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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.

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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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Presence Management: The Greatest Form of Communication

Want to increase communications and productivity between employees and customers?  Then, presence management is the way to go.  This wonderful technology gives all individuals within a company the ability to know what everyone is else is doing in real-time.  Is someone in the building or even at their desk? Are they in a meeting? Are they on the phone? By having this information one can determine if and in what manner to connect with another person.  That’s essentially the purpose of presence management and it’s enhancing the way we communicate. Having this information presents one with an array of communication options that’s dramatically driving up productivity for those companies – both large and small deploying presence management.

Unified presence management is driven off of a company’s voice and data system and empowers people to control every facet of their communications.  It includes and functions off of all devices such as computers, cell phones, Voice over IP (VoIP), and personal communications services.  As soon as someone logs onto their computer a pop up window appears containing the names of fellow employees and their current activity as well as their location.  Essentially, the technology lets you see the presence status of others, send emails and voicemails, receive faxes, control all your phone calls via desktop phones or a softphone, send secure Instant Messages and voice messages, launch a collaborative web conference session – all with a single mouse click.  Users may also put notes into presence for everyone to see.  For example, a note may have the time when an employee will be back in the office from lunch or say an off-site meeting.  Another user may make everyone aware that they may be working from home that day.  Knowing everyone’s availability offers greater options to rapidly assist with everyday business issues.

The power of presence is absolutely incredible.  For instance, a customer may contact your facility with a question and the individual that answered the phone may not have the necessary information to respond appropriately.  Immediately, the employee can view presence and see who is available to assist the customer.  They may send a question via an instant message or put the caller on hold, contact their colleague to gather the information or directly transfer the call while giving the colleague a heads up.  The flexibility of presence is tremendous and one can assume that it is easily driving customer satisfaction levels through the roof.  A basic phone system cannot operate in this fashion and unfortunately those that utilize traditional telephony are missing the boat.

Included in presence are such features as find me follow me.  This unique technology gives people the ability to reach a specific individual anytime, anywhere based on the implementation of a few easy to set rules in the system.  A can call come in and the caller has the option of finding the person on their cell phone or at another predetermined location.  The user may also have all calls set to directly transfer to the cell as well.  Another relatively new feature is twinning – a setting that rings both the desk and mobile phone simultaneously.  Reaching the person you want to, has never been this easy.

Time is more important than ever in today’s business environment.  Presence management saves an incredible amount of time because of the technology’s innate ability to drive efficiency and productivity.  Every business owner realizes the positive impact that even a minimal amount of improvement in this area can have on an organization’s bottom line, not to mention the empowerment an employee has to make better-informed communication decisions that in the end drives satisfaction in the workplace.  Presence management is a true win for everybody!

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5 Reasons Every Business Needs a Unified Communications (UC) Solution

No matter what type of business or size business you have, the one aspect that you cannot afford to neglect is the communications you have with your customers. Businesses today are reaping the benefits of adopting one reliable solution for all of their communication needs thanks to the evolution of cloud-based unified communications (UC) solutions.

Here are 5 reasons why every business today needs a quality unified communications solution in place.

1. Cost
If you think about all of the individual services, equipment and staffing your business requires to communicate with your customers, you will be shocked at your monthly expenses. Communications, no doubt should be an investment, but one that is affordable. Quality and affordability are often both difficult to achieve, but thanks to modern cloud-based unified communications solutions, both are now obtainable. Every business should be looking to adopt a full service, subscription-based UC solution, one where everything is included. When we say everything, we mean it. The best UC solutions will include your phones, advanced calling features like auto attendants, unlimited calling, online faxing, video conferencing, toll-free and the latest mobile apps and tools, all for no capital expense. When you think about the value of this and what you can eliminate, for example, your fax machine costs and maintenance, modernizing and unifying your communications into one cost-effective solution is a no-brainer.

