Open Source Voip
Last week I had the pleasure to deliver this very nice check to Rigidnet in Fort Worth, Texas. They are a cloud reseller selling Switchvox cloud and closed a nice 330 seat deal while we had a special SPIFF program going. So they made some nice money and since their offices are near where I live, I drove over to talk to them.
While there, I explored this design win with them. First of all, they have been selling Switchvox prem for many years. They have quite a few happy customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with Switchvox. The customer base likes the VALUE they get from Switchvox and the stability of it. This is not a surprising comment since we at Sangoma hear this from many customers – they like the feature set for the price, they like the easy to understand cost-effective pricing and they like the fact that the product is solid.
They started selling Switchvox cloud a few years ago as their customer base started inquiring about it. Like any good reseller, they have strong relationships with many businesses in the area given they sell overall business solutions (not just business communication solutions), so when they hear about a customer needing a new business communication solution, they lead with Switchvox and specifically Switchvox Cloud.
This particular deal is for a large auto dealer in the Fort Worth area with many dealerships (when it’s time for me to buy a new car, I will now go there!), which is why the deal was for 330 seats. I look forward to getting out there without a mask someday.
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Modern video communications technologies allow us to work together as if we were in the same space, face-to-face, regardless of our locations. These innovations allow companies who are tackling the world’s biggest problems to hire talented people from all over the world, spreading their workforces across countries, cultures, continents, and time zones. COVID-19 has pushed all businesses to operate remotely, to adapt to the new reality of social distancing. When the pandemic is over, people will go back to the office, but we will not go back to the ways we used to work.Jedi Council – Working From Home (image source: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Jedi_High_Council )
Transparency Market Research predicts that by 2027, the video collaboration market is set to hit a value of $11.56 billion, and the demand for this technology will keep growing. The question is, how will video conferencing evolve and further change the way we work.
Collaboration in mixed-reality is the future!
A new age of remote work in pandemic has shown us just how valuable video conferencing can be, not just for working together at a distance, but also for boosting the productivity and efficiency of our teams.
Different teams, like designers, engineers, marketers, product managers, sales, and support can be spread all over the world and still come together in a virtual room, reducing the need to travel as much to get everybody on the same page. Companies are no longer limited to local talents as video conferencing makes it possible to hire talents from all across the globe. Lifelike avatars, like what Spatial is working on, are transforming the space around us into virtual meeting rooms to collaborate as if we’re all together in the same room.
Pinning ideas and dynamic content on virtual walls and sharing notes in realtime from any device (laptop, phone) within a few seconds are practical examples of living in a mixed reality. Digital objects become physical in virtual rooms, so you can scroll through them – pick up images and contents you like and toss them up on the virtual wall. Anyone can enter and exit these virtual rooms and contribute at any time as if they are real physical rooms. These all might be in concept phases for now, but as these technologies are adopted by companies, the way we work will forever be changed. With the help of technology, we are overcoming the barrier of distance to work together and to satisfy our human desires for the direct, face-to-face interaction that builds commitment and trust.
User experience: the key differentiator
While the tech world is busy building new features and technologies to enhance video conferencing in general, people have high expectations for multimedia, video, and communication technology thanks to the great visual and sound quality they experience today in their home theater systems. It is not the 90s anymore, and connecting to the Internet via Dial-up would be dreadful. No one has the patience to wait for buffering video or listening to breaking voices. Without proper video quality and sound management, any video conferencing event can quickly become frustrating for the users. A video conferencing application can only be appealing and adopted by end-users when its design has been in the center of the provider’s mind when implementing new features.
As COVID-19 has pushed companies to suddenly transition to remote work overnight, many have rushed in getting a video conferencing solution, but ignoring the ease of use, user-friendliness, and lack of a fully integrated experience (chat, video, voice) that impacts the performance of employees in the longer term. Soon, many will end up changing their video conferencing solution to another alternative.
Trending Features in Video Conferencing
Video conferencing continues to see ongoing growth as technology advances with bigger screens, higher quality cameras, and high-speed Internet connections accessible globally. Here are 10 trending features that will change the way we expect video conferencing tools to advance and improve in the future:
- Browser-based Video Conferencing Solutions
WebTRC is a free open source technology that enables one-click video calling from a web browser without the need for any downloads or plugins installation. Sangoma Meet is a great example of this new technology. With a single click, you can schedule a call, join a meeting, or start an instant video conferencing from your web browser.
- Unified Communications Solutions
Those companies who want to thrive in this new environment need to deploy a complete solution for a Unified Communications experience for their internal and external users. Basic services that only solve one problem like “voice only”, “chat only” or “video conferencing only” will not help businesses solve the bigger problems of easy collaboration and high efficiency of their employees. For the best results, it is important to keep all services for collaboration, internal and external communication under the same app. This means messaging, voice, and video all in the same space.
- Video Conferencing Rooms
Similar to 1:1 meetings, room-based video conferencing is designed for whole room meetings. Participants and online guests join the meeting room and can easily communicate with the help of big screens, smart noise-canceling speakers, sensitive microphones, and wide-angle or rotating cameras. These have enabled us to have seamless collaboration with people from all over the world. Every day new high-tech hardware becomes available to improve communication. Those providers who offer a bundled package of hardware and software could be dominating the market soon, providing a one-stop-shop experience for the IT departments to sign the deals when looking for a unified communication service.
- Everything is moved to the Cloud
Everything is moving towards Cloud and video conferencing is not an exception. No matter if you are scheduling a call with your colleagues or inviting a customer to a demo, you can simply use a video conferencing solution hosted on cloud without any investments in hardware or software infrastructure. You can simply subscribe to a cloud solution and benefit from the latest technologies without worrying about upgrading or enhancing your infrastructure as these are all happening automatically on the cloud and somebody else (the provider) will take care of everything for you.
- SSO (Single Sign-On)
With the rise of all-in-one UC solutions, businesses should think about simplifying access to these systems by linking them into a company’s Single Sign-On system allowing the employees to access it with the same credentials they already know. So, no matter if you are logging into your softphone application to make a phone call, signing into your messaging tool, or accessing your contact list to initiate a video call, one single credential should work for all your tools for easier and faster access. Many companies have already implemented SSO for some of their tools like email and ticketing systems. SSO will become a must-have feature for many companies to adopt a communication tool.
- Deep integration with other communication solutions (voice, video, SMS)
Imagine having your desk phone ring, you are not at your desk, but you can pick the callup on your softphone app on your mobile, transfer it to a video conference, invite your colleagues to the call, then invite customers, and finally move the conversation to a collaborative space to chat and share projects and files. All can be done as a seamless experience if the tools are deeply integrated.
- High-Quality Video and Audio
No matter how many cool features a video conferencing tool is offering, if the video and audio quality are not to a certain standard, users will drop and it will quickly decrease the adoption rate of a video conferencing tool. Therefore, high-quality video interactions should be the end goal for all providers and businesses adopting a new video conferencing solution.
