Tag Archives: hosted PBX

UCaaS Trial by Fire

Gabrielle Weaver wears a lot of hats, and a no-nonsense headset. Starting as a member of the customer care team, she now manages ReadyTalk Hosted Voice with excitement only her dog ‘Avery’ can match. Her four-year history at ReadyTalk has been shaped by an objectively first-hand view of our services. Partly from her time working in a customer facing role, but mostly because of a last-minute relocation to Washington D.C. We like to use the expression “we eat our own dog food” at ReadyTalk. Meaning, we actively use the software that we sell on a daily basis. Here’s how Gabi puts her money where her mouth is — remotely working over 1,500 miles away.  

Q: What do you miss about working in the Denver office?

A: I do miss the physical presence of my colleagues and camaraderie you develop with people over time. That mostly applies to the moments at work where you’re catching up or doing anything but working. However, given the face-to-face interactions I experience in meetings (from a television screen) there’s still enough of a personal touch I get with my team.   

Q: What limitations have you found with working remotely?

A: Seriously, there is nothing that I haven’t been able to successfully accomplish. I can do everything I used to be able to do as if I were in the office. I’m in a different time zone, so that means I need mobile access to communications. If it’s 6 p.m. in D.C but only 4 p.m. in Denver I’m still readily available even if I’ve left my home office. And that’s another advantage to using Hosted Voice — there was no extensive setup with our IT department. It was lightweight enough for me to install, but sophisticated enough for 24/7 usage. There were no barriers to entry and the learning curve was very short, thankfully.   

Q: How do you think working in customer care has helped your decisions as a product manager?

A: Coming from that side of the business I think I have a unique understanding about customer pain points. That means balancing the needs and asks of thousands of ReadyTalk users. Their preferences and requirements are all different and specific to each individual. Working in customer care taught me to distill their hopes and dreams into one product that solves as many problems as possible. How we build products, structure them, change them, price them — all of these decisions were made looking through the lens of the customer. But I also think that my current experience working remotely has put me at an advantage as a product manager. I’m literally our target customer. So as a product team we don’t operate under the assumption that we know what’s best all the time. Instead, I’ve depended on our Hosted Voice application as a means to work everyday. That has definitely kept us honest in customer conversations.

Q: What are your passions outside of work?

A: I love to travel. I’m a certified scuba diver and did some great cave dives in Mexico a couple years ago. Also, I’m very good at brunch on Denver patios.

Potential sticking points to unified communications

Unified communications has turned the workplace on its head, making home sweet home the new office place. Workers are kissing traffic jams good-bye, and the "daily grind," if you can even call it that, is measured in feet, not miles. To what extent? Well, In 2015, roughly 25 percent of employees worked from home on any given day, based on the latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And over the past decade, telecommuting has risen a whopping 115 percent, according to Global Workplace Analytics.

Unified communications has brought convenience back to the modern workplace. It streamlines the interaction process so individuals near and far can talk work through a single server, whether via the cloud, IP telephony or the numerous other channels that fall under the UC umbrella.

Afraid of the cloud? Don't be

Here's the sticking point, though: Businesses aren't exactly flocking to the cloud in droves. In fact, while 70 percent of business owners have at least considered using one communication provider rather than several, according to statistics compiled by Inc., only 19 percent have actually pulled the trigger, this according to computer security services firm Bird Rock Systems.

Why the slow transition? For one, change is always hard, especially for those who prefer face-to-face interaction. Cybersecurity is never far from business owners' minds, either, and unfamiliarity with the cloud can bring those thoughts to the fore. 

Just remember that being unacquainted with cloud computing security shouldn't suggest that it lacks in protection. In fact, According to Clutch, 90 percent of companies who use the cloud for data storage find it to be as good or better than an on-site servers at protecting their information!

New technology doesn't always cause headaches 

Because UC systems makes their bones by facilitating multiple communications systems, your mind may associate UC with technical problems. That's why selecting the right partner is so critical – wink, wink. But really, great customer service and a best-in-class network can go a long way.

Plus, companies are already planning ahead for these types of adjustments, as 21 percent of CIOs say they'll add full-time tech professionals to their staff this year, according to a poll from Robert Half. Why? Twenty-four percent said it had to do with cloud migration or big data.