2. Disaster avoidance
When you think of disasters in business, you immediately think of revenue lost and unanticipated costs. Disasters can range from man-made interruptions to natural disasters like hurricanes and blizzards that can affect your business for days on end. With a cloud-based unified communications solution, disasters are no longer a concern. Communications can remain intact because all of your features and services are managed and accessed through a secure, online portal from any device. This means, that you can forward your calls to any number and voicemails can be retrieved from anywhere you are. Features like auto attendants, can also be used to inform customers of office closures. So, while your physical place of business may need to close, your communications with your customers will never be down.

3. Mobility
One of the greatest benefits of a cloud-based unified communications solution is the mobility and flexibility they provide. The world has become forever mobilized and so should your business. You no longer need to be chained to your place of business waiting for calls, or be worried about giving out your personal cell phone number. Cloud-based UC solutions offer the mobility to get calls on any device, through features like mobile twinning, where your business phone and mobile phone will ring simultaneously, so you never miss a call or mobile softphones, where you can make and receive calls on your mobile device using your business number. The ability to make business happen wherever you are and on whatever device you choose, is a benefit that no business should overlook.

4. Scalability
No matter what type of business you have, your hope and plans are for growth and profitability. Since the speed of growth is unknown, it is often difficult to plan ahead when making important investments, such as your business technology. Fortunately, cloud-based UC solutions allow you to scale up and down as needed. Having the reassurance that you can add and remove new employees, services and equipment instantly, gives you peace of mind and more control over your bottom line.

5. Productivity
With a cloud-based UC solution, your employees productivity level gains an instant boost. Not only can employees from any of your locations communicate on one system through 3 or 4 digit extension dialing, but they can also chat live through a secure, online customer portal. New tools like video, audio and web conferencing allows your employees to meet, collaborate and share documents from any device, anytime.

Cloud UC solutions offer countless advantages to businesses and help to ensure it is business as usual, no matter what takes place or where you or your employees physically are.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of UC solutions? Broadview offers an award-winning, 100 percent cloud-based unified communications solution, OfficeSuite Phone and has more than a decade of cloud experience. Click here for more information or a free quote for your business.

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What Is the Best Communications Solution for My Business?

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What is VoIP and why it is good for business

What is VoIP?

VoIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, basically refers to voice communications that take place over the Internet. Thanks to advanced technology and high speed Internet connectivity, VoIP has become a more valuable and flexible asset to companies and individuals alike.

Traditional analog and digital phone service was the main mode of telecommunications for most of the 20th century but it is / was mostly restricted by the feature set of the accompanying PBX or Key System it was connected to. Today, with continued build outs of cable and fiber optic networks, high speed Internet service provides a solid foundation for faster data transmissions and VoIP platforms.

VoIP solutions provide the consumer with a feature rich platform to build on. In many instances the technology delivered through the VoIP system becomes a valuable business tool. A reliable Internet connection with a strong VoIP provider become the building blocks for many growing businesses today.

Using VoIP for business means that you can expand, have flexibility and maximize productivity while often reducing expenses. Many VoIP providers offer both “Hosted” and “Premise” based delivery options. Other sections of the website will focus on the pros and cons of each.

A good VoIP offering delivers digital calls with clarity, compared to traditional analog phone service. In summary, the benefits for businesses are significant.

Benefits of VoIP

When focusing on business VoIP, there are several key business benefits that the service provides. This section will highlight a few of the most important ones as they relate to business users.

Cost Benefits

Pound for pound, VoIP service tends to cost less than traditional analog phone service. As the LECs (Local Exchange Carriers) and Cable Companies are adjusting the way they deliver access, VoIP immediately comes to the forefront. In today’s marketplace the larger carriers would rather push customers in the direction of VoIP. It makes sense from a delivery and maintenance viewpoint. As older infrastructure becomes more and more expensive to maintain, the carriers would rather invest in moving customers in a forward direction rather than invest in older and dated technology. VoIP technology is more robust and scalable on a long term basis. In the end, all of this technological advancement usually paves the way for cost reduction for the business consumer.

