Open Source Voip

Resellers: Building Your Customer Base

DigiumBlogs - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 20:01

For most small to medium- sized businesses (SMBs), the continuous search for new customers is essential to meet or exceed growth targets. As a reseller, the extent of available prospecting options for your business is often influenced by the size of the organization, and whether there are dedicated resources for new customer acquisition. Larger organizations typically have the human capital and the budget to invest in multiple avenues for finding new customers. Regardless of company size, one factor is particularly applicable to all organizations.

It’s extremely important for any business owner to understand and properly manage customer acquisition costs. For example, it is less expensive to keep existing customers as a means to maintain current or incremental levels of revenue, but acquiring new customers is imperative if you want to achieve significant growth. When it comes to finding prospects (and customers) that are ready and willing to purchase, there are many options available, with varying impact on your customer acquisition cost.

It’s often a no-brainer to start by focusing on retention. As a source of revenue, returning customers should be the least costly (and easiest) form of maintaining and possibly growing revenue. In SaaS models, retention is key, of course. But for any type of business, such as resellers who focus on managed services, the sales process for adding on additional products and services is often met with less resistance. The customer has already purchased at least once, and research proves their experience with a business will determine if they return.

Great products and excellent customer service, during and after the sale, are paramount to the customer experience. But you still need new customer growth. Let’s take a look at some new customer acquisition strategies:

The Power of Reputation: Word of Mouth & Referrals

If you are doing a good job with retention efforts, then referrals from existing customers could be the least expensive option for new customer recruitment. Referrals require little effort if you have a strong history of quality product/service offerings, a solid reputation for solution implementation, and excellent customer service. Attracting customers, targeting business opportunities, and finding work or new business is one of the top challenges among U.S. small business owners, and for many, word of mouth referrals are often one of the best sources of revenue after returning customers.

There are standalone solutions that help you develop, promote, and manage a more complex referral system- but small businesses looking for a simple route can promote referral opportunities on their website, in email campaigns, or by just picking the phone and making the ask. It’s worth noting that referral programs are usually more successful if your existing customer is rewarded with some incentive, such as a future discount or cash.

Staying Visible: Social Media

A more recent prospecting tool available to savvy resellers is the use of social media, sometimes referred to as social selling. If done correctly, it can have a huge effect on spreading the word about your business and in actual lead generation. With the rapid rise of business-specific social media activities and the increasing audience acceptance of the approach, use of social media is only expected to continue rising. Plus, there are pay-to-play options available, such as sponsoring a post to make it display in target audience feeds, placing low-cost ads, and more. Every platform is unique!

In addition to (and sometimes within) the traditional social media sites, there are online communities and topic-specific groups (such as LinkedIn Groups) that provide incredible access to your target audiences. Participating in these social communities can be another valuable asset for reaching buyers. These also sometimes have pay-to-play options, but even if you choose not to put lead gen dollars to these paid options, it is still a good (no cost) avenue for finding and conversing with potential prospects and demonstrating your knowledge as an expert in your field.

Getting Active in the Local Chamber of Commerce

Another time-tested avenue for promoting your business is participating in or sponsoring local events. The first step is to join and become active in your local Chamber of Commerce. Many prospects will use the Chamber to network with other members for peer referrals in an effort to validate a business’ integrity. Many local chambers hold networking events, host committees you can volunteer on and have other events that provide great opportunities to meet and greet your future prospects. Chamber-related events will require a bit more time and effort, but the more involved a business is, the more fruitful the outcome can be with finding prospects.

Taking Advantage of List Purchase Services

If you have trouble building your own list of prospects, a proven method for finding potential prospects is to buy targeted lists that match your ideal customer profile. There are many agencies that provide such services, and the lists can usually be filtered and regionalized with great effect. There are several methods of marketing activities that can be implemented with these lists from email campaigns, cold calling, and traditional card or brochure mailers. Obviously, these prospects are very cold and may or may not be currently seeking the solution you offer. While the effectiveness of the activities vary, pre-purchased lists (price typically based on the number of contacts you buy) can provide a significant return on investment. Keep in mind: the quality of the vendor and their lists should be researched and validated.

