a VoIP provider, in the initial stages, you choose whether you want to keep your existing phone number or get a new one. You can also choose between a local number, a vanity number, or a toll-free number. What do these options cost, why are there so many, and what is the difference? “Some VoIP companies charge extra for toll-free or vanity numbers, and some don’t offer them at all. Local numbers are great for small business, but toll-free numbers offer scalability and cross-state reach while vanity numbers are built-in marketing,” explains Lana Lepikhova from MightyCall. The bottom line VoIP is the technology that enables voice calls over the internet. UC adds advanced capabilities, analytics, and software integrations to this technology. It makes internal collaboration, analysis, and call recording possible while offering ways to make your customer-facing support easier, more streamlined, and faster. Even better, the average VoIP and UC customer gets access to these added tools for less money than they were charged by a traditional telecom provider for voice service alone.
From money to manpower to morale, your business can be affected by the communication technology you choose. You may have heard about Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or wondered about what kind of businesses actually use this technology. VoIP is a technology that allows users to make phone calls over the internet instead of using traditional phone networks. To help our readers see how VoIP can benefit all types of companies, we asked businesses and VoIP professionals for their input. Keep reading to see how VoIP calling technology has impacted companies around the globe. Save time and money Bill Vogel, Vogel Advisors: “My company has exclusively used a VoIP-based PBX (we use OnSIP) for the last 6+ years, which has saved us time and money...and be more accessible to our clients.”Sean Pour, Sellmax: “As far as money saving goes, the cost was much cheaper because we did not have to buy any fancy phone systems; we could just use our computer and we have a full call center setup. In addition, the cost for an 800 number is $2.00 which is very cheap.” John Colon, Fit Small Business: “VoIP is a very important alternative to landlines that are crucial to many small businesses, providing important features such as auto-attendants, voicemail, and customer relationship management integration for a relatively low cost, with relatively easy installation and high reliability.” Run a global company Marie O’Riordan, Prepaid Financial Services: “VoIP is a tremendous asset when your company is live in 24 countries and you have four offices in three countries! It provides us with unrivaled portability and connectivity via desktops, laptops, internet-enabled desk-based telephones, and smartphones via apps. Traditional desk phone calls can now be taken anywhere!”Alon Rajic, Finofin LTD: “My company operates in the UK, USA, and Australia, and I have business partners all around. I travel often for business and for personal reasons, hence it is not uncommon for me to run my entire business from my cell phone for weeks. I also don't have a landline phone at home or in the office, and I didn't even [make] my cellular phone plan "international" (i.e. allowing me to dial to other countries). I do all of my communication solely via VoIP. Whether calls or video meetings with my employees, provider, freelancers or business partners, I always rely on either WhatsApp or Skype to conduct these calls. Without Skype technology, everything would have been much more complicated! I would have to constantly make sure I am able to call from place A to place B, check the costs, make sure every one of my freelancers and business partners is able to pick up calls from abroad, and of course, I would not have been able to conduct video meetings at all. In fact, I would go as far as saying that VoIP technology is one of the backbones of my business.” Make your small business look professional Jennifer Hancock, Humanist Learning Systems: “I run an online learning company out of my house. I have one employee — me. I went with Skype because it was cost-effective. I pay a small cost per year for the number and I think $8/3 months for calls in the US. I can add another country if I need it. I didn’t have to worry about wiring up another phone line to my house. I can answer the phone on my computer while I am on the computer. I can forward to my cell if I travel or go for a walk — so I never miss a call. It has been very convenient and still gives me a professional number for people to call.” Enhance customers’ experience VoIP phone services can offer a more customized experience for users, with features that aren’t easily available with regular phone service. Kamil Faizi, Challenge Coins 4 U: “We use a VoIP phone system and it is so useful. We have a staff of 10 people. When any of my salesmen are out of the office, we have a way of making sure through the VoIP system that calls are forwarding over to their respective cell phones after 10 seconds. This way we never lose a sale and my salesmen are able to communicate to customers.” Heather Thomas, Destin Vacation Boat Rentals: “You can transfer your existing phone number...so you do not have to change numbers. [You also have] the ability to turn an employee's phone on and off from anywhere at any time. Multiple agents can work at one time (calls roll over to the next available agent), so we can manage times of high call volume. The customization of hold music enhances the experience while the caller is waiting. Sometimes we pick up and callers are singing along to the hold music! Voicemail transcription makes it easy to quickly read voicemails to return calls. [You] can adjust plans throughout the year, so we aren't paying for a plan that we don't need in the off-season. Calls can be announced so you can tell if the incoming call is a customer or a personal call.