What are the ownership costs of VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems are a cost-effective way to improve business communication, as they are billed at a standard monthly fee. But aside from the monthly bill, your VoIP system will also come with other costs of ownership that you should know about.

Upfront costs

Upfront costs are largely determined by the manner in which you acquire your systems, such as whether you buy a VoIP system outright or rent it from a third party. Although the former carries a steep upfront cost, payment does not continue indefinitely. This makes sense for large, fully staffed corporations with massive budgets. Meanwhile, the latter option is better for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that prefer to pay a small monthly subscription rather than make a huge initial investment.

Beyond the price of the VoIP package, upfront costs also include additional costs like headsets, webcams, and a higher-bandwidth network connection to ensure crystal-clear, uninterrupted calls.

Implementation costs

Implementation costs include the fees of consultants or managed IT services providers that design, deploy, and configure your VoIP system. And if you’re installing a completely new phone system, you also need to factor in costs associated with training employees on how to use the VoIP system effectively and securely.

Operational costs

This covers monthly recurring costs of voice and data plans. For example, some service providers charge local and long-distance calls per minute, while others offer unlimited local calls for a fixed monthly fee.

If you’re managing your VoIP infrastructure yourself, you also have to take into account monthly power, cooling, and maintenance fees. If you opt for hosted VoIP services, however, you are only billed for maintenance.

Upgrade costs

You should also need to set aside some room in your budget for VoIP upgrades. For instance, you may need to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. Aside from the cost of the upgrade itself, you should also anticipate spending on consultation, as upgrade integrations have a better chance at success if deployed by experts.

Evaluating all the costs that apply to your business will give you a clear idea of how much you can expect to pay for your VoIP system. If you’re having difficulty calculating the actual costs of VoIP implementation, call our experts today. We’ll help you figure out which VoIP solution is most ideal for your business and budget.

This post was originally published on this site

Why your company should record calls

If you own and operate a small- or medium-sized business that relies on positive word of mouth, you probably need to make sure the quality of your customer service is top-notch. It definitely pays to have excellent products and/or services in the first place, but it wouldn’t hurt to leverage other tools at your disposal. If you haven’t already, start using your Voice over Internet Protocol’s (VoIP) call recording feature so your business can enjoy these advantages.

1. Upgrade employee performance

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

2. Improve customer service

One of the most important reasons why businesses should always record their calls is to ensure high-quality customer service. By reviewing calls, managers can understand how their agents have been dealing with customers, find out whether or not they’ve followed company protocol, and pinpoint any aspects that can be improved on.

Without call recording, managers would have to listen to each call in real time, which is time-consuming. By recording each call, not only will your managers save time, but your employees will also be motivated to perform at their best, since they know their calls can always be reviewed.

3. Retrieve missed details and prevent potential lawsuits

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

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

4. Understand customer preferences

Have you ever received an inquiry about a product or service that’s not included in your offerings? While your agents usually jot these requests down and pass them on to the relevant personnel, they may overlook some of these if numerous calls are being made that day. Tiny issues like this can lead to potentially huge losses.

With call recording, you can review all your calls at the end of the day. You’ll have a better picture of what certain customers are looking for so you can address their needs better.

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

This post was originally published on this site

Protect your VoIP systems against denial-of-service attacks

Telephony systems are crucial to business communications and operations and therefore need to be highly secure. Although malware and viruses are some of the most common threats to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, there are other little-known threats too, such as denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. If your business heavily relies on VoIP, you should learn how to protect it from DoS attacks.

Denial-of-service attacks

The end goal of any DoS attack is to overwhelm a system with so many requests that it is eventually forced to shut down. Telephony DoS (TDoS) attack is a subcategory leveled at VoIP systems. Alarmingly, this attack is commonly used against hospitals and 911 phone lines. Some TDoS attackers even demand a ransom to halt the attack, which is similar to ransomware attacks. They take advantage of cryptocurrencies and caller-ID spoofing to make it incredibly difficult to identify attackers.

TDoS attacks generally employ fewer resources than the DoS attacks that are designed to cripple IT systems, which include networks, servers, and software. At its most basic, a TDoS attack requires only an automated phone dialer that calls a target phone number and hangs up — over and over. That very simple strategy can stop anyone else from getting through the line.

