4 Reasons Why You Will Move Your Phones to the Cloud

UCaaS in Chicago

4 Reasons Why You Will Move Your Phones to the Cloud

At times, there are events that are sudden- like a snow storm or a flood. At other times, events move like an erupting volcano. Other events have the change occur like a glacier- over time and colossal. In technology, we have change advancing at a rapid pace. Yesterday’s invention is tomorrow’s necessity. In business communications, the shift has been tremendous.  Communications have shifted from premise based systems to hosted systems. Communications have shifted from being its own separate network to another application running on the network.

The business communications industry is seeing some of the greatest changes of its time. The leading driver being the steady adoption of the cloud, specifically unified communications (UC) and the delivery of these services, better referred to as unified communication as a service (UCaaS).

As we see in every space, products have life cycles. It’s becoming clear that the premises-based phone systems that many businesses relied on are quickly approaching the end of theirs. According to Gartner, there has been a 6.6% decline in premises-based revenue over the last 5 years.

So, why the steady decline of premises-based systems?

Many businesses today are faced with aging premises-based phone systems and are left with the choice to either replace them with the same technology or migrate to newer technology like cloud-based UC solutions. Premises-based systems have a tough time competing with cloud based UC systems in several key areas.

Here are 4 reasons why UCaaS is rapidly replacing premises-based systems.

  1. Cost

From large enterprise businesses, all the way to small non-profit organizations, everyone is looking to reduce costs and become more cost-efficient. Companies are moving away from systems that require high upfront capital expenses and are gravitating to solutions that allow them to pay for only what they actually need and use. With premises-based systems, upgrading an entire system is no longer a financially attractive option, with many systems requiring a longer commitment and the inability to scale.  Cloud-based UC models offer greater flexibility, with financing options and the ability to add and remove services and users whenever needed, providing businesses with the assurance that they can scale at anytime with ease.

  1. Advanced Features

Businesses are no longer interested in replacing older phone systems with newer ones that offer the same functionality. Companies today are looking for mobility, flexibility and more efficient ways to collaborate and work. Cloud-based UC systems integrate traditional telephony solutions with other communication and productivity applications on an internet protocol (IP) network, enabling a myriad of capabilities, including audio, web and a video conferencing, company-wide chat, presence, email, file sharing and integrations with leading CRM solutions. The enhanced capabilities that cloud UC solutions are able to deliver are much more equipped to meet the growing demands of the modern workforce.

  1. Maintenance

Premises-based switched telephony systems, typically a PBX or IP-PBX system, can be time-consuming, complex and costly to maintain, requiring dedicated IT staff to manage the systems and servers for even the most basic of changes. With the additional costs and complexities, companies are fleeing to the simplicity and maintenance-free technology of the cloud. Unlike equipment that just depreciates, the cloud continues to update automatically and often for no cost. Cloud-based UC systems, like Broadview’s OfficeSuite UC™ , SNET Cloud Phones or Zultys Cloud Services which are easy for both employees and administrators to manage the features of the system without IT support, provide the ability to save even more time and money, while improving operations.

  1. Security

Premises-based systems don’t offer much in the area of security, with equipment and critical data all stored on site.  Cloud-based UC systems on the other hand, especially those that utilize the cloud for 100 percent of its storage and processing are hosted on the provider’s servers and accessible through an encrypted web browser, ensuring that nothing is left  on-site where it could be vulnerable to hacking, theft or damage.  The best cloud UC providers even guarantee calls using the public internet are encrypted from the handset into a secure network, ensuring call data remains protected and confidential. An added assurance is offered by the most secure UC providers like Broadview Networks, who encrypts calls, messages and recordings with Transport Layer Security (TLS), cryptographic protocols that provide communications security over a provider’s network, and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), a symmetric encryption algorithm. Some cloud-based UC systems even allow internal IT staff to change user settings through flexible web portals that work across multiple devices. Offering these additional internal abilities, like controlling who is permitted to forward voicemail, further safeguards private information.