Networking at Trade Shows and Conferences

Whether regional or national, trade shows can still be an effective method for evangelizing your products and services to a large audience. Participation can range from only having a booth for displaying products and services to participating in the additional sponsored events or speaking opportunities offered. Participating in trade shows can end up being one of the most expensive and time consuming activities, but it does allow you face-to-face interaction with potential prospects. Ensuring you have seasoned employees available for the event, especially with some shows being multi-day events, is imperative but may be a trade-off that isn’t worth the effort depending on your staffing level.

Prospecting new customers can be done in several different ways, each of which involves a varied amount of time and money. If you have the available budget, you may also choose to hire third-party marketing firms to assist with prospecting activities, from campaign development to managing online pay-per-click programs (such as Google AdWords). The comfort level lies solely on business stakeholders and their willingness to be involved in prospecting.

Curious about how Sangoma supports its partner network with marketing, leads, and deal registration? Learn more about the Sangoma Partner Program!

The post Resellers: Building Your Customer Base appeared first on Sangoma.

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Google open sources trademarks with the Open Usage Commons

Zdnet Linux and open source - Thu, 07/09/2020 - 00:09
In a somewhat confusing move, Google is placing three of its open-source projects' trademarks under its new Open Usage Commons.
Categories: , Open Source Voip

SUSE to acquire Rancher Labs

Zdnet Linux and open source - Wed, 07/08/2020 - 21:53
SUSE takes a big step forward in Kubernetes by acquiring container-management power Rancher Labs.
Categories: , Open Source Voip

Data Traffic Trends and the (WiFi) Impact on Enterprise Communications

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 07/07/2020 - 20:58

Around this time of the year, I usually read the Cisco Annual Internet Report to see if there is anything interesting relating to the business communications market.  And there are usually a few good nuggets. This year, one of the things that stood out the most is something that also stood out last year – that Public WiFi Hotpots are going to be almost everywhere. And that the average WiFi connection speed will triple to 91.6 Mpbs in 2023 as compared to 2018.

All this will have a profound impact on your business, because it means you’ll have more people coming to our business, either via phone call, website, social media, or video via WiFi.  So you better be ready.

And if the last few months taught us anything, it means you’ll have to adapt to mobility. But this not just adapt to it for a while, but to embrace it. So even when this pandemic is over, it means employees working anywhere, anytime, and customers and prospecting coming to you via all kinds of means from all kinds of places. And it likely means even more video.

Been on too many video collaboration (Sangoma Meet) calls lately? Get ready for more. Been on video calls in a nice shirt and shorts? Get ready for more. Been on Sangoma Meet calls with 40 people? Get ready for more.

Ultimately, it means you cannot ignore using a UC system. It means your business phone system better have a mobile / smartphone / tablet capable UC client that can handle voice, presence, collaboration and video.   

As I wrote last year around this time… “make sure your business phone system supports mobility”.  Little did I know what that really meant.

Sangoma, in case you didn’t know, supports mobility.

The post Data Traffic Trends and the (WiFi) Impact on Enterprise Communications appeared first on Sangoma.

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Linux Mint 20: Still the best Linux desktop despite one quirk

Zdnet Linux and open source - Thu, 07/02/2020 - 00:57
As usual, Linux Mint's latest release, Mint 20, is better than ever, but its developers' refusal to make it easy to use Ubuntu Snap is a trifle annoying.
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A Modern Approach to Wholesale SIP Trunking

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 06/30/2020 - 19:44

SIP Trunking is important for any enterprise these days – this is the connection into your building that carries phone calls to an on-premise UC platform, or is the underpinning of any cloud communications service.   It must be robust, be resilient, be able to offer a wide array of DIDs, and comply with local telephony laws such as location service.