What organizations need to do

While your first instinct may be to lock down your VoIP system with complicated security measures, doing so will only do more harm than good. Most businesses can’t operate if they can’t communicate with their customers, business partners, and other third parties.

Although VoIP may be a digital resource similar to other components within your IT systems, the very nature of phone lines makes hiding them behind firewalls and other protections impossible. Fortunately, there are now new security protocols that can protect your communication infrastructure against those who try to use force to gain access to your directory information. These protocols can also identify, reroute, and filter calls coming from known attackers. Get in touch with our team to learn more about these protocols.

If you’re experiencing any abnormalities with your VoIP system, or if you want to deploy the most advanced solution that the market has to offer, our expert team of IT professionals is ready to help you at the drop of a hat — just call today.

This post was originally published on this site

Protect your VoIP systems against denial-of-service attacks

Telephony systems are crucial to business communications and operations and therefore need to be highly secure. Although malware and viruses are some of the most common threats to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, there are other little-known threats too, such as denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. If your business heavily relies on VoIP, you should learn how to protect it from DoS attacks.

Denial-of-service attacks

The end goal of any DoS attack is to overwhelm a system with so many requests that it is eventually forced to shut down. Telephony DoS (TDoS) attack is a subcategory leveled at VoIP systems. Alarmingly, this attack is commonly used against hospitals and 911 phone lines. Some TDoS attackers even demand a ransom to halt the attack, which is similar to ransomware attacks. They take advantage of cryptocurrencies and caller-ID spoofing to make it incredibly difficult to identify attackers.

TDoS attacks generally employ fewer resources than the DoS attacks that are designed to cripple IT systems, which include networks, servers, and software. At its most basic, a TDoS attack requires only an automated phone dialer that calls a target phone number and hangs up — over and over. That very simple strategy can stop anyone else from getting through the line.

What organizations need to do

While your first instinct may be to lock down your VoIP system with complicated security measures, doing so will only do more harm than good. Most businesses can’t operate if they can’t communicate with their customers, business partners, and other third parties.

Although VoIP may be a digital resource similar to other components within your IT systems, the very nature of phone lines makes hiding them behind firewalls and other protections impossible. Fortunately, there are now new security protocols that can protect your communication infrastructure against those who try to use force to gain access to your directory information. These protocols can also identify, reroute, and filter calls coming from known attackers. Get in touch with our team to learn more about these protocols.

If you’re experiencing any abnormalities with your VoIP system, or if you want to deploy the most advanced solution that the market has to offer, our expert team of IT professionals is ready to help you at the drop of a hat — just call today.

This post was originally published on this site

What do business phone systems look like today?

Although digital communication tools let businesses connect with customers and other stakeholders in an efficient manner, landlines are still used to communicate with business stakeholders. And for many organizations, determining whether to use internet phones or traditional landlines remains a concern. To help you decide, here’s a short guide on different types of business phones and their respective life cycles and technology options.

Different phone systems

Today’s businesses still use landlines to connect with various stakeholders, such as customers, investors, and suppliers, to service their needs. However, telephony has come a long way from when it first came about in 1876. For instance, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones have virtually unlimited reach, are automated, and are cheaper than ever to acquire.

VoIP is a telephony solution that uses the internet instead of wired circuits to transmit data. VoIP does more than just transmit audio — it can also send a variety of data (video, multimedia, SMS, etc.) and perform other tasks as well.

A VoIP system’s hardware (phone units, cables, CPUs, etc.) and software (one or more applications that run the system) can be either on-premises or hosted:

  • On-premises – Hardware and software are physically housed within the premises of the company.
  • Hosted – Some of the hardware, like phone units and other equipment, can be found within the premises. But most, if not all, of the software is hosted online. Service providers look after hosted systems for their clients.

Life cycles: On-premises vs. hosted

With hardware, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hardware is affected by the wear and tear stemming from daily use. Barring any accidents or physical damage, VoIP hardware should last several years.

On the other hand, software requires regular updates. It’s worth noting that it’s faster and cheaper to update software that’s hosted in the cloud versus one that’s on premises. However, there’s not much difference in how much either one can last — software for both types of VoIP systems can last upwards of 10 years, depending on how dependable your IT support is.