Businesses today are becoming more strategic with their communications investments. In addition to the desire for enhanced capabilities and collaboration features to improve employee productivity and customer service, they are also looking for solutions that are future-proof, secure and allow for growth and expansion. This extreme market shift and steady rise in cloud adoption and UCaaS is an indication that businesses are seeking a more holistic communication solution that extends well beyond voice communications.

If your businesses is looking to move to the cloud or upgrade to a more secure cloud-based UC solution, Prime Telecommunications can help!  Our stable of award-winning unified communications solutions are  100 percent cloud-based, making it more secure and easier to use and manage than any other system.

Our solutions operate solely in the cloud, eliminating the reliance on phones, servers and power to operate and ensures nothing is stored on-site where it can be vulnerable to threats or theft.  With encrypted calling, messages and meetings, and its intuitive online dashboard, which features customizable user profiles, employees can quickly, easily and securely manage any feature of the system from anywhere, eliminating the need for IT support, increasing productivity and ensuring business continuity.


7 Technologies to increase sales

7 Technologies that will IMPROVE your SALES

In business, time is money, especially for those who are responsible for producing and increasing sales. Salespeople by nature, are on the go and often under tight deadlines. Therefore, empowering these individuals with technology that allows them to work as efficiently as possible is key.

Here are 7 technologies that will help your team increase sales and work more efficiently.

1. CRM and Business Communication Integration
Customer Relationship Management solutions (CRM) provide a valuable way to manage and analyze customer data throughout the sales lifecycle. However, they become even more effective when they are integrated with your business communications. Cloud-phone system and unified communication integrations eliminate the need to switch back and forth between multiple systems and provide salespeople with immediate and direct access to important contact records. With convenient screen pop ups, click to dial functionality and instantaneous access to contact history, salespeople can communicate and work more effectively, while providing a more personalized customer experience.

2. Video Conferencing and Online Meeting Solutions
 In person meetings are always a great way to establish a new relationship, but can sometimes be challenging logistically. Some business deals require multiple decision-makers from different locations, or may take place far away and require multiple meetings where reoccurring travel is not feasible. For these circumstances, and so many others, HD video, audio and web conferencing solutions are a must-have technology for every salesperson. Having the flexibility to hold face to face meetings with upwards of 100 different people at one time from anywhere is a huge advantage. These solutions provide opportunities to give personalized and interactive demonstrations and share contracts and other important documents in real-time. Not to mention, they cost a fraction of the cost of travel.

 3. Email Follow Up Automation
Email is an important communication method with your customers and prospects, but can be time consuming to maintain, especially for busy reps on the go. Using software like HubSpot Sales allows salespeople to automate their follow up emails by creating sequences to send a series of emails to prospects over time. By personalizing and tracking each message, reps are better able to collect data and identify which messages are most effective.

5. Business Intelligence
A huge part of sales success is having the ability to analyze important data and be able to transfer that into actionable intelligence. However, when the data comes from systems that rely solely on data entry, you can be missing the big picture. Call history can tell you a great deal about sales performance. Phone systems that offer built-in call history reporting enable sales management and team members to pull reports by individual, team, department and location and view important call data such as: number of calls made, received and their duration by any given time period. These reports are more accurate and allow you to drill down to a more granular level to better evaluate and improve performance.

5. Visual Voicemail
Voicemail may seem like a pastime and for many, in our personal lives it is, but in business, customers will still resort to leaving voicemails. Fortunately, we no longer have to waste time finding a quiet place to listen to them or writing down what they say. Many cloud phone systems today offer the convenience of visual voicemail, where messages are transcribed so reps can read them quickly, easily and most importantly, discretely while out on other appointments. This is a huge time-saver and lessens the burden of voicemail, especially when on the road.