- Smart Content Search
With the expansion of collaboration tools and instant-messaging tools inside video conferencing platforms, tagging content and searchable keywords would soon become a must-have feature for any video conferencing solutions.
- The influence of AI
Amazon’s “Alexa,” Apple’s Siri, and other smart assistants are already changing the way we live. There are several applications of AI that can make meetings easier and more enjoyable for us. AI can create custom backgrounds for participants for each guest in a meeting, help with gaze correction or transcribe messages in real-time. Meeting assistants can schedule calls on behalf of us and remind us for future meetings and this is just the beginning of AI influence on communication in general. How cool is that to use your face as a passport to log into meetings through facial recognition?
- Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP can play a role in improving the video conferencing user experience. Integrated with AI you can use voice activation to start or end a meeting or notify people to mute when they are not talking. Real-time translations are also something we should expect to see soon in the future in video conferencing.
Those huge meeting rooms with their rectangular tables are fading and mixed reality is slowly replacing them. We’re not there yet, but COVID-19 has definitely pushed us to move faster towards that new norm of collaboration remotely. This will help companies boost their productivity no matter where the participants are physically located. Where do YOU think “Video Conferencing” is heading in the years ahead? How is it having an impact on your life right now?
We have all heard about ‘the cloud.’ The cloud this, the cloud that. But should you move your business communications infrastructure to the cloud? There are good reasons to stay on-prem, and there are good reasons to move to the cloud. It really depends on your specific business requirements.
I recently wrote an article for toolbox.com outlining this in more detail.
In short, the five good reasons to move to the cloud are below, but if you want to read more go to the article:
- System robustness and uptime.
- You get new updates automatically.
- Cloud systems help with company growth.
- You may want to get a new business communication system, but you do not want to lay out all the CAPEX upfront.
- Enhanced mobility. Mobility is essential these days and will continue to be crucial if your company values remote work and work from home. Simply put, cloud Unified Communication systems enable you to work remotely much easier.
Cloud business communication systems are growing because they offer benefits and value to many customers. Did these drivers strike a chord with you? Maybe now is the time to move to the cloud. Read Sangoma’s cloud paper here.
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The FCC has passed the TRACED Act, requiring all communication service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN and/or some form of robocall mitigation within their VoIP network or otherwise be subject to substantial fines and penalties.
Anytime someone answers a phone call and hears a recorded message instead of a live voice from a person, that’s a robocall. The message could be an appointment reminder from a dentist or healthcare provider, from a political party, or a message from charities. These are all legitimate, but what makes robocalls illegal is when they are from fraudsters trying to sell something to someone without their written consent, which, we all know, that’s most cases today.
Call scammers will spoof (or alter) their caller ID to make it appear as if the call is coming from a legitimate business, tricking unsuspecting consumers. This has caused people to stop answering phone calls, which prevents businesses from connecting with their customers, ruining brand reputations. Not to mention the crime of defrauding people of their money and confidential information. They have destroyed the trust in phone calls, so much so that in 2018, there were over 48 billion robocalls to unsuspecting subscribers, and, in 2019, that number went to 54 billion. The FCC estimates the cost of these calls to consumers is at least $3 billion per year from lost time alone, not including monetary losses to fraud.Catching Robocallers
It has been challenging to catch illegal robocallers because phone calls traverse multiple carriers, and terminating carriers can only see the last carrier that handed them the call and cannot validate its origin. So, the FCC has established the STIR/SHAKEN standards, which use digital certificates from the carriers to assure call recipients that a caller ID has not been altered. In December of 2019, the TRACED Act was passed, which mandates that all carriers implement STIR/SHAKEN call authentication measures and robocall mitigation measures, by June 2021. In a separate upcoming blog post, we will provide a robust explanation of this system, and how we can help you become compliant.How can VoIP Innovations help you with Robocall Mitigation?
The first major step towards preventing robocalls won’t be required until June 2021, but you can help protect your customers now with VoIP Innovation’s robocall mitigation solution. It is a simple to integrate service, which combines behavioral analytics, caller authentication, and verification.
Our service is part of our CNAM API, which makes it very easy and simple for service providers to implement without requiring a business to switch VoIP providers. It is also available at no extra charge to customers using our existing CNAM services.
Key Features Include:
- Fraud Detection: Detection of high volume robocalling, spoofing, and spam call activity
- Subscriber Notification: Caller ID Name override to warn subscribers of suspicious calls
- Call Blocking Support: Accurate identification enabling you to block fraudulent phone calls as per the TRACED Act (2019)
- Business Number Verification: Register legitimate business numbers to prevent unintentional call blocking
- Caller ID Name Service: Easy integration of Caller ID name lookup service, including robocall mitigation with CNAM override. You can also choose to keep the original caller ID if you want too.
For every call, our service sends you a fraud score from 0 to 100 for suspicion of fraud, along with a pre-pended caller ID name to let you know when the call is spam. You can also choose to keep the original caller ID if you want too! With this information, you can protect your subscribers by notifying them of suspicious calls and also block those calls.
To learn more about VoIP Innovations Robocall Mitigation, please visit: https://carrierservices.sangoma.com/caller-id-name-services/
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Last week there was some buzz about a security flaw in FreePBX. It started with CheckPoint, and then a few outlets picked it up. One problem. It was a year old issue. And we acted on it back then quickly. Would have been great if CheckPoint or the others that picked up the story had checked with the FreePBX team or community before just blurting this out there, so they would have had the most up to date information.
Lorne Gaetz’s excellent blog on this topic goes into more depth about the issue.
Anyway, I also write this blog to remind folks that software needs to be updated because of many reasons, one of which is the plugging of security holes. For those of us that use Windows, it happens often but I do it because I know it’s important – plus the reminders just won’t go away. For those on FreePBX, PBXact, Asterisk, etc. – this is a good reminder to make sure you have updated your systems to the latest software. If you have any questions about FreePBX specifically, please utilize the FreePBX community forums or contact Sangoma support.
The post Old News and Reasons for Keeping your System Updated appeared first on Sangoma.
The business world is saturated with various IP telephony solutions because of the multiple benefits they provide. One type of solution is SIP trunks (or SIP trunking), which continues to be a cost saving and flexible solution for businesses of all sizes. Here are 6 of the business benefits of SIP trunking:
- ROI, ASAP: SIP Trunking doesn’t require a significant capital expenditure (if any at all), yet it immediately reduces business spending and pays for itself, generally speaking, within less than one year.
- Leverages Broadband: Because SIP trunks are delivered over IP with a modern broadband circuit, oftentimes the compression will allow for more call volume vs. T1 / PRI services.
- More Efficient Communications: SIP trunking streamlines all communications methods, enabling you to chose whichever medium is the most efficient for you: voice, video, instant messaging, chat, conference, voicemail to email, etc.
- Reduces Call Cost: The number one reason businesses switch to SIP trunking is for the cost savings, which can cut monthly communications costs by 25-60%.