However, in today’s world, that is not enough, especially if you are a wholesale SIP trunk provider.  More and more, additional services are expected of the wholesale SIP trunking provider.  Services now expected include:

  • Fraud Prevention
  • Texting
  • Emergency Services 
  • Cloud-based Management Portal, so the client can perform self-service on common functions

Frost and Sullivan’s whitepaper on this topic outlines what a modern SIP Trunking business needs to provide.

The post A Modern Approach to Wholesale SIP Trunking appeared first on Sangoma.

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Baidu joins Open Invention Network Linux patent protection group

Zdnet Linux and open source - Tue, 06/30/2020 - 09:01
Baidu, China's Google, and a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company are joining the open-source and Linux patent protection group, Open Invention Network.
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Linus Torvalds on the future of Linux kernel developers and development

Zdnet Linux and open source - Mon, 06/29/2020 - 23:42
Dirk Hohndel and Linus Torvalds talked about Linux developers, hardware, and coding in their latest, and first virtual Linux conversation.
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Customize and Track Call Campaigns with Unified Communications

DigiumBlogs - Thu, 06/25/2020 - 20:30

With today’s technology and analytics tools, businesses have more visibility into lead sources than ever before – to the point that it can quickly become overwhelming. You can measure everything from email open rates and promo codes used, to YouTube views and filled-out forms. But what about phone calls?

For industries outside of basic e-commerce, the vast majority of leads and sales come in via phone, so customizing and tracking their journey is vital. Implementing a Unified Communications (UC) solution is an easy, effective, and affordable way to do this.

Here are some of the UC features that help the most with your call campaigns:

  • Intelligent call routing allows your employees to route calls to specific departments based on which campaign the customer is calling about. If you have separate numbers for each marketing campaign (for example, you have one for a digital billboard display and one for an email campaign), you can set up automatic routes to get customers where they need to be, without asking.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) lets your business record and play back additional information to callers as they reach your system. You can customize the message for each phone number used. If a customer sees your billboard ad for a free lawn evaluation and calls the number listed, you can tailor the message to appeal to that specific promotion.
  • Caller ID control allows a business to customize the caller ID that the employees see, which lets them know which ad campaign likely triggered the call. For example, your employee will see something like 555-555-1212 billboard ad on their computer and phone when the incoming call is received. This enables the employee to answer the phone and be prepared to address the messaging in the ad.
  • Mobility allows your employees to receive campaign calls from their mobile device and still see the proper Caller ID information. This means your traveling sales team has the same control as your in office team.
  • CRM Integration makes it easy for employees not only to reference customer information when receiving calls but also to ensure that all details of a call are noted in customer records.

In addition to the features UC facilitates for your call campaigns, it goes even further by measuring the results of your efforts:

  • Call Reports allow your business to run reports by incoming phone number so you can see exactly how many calls the custom call campaign generated, including which days and times were the most popular. This is valuable data for your next call campaign.
  • Queue Reports allow managers to understand the performance of employees. These reports give metrics such as customer wait times, talk times, answered and abandoned calls, and much more. These are valuable insights that can be used in determining employee scheduling and performance reviews, as they provide a birds-eye view of how the campaign is being handled on your end.
  • Call Logs allow you to track an individual call from beginning to end. Managers can see who talked to the caller, and if the caller was transferred or disconnected for any reason. These logs are especially valuable in customer complaint situations.
  • Scheduled Call Reports can be set up to be automatically sent to a manager’s inbox on the day, time, and frequency that they choose. If you’re out of town but want to take a look at how well your half-off sale is performing (which you promoted with a unique phone number), you can view your custom reports anytime, anywhere.

Customers are increasingly using their smartphones for browsing websites, purchasing products and services, and calling companies directly. In fact, many mobile searchers call a business directly from search results, so tailoring the phone call experience for your customers is imperative. Unified Communications solutions have the features and tools your business needs for effective call campaigning and tracking.