6. Internal Chat 

Whether your company utilizes a stand-alone chat client or one that is built-into your phone system portal or video conferencing software, internal chat can be incredibly helpful in sales. There are often times when reps or prospects have questions that could make or break a deal and require an immediate response. Sending a quick chat message to a manager or coworker will ensure they receive a quicker response and eliminates reliance on a colleague’s overflowing email inbox.

7. Business Apps
There are so many useful business apps out there that every professional should be taking advantage of. However, one that definitely comes in handy for any salesperson is Profit Story. This easy to use app, calculates what the margin would be on each deal in advance, along with other important profit-based metrics that are always good to know going into a meeting.

There is no doubt an arsenal of technology solutions available for your business.  We are fortunate to live in a time where technology is booming and advancements are made daily to improve how we work and live. Taking advantage of these 7 technologies and other valuable tools available will not only help increase your organization’s sales, but will streamline your daily operations and improve your overall efficiency.


Mxie Presence

Deskphone? Smartphone? What’s the difference!

As smartphones have become the central hubs for business users to manage communications and store contacts, traditional business desk phones are increasingly becoming isolated, less-useful devices. In fact, according to a new third-party survey of 486 U.S. workers with access to both a dedicated work desk phone and a smartphone, only one in two regularly use their desk phones for making voice calls, and one in three prefer to use their smartphones to make voice calls—even when they have easy access to a desk phone. One in three say they are willing to give up desk phones at work entirely.

 


Predeployment Network Assessment

So Your Company Wants to Adopt VoIP… How Do You Know If Your Network Is Ready to Make the Transition?

While the cost savings and new applications of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are rapidly attracting many small to mid-sized companies to this popular communication solution, it may come with a significant price to your network.  Not only must your network carry more traffic, but VoIP traffic demands very high performance and is more sensitive to normal network problems like delays and choppy communication.  Even modest levels of impairment, unnoticed by users of most data applications, will cause significant caller frustration and will not sit well with your customers, business partners, or even your own employees.

Before investing in a large-scale VoIP deployment or even in a small trial, you need to know how well your network infrastructure will handle the additional, quality-sensitive voice traffic.  Many seemingly well-planned trials encounter delay after delay, exceed cost estimates, and are eventually cancelled when the network proves unable to meet the unique requirements VoIP places on it.  However, these business issues can easily be avoided if your telecommunications provider properly assesses your network ahead of time to truly understand the scope and type of work required to ensure a successful transition to VoIP.

Gartner reports that 85% of networks are not ready for VoIP.  What’s even more shocking is that 75% of companies that do not perform a pre-implementation analysis of their network infrastructure will not realize a successful implementation.  These are astonishing statistics because without conducting a network assessment with a quality assessment tool, the potential for wasting time and money is extremely high.  In order to increase the likelihood of a successful VoIP implementation, an evaluation of the network must be properly executed and should include the following four steps.

  1. Pre-Deployment Assessment

The pre-deployment assessment step analyzes the current capabilities of the network, evaluates its ability to support VoIP, identifies potential problems, and determines the requirements needed to handle expected call traffic.  It is strongly recommended that the pre-deployment test is conducted prior to the purchase or installation of any VoIP equipment.  The analysis should include such items as bandwidth, utilization, jitter, throughput and latency.

  1. Post-Deployment Assessment

The purpose of the post-deployment assessment is to gain a complete understanding of VoIP quality and network efficiencies prior to turning it on.  This step determines the level of success and prevents issues with call quality or dropped calls.  Whenever new equipment is introduced to a network the chance for unexpected issues rises; therefore, it is critical that post-deployment assessment is not overlooked.  This assessment should be immediately performed so any changes can be made in a timely manner.

  1. Regular Maintenance Assessment

As you’re probably aware, your network is dynamic and constantly evolves.  New devices such as IP phones, laptops, switches, and routers are added or removed.  Whether it’s a minor change or a major one it will impact your network.  Therefore, it is important to re-evaluate your network regularly to identify any faults so they can be corrected as soon as possible.  Conducting ongoing assessments will help your organization increase quality, optimize system infrastructure, and reduce costs.