From efficiency to productivity, increased engagement to cost containment, the return on investment makes unified communications the business solution that simply gets the job done – both inside and outside the office.

Why Unified Communications?

In my lifetime, there have been some outlandish promises about technology. Flying cars, not just self-driving, should be zooming about us as we speak into devices that look like those Star Trek communicators. But you already know, those pieces of technology don’t exist. Sure, they’re creeping closer … but we’re not quite there yet.

Why unified communications That was the promise with unified communication … until recently. (Whether you call it hosted voice, hosted PBX or cloud communications. It’s the same — unified communication.) Telecommunication and software companies are getting better at providing a host of solutions together, hoping to make it easier for customers and potential customers. But most businesses haven’t moved to it; only 19% as of July have.

That’s changing. According to Inc., 70% of businesses are considering moving to a single communication provider for everything from phone systems to instant message (IM). So chances are good your competitors are thinking about it.

Why UC?

It goes beyond doing what other businesses are. Here are the reasons why even small businesses are considering cloud communications.

  • Be more efficient and productive. Reduce inefficient communications – from telephone tag to scouring through several contact lists to find someone. Share information in a moment’s notice, easily without struggling with multiple solutions. Ensure customers get the attention they need.
  • Improve communication and engagement. Unified communication increases the likelihood that information will be shared and received. It even helps identify people are available (referred to as presence). The quality of the communication is better too — with chat, video and collaboration (desktop file sharing and presentations) are all easily available.
  • Grow your business without changing providers. Unified communication, when done right, is scalable as your business grows and expands or as your company changes focus.
  • Go mobile, with access anywhere. Your employees don’t have to be at their desk to be productive. Enable your salespeople and more to work when and where they need to while still being productive.
  • Reduce costs. Cloud communication is cheaper than maintaining outdated, on-premises solutions. It also enables more people to work from home, saving money on office expenses. And it reduces the need for travel.

All of these are possible with the right vendor. The right vendor depends on your company, but if you want good customer service and easy to use products, that might be us. We have some of the best net promoter scores in the industry and our customers tell us our products are intuitive.

Sources:
McKinsey’s SMB cloud communications report
Evolve IP

9 Questions to Ask Before Upgrading Your Phone System

phone-systemsBuying the correct phone system can make a difference to the success of your business in the next 5-10 years. Choosing the right system could mean hiring less staff, winning more contracts, worrying less about disasters and yes, saving you money. Take the time to find answers to the 9 key questions outlined below before upgrading your new phone system.

Key questions

  1. Cost: Check what is included and not included in the minutes bundle. Are there any exit clauses in the service contract? Do you have to rent the phones for longer than the service contract? It can be a gotcha with some providers.
  2. Flexibility: Can you add or remove users during the service contract? Do you have to pay for devices or for users? This is important as you grow your business or as people are hired and leave your company.
  3. Disasters: Can the system divert calls to tablets or mobile phones when the access network is down? Are there restrictions in the features when people are remote? Disaster planning is crucial and one of the biggest advantages of having the right communications systems.
  4. Consistency: Are all the features available to remote workers or do some get removed? Is the quality the same – for example, some mobile systems only use a technology called VoIP when remote, which can hurt voice quality if the network is congested.
  5. Usability: Are the features the same on the phone, PC and mobile devices or are they different? Do you still have to rely on a telephone?
  6. Professionalism: Does the system support features such as auto attendant, music on hold, automatic call distribution, call queuing, so you never miss a call? Missing the wrong call can be disastrous.
  7. Productivity: Does the system have features like conferencing, room-based collaboration and instant messaging and presence? Integration of communication is how the working world gets things done these days and your phone system should be able to accommodate it.
  8. Mobility: Does the system support iOS and Android devices? Can it support all the productivity features above when mobile? The right phone system can handle when you’re on the go.
  9. Maintenance: Does the system have web-based user self-administration and allow you to control powerful features from a single web page? Does the service support diagnostics so the service provider can quickly identify any issues that you may run into? Enabling you to have control ensures your phone system is meeting your business needs.

Be sure to ask about the underlying technologies that the service providers have in place that allows them to innovate rapidly and drive the biggest impact for your business. The fanciest features or the lowest price won’t do you much good if the quality, reliability and security are not core components of the service provider’s platform upon which your service relies on.

Your business depends on the right solution and communication integration.