The post Customize and Track Call Campaigns with Unified Communications appeared first on Sangoma.

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The Importance of Telecom Applications

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 06/23/2020 - 20:49

TADSummit Online Asia took place a month ago.  The ‘TAD’ in TADSummit means Telecom Application Development. Seems under exciting. So what is Alan doing? And why is Alan actually even bothering to devote all of his time and energy to this concept?

Because telecom applications are truly at the heart of the growth (and one can argue the innovation, though there is plenty of innovation in the transport side of things as well) of the industry, and we all need to make sure innovation is not stifled or owned “by a few.” This has created Billions (yes Billions, if not Trillions) of dollars of revenue and wealth for startups (that are no longer startups now) that created useful, new, easy to use applications targeted to either subscribers or businesses. Everyday, we all use telecom applications that at one time were some cool innovation and foreign concepts to us. The rate of telecoms innovation has truly been amazing since the early 90’s. All driven by applications.

These companies saw some kind of interesting concept that could be evinced through the telecom or enterprise networks. Applications we take for granted today, such as texting, video, SMS, unified communications, speech recognition, location services…. you name it, were created by some innovative companies that had to figure out how to get their vision realized using some kind of available building blocks, or what Alan calls the “tech stack”.

The BIG guys really had (have) no interest in anything that’s different or not controlled by them. The more it stays the same, the better it is for them. No innovation, or controlled innovation (controlled by me), means no disruption. And the money keeps pouring in, to them. The big telecom guys would stifle the innovation by putting all kinds of roadblocks in place, using standards bodies to delay the inevitable. In the meantime, innovation continued and what was created outside their realm would become defacto standards. Another way to get to the same place, yet waaaaaaaaaay faster.

This is what Alan is championing and why TADS is important. Let’s not lose this developer focus. You guys, the ecosystem, are much smarter than anyone else. We need this innovation. No one or two or three or four (you get my point) companies are smart enough to see all new emerging needs. An ecosystem, though, can. And that’s why we’ll continue to see new cool innovative applications emerge. All powered by some kind of base core elements.

The ability to innovate using easy to use, cost effective building blocks is at the heart of these new innovative telecom applications. When you get down to it, I’ve devoted my telecom career to this. At Sangoma, we have all kinds of elements in the telecom stack (from open source toolkits, to CPaaS, to network integration). And that’s why Sangoma supports what Alan is doing with TADs.

Keep innovating. The underlying building blocks will be there. You guys will figure out how to use them in ways never imagined.

If you want either read a brief synopsis of my keynote, or watch it, please click the link here. There is a brief overview of our tech stack provided and you can listen to me explain it.

The post The Importance of Telecom Applications appeared first on Sangoma.

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Why Seasonal and Growing Businesses Value the Cloud

DigiumBlogs - Thu, 06/18/2020 - 20:15

All businesses value scalability, but for seasonal and growing businesses, the need for scalability is paramount. And that’s why these types of businesses value the Cloud. By transferring communications to the Cloud, businesses can scale quickly while driving greater operational efficiency.

Seasonal Businesses:

Scalability is an important need for some businesses because of the way their industry is set up or positioned in the marketplace. Seasonal businesses, such as florists, lawn care services, and tax preparation services, will have periods throughout the year where they need varying degrees of phone system support. After all, why would you want to pay for a service you only use part of the year? The flexibility of a cloud phone system helps solve this problem by allowing more lines to be easily added during peak season, and easily reduced during the off season. Seasonal scalability such as this facilitates the ability of businesses to better control their expenses, and ultimately improve their profit margin.

Growth and Decline of Business:

A phone system that is scalable may be essential to seasonal businesses, but any organization can benefit from the flexible nature of cloud phone systems. Whether dealing with growth or a decline in revenues, both can be equally unexpected and require an immediate response. Scalability allows a business to quickly adjust to fluctuating market conditions.