Functionality

With VoIP service, business users have access to a wide range of features and options that simply don’t exist with traditional phone service. With too many to list for this section, we will highlight some of the more popular examples below.

  • – Voicemail to Email Technology
  • – Call Recording
  • – Find Me Follow Me
  • – Real Time Call Accounting
  • – Interoffice Dial Plans
  • – Remote Workforce
  • – And many more….

In the end, whether you are a growing and thriving business or a new startup business, VoIP provides many useful features to assist with all aspects your business. No doubt that the benefits of business VoIP service for the small business, all the way to the major corporation, far outweigh traditional phone service that has been used for decades.

Benefits of a Sole Provider

Traditionally, many businesses are used to dealing with multiple service providers. In many cases companies deal with 2,3,4 or more providers for network, voice, equipment and other technology related services.

There are many benefits of single point of contact service for technology. Time is money and sometimes a few hours can save a business thousands of dollars in potential lost revenue. Many businesses have built long-term relationships with service providers for the above mentioned services. In taking the time to assess a single point of contact provider, be sure to recognize that they offer a top tier level of customer service, support, and overall features that are needed in today’s competitive businesses environment.

There is, however, a significant advantage to relying on a sole provider for all of your telephony needs. Single point of contact providers are, in most cases, fully equipped to handle all of your telecommunications requirements with state-of-the-art handsets and options that will help you maximize productivity.

By having a single point of contact for your telecommunications needs, you streamline the process and, as any business leader knows and understands, the more streamlined the system or process, the more efficient it can operate.

In looking at single point of contact provider be sure to also consider Disaster Recovery (DR). How is this telecommunications provider equipped when the next Super Storm comes through town to assist you in making sure your service stays active? Make sure they can offer your business a Voice Continuity Plan that is a proactive solution for anything that can happen from circuit failure, PBX failure or Natural Disaster. Sole Provider solutions with dedicated service to a client, in most cases, would get an automatic failover DR system in place, meaning peace of mind for the telecom aspect of your business. Pre-planned solutions for voice and data DR will keep you connected to your customer base, which can save you millions of dollars.

When you choose a good sole provider for voice, data and DR, you gain the power of experience, dedication, and a commitment to you and your business.

Resources

Prime Telecommunications  provides a wealth of resources to help guide you through the process of choosing the right VoIP system for telecommunication design for your company’s needs.

When you review these pages, if you have questions or wish to learn more about how each feature can benefit your company, contact us and we’ll guide you through the process.

When you choose Prime Telecommunications, Inc, you choose a company with experience, dedication and a partner that will help you maximize efficiency and productivity while minimizing expenses.

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Why Staying with your Old Phone Provider is Killing Your Business

Take a look at your smartphone. There’s a good chance that, somewhere in the icons, you’ll see a throwback to old technologies, such as an image of a traditional telephone handset or the layout of numbers and pound signs that we’re all intimately familiar with by now.

This sort of aging iconography might make you feel as though phone technology is progressing slowly, but nothing could be further from the truth. While it’s true that traditional phone solutions and obsolete business models are effectively holding back progress, there’s another way.

How are you being held back? Let’s take a look at the ways, and at the best solution available right now: cloud based VoIP systems for your business.

Traditional Phone Isnt Scalable

Traditional office telephone systems have long been an all-or-nothing proposition. Smaller businesses ended up subscribing to the same services, at the same prices, as larger businesses. This is hardly cost-effective, particularly for growing companies that need to keep their overhead as low as possible.

In contrast, VoIP technology is scalable, meaning you only buy what you need, and pay a low subscription cost that’s proportional to the size of your workforce.

Traditional Phone Isnt Mobile

For better or worse, existing phone technology has created very clear delineations between our work lives and our social lives. In other words, business hours ended as soon as you stepped away from your desk. This might be appealing for those who want to very deliberately carve out their personal time from otherwise busy schedules, but it might also result in lost calls and, worse still, lost opportunities.