  1. Break/Fix Strategy

Unfortunately, unforeseen things may happen to a network that’s not readily identified by your IT department.  The situation may be brought to your company’s attention by a customer, an employee or business partner.  The Yankee Group has reported that some companies’ labor costs grew 30 to 40 percent with VoIP because of dealing with network problems.  Having a network assessment tool in place enables one to take action quickly, diagnose the problem, and resolve it, while minimizing its impact to the system as a whole.

Essentially, these four key steps have illustrated the primary objective and the many benefits of conducting network assessments.  Whether your company is about to take the plunge into VoIP or has already gone down that path, it is critical to deploy a tool that can accurately analyze your network.  Surprisingly, most companies overlook this integral component of the VoIP implementation process and the research clearly shows its negative impact.

As you tap into this relatively new communication solution that’s changing how business gets done, make sure you ask yourself this question.  What is my telecommunications provider doing to create a network environment that enables my company to take full advantage of VoIP? If network assessment is not included in the response then something is definitely wrong.


UC for Small Business

7 UC Benefits for Every Small Business

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. Regardless of how small a business is, communications is the most essential component to their success. In the past, having the latest communication technology in place was a costly challenge for small businesses to maintain. Fortunately, with cloud technology and the developments of cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) solutions, it is much more attainable.

With many of the most advanced features built-into UC systems and the top providers including maintenance and free upgrades, helping your customers remain professional and connected to their customers and colleagues has never been easier or more affordable for even the smallest of businesses.

Here are 7 UC benefits that provide a competitive benefit to every small business.

1. Auto Attendants
Auto Attendants are one of the most utilized built-in benefits of cloud-based phone systems. They ensure that all incoming calls are answered and directed to the appropriate place, no matter who is physically available. For small businesses, this is a huge advantage. They gain the ability to pre-record greetings they’d like customers to hear, ensuring a professional image is projected with every single call. Plus, they can save significantly by not having to designate employees to answer calls. Since the most common reasons for calls are for hours of operation and directions, using an Auto Attendant for this purpose alone will reduce the number of routine calls that need to be answered by 25%, allowing staff to focus on their business and better serve their in-person customers.

2. On-hold Greetings
The best cloud-based phone systems include on-hold greetings and music options. This feature can really make a difference in how a company is portrayed. While their customers are waiting on-hold, they can take advantage of this time with pre-recorded messages to promote and advertise specials, their website and upcoming events to boost sales or attendance, all for free. Free direct advertising opportunities like this are few and far between and definitely a great benefit for businesses with limited advertising budgets. Additionally, small businesses instantly seem larger and more legitimate having professionally recorded messages or music entertaining their callers while they are waiting on hold.

3. 800 Numbers
Another great feature that helps your prospects project a larger company image are 1-800 numbers. They can be used in a variety of ways, such as designating a phone number for advertising campaigns to track results, to direct calls to a specific employee, or to just project a larger company image in a specific location. They are a great way to centralize calls for little to no cost and a huge advantage to provide customers who would otherwise be calling long distance.

4. Online Fax
Faxing may seem obsolete, but it’s still very much alive in business. With online fax, your prospects can fax digitally and eliminate the need for a traditional fax machine and the high costs associated with it, like phone lines, paper, maintenance and ink. Faxing with UC systems is basically free and so are they. Free to fax to and from any device, from anywhere. Transactions become instantaneous, secure and hassle-free from wherever they need them to be.

5. Video Conferencing
Face-to-face meetings are critically important, but can be costly for businesses who serve clients located in other parts of the country or the world. Delivering personalized service and collaborating on deliverables can be both affordable and simple with the right video, audio and web conferencing software. These solutions allow customers to share documents, give presentations and meet and connect with their clients or team members from any device, anywhere, for a fraction of the cost of travel.