If you deploy a hosted phone system and you have 100 employees who need phones, then you pay for 100 users. Should your employee count drop to 75, you only pay for 75. When your business needs to scale up, it’s simple to add users and change your billing accordingly.

Plus, growing businesses value the fact that hosted phone systems represent an operational expense rather than a capital expense, meaning that hosted systems are deployed as a service with little upfront cost and no maintenance obligations. Using a cloud-based solution means you have flexibility and can free up your working capital through the immediate cost savings of a hosted PBX.

Additional Features

The need for flexibility when your business expands doesn’t just apply to the number of employees (or users) that you may be adding. Cloud-based phone systems also help minimize the headaches that can come with expansion or when adding multiple locations. Whether you have multiple buildings across a campus setting that fall under one internal calling network, or you have several office locations across a certain geographic area, a hosted PBX can provide an economical answer to your communications needs. Not only do you save money by not having multiple phone systems at each physical location, you also have the added convenience of allowing those offices in different locations to call desk-to-desk, as if they were in the same building.

Choosing a cloud-based solution doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the features and flexibility of a full-scale UC solution. And because award-winning platforms like Switchvox Cloud use the same source code as the on-premise alternative, you don’t have to sacrifice features when opting for the flexibility and cost savings of a hosted phone system.

Download our free guide 10 Reasons Why Hosted is Risk-Free with Switchvox Cloud!

The post Why Seasonal and Growing Businesses Value the Cloud appeared first on Sangoma.

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The Emergence of the Business Communications System

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 20:05

What comes after a Unified Communications system?  More unification of course!  We are entering another phase in the evolution of the business phone system, where it is becoming an overall business communications system.   And we’ll continue to see computing advances have a huge impact.

 

 

Let’s explore this a bit.  From an architecture perspective, it’s not a big leap to continue an evolution towards adding more communications to the business communications system. Other outside networks, such as may be required for IoT interaction can be added to the mix. Other devices, that may have nothing to do with voice, such as building access control, cameras and sensors can be added.  And the rules system and message broker brains also can get updated so that “voice” becomes just another type of communication method, not the method it was originally designed for years ago.  As such, the Business Communications System is born.

And with all of this data coming from all of the business interactions, patterns and learning can be had and put to use in a positive way.  The advances in compute power and the ability to analyze huge amounts of data swiftly and efficiently have given rise to elements of Artificial Intelligence entering the business phone system.  In other words, the “rules.” And thus the Message Broker can get smarter. So the advent of Artificial Intelligence functionality with the PBX/UC platform has already started to occur.

The last mile to this Business Communications System will also likely be augmented. With 5G comes the ability to “network slice” or carve a portion of the network to be dedicated to an enterprise. In other words, a 5G wireless trunk.

 

 

The PBX has already undergone incredible evolution in the past 25 years. With much more to come. The office environment has also evolved from a single brick and morter facility to be a virtual, accessible at all times, and from anywhere environment. The PBX/UC platform branching out to become a more complete business communications system for the Evolved Office is a natural evolution for the PBX, and Sangoma is leading the way.

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Building the Reputation of your Business with Cloud

DigiumBlogs - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 20:00

Few things are more important to a SMB (small-medium business) than its reputation. Building rapport with your customers doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a relationship that builds over many years of dedicated service or quality products. One place where some businesses fall short is maintaining a basic, open communication channel with their customers. When customers call to see what your weekend hours are or if you have a certain item in stock, it should not turn into a long hold or a busy signal. A hosted phone system can ensure a “lack of communication” is never an issue. Here’s why:

RCF (remote call forwarding) is a business revenue saver and ensures that your customers always reach someone. If you set up notifications and call forwarding rules the call will cascade to the device of your choice, making that dreaded voicemail box less visited. You can leave to run to the post office or go grab lunch and calls can be forwarded to your mobile phone. The customers will have no idea you aren’t in the office, keeping them happy and content while you answer their questions. Need to take a break? Simply change your status to “away” and you can set up a call rule that will forward those calls to another co-worker or even a call queue, so you can take a much needed break.