Whether you end up trusting Broadview for your office communication needs or end up with another VoIP provider, you’ll enjoy mobile productivity as never before. Thanks to compatibility with the leading mobile operating systems, you can take your VoIP network with you wherever you go.

Traditional Phone Isnt Efficient

At first glance, it might not seem as though changing phone providers could have a significant day-to-day impact on your company’s efficiency. The truth is, you may not even realize how much time you’ve already wasted investing in, and overseeing, your antiquated phone system.

Smaller companies don’t have the capital to invest in a dedicated IT department, which makes it essential that your communication technology doesn’t have a steep learning curve; wasting time learning and troubleshooting your phone system is going to kill your productivity. VoIP, in contrast, is very easy to set up and maintain, even without an in-house IT department.

Traditional Phone Is Unreliable

You may not spend a significant amount of your day planning for the next time a telephone pole breaks in half, or a flood sweeps through your area, but the icing on the VoIP cake is the fact that you don’t need to worry about natural disasters interfering with, or even destroying, your communications infrastructure.

If the worst should come to pass, remember that your phone settings are always saved securely in the cloud, meaning that you’ll be able to continue right where you left off, at any site with an Internet connection.

In closing, remember that business is already full of challenges; why not eliminate as many as you can?

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Prepare your business for winter storms

Before the next big storm of the winter season hits, here’s how to ensure your business stays connected.

Prepare your business for winter weather.

For businesses that use Broadview Networks’ cloud-based OfficeSuite® Phone, keeping in touch when their office must close is easy. Since the system is hosted in the cloud, changes can be made via an online portal that is accessible from laptops, tablets and smartphones. OfficeSuite Phone helps businesses deal with power outages; effectively manage working from home; keep the lines of communication open; and create a disaster recovery/business continuity plan.

Before the evening commute kicks off early today, here are a few tips for making sure your business does not lose touch during the storm.

  • Make Changes Online – to set up or change any of the features below, simply login to the OfficeSuite website.
  • Create a New Automated Greeting – Let callers know about changes in hours or closings. You can set up the Auto Attendant so that callers can be directed to employees’ home or cell phones, or to another business location that will not be impacted by the storm.
  • Set up Emergency Override – Ensure all calls to your business are handled. With Emergency Override Routing, all calls to all of your company’s phone numbers (that have this feature enabled) will be routed to whatever destination you choose.
  • Forward Calls to Another Number Using your Desk Phone – By setting up a Forward to Prompt button and pressing it before leaving your business today.
  • Modify Call Handling – Change where calls are sent when you cannot answer. Send calls to voicemail, auto attendant, co-worker or to another phone number, like your home or cell phone. Change this online anytime.
  • Change Incoming Call Routing – Modify where calls are sent so that each call can either be answered or handled with a voicemail box.
  • Set up Mobile Twinning – Have all calls ring your desk phone and your cell phone so you can stay in touch no matter where you are.
  • Get Voicemail Anywhere – in email as an attachment or transcribed message, with our free Voicemail App for iPhone or Android, or as a text notification.
  • Turn your Mobile Phone or PC into Your Office Phone – with our Mobile Softphones, your mobile phone or PC/laptop can becoming a fully-functional office phone that uses your business phone number.
  • Forward Calls, Open Trouble Tickets, Manage Toll-free Service, Pay Bills – all online viaeCare Enterprise.
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Powering Nonprofits through the Holidays with Cloud Technology

As individuals celebrate with family and friends and as businesses close their books for the calendar year, many consider making charitable donations during the holidays. In fact, according to a National Center for Charitable Statistics survey, more than 42 percent of people give more during the holidays than the rest of the year.

Charitable giving is at an all-time high, growing by more than five percent year over year to the nearly $360 billion reported for 2014. With charities of all sizes experiencing increased traffic near the end of the year, it is crucial for them to prepare their IT infrastructure for the influx.

Three simple tips will ensure smooth operations for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to maximize their impact during the holiday season and beyond.