- Increases Productivity: SIP trunking improves the collaboration of your workforce by creating the ability to seamlessly connect employees across all locations.
- Reliable: SIP Trunking is very stable. Rather than being at the mercy of local events such as power or circuit outages, SIP trunking can automatically be rerouted to other offices or mobile phones.
Want to know more? Visit our SIP Trunking resource page for more detailed business benefits and service recommendations!
TADSummit EMEA / Americas, an online event, started yesterday and continues this week. The Sangoma keynote will be tomorrow. It’s purposely short and to the point, so if you have about 12 minutes, take a look.
While I talk about the benefits of UC and about Communications as a Service in general, the real point of my talk is not about UC at all. The real point is that UC systems have many features, yet users of UC systems still use collaboration, video, and presence systems from other companies. Why is that? That should not be a forgone conclusion since it’s harder for IT to deal with all these systems, they’re not all integrated together, etc. The UC system should be the hub that harbors all these functions.
When we were kids and we’d go trick or treating on Halloween, there were always different types of houses. The lights off at 6pm house, the full-sized candy bar house, the one piece of candy only house…you get it. I never would have guessed that when I entered the VoIP industry that the same experience would lay waiting for the customers I would interact with. I’d hear them come back to me with tales of what other vendors would do or offer. “Trick or treating” with different hosted vendors is a necessary and frankly recommended part of the buying process. You never know what solution is best for you if you don’t interview and shop around. Hopefully I can shed some light on the 3 different types of haunted hosted vendors to avoid.
The “Bait and Switch” Vendor: Be wary of the vendors that showboat all the features they have and everything that you get as a customer, but when it comes down to signing on the line, they only include the basics (voice, voicemail, basic support). They will charge you extra for the features you really need or you might have decided you will need while browsing their site. Reporting, recording, contact center/call center functionality, and softphones are just a few of the features that this type of vendor may charge extra for. Unfortunately, this can be quite common in the hosted VoIP industry, so make sure to ask upfront what all is included and ask for a breakdown of features and their respective costs.
The “High and Dry” Vendor: For this haunted analogy I’m going to liken this vendor to the house that turns their porch light off super early. Similar to the huge letdown this was for all of us as kids, this type of vendor will roll out the red carpet to acquire you as a customer, but then “ghost” you afterwards, leaving you in the dark with a new hosted phone system. Training and support go hand-in-hand after buying a new system. Make sure you ask the vendor how they will support you after the sale. Do they have free training or a knowledgeable local partner who can come out and help as needed? These details are crucial for an enjoyable experience.
The “Our Way or the Highway” Vendor: This vendor has a way of digging their claws in deep and forcing you to use only their proprietary products. Fortunately for you, most vendors have moved to a “standards based” model, allowing you to use any SIP standard IP phone or device with your system. Make sure to ask if you can BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) before getting too involved with this vendor. If they say “no” and only allow their own devices, it could be redflag since there could be other devices out there that better suit your requirements. Just proceed with caution and make sure to compare your options if you find yourself with a proprietary vendor’s quote. You shouldn’t be forced to use a device that doesn’t meet your needs…like an apple or flavorless popcorn ball instead of candy!
Fortunately, Sangoma is treating you to a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the customer buying experience. We have a blog dedicated to asking the tough questions, as well as a buying guide to help you navigate not only questions to ask these vendors, but also a helpful checklist to make sure you don’t leave anything out when moving away from your legacy system to the Cloud. Buying the system is the first step, but learning how to truly harness the power of the phone system with confidence is the real measure of success. If you find yourself ready to have a conversation, don’t be afraid to reach out. Our sales team is here to help and we promise we won’t bite!
Last week was AstriCon Plan 9 (Virtual AstriCon), and while it was the best virtual event I’ve been part of (seriously!), yet another virtual event makes it seem as if we’ll be working from home forever. But some companies are quietly already partially back to work, or making plans to have employees come back to work. No matter what, this will end someday, and things will be back to normal.
But will they? Will it end, and then just like that, just like we started to work from home one day, we’re back at the office as if nothing happened? Based on all that has happened these many months and all we’ve learned about working remote and what tools work and what won’t, it’s doubtful employee life goes on as if it’s 2019.
As I’m sure you are aware, there are some companies that have announced employees can work from home indefinitely. Certainly things won’t be the same for these employees. At the same time, some companies have announced their intention to have employees come back to the office. One thing to learn from all this: no matter what type of company you fall into, that company needs to plan for the next disruption to business. Or at least want to give enable employee work from home flexibility – because not only is it good for the employee, it is also just good business for the company.
And so from all that, it is likely businesses will upgrade their phone system to Unified Communication systems simply because they enable remote working more efficiently. Employee laptops and smartphones, via an application, can be an extension of the business phone and can answer phone calls to the business work number and can also place outbound phone calls from the business work number. This enables a business to therefore look like it’s open and operating fine even though its employees are not physically all together. And Unified Communication systems often come equipped with instant messaging capability, which enables someone who answers the phone to find someone quickly to get an answer, just like it might happen if they were in an office.
Remote working highlighted the importance of electronic collaboration capability. If you are not going to be right next to someone, or in the same room, talking about something you both need to see, then the next best thing is sharing it on a screen and talking about it. The collaboration and presence tool has emerged as the best place to do that, and in a UC system, that can be part of the softphone client. These capabilities are here to stay because even when we go back to the office, it might be easier to show something and share something on a screen, and not have to make someone who is not in the same office feel like a third wheel.
Now we get to video calls. Group video calling, and sharing of documents as well, in a group environment is critical. This is here to stay.
When we go back to the office, it won’t be what we were used to. It will certainly be similar, but we’ll bring these new tools we found, such as softphone clients, collaboration, and video, and utilize them in our day-to-day work. I’m looking forward to getting back to the office.
I was recently asked the question in the title of this blog when I was briefing an analyst about Sangoma. Without really thinking about what timeframe or anything like that, I blurted out “Probably a computer that sounds like a native language speaker”. In other words, a sophisticated chatbot.
The reason I gave that answer is because as more and more contact center conversations are recorded (aren’t they all now), there is more data generated. And the more data that is generated means there is more learning that can be gleaned from these conversations. More than a human can go through. And so this data is being analyzed and sliced and diced, and, slowly but surely, being turned over to computer engaging you verbally – the chatbot. Some refer to this process as Artificial Intelligence, but no matter what it is, it is the future in the contact center. This chatbot will engage you more, and take you further down the discussion as time inexorably marches on. It means, over time, less and less real humans.
Chances are you have talked to a chatbot and did not even know it. I once was talking to a person who gave very robotic answers and so I asked “are you a chatbot?” It took some time to answer, and it said “no, I am not a chatbot.” What a bizarre response cycle. At least to me, yes, it was a chatbot. But it was a good one and I didn’t care because it got me what I needed.