Your business phone number is the face of your company. Think of all the commercials where people have made up jingles centering around their main phone number. Moving to a new hosted phone system doesn’t mean you should lose something that helps to identify your business. Keep your identity and port your number. Make sure to set up a number port with your current vendor before you cancel services and set up a paper trail with emails. Working hand-in-hand with your new provider will help ensure a smooth transition. 

The Cloud is the way of the future, there is no denying that. Gartner predicts that by 2021, 90% of IT leaders will not purchase any new premise based UC infrastructure. Not only can hardware take up valuable space around the office or in server closets, but for many small businesses, having your IT person focusing on your phone system as well as day-to-day operations can be overwhelming and perhaps lead to burn-out. Not having a physical phone system in the office is ideal for businesses in areas where tornadoes, hurricanes, or other natural disasters are a threat. Everything is in the cloud, so less equipment to be damaged and replaced. With less equipment to worry about and maintain, you can focus on running your business and keeping your customers happy. Leave the phone system maintenance to your hosted phone service provider. 

Switchvox Cloud is here for the long haul. We have all features included at one, low monthly rate. That’s your phone system and phone service rolled up into one bill. All you need is an internet connection, set up a few call rules, and you are ready to go. You can add extensions as needed, making Switchvox Cloud a flexible solution that is perfect for businesses that have busy and slow seasons. Updates come automatically, there is no bulky hardware in the server closet or around the office, and 24/7 support is there for you when you need it most.  Contact our sales team today and see how Switchvox Cloud can help your business bring in more revenue, scale to your intended growth, and secure your business’s reputation.

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The Evolution of the Business Phone System into a UC Platform

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 19:59

Last week, I described the basic architecture of a PBX system.  But these systems have evolved into Unified Communication systems that handle more than voice – they handle messaging, texting, chat, video and others.   This is where most business phone systems are today.

But how did they evolve so quickly?  The basic architecture stays the same, so if you have a good architecture upon which to build, features can be added quickly.  When doing an instant message for example, there still needs to be a database of users and rules that go with it, there needs to a message broker between the two people involved, and there needs to be trunks and an end user device.  The basic architecture is there – just the type of media involved changes.  The UC system simply had to handle different media beyond voice.  The convergence of voice with IT (VoIP) proved to be monumental since voice became just a type of media- just another type of data to be moved.  And once that happened, other media could be moved with the same constructs as voice.  Hence, UC implementations became de rigeur.

Messaging via chat, or playback of a voice or video mail on your email are everyday examples of such communications in the office beyond a simple voice call.  Different devices could be enabled for different kinds of interaction beyond voice, adding text, chat, and video for example.   

The advances in the networks and the ability for applications to utilize these advances in network technology also played a huge role in enabling the PBX to evolve to truly become “Unified Communications”.  Once such network was the emergence of 3G and 4G, which ushered in the world of mobile enterprise applications.  Your office becomes mobile, because you have office apps such as your office phone, your instant messaging system, etc. on your smartphone or your laptop or tablet.  Effectively, your offices move to wherever you are.  And many of us reading this blog have experienced that.

But what is next?  Next week I’ll explore some ideas.

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Conference Calling – 4 Steps to Success

DigiumBlogs - Fri, 06/05/2020 - 01:05

Organizations use conference calling as a means to communicate with remote employees, partners, vendors and customers. It can also help cut down on travel expenses and even enable you to connect multiple office locations.

As helpful as conference calling can be for a business, some people would describe the experience as boring and unproductive. Often the experience isn’t as good as it could be because people aren’t properly prepared. Here are some steps to take to ensure you have a productive conference call for everyone involved:

Properly Prepare

 

Unpreparedness is the main reason conference calling take longer than they need to. To avoid this, create an agenda for the meeting. The agenda should contain the following information:

 

  • Date & time of conference call, as well as dial-in number and access code (which should also be in the meeting invite)
  • Topic of discussion & goals of the conversation
  • Participants, job titles, and their role in the project or topic being discussed
  • Detailed list of items to be discussed
  • Attachments or links to documents relating to the discussion

 

Note: Make sure the items on the agenda can be discussed in the amount of time allotted. Employees are busy and have other responsibilities throughout their day. Running overtime while conference calling can throw a kink in the entire work day.