Technology today vs. before

In the past, hardware and software were built to last. Today, they’re built to adapt and change, thanks to cloud technology.

The effect of this shift on hardware and software is dramatic:

Most hardware components are very similar, with replacements and upgrades coming every 5–8 years on average.

Cloud software is faster, easier, and cheaper to upgrade than software for on-premises systems. Critical cloud updates can be released almost constantly, and a cloud system may be completely overhauled in as short as 2–3 years’ time.

Whichever phone system you choose, it should integrate smoothly with the other systems in your business, such as email or customer relationship management software. And as your business expands, your chosen phone system should easily scale with it, too.

Be a step ahead

Downtime results in loss of potential sales and, essentially, wasted money. If your phone service is spotty and constantly unreliable, perhaps it’s time to switch to VoIP phones.

Nowadays, it’s not the longevity of a tech solution that’s important, but rather staying ahead of the curve to trump the competition. Call our experts today so you can always leverage the best VoIP and other IT solutions available today.

This post was originally published on this site

What do business phone systems look like today?

Although digital communication tools let businesses connect with customers and other stakeholders in an efficient manner, landlines are still used to communicate with business stakeholders. And for many organizations, determining whether to use internet phones or traditional landlines remains a concern. To help you decide, here’s a short guide on different types of business phones and their respective life cycles and technology options.

Different phone systems

Today’s businesses still use landlines to connect with various stakeholders, such as customers, investors, and suppliers, to service their needs. However, telephony has come a long way from when it first came about in 1876. For instance, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones have virtually unlimited reach, are automated, and are cheaper than ever to acquire.

VoIP is a telephony solution that uses the internet instead of wired circuits to transmit data. VoIP does more than just transmit audio — it can also send a variety of data (video, multimedia, SMS, etc.) and perform other tasks as well.

A VoIP system’s hardware (phone units, cables, CPUs, etc.) and software (one or more applications that run the system) can be either on-premises or hosted:

  • On-premises – Hardware and software are physically housed within the premises of the company.
  • Hosted – Some of the hardware, like phone units and other equipment, can be found within the premises. But most, if not all, of the software is hosted online. Service providers look after hosted systems for their clients.

Life cycles: On-premises vs. hosted

With hardware, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hardware is affected by the wear and tear stemming from daily use. Barring any accidents or physical damage, VoIP hardware should last several years.

On the other hand, software requires regular updates. It’s worth noting that it’s faster and cheaper to update software that’s hosted in the cloud versus one that’s on premises. However, there’s not much difference in how much either one can last — software for both types of VoIP systems can last upwards of 10 years, depending on how dependable your IT support is.

Technology today vs. before

In the past, hardware and software were built to last. Today, they’re built to adapt and change, thanks to cloud technology.

The effect of this shift on hardware and software is dramatic:

Most hardware components are very similar, with replacements and upgrades coming every 5–8 years on average.

Cloud software is faster, easier, and cheaper to upgrade than software for on-premises systems. Critical cloud updates can be released almost constantly, and a cloud system may be completely overhauled in as short as 2–3 years’ time.

Whichever phone system you choose, it should integrate smoothly with the other systems in your business, such as email or customer relationship management software. And as your business expands, your chosen phone system should easily scale with it, too.

Be a step ahead

Downtime results in loss of potential sales and, essentially, wasted money. If your phone service is spotty and constantly unreliable, perhaps it’s time to switch to VoIP phones.

Nowadays, it’s not the longevity of a tech solution that’s important, but rather staying ahead of the curve to trump the competition. Call our experts today so you can always leverage the best VoIP and other IT solutions available today.

This post was originally published on this site

Is AI-powered VoIP the next step?

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly common across numerous industries. In fact, AI-powered Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is reshaping business telecommunications. These are the features your company will benefit from the most.

Interactive voice response (IVR) systems with conversational AI

An IVR system is designed to automatically respond to customer queries with AI agents. These agents allow businesses to take on more customer calls without having to hire more human agents. Among AI assistants’ most powerful features are the following:

  • Text and speech recognition – the ability to understand and respond to written and spoken messages
  • Intent recognition – the ability to discern what the person communicating with the AI tool wants to happen based on what that person is saying
  • Contextual guidance – the ability to “keep in mind” what was stated earlier so that the AI tool can understand references to those past statements
  • Multilingualism – the ability to communicate in many different languages

While in a call, AI assistants can concurrently gather and assess all relevant customer data such as personal information and recent transactions to resolve a query. In this manner, this makes them more efficient than human agents who have to put a caller on hold in order to access that caller’s records.