Like most contact center innovations, chatbots have been driven by the oxymoronic need to both reduce costs and provide better service. And as speech recognition, text-to-speech programs, and computing power have all improved and come down in cost, the advent of computer driven speech into the contact center occurred. In fact, right now, both Google’s and Microsoft’s speech recognition claim to be 95% accurate, which happens to be as accurate as a human brain.
So, I guess that was all in my head when I blurted out that answer. If I was a computer, I probably would have articulated my response better….
The post What Will the Future Contact Center Agent Look Like? appeared first on Sangoma.
Are you involved in running the day-to-day operations of a clinic or practice and feel like your medical office phone system has been giving you nothing but problems?
If so, then you know that it doesn’t take long before you’re tired of trying to work around all the technical limitations of an outdated or inadequate phone system.
Maybe you’ve thought, “Why can’t we just get a plain old telephone?”
You know how it is:
- Terrible connections
- Awful call quality
- Dropped calls
- Phantom calls
- Complaints from patients
These are all signs that it’s time to bring your medical office phone system into the modern era.
And the good news is, with today’s technology, upgrading to a quality medical office phone system is easier and more affordable than ever.
So if you’re looking to simplify your processes and be more efficient, if you want to enable your team to take more calls with less stress, and if you want to improve your overall phone quality at the same time, it’s time you looked into a new VoIP phone system.What is VoIP?
Simply put, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the transmission of phone calls over the Internet instead of using traditional telephone landlines.
VoIP helps businesses and organizations simplify and reduce IT complexity, eliminate the need to pay a phone company for traditional phone lines, save money on phone bills (sometimes as much as 60-70%), and have access to advanced features that aren’t available with traditional business phone systems.
But VoIP also offers specific benefits for medical offices as well. Here are a few of the primary benefits a VoIP phone system can offer medical offices.Patient experience
It goes without saying that patient experience is the lifeblood of your doctor’s office. Just like with business, when people feel as though they did not receive the experience they deserved, they typically won’t hesitate to share that experience with others.
And nowadays, with technology enabling people to be more connected than ever before, they’re only a few clicks away from publicizing every poor experience they have with businesses and doctors’ offices, alike.
This might be surprising to hear, but one of the best ways to improve the experiences of your patients is to make communication with your patients as smooth as possible, and a VoIP medical office phone system can make that easy.
If you have practice management software, a CRM, or some other third-party patient software, you can set it up to where when a patient calls in, a popup automatically appears with specific account information displayed on a summary screen with notes, previous appointment details, insurance, demographic information, and whether or not there’s a balance on the account.
This is all information that would normally be located across four or more screens in some practice management software, so having it integrated with your medical office phone system and right in front of you when you need it can really save time for both patients and staff.
This enables your team to operate more efficiently and enables them to deliver more effective care for patients by making patient retrieval automatic.
Another useful benefit VoIP offers that helps improve patient experience is the ability to forward, block, and reroute calls from multiple locations as though they’re all in one location without the caller knowing any differently. This is especially helpful if you have multiple locations and you need to route a call to another location that doesn’t share the same phone system with your location.
Not only can you route calls easier with VoIP, but you can also automatically route calls based on caller ID. For example, many people do not like auto attendants. They might have a hard time following menus or they don’t like having to punch in a bunch of numbers and listen to multiple messages to reach their doctor or nurse.
In these scenarios where you know certain patients struggle with auto attendants due to age or other conditions, it’s extremely helpful to be able to route calls based on caller ID so their call will go directly to their doctor or nurse without them having to go through the auto attendant.
Another way VoIP helps healthcare providers, including vet and dental offices, is by allowing them to choose when they want to answer calls themselves and when they want to have them automatically answered and routed. Smaller medical offices might want someone to answer the phone as often as possible, but for the times where your front office needs a break or it’s outside of business hours, VoIP gives you the option to have an automated attendant automatically answer, give custom messages based on day and time, and route callers to scheduling, billing, and more.
Another benefit VoIP offers for doctors’ offices is music on hold. Callers are often put on hold for a variety of reasons when they call in to your office, so why not make sure their experience is pleasant while they wait?
After all, pleasant experiences while waiting on the phone makes for better communication when you get to the call.
Not only that, but you can also use the music on hold feature as a chance to let callers know about any specials you may be running in your office or to convey other messages to your patients.
Speaking of callers having to wait, VoIP can also make it to where if your receptionist steps away from the desk for a moment, any unanswered calls that come to that phone while the receptionist is away will automatically go to another designated phone in the office (maybe a back office, billing, etc.) before going to voicemail. This ‘call rollover’ feature cuts down on missed calls, lowers stress on the receptionist, keeps callers happy, and optimizes your available staff to ensure each patient is being served more efficiently.
And, of course, let’s not forget call quality. When it comes to call quality, the difference a modern VoIP phone system can offer is like daylight and dark. With the correct amount of bandwidth, traditional telephones simply cannot hold a candle to the clarity you gain when you switch over to a new VoIP system.
So VoIP helps improve patient experience by enabling you to make a better impression when new and existing patients call your office, ensuring calls get answered and routed more efficiently, and helping eliminate dropped calls and poor call quality.Productivity
A doctor’s office staff members typically want their medical office phone system to be as simple as possible. After all, having tons of phone features is great, but there typically isn’t enough free time to learn how to use a complex new system.
So when technology is overly complex in a doctor’s office, it can be a burden to the staff and actually drag down productivity.
Modern VoIP phone systems like Switchvox are especially helpful in this area because they typically focus on making the phone as easy to use as possible while also giving you access to the most advanced features available.
And any time you get an advanced, high-quality phone system that’s incredibly easy to use, people get more done, making it a win-win for doctors’ offices.
But not only does the simplicity of most VoIP phone systems drive productivity, the built-in features that come along with that simplicity can also be huge productivity-drivers.
For example, doctors are very busy and don’t always have time to be on the phone, so they tend to rely heavily on their voicemail. As a result, receptionists are often sending callers to a doctor’s voicemail box. Well, with some VoIP phone systems, you can drop voicemails directly into the doctor’s voicemail box with the click of a mouse. This essentially makes using the phone system and managing voicemails as easy as browsing a website.
Not only that, but staff members can also set up an after-hours IVR and voicemail box, then when you get back into the office you can click and drag voicemails from an easy to use web-based interface to forward them and drop into the appropriate voicemail box.
Once the voicemail goes to the doctor’s voicemail box, she’s also able to receive those voicemails in the form of an email. Many doctors love this feature because it saves them the time and hassle of having to dig through an archaic phone system to find their voicemails.
Simply put, being able to easily manage voicemails helps further simplify communication between callers, office staff, and doctors. Because less missed calls and less missed voicemails mean less headaches for everyone involved, and that always boosts productivity.
And most VoIP phone systems come with mobile applications, too, so the doctor has the option to check his voicemail quickly and easily from a mobile app.
All of this means that voicemails and missed calls are easier to manage, and less end up getting overlooked, which are huge productivity-boosting benefits of VoIP.