6. No IT Required
A big draw for UC systems are their ease of use. These systems are designed with the user in mind and provide access to every service, feature and setting, so your customers can easily and independently manage their own communications without the need of costly outside support. Systems that are even more advanced, go beyond just admin privileges and enable your customers to grant access to their own employees so they can manage the features needed, which saves them even more time and money.

7. Online Management
With cloud-based systems, everything is well, in the cloud. This is incredibly helpful for a business of any size, but especially a small business because everything can be managed and accessed remotely at anytime through a secure online portal. Many small businesses have limited staff available so for basic changes like recording a greeting or checking the company voicemail, owners would previously have to physically go to their place of business. Everything with cloud UC systems becomes mobilized and flexible, giving your customers the ability to forward calls, fax, listen to voicemail, change greetings about hours and much more, from any device, anywhere.

Small businesses work with limited resources. All-inclusive, cloud UC solutions offer them an affordable path to the latest technology for a low monthly fee and often no capital expense. This gives businesses of any size, the opportunity to compete with even the largest of competitors, while improving their sales, operations and customer service. We expect to see an increase in UC adoption in small businesses over the next few years. Ensure you are the one to help them transition and reap the benefits of having a cost-effective solution in place.


Icy weather

National Preparedness Month is over- are you ready for disaster?

The National Centers for Environmental Information reported that as of July 2016, there have been eight weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. Every September, known as National Preparedness Month, we are reminded of the toll natural disasters like hurricanes and wild fires take on businesses. However, business leaders know that in reality, smaller man-made disasters, such as spilled coffee, have an even greater chance of impacting our daily lives and operations.

We are now in the beginning of October so consider the following three tips to provide continuity  for your organization’s communications from all business disasters and disruptions.

Back up Business Data
Eliminate costly downtime and risks of on-site failures by securing all critical communications and information exclusively in the cloud. The ability to access information is vital to make day-to-day business decisions and to keep critical communications with customers and clients intact, especially in the case of any disasters. We can help make sure all pertinent data from desktops, laptops and servers are backed up in the cloud to make a business more accessible and flexible to both customers and employees.  Make sure that your provider encrypts calls and keeps data secure in the cloud so that nothing is vulnerable on-site.  If primary data is lost, corrupted or inaccessible, a backup copy of the data stored safely in the cloud, provide recovery tools and allow quick restoration of files on demand easily – no matter the location.

Off Site, Not Out of Touch
By outsourcing the equipment used to support operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components, in the case of an event where power dies or flooding shorts out the server, the device will be elsewhere.  Before moving your infrastructure to the cloud, consider reliability. Our service provides a service level agreement (SLA), a written guarantee that details its reliability and guarantees 99.99 percent uptime. Scalability is equally important so make sure you can turn up and turn down servers on demand. All of our hosted products allow you to make changes using an online portal,  a web-based customer portal that allows you to get new resources up and running on a moment’s notice, regardless of location and without any capital investment or additional IT resources. The last thing you need to worry about during a recovery is how to fund your next server, upgrade an existing server on the fly or allocate more resources (RAM, CPUs, storage or bandwidth) to meet unanticipated demand.

Reassess Your Phones
Keeping phone calls flowing with customers and employees is a key factor in helping your business recover after a disruption. With hosted voice solutions the phones are in your office, but the intelligence of the service is secure in the cloud so that no matter where you are, you can use the system to help your business survive any disaster. Hosted voice offers unique applications and features, like softphones and mobile twinning that are cost-effective ways to enable mobility and disaster avoidance across your organization. The softphone is completely integrated, offering your employees professionals full office phone functionality and seamless communication, making and receiving calls through any internet-connected PC, from any location using the same extension and accessing the same features, such as call forwarding, extension-to-extension dialing and voicemail. Mobile twinning allows you to send calls to your cell and desk phone simultaneously for complete coverage, allowing inbound calls to be sent to your cell and desk phone at the same time so you don’t have to be in the office to take calls. The ability to turn any device into your office phone means that you can switch from device to device. Start a conversation on your desk phone in the office and seamlessly continue it on your mobile device should you need to leave the office.