Thanks to machine learning and natural language processing, these AI-powered IVR systems will only get better at communicating with customers over time. However, for more nuanced queries, AI agents still transfer calls to human business representatives, who are better equipped to serve customers.

Chatbot functions

Chatbots are useful programs that receive instructions via textual or auditory means to perform automated tasks.

Like IVR systems, bots are used by businesses to automate customer interactions. AI-powered chatbots go beyond regular bot duties by performing more complex tasks like setting up meetings, inviting attendees, managing schedules, and much more.

AI-powered call recording analysis

AI tools can parse through call recordings to identify issues such as poor customer service. These tools can also identify trends (e.g., increasing customer satisfaction) and the challenges your agents encounter when they provide customer support or try to keep customers from closing their accounts.

AI-enabled web conferencing

Web conferencing has improved over the years with internet speeds and telecom technology constantly developing. AI advances it even further with real-time language translation and speech recognition technology, which greatly benefits businesses with offices in multiple geographic locations and whose stakeholders come from diverse backgrounds.

AI-enabled web conferencing can even provide intelligent prompts and relevant data to guide your conversations and ensure a fruitful meeting.

With AI-powered systems vastly improving contact center operations, businesses are understandably eager to adopt them. There’s so much more that VoIP systems can do for your business, and we’ve got the expertise to handle all your VoIP-related concerns. Just call us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Is AI-powered VoIP the next step?

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly common across numerous industries. In fact, AI-powered Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is reshaping business telecommunications. These are the features your company will benefit from the most.

Interactive voice response (IVR) systems with conversational AI

An IVR system is designed to automatically respond to customer queries with AI agents. These agents allow businesses to take on more customer calls without having to hire more human agents. Among AI assistants’ most powerful features are the following:

  • Text and speech recognition – the ability to understand and respond to written and spoken messages
  • Intent recognition – the ability to discern what the person communicating with the AI tool wants to happen based on what that person is saying
  • Contextual guidance – the ability to “keep in mind” what was stated earlier so that the AI tool can understand references to those past statements
  • Multilingualism – the ability to communicate in many different languages

While in a call, AI assistants can concurrently gather and assess all relevant customer data such as personal information and recent transactions to resolve a query. In this manner, this makes them more efficient than human agents who have to put a caller on hold in order to access that caller’s records.

Thanks to machine learning and natural language processing, these AI-powered IVR systems will only get better at communicating with customers over time. However, for more nuanced queries, AI agents still transfer calls to human business representatives, who are better equipped to serve customers.

Chatbot functions

Chatbots are useful programs that receive instructions via textual or auditory means to perform automated tasks.

Like IVR systems, bots are used by businesses to automate customer interactions. AI-powered chatbots go beyond regular bot duties by performing more complex tasks like setting up meetings, inviting attendees, managing schedules, and much more.

AI-powered call recording analysis

AI tools can parse through call recordings to identify issues such as poor customer service. These tools can also identify trends (e.g., increasing customer satisfaction) and the challenges your agents encounter when they provide customer support or try to keep customers from closing their accounts.

AI-enabled web conferencing

Web conferencing has improved over the years with internet speeds and telecom technology constantly developing. AI advances it even further with real-time language translation and speech recognition technology, which greatly benefits businesses with offices in multiple geographic locations and whose stakeholders come from diverse backgrounds.

AI-enabled web conferencing can even provide intelligent prompts and relevant data to guide your conversations and ensure a fruitful meeting.

With AI-powered systems vastly improving contact center operations, businesses are understandably eager to adopt them. There’s so much more that VoIP systems can do for your business, and we’ve got the expertise to handle all your VoIP-related concerns. Just call us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Mobilize your VoIP systems

Businesses can benefit a lot from implementing a VoIP solution. However, without proper management and IT support for VoIP, you may see a negative impact on your productivity. You’ll experience limited communication from both customers and employees, especially members of your staff who are working remotely. The challenge is how you can expand your VoIP capabilities to become effective on the go.