Speaking of being able to use a mobile app to check voicemails, that’s not just a feature for doctors. Everyone on staff can have the same ability to not only check voicemails from their mobile devices, but also to make and receive calls as if they’re sitting at the desk in the office.
For example, if your medical office is closed for a holiday, if someone’s out of town, or if the entire staff is homebound due to inclement weather, you can actually use the phone system’s mobile app to change the phone greeting, change call routing, reroute emergency calls to an emergency facility, check and manage voicemails, and of course, make and receive calls as if they’re calling from the office number.
And if you’re out of town or if you’re office is closed for some reason, you can also get notifications sent to your mobile device, then you can check your voicemail and email directly from the app. Then if there’s something that can’t wait until regular business hours, you can call them back directly from your mobile device.
Many staff members may not like the idea of working from home, but they enjoy being able to at least change the phone greeting and check voicemails from their mobile device as needed no matter where they are.
And if you have employees who move from office-to-office and don’t necessarily have desks of their own, VoIP mobility capabilities allow those employees to use softphones to communicate on-the-go as if they’re at a desk.
Another thing VoIP phones can do that drive productivity is when emergency calls come in, the person answering the call can park it, page the doctor, then the doctor can pick up the call from any phone in the office. This feature keeps emergency communication seamless, and it saves both doctors and staff time by keeping them from having to track each other down.
VoIP also helps simplify the billing process within medical offices. Billing departments have to call insurance companies constantly to confirm coverage. This can be a huge pain, and they typically have to do it over and over again throughout the day.
With VoIP, you can save contacts in your phone system and simply click-to-dial those numbers instantly instead of having to manually dial them over and over again. This can save a ton of time and frustration over the course of the day, and is especially helpful when you’re busy and have to dial an important number quickly.
Another way VoIP boosts productivity is by giving staff members the ability to see when other staff is available or unavailable. From within the medical office phone system, you can see when nurses, staff, billing, or any other department are on the phone, on vacation, on lunch, on pause, etc. This gives you a quick way to see who’s available to answer the phone, saving everyone the time and frustration of trying to track down the appropriate person to see if she/he can take the call.
If you want, you can also see how many calls each department has taken, how long they’ve been on the phone, and more. You can even export this information into a report you can look back at on a regular basis. Office managers typically like having this ability because it helps them prevent any one person or department from getting overloaded with calls.
On top of all of this, many quality IP phones (the phones that go with VoIP systems) are typically very easy to install and configure, meaning in many cases employees can simply plug them in and start using them right away.
Not only are the phones easy to set up, but you can also easily setup and change the call flow to and from certain departments, change call options, change extensions, and move phones as needed without having to waste a ton of time doing so. If you’ve ever had to try and do these things on an older more traditional phone system, you can imagine how much time it can save just being able to do these tasks simply and easily.
So, in summary, VoIP helps increase productivity by allowing you to use an auto-attendant (IVR) to not waste time manually fielding every call whenever there are time or staffing constraints, and it just generally helps you keep the staff better connected through features like mobility, availability, call flow, call reporting, and more.Flexibility
It should go without saying, but no one wants to spend a ton of money on something and then find out fairly quickly thereafter that they’ve outgrown the item they just invested money into.
Yet, sadly, that’s how many office phone systems work.
Being that most offices do intend on growing or expanding in some way in the near future, this is very important to think about upfront before investing money in a phone system that will only get more expensive as you use it more and more.
The good news is, some VoIP phone systems make it easy to grow and scale your office operations without spending a fortune.
With VoIP systems, like Switchvox for example, you get everything you need for now and for the future – upfront, for one low price. That means you’re never nitpicked on licensing fees and add-on costs later on when you decide you need more functionality for your expanding office.
After all, successful offices grow, and with growth comes change. Because of that, your office and the way you do things may change in two years, and it’s smart to be prepared for whatever may come your way.
Many systems, even some VoIP systems, try to save you money upfront by giving you only the essential features, then when your practice grows or your needs change in a year or two they charge you extra.
However, with systems like Switchvox, there’s not much you can’t do with all the features available, and you get them all from day one instead of being nickel-and-dimed along the way as you need them.
And the best part is, you don’t have to worry about getting overwhelmed with features you don’t need because each feature can be turned on or off as the office needs change or as you notice needs along the way.
This helps ensure you have the best quality phone system right now while also meeting the growing demands of your expanding medical center without having to spend excessive amounts of money on expensive upgrades.Cost
Cost is another important factor to consider when it comes to investing in a new medical office phone system. Many medical offices are private practices, which means they may not have the funding that other organizations have.
With VoIP, depending on your situation, you can typically decide whether you want to pay for your office phone upfront or on a monthly basis. Some vendors offer leasing options for equipment such as phones in order to lower your upfront investment. And if you like the idea of reducing the amount of hardware on-site and paying for your phone system on a monthly basis, a cloud or hosted option might be a good fit for you. Being able to pay monthly like this offers a great opportunity to smaller offices who may want to conserve cash flow.
Not to mention the fact that many doctors’ offices are using outdated phone systems that will be obsolete in a matter of years, leaving you left will little to no support. Phone systems are much like computers, home appliances, and automobiles in that the older the phone system is, the more expensive it becomes to maintain. That means if you’re using a very outdated phone system, IT maintenance bills are sure to steadily increase.
Here’s another thing to consider:
Many healthcare providers pay too much money for their phones because they have multiple locations and each location has a different phone system.
VoIP can make a big impact when it comes to lowering expenses because using VoIP and consolidating multiple separate phone systems across several locations can help reduce other telephone costs by 40 percent or more in some instances.
Physicians with multiple locations often struggle with upkeep and maintenance of different phone systems at different offices. Not to mention the issue of transferring calls; should someone call for a doctor or staff member at one facility, and that person is located at another office, it can be frustrating to have to transfer the call between facilities.
What’s even worse in this situation is sometimes you have to give the caller a different number to call or transfer the call outside the system, overloading facilities and causing constant patient complaints of not being able to get through. In the emergency medical field, this can be a huge disadvantage.
With VoIP, you can replace multiple telephone systems used across separate office locations with a single phone solution, alleviating both the high costs and frustration associated with managing multiple systems.
This gives you a centralized, integrated business communications system with one telephone number to call.
Last but not least, VoIP can also save you even more money by using your existing infrastructure and phones. For example, some VoIP companies will let you use your existing SIP-standards-based IP phones, paging equipment, or analog lines. This can save tons of money, depending on your individual situation.
To see how much VoIP can offer your hospital, clinic, or practice, check out our solutions for healthcare!
We know that right now, communication is key. We also know that you need to be able to work where it makes the most sense for you, so mobility is a must. The latest milestone in our mission to help you communicate more effectively is the next-generation mobile softphone app for FreePBX and PBXact. It’s called Sangoma Connect Mobile, and it is now available to download!