National Preparedness Month is a great time to start placing business continuity at the forefront of business planning. However, consider prioritizing preparedness year-round so that you may never need to recover from disasters – natural or man-made – because you can avoid them altogether. By choosing to equip your business with any one of our hosted voice cloud phone services, no matter what issues affect your organization, the system will remain safe and employees can easily continue “business as usual” anytime, from any location.


Attracting Millenials

Rethink the Phone to Attract Millenials to your Business

Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce in 2015. By 2025, they will account for more than 75 percent of the U.S. labor pool. The millennial workers bring immense value to a team, including self-motivation, creativity and enthusiasm. To ensure a stable, productive and engaged team tomorrow, organizations should create a culture with sophisticated technology where millennial employees can thrive and provide maximum benefit to the company today.

Recruiting and retaining millennials requires companies to cultivate a work environment with the flexibility, open dialogue and collaboration they value. Offering cloud-based communication technology that’s available anytime, anywhere and from any device, is vital to a happy and productive team. Below are additional tips businesses can use to allow millennial employees to thrive.

1. Enable Smooth and Secure Access
Some of the greatest benefits of cloud-based UC solutions are the mobile, flexible and economical access they provide. Seamless remote work and team collaboration requires businesses to fully embrace the cloud to ensure universal access for employees working off-site. This applies to everything from company data and current evolving projects to routine meetings. Housing data and servers in a truly 100 percent cloud-based solution also provides a much more secure, disaster-proof way to store business information.

2. Rethink the Phone
As businesses transition to next-generation technology across the board, they should be sure to upgrade their phones, the heartbeat of team collaboration in a workplace. Selecting a cloud-based phone system offers full access to tools that foster two-way dialogue and encourage collaboration. In addition, a streamlined online portal where employees can manage the technology themselves, molding it to fit their own workflows and processes instead of the other way around is vital. For example, if employees can configure their personal phone settings within the cloud, rather than on a physical device, switching from an office location to home will be effortless. It also allows businesses to leverage features that enhance mobility like softphones, which employees can use to make and receive calls on any internet-connected device using their business number.

3. Connect Co-Workers
Connecting employees with each other in a real-time manner improves individuals’ flexibility, ensures full-team collaboration and reduces money and time spent traveling. When vetting different video conferencing tools, businesses should select an online-based HD option that allows face-to-face meetings and makes screen share and collaborative editing simple. A more informal solution to consider, that has become a must-have tool for employees, is internal chat to help maintain strong working relationships and encourage real-time collaboration. Businesses should select a chat tool that integrates with all other communication channels and is available on desktop and various mobile devices to ensure the smoothest communication.

Creating a collaborative, flexible environment requires deliberate action and consideration of leadership to ensure all team members have universal access to key documents and are supported with sophisticated communications channels like cloud-based phone systems and video meetings. Whether team members are in another office, working at home or onsite with clients, business leaders staying ahead of the curve by attracting and maintaining millennial employees must put a technology plan in place to empower team communication and collaboration.


Presence management

7 Ways Small Businesses Benefit from UC Solutions

Happy Small Business Week! National Small Business Week has been celebrated every year since 1963 and recognizes the key contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they generate about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. Since many of our customers are small businesses, we see first-hand how hard they work and the impact they have on America’s economy.

Regardless of the size of your business, communications is the most essential component. In the past, having the latest communication technology in place was a costly challenge for small businesses to maintain. Fortunately, this has all changed with cloud technology and the developments of cloud-based Unified Communications (UC) solutions. With many of the most advanced features built-into UC systems and the top providers including maintenance and free upgrades, remaining professional and connected to customers and colleagues has never been easier or more affordable for even the smallest of businesses.

Here are 7 ways that small businesses can benefit from UC solutions in a big way.