Know the Conference Calling Technology

 

Nothing is more embarrassing than thinking you’re are on mute and saying things no one was intended to hear. Understanding the platform and technology you are using is an important step in conducting or participating in a conference call. Make sure your employees are trained on the conference calling platform your business uses, and prior to conducting your first conference call, run a test call and play around with all of the available features. It’s always helpful to have an employee who is technical and can help if an issue with the platform arises during the call. If you don’t have a tech-savy employee on the call, have a backup option for the meeting, or reschedule. (Even if you are familiar with the technology, make sure you pay attention to whether or not phones are muted, for example, to avoid awkward situations.)

Note: For remote and mobile employees, make sure they can easily access the conference call-in number and access code from their smartphone. Some platforms are not mobile-friendly and these numbers are not easily accessible from the emails the platform sends out, so including the dial-in number and access code in the agenda is key.

Keep it Productive

 

Follow the agenda you created ahead of time, and steer the conversation back on track if it derails. Of course, if discussions of the weather or other topical issues come up, go ahead and share as a quick ice-breaker, but then get back on track and stay focused on your agenda. It’s helpful to have someone on your team keep track of action items discussed during the call, including who is responsible for specific action items, and when those items are due. It’s also helpful to use a call recording feature so that anything missed during the conversation can be referred back to or shared with those team members who were unable to join. Finally, it’s good practice to check to see if anyone has any questions about a line item before moving onto the next.

Follow-Up

 

Following the conference call, you or someone on your team should send out an email to all participants recapping the conversation and action items discussed. Employee to-do’s should be very clear and include due dates if possible. If you have the capability, send the recorded conference call to participants for reference.

Conducting a productive conference call depends on how thoroughly you prepare ahead of time. A detailed agenda will not only keep your team on schedule but will also help achieve the goals of the conversation.

 

Have you tried Sangoma Meet?

Sangoma Meet is an advanced video conferencing platform that seamlessly operates from a Firefox or Chrome browser. And right now, you can have access to this powerful tool capable of providing private, secure video calls for up to 50 participants – completely free.

 

No registration required, try it today!

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The Changing Face of the Business Phone System

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 06/02/2020 - 18:00

The business phone system has evolved. If you didn’t know that before work from home, you know it now. If you have been on a Unified Communication system, you have been able to communicate in a variety of ways. And you found out while voice is an important element of the business phone system, voice is simply one of the ways you communicate with other people in a business environment today, and that is all supported within a UC business phone system. Voice is essential, but no longer unique. We communicate with other employees or customers via instant and group messaging, email, social media and the like.

When viewing the architecture diagram of a basic PBX office phone system, one can see four important elements. There are interfaces that connect to the “outside world” networks via “trunks” that come into the building. In “the old days”, which is only a few years ago really, this was simply a PSTN trunk to the wired and wireless PSTN, internet or wireless networks. Today this also includes SIP trunks connected to these same networks.

There are also interfaces that connect to whatever device one talks on. Again, in “the old days” that was simply a phone on your desk, or maybe a paging system, conference phone or intercom to the front door. Today, there are all kinds of softphones, or clients connected to your various mobile devices, including your watch.

The business phone system also has a database of users (phone numbers, etc.) and rules on how to route calls. Finally, there is a message broker which manages the interaction between internal and external devices and follows the rules set out by the system itself and the administrator of the business phone system.

Next week we’ll take a look at how the architecture has evolved to easily add Unified Communication features.