Sangoma Connect Mobile combines the best of our existing solutions with new core mobile technologies to provide a greater communication experience for calling and collaborating with coworkers.
Sangoma Connect Mobile provides rich voice and video calling for PBXact and FreePBX, on iOS and Android devices. We’ve made the onboarding experience very simple for system administrators to provision, and for users to install:
- Administrators: enable Connect users via the User Manager within the PBXact or FreePBX admin interface. That automatically sends an invitation email message to each user.
- Users: open their invitation email and follow simple instructions to download the app from the app store, then click a ‘magic log-in link’ in the email to immediately configure – no need for details like hostnames, extension numbers, or passwords.
And that’s it! It just works. Issues like certificate management, which can be a manual process with other apps, are handled automatically.
- Blind and assisted transfer
- 3-way calling
- Contacts and favorites – including BLF
- DND with scheduling for out-of-office convenience
Another great feature is that we’ve integrated Sangoma Meet, our award-winning video conferencing platform within Sangoma Connect Mobile, making it super simple to create or join a multi-party video conference.
How to Get It
Sangoma Connect Mobile is included, free-of-charge, for all new and existing PBXact systems. It is also free-of-charge to FreePBX customers with an active Zulu license, for the same amount of users already purchased. Simply perform an update on your system, and Sangoma Connect will be available within the User Management Module.
FreePBX customers, without Zulu, wishing to purchase a Sangoma Connect Mobile license can do so from the Sangoma Portal Store. We have integrated Sangoma Connect Mobile with Zulu Desktop so that customers can take advantage of even further collaboration tools for your MacOS or Windows computer. Simply purchase the Zulu license from the portal store and choose to use Sangoma Connect Mobile, or both! If needed, here are some helpful instructions on how to purchase a license and how to install on your FreePBX system.
Download the Mobile Client
End users can download the iOS or Android app, for free, by searching for ‘Sangoma Connect’ in the respective app stores. A direct download link is also available within the invitation email end-users receive. Here is information on how to use the app.
For system administrators, click here for setup instructions.
Stay tuned because, as mentioned, this is simply the beginning of our efforts in bringing you and your users a more connected experience!
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On September 1, I wrote a blog titled “Why People Still Use Deskphones”. And I got a few questions mainly along the lines of: “Are Softphones or Desktphones Better?”
Well, like I said in the blog, it’s not a question of which is better, it’s more a question of which is better for your use case. But I guess that wasn’t good enough since people wanted to know which one was ‘really’ better. Since we sell both, I should have a position on this.
OK, I do have a position on this, so let me restate my position in different words. And yes, I use both, so my position is not just a company position, but also my personal position. So…….they are both great, and it depends on the use case. I know some of you don’t like that answer, but that’s my answer.
With “hardphones”, it’s something people are used to. They are there, they are on, they have conference and speakerphone ability. And I use this often when I want to be on speakerphone, or don’t necessarily want headphones on all day…
And with softphones, I hear many times people say they are cheaper. And yes, they may be cheaper to a point – but you likely need a headset. And headsets can be similarly priced to phones.
Softphones obviously are better for mobility purposes, and I use them also when I talk out of a conversation that started on our chat engine.
So it does depend on the use case, at least for me.
Is your company using outdated technology? If so, it could be hurting your business more than you realize.
But what’s considered “outdated?” Computers and operating systems are technologies at the top of the list that may impact customer experience. Many IT professionals consider technology outdated if it’s using a five-to ten-year-old operating system. Just imagine trying to remain productive on a 10 year old PC, with no hardware upgrades.
To help gauge when equipment is on its last legs, it’s important to understand the life expectancies of various technologies. Fortunately, there are some general guidelines as to the recommended lifespans of tech.
Take PCs, for example. Three to five years is generally the max before PCs start wearing on a business. After five years, employees begin to lose productivity due to slowing processing speeds and inevitable repairs.
Even so, many businesses are using their PCs much longer, as much as 10 to 15 years or more, trading productivity and long-term returns on investment for short-term cost-savings.
The same rule can generally be applied to other technologies as well. For example, phone systems are very similar to other types of servers and typically have a life expectancy of around 5 to 7 years, depending on the setup.
Okay, so outdated technology can hurt a business’s chances of winning over customers. What if you run a business and the technology you’re using is on the edge of its life expectancy, but you’re just not sure whether it’s time to upgrade?
Well, here are 7 tell-tale signs that your technology is in fact outdated and is likely negatively impacting your business.
Do your computers take forever to boot up or load applications? Does your website take painstakingly long to load? Does using Internet-based software feel like it takes a lifetime? If so, it may be time to upgrade. Slow speeds can be an indication that you either need new hardware, new software (or applications), a faster internet connection, or all three.
When it comes to computers, software and hard drive corruption, lack of RAM and hard disk space, and just plain overloading with too much software can all contribute to slower speeds. Either way, when technology starts lugging around and running slowly, that’s a sign it might be time to upgrade.
Perhaps one of the most obvious signs of outdated technology is the amount it’s costing you to keep it running smoothly. Even if you’re not paying a ton in maintenance and repair bills, it could still be that your older technology is holding you back from cost savings of newer technology. After all, modern technology tends to be more efficient (especially cloud-based technology like cloud phone systems), so if you’re starting to notice that other businesses around you are paying less, it could be time to upgrade.
As technology ages, security vulnerabilities are exposed, which means the older a technology is (or the longer it goes without being updated), the more vulnerable it typically is from a security standpoint. Newer versions of software, for example, often include security patches that have been acknowledged, fixed, and pushed with the latest version. If you never upgrade to the latest version, those security holes don’t get fixed. Over time, security gaps can add up, making your outdated technology more and more vulnerable the longer you hold onto versions of the past.
So if your computer is getting more viruses or you find yourself paying IT resources to fix more security issues, it could be a sign it’s time to upgrade.
Does your phone system, computers, point of sale (POS), or other systems crash on a somewhat regular basis? Do you find yourself having to reboot because things “freeze” or “lock up?” Scientific American offers one explanation for why older computers crash: “Newer OSs are robust against application crashes, but in older systems application bugs can affect the OS and cause a system-wide crash.”
Another potential culprit for crashes and downtime could relate to security issues, which also can point back to outdated technology. Regardless of the exact cause, excess downtime due to consistent crashes or freezes are almost certainly a sign it’s time to start looking into updating your technology.
Inability to Upgrade or Access Support
As technology advances and new applications, software, and hardware becomes available, they are often less compatible with older technology, and it becomes more and more difficult to hang on to outdated equipment. Manufacturers eventually stop offering upgrades and providing support for outdated technology. This is often the case with legacy phone systems. So if your business is using technology that is no longer being supported or updated by the manufacturer, it may be a sign it’s time to move on to something a bit newer.
Another tell-tale sign it’s time for a technology upgrade is the lack or absence of technology in processes that could be optimized with the use of technology. For example, if you still have someone answering initial incoming phone calls just to route them to the appropriate location or extension, it might be time to upgrade your phone system.
