Topics:@voipproviders voip voip providers communication benefits small business public speaking entrepreneur networking Augmented Reality successful business tech products
How can a VoIP technology suite help with remote work? Everyday more and more people are infected with COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus, causing a panic all over the world. One of the best ways to combat this spread is by staying away from large groups of people. Consequently, many offices are allowing their employees to work remotely at home. As the need for remote work increases, more companies are searching for ways they can keep work going and move their companies forward. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will help employees work from home more efficiently and with as much normalcy as possible. “VoIP will be an increasing part of the solution as time goes on because it allows teams to collaborate and meet more easily.” VoIP will help your employees get work done and stay connected with their co-workers and clients," says Dr. Rishi Desai, MD, MPH, the Chief Medical Officer at Osmosis. How does VoIP help? 1. Facilitate meeting and collaboration between team members and customers As long as employees have the internet, they will be able to more easily collaborate with their team members through messaging and other means that are offered in a typical VoIP technology package. “The main reason VoIP facilitates remote work is that it allows employees to conduct their day-to-day business activities as if they were physically in the office, without disrupting their workflow,” explains Jovan Milenkoviv, co-founder of Kommando Tech. This will be crucial for businesses to keep their work on schedule and keep everyone on the same page. Norhanie Pangulima, an employee outreach consultant at Centriq, says, “Of course, the major issue to overcome when people are working out of the office is to stay in touch. Traditional phone systems are just not equipped to do this effectively, which can then make remote working hard. Especially now, with the spread of the Coronavirus, working remotely is the only way to go and making use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies is the key to successful interaction.” 2. Easily share documents, etc. with anyone in the company While working remotely, employees will still need to send files and documents to each other in order to keep things moving and stay on the same page. Jeremy Harrison, co-founder of the business site Hustle Life, says, “By using VoIP, you'll be able to send and receive data, files, photos, videos, etc. to one another, as long as you have an internet connection.” The importance of this feature goes beyond the ease of sharing files between employees. Because it is through a secure medium, your company's privacy is protected and is protected from hackers and other outside threats. 3. Video capabilities can all but mimic an in-person meeting Keep your employees informed and connected by offering the video conferencing capabilites that VoIP technology offers. With this feature, your employees can continue having their collaboration meetings, one-on-ones, and all hands meetings. Many different video conferencing options offer different features. Make sure you know your must-have video capabilities to give your employees the best experience possible. Craig Walker, CEO of Dialpad, weighed in on the worries that some have about the capability of the internet handling the rise in video meetings with the influx of remote work. He explains, "When we first started UberConference, it was with a rising remote workforce in mind built in the cloud, with a modern, mobile framework and using Google Cloud Platform as our backend. We always knew we had to be ready to quickly scale for increased videoconferencing traffic. Obviously, we could not predict anything like coronavirus, but as a cloud-first product, our infrastructure is ready to take on entirely mobile/remote workforces for however long is needed." 4. Record customers phone calls so the decision makers can all be in on the action Harrison says, “With VoIP technology, you can readily get in touch with your customers wherever they may be. Since communication is real-time, you'll be able to sort out customer issues instantly. This boosts customer experience which ultimately works in your favor.” When employees are working from home, sometimes it can be harder for managers to be completely dialed in on the action. With VoIP technology, every customer call that employees take can be recorded, so if there is any misunderstanding on the phone call, the manager can take care of it and be completely informed on what the situation is. Erol Toker, CEO of Truly.co agrees, “Listening to the buzz of conversations in the background is often the quickest way leaders of customer-facing teams get a pulse of team activity. A quiet floor means we're not talking to customers. This goes away when working remotely. Become more customer-centric by actually listening to the customer and incorporating the voice of the customer in organizations is often like a bad game of telephone. By the time the customer input makes it to the person making a decision, the information has changed and value is lost. With a VOIP solution that records phone calls in a compliant manner, the voice of the customer in original form is available for decision makers to listen to and use to make decisions wherever they're working from.” 5. Store everything in a cloud to protect security All the customer reports, documents, etc. can be easily stored using VoIP technology. Leonard Ang, a writer for enKo Products says, “This technology also enables managers of an organization to handle their networks and needed software with the help of a cloud. This cloud eliminates the need for flash drives which when lost, could be a security threat if it has sensitive data. This technology helps employers convey their instructions to their employees no matter where they are.” What now? Fortunately, it is not too late to get your company set up with a VoIP technology suite to help your employees transition to a largely remote work situation. Read reviews from real consumers and company summaries to find out what VoIP company works best for your business.