Get your head in the clouds – To best allocate their conservative budgets, nonprofits should assess hardware and software to determine if antiquated technology is occupying valuable space and resources, replacing them with more flexible, mobile cloud solutions such as OfficeSuite HD Meeting. These tools keep employees connected and collaborative throughout the holidays.

Take advantage of the scalability – In a completely cloud-based environment such as the MyOfficeSuite portal, nonprofits can adjust their technology to fit their needs in a matter of moments. The convenience and degree of this scalability keeps organizations functioning smoothly in high-activity times such as the holiday season.

Give your office phone a mobile twin – In our recent customer survey, approximately one-third of respondents reported working remote more frequently during the holidays. During this time, many people are at higher risk of missing calls from current and potential donors. Features like mobile twinning, which sends inbound calls to mobile and desk phones simultaneously, help ensure that your organization never misses these critical conversations.

As nonprofits navigate the busy holiday giving season, these organizations should set a path for success by transitioning to flexible cloud solutions, leveraging scalability and enabling seamless mobile communication.Broadview-Charitable-Donations

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Time to Value for Small Business Cloud Phone Services

  • Time to Value

When considering a purchase of small business cloud phone services, metrics like Return on Investment (ROI) andTotal Cost of Ownership (TCO) are often considered. This makes sense for larger businesses, but often the key metric for small business or a startup is more time sensitive. For businesses that are highly time sensitive Time to Value (TtV) is a better metric.

What is Time to Value (TtV)?

Time to value describes the amount of time between making a business decision or incurring initial cost to receiving the value from the decision or investment.  Value in this case is the desired business goal or benefit.

This is a different metric than the often used Time Value of Money (TVM). TVM is a calculation of what today’s money is worth in the future due to its earning potential. TVM is generally used when money is being loaned or will be received at some future time.

Both the Time to Value and TVM attempt to address the consideration of time, but in different ways.

Startup & Small Business Time

For startups and small businesses time is often their most precious commodity. The industry likes to focus on ROI, which factors time but not always in a way that matters to a startup or small business. Small businesses and startups are often on the clock trying to make their business successful before running out of time.

ROI helps you understand how long it will take to pay back an initial investment. This is useful when there is a large capital expenditure, but for cloud services this often misses the point. Time to Value is very aligned with how small businesses and startups tend to think. It is focused on the speed of which money spent returns value.

What is the TtV for cloud business phone services?

To answer this question we must first look at the benefits that drive most small businesses to cloud business phone services. I wrote a post awhile back on the top reasons small businesses go to the cloud, so I won’t rewrite it here. Let’s review these reasons and the Time to Value for each:

  • Cost – Most startups and small businesses go to the cloud to avoid a large capital expenditure on a phone system With cloud business phone services this value is delivered day one.
  • Scalability – Startups and small businesses don’t want to be penalized for adding or removing a line. Again, the time to value is pretty much immediate with most cloud business phone services offering adds and removes at no cost.
  • Security – Managing cyber security can be a real burden for small businesses. Cloud business phone services shift this burden to the service provider and the value is received immediately by customers of all sizes.
  • Integrations – Many small business cloud phone services offer integrations to CRM and Support platforms. These integrations typically require a little configuration, but value is often received the first day. Cloud business phone services also offer APIs enabling startups and small businesses to create their own custom integrations. The value of these integrations is not received until the development work is completed.
  • Flexibility – This benefit is partially described under scalability above, but there is added value from picking and choosing features. Most cloud business services provide plans where the customer can have a limited feature set for a lower cost and add features as they grow. Again, this value is received pretty much immediately by the customer.
  • Disaster Recovery – Most startups and small businesses don’t have the time or money for a full blown disaster recovery plan, however flying without a net is rarely a good policy and customers often require this. Going to the cloud solves this problem in a critical business area, communications, immediately upon activating the service.

So the short answer is unless you need to develop a new integration Time to Value is immediate. Some might dismiss TtV for its simplicity, but it is often the most important metric for startups and small businesses. We would encourage you to consider it with your next major purchase.