Many modern VoIP phone systems come with an auto attendant (or “IVR”) that answers and routes calls quickly and effectively without the need for dedicated personnel. This allows businesses to streamline their communications process and provide a better, more professional experience for callers.
The list of helpful, productivity-enhancing, cost-cutting business technologies is rather long these days, so if you find yourself getting frustrated with antiquated business processes, it might be time to embrace new technology.
Falling Behind Competitors
Last but not least, if you’re starting to lose business to competitors as a result of your outdated technology, it’s definitely time to make the move to upgrade. Russ Madlener, senior director at Microsoft, commented, “More than 90% of people [we surveyed] would consider going elsewhere if they perceived the small business is using old and outdated tech.”
It’s really common sense when you think about it. Outdated technology signals to customers that a business either isn’t willing to invest in improvements or it doesn’t have the ability to do so. Either way, like it or not, outdated technology has the ability to send the wrong message to potential customers, so investing in up-to-date technology can go a long way for you business.
Want to upgrade your business to a professional phone system with all the bells and whistles and still save significant amounts of money in the process?
Take a look at our free guide How UC Improves Businesses to discover what a new, reliable, impressive UC phone system could do for your business.
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You think you might need a new phone system, but you are not sure. See if any of these 7 signs resonate with you… and if they do, it’s probably time for a new one…
- The most obvious one, of course, is can your phone system make all of the phone calls you need to make? What I mean by this: the requirements you had when you first bought the system years ago may not be the same requirements you have today. You likely have more requirements. So can the phone system handle these new requirements?
- Are you starting to ‘notice’ your phone system? For many small and medium businesses, the phone system is likely in some kind of computer or telco ‘closet’. If everything is working great, then you don’t even notice it. But if you ‘notice’ it, that means it’s having some issues.
- Does your vendor doesn’t even offer maintenance contract anymore? This could be an issue since your phone system could fail you.
- Very important these days: does your phone system support mobility? That is the ability of your office phone number to ring on your smartphone and on your computer and for you to make phone calls out from those devices with the office phone number. Especially these days that is important because this is key for enabling a remote office.
- Are you paying for functionality that you shouldn’t be? For instance, mobility that I mentioned above. Chat functionality. File sharing. You shouldn’t have to pay more for that.
- Are you finding that you need some basic contact center functionality now? Such as setting up call queues, and call backs to customers on hold.
- Are you paying too much for your monthly phone charges? PSTN connections to your business cost more than SIP (internet) connections to your business. If you want to save money on these monthly charges, moving to a modern IP-based phone system is the way to go.
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Since 2011, Sangoma has recognized our top performing partners with the annual Pinnacle Partner Awards.
These businesses and individuals are not only true leaders in the industry, but they are respected members of their local communities as well. They work hard before, during, and after the sale is completed to insure the customer’s buying journey surpasses all expectations.
Not only do they have wonderful relationships with their customers, but they also have grown and developed their partnership with Sangoma. They have outstanding product knowledge of Sangoma’s industry leading UC solutions including, Switchvox (both on-premise and hosted), SIPStation SIP trunking, FAXStation, open source solutions (Asterisk, PBXact, and FreePBX) IP phones, gateways, and SBCs.
Our Pinnacle Partners truly are the pillars on which we stand as a “channel first” company and we are proud of what they have accomplished and the examples they have set.
Join us in congratulating these partners:
Powernet Global Communications
Munger Technical Services
Consolidated Electrical Distributors
American Business Phones
CCi Voice – LeBlanc Communications Group, Inc.
Network Services and Support
Chromis Technology, LLC
Golden Integrated Solutions, Inc
BEMA Information Technologies, LLC
KME Systems, Inc
The Fulcrum Group
Digital Agent, LLC
Sangoma Cloud Services Partner of the Year
Partner of the Year US
Partner of the Year Canada
Distributor of the Year US
Distributor of the Year Canada
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Way back in March, I wrote a blog about the need for telecom coops, ILECs (Independent Local Exchange Carriers) or small CLECs (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) to potentially update their network infrastructure. Within that blog, I also talked about how they could offer their own Unified Communications solution to their business customers.
Many of these types of service providers also provide internet, TV and other non-voice services and thus have their own datacenters. So instead of offering businesses on-prem voice service (in form of a PBX that would go into the “communications closet” in a business), these service providers could offer business a modern hosted UC system. How? Because they could take Sangoma Switchvox in the Virtual Machine incarnation and put it into their datacenter.
One telecom co-op who utilized Switchvox in this fashion was Farmers Telecom. They wanted to provide hosted UC to their business customers, but the softswitch provider’s solution was untenable for a cloud solution, and too costly. Farmers Telecom turned to Switchvox to provide a full UC solution to their business customers. And they were so impressed it turned out they adopted it as their own business communication system they use in their business, with over 120 seats.
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One crucial element to improving and expanding a business that many owners, managers, and IT administrators often overlook or do not recognize is the central role the business phone system plays in facilitating both internal and external communication. If your business’s phone system lacks functionality or modern feature sets, it’s highly likely that you are missing out either on new business (through missed or mishandled inbound calls) or on more efficient communication processes (such as lacking advanced call routing functionality provided by IVR, or Interactive Voice Control, and intelligent call rules).Here are 7 signs that it is time to upgrade your business phone system:
1. Is your existing phone system becoming technologically obsolete?
Can it support mobility, conference calls, and basic call center features? A business phone system that cannot support new communication features is a pretty obvious indicator that it’s time to consider an upgrade.
And it’s not just about advancing technology. The cost of maintaining legacy phone systems quickly adds up, making them not worth the effort. You’re not only losing out on features and operating money, but while you are relying on a legacy phone system, your competition has already made the switch. That can put your business at a significant competitive disadvantage. After upgrading, you might be surprised how much you end up saving.
2. Are you paying too much for your monthly phone charges?
PSTN lines to your business cost more than SIP (internet) connections. If you want to save money on these monthly charges, moving to a modern IP-based phone system is the way to go.
3. Does your phone system allow your mobile work force to stay connected and accessible?
Today, remote workers are a common feature of the business landscape. Business phone system must have the capability to support mobile executives and road warriors, as well as employees working from home. If your current phone system cannot redirect calls seamlessly from the employee’s business desk phone to a mobile phone, a laptop, a home landline, a softphone, or an IP phone of their choosing, then you need to look at upgrading your phone system.
4. Is your phone system helping you to grow?
Growing your business is a natural objective for most, and so your business phone system shouldn’t hold you back as you expand. Is your system unable to provide you with advanced functionality like auto attendant, call recording, music on hold, call queue, and conference etc? If so, your phone system is probably outdated and in dire need of a revamp.
One of the primary functions of a business phone system is the capability to handle incoming calls without missing or letting any calls go unanswered. Has your call volume outpaced the capacity of your current phone system? If your phone system is struggling with the volume of calls or is not flexible enough to be able to accommodate more callers during busy times and holding you back in terms of corporate expansion, then you should consider upgrading your phone system.