To cater to your out-of-office workers, there are a variety of ways by which you can expand the mobility of your VoIP services.

1. Look into unified communications (UC)

If your employees are able to bring their personal devices to work, your IT administrators will insist that all of them comply with your company’s policies. You will need to establish good security and compliance measures to meet the needs of both your customers and employees.

A solid solution is UC, which integrates real-time communication services, such as instant messaging, telephony, data sharing, and video conferencing. UC bridges the gap between VoIP and other computer-related communication technologies. It makes communication more convenient and manageable by providing a single number to reach as well as a status indicator that conveys whether employees are available or if they don’t want to be disturbed.

2. Employ easy-to-use apps

Most top-rated business apps began as user-focused tools to help people find data more independently. Some of these apps have transformed into more customized tools focusing on specific business needs. The problem with this is that satisfying these needs often sacrifices overall usability. If your employees are struggling to use the mobile version of your VoIP solution, then they likely will dump it.

This can lead to employees using unauthorized apps, which increases security risks. To avoid this, implement an app or a tool that is easy to use, navigate, and manage. Ask VoIP providers for a free demo to evaluate how user-friendly the software is.

3. Cloud support

Having on-premises equipment and support for your VoIP solution is a good idea. However, your existing IT team may not be ready for the challenges of providing a cloud-based mobile app or voice support. We recommend you go for a hosted VoIP solution, which delivers the same cost-effective, network-based service, but the equipment is housed based at a provider’s site rather than in your data center. This eliminates the cost of on-premises gear, maintenance costs, and overall management while increasing the overall effectiveness of your mobile solution.

4. Work with an experienced solution manager

It can be tough to manage your VoIP solutions as you’re expanding them. That’s why it’s best to work with an IT partner like us; we have the expertise and experience to pull it off. When you outsource the management of your solution to us, we can get your apps and solution up and running, then administer them for you.

If you need to expand your VoIP mobile capabilities to enhance your efficiency and productivity, or if you’re interested to learn more about VoIP solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Mobilize your VoIP systems

Businesses can benefit a lot from implementing a VoIP solution. However, without proper management and IT support for VoIP, you may see a negative impact on your productivity. You’ll experience limited communication from both customers and employees, especially members of your staff who are working remotely. The challenge is how you can expand your VoIP capabilities to become effective on the go.

To cater to your out-of-office workers, there are a variety of ways by which you can expand the mobility of your VoIP services.

1. Look into unified communications (UC)

If your employees are able to bring their personal devices to work, your IT administrators will insist that all of them comply with your company’s policies. You will need to establish good security and compliance measures to meet the needs of both your customers and employees.

A solid solution is UC, which integrates real-time communication services, such as instant messaging, telephony, data sharing, and video conferencing. UC bridges the gap between VoIP and other computer-related communication technologies. It makes communication more convenient and manageable by providing a single number to reach as well as a status indicator that conveys whether employees are available or if they don’t want to be disturbed.

2. Employ easy-to-use apps

Most top-rated business apps began as user-focused tools to help people find data more independently. Some of these apps have transformed into more customized tools focusing on specific business needs. The problem with this is that satisfying these needs often sacrifices overall usability. If your employees are struggling to use the mobile version of your VoIP solution, then they likely will dump it.

This can lead to employees using unauthorized apps, which increases security risks. To avoid this, implement an app or a tool that is easy to use, navigate, and manage. Ask VoIP providers for a free demo to evaluate how user-friendly the software is.

3. Cloud support

Having on-premises equipment and support for your VoIP solution is a good idea. However, your existing IT team may not be ready for the challenges of providing a cloud-based mobile app or voice support. We recommend you go for a hosted VoIP solution, which delivers the same cost-effective, network-based service, but the equipment is housed based at a provider’s site rather than in your data center. This eliminates the cost of on-premises gear, maintenance costs, and overall management while increasing the overall effectiveness of your mobile solution.

4. Work with an experienced solution manager

It can be tough to manage your VoIP solutions as you’re expanding them. That’s why it’s best to work with an IT partner like us; we have the expertise and experience to pull it off. When you outsource the management of your solution to us, we can get your apps and solution up and running, then administer them for you.

If you need to expand your VoIP mobile capabilities to enhance your efficiency and productivity, or if you’re interested to learn more about VoIP solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site