“ Increase employee morale with flexibility Sean Pour, Sellmax: “VoIP technology has allowed our business to grow significantly, and without it, I know we could not have grown as quickly as we have. ... [W]e developed a call center in-house using the technology. It saves us a lot of money and keeps employee morale high.As far as keeping morale high, our employees love it because we allow them [to] work remotely. Our employee's login to the phone system from their house or wherever they want and work. All of them seem to love the freedom of working from wherever they want. Also, since implementing the new technology our conversion rate has gone up about 12 percent which is fairly significant. Our opinion is the increased team morale and the customer call center helped increase conversions.”Ian Wright, British Business Energy, Founder: “...VoIP is a very important part of our business. The main way we use it is [to] create a virtual call center. We have agents across the UK who can handle calls, but they are able to work from home. This saves us office costs and means we can hire people from cheaper parts of the country. The benefits to our employees [are] they can work from home and work schedules that fit around their lives. So for us, VoIP is vital for running our business.“ Matt Schmidt, Diabetes Life Solutions: "VoIP technology has allowed our employees to be able to make and receive phone calls from their smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Having access to this technology from almost any type of device provides our employees the flexibility and freedom to work pretty much wherever they please. This has helped us hire and retain employees as we value the freedom to our employees and let them work where they choose." View Best VoIP Providers
Guest Post by Susan Guillory When you run a small business, you’re constantly looking for ways to save a little money...as long as it doesn’t compromise the quality of service you offer customers. One area that you could spend less on is your phone system. If you’re still using a landline for your business phone, there are a few reasons to consider switching to Voice Over IP (VOIP). 1. Cost savings could be substantial It’s interesting how landlines for businesses cost so much more than landlines for homes; it’s the same basic service, but it seems like many phone companies charge a premium just because they can. VOIP, on the other hand, costs much less for your business. Different VOIP providers have different pricing strategies: some let you pay per minute for your calls, while others give you a certain number of minutes for one price, with overages billed per-minute. Still others offer unlimited calls for a flat rate. No matter which you choose, you’ll still end up saving over what you spend on a landline. 2. VOIP offers other bells and whistles Besides letting you make calls over the internet, most VOIP providers offer other features that can be appealing to your business, like auto attendant phone systems. Having a virtual receptionist direct your calls to the appropriate person can cut the cost of you hiring a human receptionist to do the same job.Some features that can really enhance your business line include on-hold music, text transcription, and call recording. 3. Your VOIP number is portable If you’re on the go in your business, VOIP is great because you can use it on any device that has internet access. So if you’re out of the office, you can just forward the number to your phone and take your calls on the go. 4. You can pick your area code You might be based in Spain but have lots of customers in Texas. With VOIP, you can choose the area code for your virtual number. Using a Texas area code will make it more likely that people will pick up calls from your number. 5. VOIP makes conference calls easier Rather than requiring conference call participants to download special software or an app to get on a call, VOIP lets you easily host calls with an unlimited number of participants. You can even set up video calls with multiple people. 6. You don’t need expensive equipment Another high expense with landlines for your business is the phone system. A handset can cost several hundred dollars, and if you multiply that times as many employees as you have, that’s quite a chunk taken out of your budget. But VOIP can be used on any phone or mobile, so you spend less to get set up. 7. It’s easy to scale With landlines, if you hire more people, you sometimes need a technician to come set up more physical phone lines in your office. But VOIP is highly scalable; there’s no limit to how many people you can add to your system.VOIP is the next generation of office communications. It’s fast, affordable, and offers many functions that landlines simply can’t compete with.Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Cision. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.