5. Does your phone system have a multi-office support feature?
One of the biggest reasons to upgrade your phone system is that many legacy solutions cannot accommodate multiple locations. Adding and managing phone line extensions to other locations should not be an overwhelming or costly task for you. For multi-site businesses, the goal is to find a phone system that can unify communications across all locations and employees, keeping all your phone numbers and services under the same IP service provider, administered from a single location. If your current phone system doesn’t allow easy multi-location support, then you should immediately consider upgrading.
6. Can your current phone system protect your data?
While hanging onto legacy systems is comfortable for your employees and might seem safe, it can open you up to significant security risks. Hackers today can easily target your old phone system and gain access to your valuable data and personal information. Meanwhile, a modern phone system integrates with your security plan and protects your network from these malicious attacks.
7. Does your phone system have a disaster management plan?
What happens if, due to an unavoidable situation, your phone system breaks down? You still need to be taking customer calls even if your system is facing downtime. It is crucial to have a thorough disaster recovery and contingency plan to keep the business going regardless of natural disasters and other unforeseen events. Modern phone systems make sure calls can be routed even if your phone system goes down so that your business does not suffer. If you want your business to run seamlessly then upgrading the phone system may the only option.
If your business phone system is showing any of these 7 signs, chances are good that your business could save money on your monthly communication expenses while expanding the features and functionality available to your employees. In other words, many businesses setting out to improve their communications technology also end up saving significantly over the lifetime of their new system.
Contact a Sangoma solution specialist today! Or check out our Unified Communications (UC) offerings. Sangoma not only offers industry-leading business phone systems, we offer an entire ecosystem of compatible IP phones, network connectivity solutions, and award-winning Cloud services. With Sangoma, everything connects. Connect with Sangoma!
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Making the move to Cloud has been a hot topic in the VoIP industry for a while now. There are plenty of reasons to consider it:
- Less hardware to manage
- OPEX make for easy monthly payments and less upfront expenses
- Flexibility to grow as your business grows or reduce during slow seasons
And, with the industry as a whole making a move to hosted offerings, it’s a future-proof business decision that’s sure to benefit your business. So, if it’s such a smart move, why are intelligent vendors not throwing their customers into the Cloud overnight? Like most business transitions, moving your business phone system to the Cloud needs to be accomplished gradually. If you rush the process, you could overlook some crucial steps and make what should be an easy transition into a nightmare.Consider your Contracts
First and foremost, be aware of your contractual obligations to your current phone service provider. It can actually cost you an arm and a leg of your company if you abandon ship too soon. Secondly, be aware of any phone numbers that your current provider may “own” that you intend to use with your new hosted provider. Setting up a forwarding process to temporary DIDs from the new hosted vendor is a necessary limbo land you will live in for a few days-weeks. If you cancel your service too soon, you can lose those numbers, and there is usually no getting them back.Evaluate your ISP
When making a move to Cloud, your ISP network is about to be important in a whole new way: it will be the highway that is used to deliver your hosted service from your new vendor. Although hosted vendors are offering very attractive limited time offers, it would behoove you to take the time to call your Internet provider and confirm your bandwidth. Evaluate how much of your bandwidth is used for day-to-day operations and remember that in order to have an optimal voice quality with hosted phone service or a hosted phone system, it’s recommended that you have at least 100Kbps, per concurrent call.Compare Vendors and Try Demos
Finally, take your time and really compare vendors. Although vendors boast a lot of the same features, what you actually receive when you sign the line on a contract can vary substantially. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions around contract obligations, support hours, pricing per feature, what if I need to add or drop extensions, and if a vendor offers a trial that is a great bonus you should definitely consider. What better way to evaluate a vendor’s service than taking the system out for a test ride?Enjoy a free Moving to the Cloud Playbook
Just like a runner needs to know their own skill level before entering a marathon, you need to know what you require from your phone system before making the move to Cloud. Where do you stand with your current vendor? Do you have the bandwidth to support a hosted phone system? Spread out all the quotes you procured from different vendors and get out your magnifying glass to see what the differences might be. In order to give you a head start, Sangoma put together a Moving to the Cloud playbook that covers additional tips that can make this important transition one of the easiest. Also, feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Our knowledgeable sales team is always eager to help.
I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a long time. When Sangoma merged with Digium a couple of years ago, there was a lot of integration we had to do. And one of them was with the channel partner program. It took some time. But during that process, I had to do a lot of thinking about what we wanted in our partner program, and the company did a lot of thinking about this as well.Commitment to Partners is Most Important
First of all, before I get into that, I want to say the most important thing about a channel partner program is the company’s commitment to its partners. I’ve been in the communications industry approaching 25 years now, and I’ve seen a lot of things (some great, some good, some baaaaaad). I’ve seen some great partner programs on paper, but I’ve also seen some of them just be worth the paper they were printed on. (Yes, we used to actually print brochures back in the day!)
Commitment to the channel is the most important thing, even if a vendor doesn’t have a stellar partner program on paper. If they’re committed, the channel will be there. I distinctly remember back in Dialogic when I was talking to one of our primary competitors at the time and they asked me, “How do you stop yourselves from taking large deals direct?” Well, that said it all didn’t it? That was a knock on them before this conversation even took place. Our distributors and resellers were loyal to us because we were loyal to them. I remember also thinking to myself “I’m not giving these guys a direct answer,” but really the answer was “we don’t even entertain that.” Commitment.
Anyway, back to the question.A channel partner program needs to have some basic elements such as the following:
- Requirements to Join (both vendor and partner need to make sure there aren’t tons of channel partners who don’t really know the product out there)
- Levels (so the more committed channel partners get additional benefits)
- Meaningful benefits (such as product discounts, promotions, MDF availability, ability to get to key company personnel for help if required, special webinars for the partners to learn what is coming, for help, etc.)
- A “portal” to log into, so that key material, such as company logos, company presentations, pricing, quote tools, etc., are available for the partner for self-help use
Some partner programs go above and beyond the basic program.
- Is there a playbook? This will help you understand how to best position the products, and really, just as importantly, if the company has resources committed to the partner program.
- Deal registration is also an example of going above and beyond. There are likely instances where the channel will be going after the same deal. As such, a reseller being able to register the deal insures there is no channel conflict for the same deal.
- Content syndication. This includes ability to co-brand key collateral, re-use key email templates that the vendor has created, reposting key blogs, etc.
- Help with specific vertical focus.
- Does the vendor enable their product experts to be available to help with unique, customer tailored demos and quoting assistance?
- Support renewal notification to the reseller, so the reseller can go get a maintenance support contract.
At Sangoma, we believe our partner program works for all different types of our channel partners, up to the most committed to us. We enable all of what I described above. And we are committed to the channel as well. If you want to learn more about Sangoma’s excellent partner program, go here.