Mon, November 30, 2015

The Benefits of Updating Your Phone System

Despite the rapid technological developments constantly working to improve our business communication systems, the telephone remains a centerpiece in day-to-day communications for busy professionals—but the phone has also seen its own modernization and transformation in recent years. The latest and greatest phone products now offer features that were unavailable 20, or even 10, years ago. Professionals who have waited a while since updating their phone systems may find it is time to explore the enhanced capabilities available.

Let’s look at some of the many benefits to having an up-to-date system.

Mobility and Portability – Popular telephone system providers (such as MiTel, NEC and Interactive Intelligence) offer features that allow for easy remote access. For example, voice messages can be automatically emailed to users as audio files and allowing them to retrieve voicemail messages directly from their email inbox via a smartphone, tablet or laptop. From those same devices, users can also see missed calls, access corporate contact lists and set calls to auto-forward to their mobile phone. Essentially, the modern business phone line is no longer tethered to the desk where it resides.

Seamless Desktop Integration – Gone are the days of managing a line exclusively from the phone receiver itself. Desktop software and apps allow for seamless access to phone systems directly from users’ computer. With the simple click of a mouse, users have the ability to answer or place calls, instantly view caller ID data on screen, listen to and save voice messages, access call logs, route and transfer calls to another location, and see other users’ statuses and availability.

Enhanced Voicemail system – Enhanced Voicemail features allow users to control their voicemail systems. There are no longer only two choices when listening to a voicemail—repeat and delete—now, users can take action on each individual message by customizing their voicemail to best suit their needs. By utilizing interactive menus they can listen to, edit, delete, save, send and archive messages in, well, an instant—multiple mailboxes can be accessed via one device. If a business has many more phone lines than voicemail boxes, it may be time to consider enhancing voicemail capabilities.

Direct Callers without a Receptionist – For many businesses, it makes sense to have a dedicated operator whose sole job is to answer and route calls; however, for others, it just isn’t practical. This is where an automated attendant system, or AA, can help. Automated attendant systems can help businesses route users directly where they need to go via Direct Inward Dial (DID) without the intervention of a third-party (unless needed). Many AA’s also have the ability to route callers to a live attendant when necessary, typically by dialing “0.” A useful feature of AA’s are their ability to contain fully customizable routes for different members of your business and also, day and night modes. For example, you may need one greeting and route for normal business hours and another for after-hours calls.  

Automating outgoing Voice and Text Alerts – Interactive Voice Response (IVR) allows for the interaction of a customer with a company’s host system via touch tones or speech recognition. With IVR, callers typically feel like they’re being better attended to than with the traditional touch-tone-only system. IVR systems applications are best used when an interaction can be broken down into a series of simple interactions. Commonly used in conjunction with automated attendant systems, IVR can give users a complete, and well-rounded, experience and shorten the average length of each call.

From a purely entrepreneurial standpoint, the automation of outgoing voice messages and handy text alerts can free up time better spent creating customer solutions and tackling the big issues—phone calls take a lot of time and not every phone call needs to be addressed by a trained professional. Automating FAQs (hours of operation, directions, phone directory) is a great way to cut down on the number of superfluous calls that reach your team.  

Harness the Power of the Internet – When it comes to office phone technology, Voice over IP (VoIP) phones provide more capabilities and are considerably more cost-effective. They have all the bells (and some whistles,too). Easy to install, configure and maintain, VoIP phone systems are fast becoming a favorite alternative to traditional proprietary phone systems. Cheaper long distance, less costs for separate phone lines, easy sharing of contact lists on multiple accounts and platforms and rich media and desktop integration capabilities make VoIP a complete value for consumers. Since VoIP phones use a standard internet connection, there is no need for a completely separate cabling system for your phone.

Easily Scalable – Business is business and employees come and go. With this shifting dynamic, it is often hard to predict the number of phone lines you’ll need from month-to-month and year-to-year. Whether on-premise or hosted elsewhere, A VoIP telephone system is easily scalable to your business needs—you can add, subtract, or re-assign, as many lines as you need, when you need them. Also, no more switching numbers when your employees switch workspace, their numbers follow them wherever they go.

Backwards Compatible – Though it may seem like fax machines are becoming a thing of the past, they are still very much in use in today’s business world. Their continued relevance is, in part, aided by new phone systems that incorporate faxing sending/receiving capabilities. Similar to voicemail integrations, the latest features allow for fax messages to be received via an email attachment, and some more advanced systems allow for sending actual faxes from an app or desktop interface.   

Enhanced Customer Service Quality Control – Available as an add-on to many business phone systems, voice documentation is a popular feature for businesses who want to better manage their customer service efforts. Voice documentation tools allow phone system administrators to record and store calls, whether randomly or selectively. For busy call centers or businesses who receive high call volumes, this can be a useful tool for monitoring how your employees are interacting with callers.

Geographically Boundless – VoIP phone systems are becoming increasingly popular, and one reason is the phone itself is no longer bound to geographical limits. For example, you could live in Japan but subscribe to a U.S. phone number, which makes it possible that all calls to the U.S. to become domestic calls, even though you are physically located in Japan. With VoIP, businesses spread across multiple locations, national and international, they now have the ability to centralize their phone number area codes to one location.

If you have any questions about your existing phone system, or want to explore available options to take your business to the next level, contact Centrality to learn more about our voice solutions.