Auto Attendants
Auto Attendants are one of the greatest built-in benefits of cloud-based phone systems. They ensure that all incoming calls are answered and directed to the appropriate place, no matter who is physically available. For small businesses, this is a huge advantage. You get the ability to pre-record the greeting you’d like customers to hear, ensuring you project a professional image with every single call. Plus, you save significantly by not having to designate employees to answer calls or worse, answer them all yourself. Since the most common reasons for calls are for hours of operation and directions, using an Auto Attendant for this purpose alone will reduce the number of routine calls that need to be answered by 25%, allowing you to focus on your business and better serve your in-person customers.

On-hold Greetings
The best cloud-based phone systems include on-hold greetings and music options. This feature can really make a difference in how your company is portrayed. While customers are on-hold, you can take advantage of this time with pre-recorded messages to promote and advertise specials, your website and upcoming events to boost sales or attendance, all for free. Free direct advertising opportunities like this are few and far between and definitely a great benefit for businesses with limited advertising budgets. Additionally, small businesses instantly sounds larger and more legitimate having professionally recorded messages or music entertaining callers while they are waiting on hold.

800 Numbers
Another great feature that helps to project a larger company image are 1-800 numbers. They can be used in a variety of ways, such as designating a phone number for advertising campaigns to track results, to direct calls to a specific employee, or to just project a larger company image in a specific location. They are a great way to centralize calls for little to no cost and a huge advantage to provide customers who would otherwise be calling long distance.

Online Fax
Faxing may seem obsolete, but it’s still very much alive in business. With online fax, you can fax digitally and eliminate the need for a traditional fax machine and the high costs associated with it, like phone lines, paper, maintenance and ink. Faxing with UC systems is basically free and so are you. Free to fax to and from any device, from anywhere. Transactions become instantaneous, secure and hassle-free from wherever you need them to be.

Video Conferencing
Face-to-face meetings are critically important, but can be costly if your business serves clients located in other parts of the country or the world. Delivering personalized service and collaborating on deliverables can be both affordable and simple with the right video, audio and web conferencing software. These solutions allow you to share documents, give presentations and meet and connect with clients or team members from any device, anywhere, for a fraction of the cost of travel.

No IT Required
A big draw for UC systems are their ease of use. These systems are designed with the user in mind and provide access to every service, feature and setting, so you can easily and independently manage your own communications without the need of costly outside support. Systems that are even more advanced, go beyond just admin privileges and enable you to grant access to your employees so they can manage the features you need them to, which saves you even more time and money.

Online Management
With cloud-based systems, everything is well, in the cloud. This is incredibly helpful for a business of any size, but especially a small business because everything can be managed and accessed remotely at anytime through a secure online portal. Many small businesses have limited staff available so for basic changes like recording a greeting or checking the company voicemail, owners would previously have to physically go to their place of business. Everything with cloud UC systems becomes mobilized and flexible, giving you the ability to forward calls, fax, listen to voicemail, change greetings about hours and much more, from any device, anywhere.

Small businesses work with limited resources. All-inclusive, cloud UC solutions offer an affordable path to the latest technology for a low monthly fee and often no capital expense. This gives businesses of any size, the opportunity to compete with even the largest of competitors, while improving their sales, operations and customer service. We expect to see an increase in UC adoption in all markets over the next few years, but small businesses can most certainly reap the benefits of having these solutions in place for their business’ communications.


Office suite UC portal

6 Must-haves for every UC Portal

 

Since unified communications (UC) solutions are cloud-based, the actual brains behind the systems are in the backend online management platforms or, as most refer to them as, online portals. When it comes to your ability to remain agile, mobile and productive, the interface you use holds all the power.

Here are 6 must-have features and abilities every UC portal should offer.

1. Centralized Technology: One of the greatest benefits of UC solutions is their ability to centralize all of your communication services into a single platform. You no longer need multiple systems and logins to access services beyond your phone system, like faxing, video conferencing, email and toll-free. The most advanced unified communications systems will unify your access right through their online portal. This not only applies to customers, but agents who manage multiple customer accounts through other providers. A single point of access to everything streamlines the administration of your system significantly.