An important feature of VoIP platforms are the capabilities it offers for video conferencing. The right video application can change the way your company collaborates, interviews, and facilitates training and meetings. Having capable video conferencing also makes remote work possible for your employees. However, aside from a large bandwidth and superb video quality, what should you be looking for when searching out a VoIP company for your business? What is VoIP? Recording capabilities Trainings are essential to continue your company’s progression. Training new employees or rolling out new initiatives can take days, weeks, or months before everyone on your team understands the procedures. Trainings are often time consuming for all parties involved. The benefit of having recording features for VoIP video is that even if an employee is unable to attend a meeting or forgets a certain aspect of a training given in the meeting, they can go back and rewatch the recording of what was discussed. Reuben Yonatan, CEO of GetVoIP, says “not everyone can take good notes, so being able to provide a recording of the call helps make sure that no one misses any important details.” This is crucial for saving the time of all parties involved. Screen sharing Screen sharing eliminates the need for the facilitator of the training or meeting to verbally explain what they are doing on their computer. With screen sharing, they can project what they are seeing and doing on their computer on to everyone else’s computer. You can project the specific application training, documents, videos, or anything else that shows up on the computer of the employee sharing their screen, keeping the whole team on the same page. Yonatan says, “Being able to show someone what you’re talking about, rather than trying to describe it to them, saves a ton of time during meetings. You can efficiently run through documents or examples and get back to the meeting.” Built-in notetaking Built-in notetaking provides a space that can take the role of a white board during a meeting to facilitate more discussion and collaboration. Everyone in the meeting will be able to see everything that is written in this space. It helps to keep your team’s ideas organized and ensure that everyone remembers the highlights of the meeting. Capabilities for the maximum amount of people in the meeting Each video service provided is different, and within the same VoIP company you can choose between plans with different thresholds for the amount of people able to join a video meeting. Ensure you know what that threshold is so it can meet the video call capabilities that your company requires. Noise reduction Everyone has been in a meeting or conference call where there is loud, distracting background noise that makes it nearly impossible to hear or focus on what is being shared. This can slow down a meeting or make it entirely impossible to continue. To combat this issue, a noise reduction feature can be a game changer. Yonatan explains, “if you can find a suite that offers noise reduction, take it. This reduces background noise picked up by your mics — things like typing, coughing, or traffic. It also keeps meetings running smoothly without everyone having to mute and unmute constantly.” Easy access for joining callers Make sure that the video conferencing capabilities make it easy for users outside of your company to join the video conference. Brian Peterson, VP of engineering at Dialpad shares, “A major problem with most conference calls is getting people to join without any issues. Half the challenge is just getting your participants on the call. For example, a lot of providers put long, hard to remember PINs as a requirement to call in, or it requires you to download software or sign up to join. The last thing you want to do when you invite a potential client is have them jump through hoops to talk to you.” What's next? Now that you know some of the major components to consider when deciding on the video conferencing capabilities that you want, it's time to look at specific VoIP providers to determine which would suit your companies needs best. Read unbiased reviews of the top rated VoIP providers as well as summary of the good and the bad of each.
Guest Post by Dasheek Dennis Millions of people use VoIP for voice and video communication for professional and personal use. VoIP will exist as long as the internet continues to thrive. As of 2018, at least one billion people are using VoIP as their voice/video/phone service. Because its use has become ubiquitous, it is important to understand the legal implications regarding technology, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). VoIP’s influence in the technological world VoIP is cheaper and more flexible than its cellular counterpart — the smartphone. As opposed to using sometimes spotty cell service and towers to connect voice to voice, VoIP uses the internet. Its capabilities are far greater and wider as well. It can support an endless number of lines, translate voicemail to text, as well as being superior in mobility. People can access each other from various devices by simply connecting to the internet. While companies like Comcast, Vonage, and Cisco have been providing businesses with VoIP services for years, Skype, Whatsapp, Messenger, Google Voice, and Discord have been delivering inexpensive VoIP capabilities on a personal level. VoIP and internet service providers will continue to grow at a rapid pace. VoIP isn’t exactly modern, as it’s been around since the late nineties. When it comes to regulatory standards, VoIP is loosely regulated by the FCC. Numerous bills have been passed involving VoIP when it comes to taxes and security, but very few have become laws. There is an ongoing debate about how VoIP is to be viewed. Because VoIP makes use of the internet by breaking down data, turning them into packets, and transferring them over IP, it has been difficult for the FCC to classify it as a telephone service. So what is it: internet communication or telephone? The FCC exempts VoIP as telecommunication since it transfers information through the internet, and attempts to regulate it with similar standards. Legal issues Ultimately, how should we, as users and providers, consider the legal implications when dealing with VoIP? Here are some regulations and legal implications we should consider: VoIP can still be subpoenaed VoIP transmissions can be recorded and those recordings can be organized, stored, and recovered when needed. In the case where it would be needed by a court system, they can and will be subpoenaed VoIP calls can be traced, tapped, and hacked Security is always a concern with regard to VoIP. Because VoIP translates data over the internet, there is always the potential for intruders to intercept communication through malware and viruses. Your VoIP network is, at the end of the day, an IP network; it is susceptible to some of the same threats as your standard IP network. VoIP must comply with communication assistance for law enforcement The FCC requires some VoIP providers to comply with federal wiretaps in order to provide law enforcement with the ability to intercept communication between two parties without their knowledge. Regulations vary depending on state and country Although VoIP is illegal in some countries (Guyana, Libya, Oman, North Korea just to name a few), it is obviously legal in the US. Yet each state varies in regulations. In some states, VoIP providers are required to register as telecommunication providers, which makes them prone to the same regulations, taxes, and surcharges as a telecommunication service. Providers must comply with LNP Local Number Portability (LNP) allows users to keep their telephone or mobile number when switching from one service provider to another. According to the FCC’s VoIP regulations, providers must allow VoIP customers to retain the ability to port-in or out a number to an interconnected VoIP service. Accessible service to accommodate those with disabilities The FCC has made it mandatory for users over VoIP services to be able to use telecommunications relay services (TRS). This service enables people with hearing and speech disabilities to place and receive phone calls. Interconnected VoIP is 911 obligated 911 does work with VoIP, but operates differently than your standard telephone network. Consumers have the right to configure VoIP connected device locations whenever and wherever they see fit. The FFC requires VoIP providers to provide customers with 911 service as a standard, required feature. Final takeaway VoIP is becoming increasingly popular and may one day become the standard means of communication. Many businesses have abandoned landline, wired telephone services and have embraces VoIP. Though VoIP is a little shy of 30 years old, it is surprisingly loosely regulated and there is still much debate from Congress and the FCC in regards to VoIP regulatory factors. If you’re starting a business or using VoIP, seriously consider these legal implications. Dasheek Dennis writes for FreeAdvice.com. He has experience in digital marketing, copywriting, and video game design. He has also assisted numerous non-profits with content creation and grant writing.
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 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