2. Intuitive Design– Time is everything, especially in business. So having a portal that offers an intuitive design is crucial. The last thing you want is a complex menu tree or hierarchical system that is difficult to navigate. With one portal for everyone, managers and employees alike, the portal design should be straightforward and offer the latest technology like drag and drop and click-to-dial capabilities. The most common functionalities: listening to voicemail, setting individual preferences, uploading contacts, forwarding calls, recording greetings, paying bills and adding new services, should be both easy and possible without any IT assistance.

3. Mobility– Today’s workforce is mobilized, so the platform you use needs to match your organization’s work style, Your online portal should offer unlimited mobility, where users can access any feature and make changes as needed, from any device, anywhere. With the increased need for mobility and the popular BYOD trends, support for mobility is a critical component to every UC offering and the online portals that support them.

4. Permission-based Controls– In every organization, different employees and departments have various functions and levels of authority. User profiles are a new way that businesses can achieve optimal productivity, yet remain in complete control. With portals that allow you to create custom user profiles based upon individual user personas and needs, administrators can grant employees access to self-manage the features that are applicable to their role, saving time and resources.

5. Collaboration– Many companies today have multiple locations and employees that travel or work remotely, so having an online portal that unifies your entire organization is a definite must. Features that encourage internal collaboration like real-time presence that showcases the availability of each employee, company-wide chat, and the ability to video conference online, will enable your organization to stay connected and collaborate seamlessly, no matter where they are.

6. Built-in Intelligence– Beyond just being used to manage communication services, online portals provide us with a great opportunity to tap into the intelligence of the system. Advanced tools are now built into portals, such as call history reporting, so you can extract and evaluate important call data that will help improve the sales, customer service, marketing and operations of your business. Agents can also benefit from built-in intelligence tools from provider’s portals and gain greater visibility into their customer accounts, product revenues, contract renewals and customer satisfaction levels.

Online portals are really the heart of any UC system, so when purchasing or recommending your next unified communications solution to your customers, be sure that the online portal used to access and manage the important features of the system offers the functionality you will need both now and in the future.


Call History

What Your Call History Can Tell You About Your Business

 

In business, your call history can really tell you a great deal. Having insight into your entire company’s communications can be beneficial to improving various areas of your operations.

As managers, reviewing call activity gives visibility into employee performance, customer needs and issues, as well as your sales and marketing efforts.

But, who has time to review call activity the old-fashioned way?

Thankfully, with modern UC technology and state-of-the-art online portals, the ability to view and analyze critical call data is simple.

Viewing call history as a whole doesn’t provide much insight. However, when inbound and outbound call data can be broken down and evaluated by departments, individual employees, phone numbers and even extensions, a great can deal can be learned.

Using a built in Call History component is a good example of how built-in business intelligence tools can make the reporting of this critical data work for your business’ needs.

For instance, running reports for the longest and most frequent calls your customer service department makes and receives can provide perspective as to which customers require the most assistance and whether or not you may need to monitor or intervene in order to keep an important account. It also gives you a better idea of your personnel needs throughout the day and individual employee workloads, which can help to improve staffing efficiency.

For sales departments, outbound calling is critical to sales results. So, having the ability to view all the outbound calls by day, week, month, employee or region provides you with a valuable performance evaluation tool and a concrete way to improve productivity.

Inbound call reporting for specific phone numbers is a great way to track marketing campaign activity. When designating a specific phone number for a new campaign, you can instantly see the results based on the amount of call activity.

Customizable call reporting is also a crucial component; every organization has different needs, so having the ability to create customized reports will enable you to get to a more granular level in your analysis.

As you can see, diving deeper into your call analytics can really help to improve employee performance, sales, marketing and customer service throughout your organization. So, be sure to take advantage of the important call data that is already available to you. And, if you are not using a system that provides you with the advanced technology and reporting you need, check into our award-winning unified communications solutions.


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