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4 Not-So-Obvious Softphone Selling Points

DigiumBlogs - Thu, 05/28/2020 - 18:00

While there is a time and a place for the desk phone (and they aren’t going away any time soon), more and more companies are jumping on the softphone bandwagon. For those of you who aren’t familiar, a softphone is essentially a software version of a telephone that can be deployed on desktop computers or mobile devices. Calls are made via the Internet, using bandwidth (you may known this as Voice over IP, or VoIP), and many have similar functionality as their desk phone counterparts.

Here are four reasons businesses of all sizes are adopting softphones into their tech stack:

Brand Consistency

Presenting a consistent brand message is central to maintaining professionalism and gaining customer trust. A softphone makes it possible for employees to provide their customers one phone number to reach them wherever they are located- in the office, at home, or on the road. From your customer’s perspective, they will feel like they’re calling your corporate office regardless of where you are located or which device you are using.

Convenience & Privacy

With softphones, every employee extension is tied to the company’s phone system, so customers don’t have (or need) access to their personal cell numbers; only the business’s caller ID information is shown. This is ideal for two specific situations. First, when an employee leaves a company, this privacy layer eliminates the possibility of the employee poaching customers and taking their business along with them. Second, it is for the safety of the employees that customers don’t have their personal mobile numbers, as after-hours calling abuse (especially from an angry customer) is not uncommon. Also, softphones provide additional features that are useful when customer interactions go south, such as call recording and voicemail to email. Call logs are also useful to show the time each employee spends on the phone with customers. If Steve spent 3 hours talking to a customer at 3AM, that may be worth having a conversation about.

Visual Voicemail / Voicemail to Email

Let’s face it- no one likes checking their voicemail. In fact, conglomerates Coca-Cola and JPMorgan both completely eliminated corporate voicemail due to lack of use by employees. While saving money obviously wasn’t a main motivator for Coca-Cola, the company estimated it would save about $100,000 a year by cutting the service.

While some companies have no need for voicemail, others rely on it. Either way, companies should make it easier for employees to access and handle voicemails if they want the service they pay for to be utilized. Some softphone apps, like those offered by Sangoma, include a visual voicemail feature, which is very similar to the iPhone’s voicemail layout. If a customer details an issue they are having in the voicemail and the employee needs a manager to hear it, it can easily forward the voicemail as a .wav or mp3 file via email. If a generic voicemail is left on a receptionist voicemail, he or she can forward the voicemail by email to the appropriate department or person to handle. Important voicemails concerning personal information, issues, or anything else worth keeping, can be filed in a customer’s CRM profile for future reference.

Cost

As an extension to VoIP, softphones take advantage of its low-cost nature and eliminate the need to invest in desk phone hardware for every employee. Companies can save hundreds to thousands on communication expenses by offering their mobile employees a softphone pre-loaded with the same functionality their in-office coworkers have access to.

Click here to learn more about Softphones!

The post 4 Not-So-Obvious Softphone Selling Points appeared first on Sangoma.

Categories: , Blogs, Open Source Voip

The Tipping Point for Unified Communications in Business

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 05/26/2020 - 19:36

I was asked to contribute an article in FastMode about how we are responding, and helping our customers respond, to the pandemic. If you want to read the complete article, click here.

My thesis has been that the companies that utilize Unified Communications systems as their basic phone system, with its ability to offer softphones with the same business number, conferencing, collaboration, presence, and mobile phones that also utilize your business phone number, are at the forefront for enabling this new remote work and work from home environment we’re all experiencing right now. They were prepared.   

And businesses will either want to continue to be prepared for the next ‘work from home’ emergency, or they will see that this WFH thing wasn’t so bad, and they’ll be OK with enabling this in some form full time going forward. It’s just good business.

This is why I see this whole pandemic as a tipping point for businesses and the use of Unified Communication systems. While UC systems were ‘nice’ before, they are now essential. And they’ll continue to be.

But the part of UC that has really exploded has been video. Video helps enable a sense of community, camaraderie, and really just necessary human interaction that comes with chit-chat, just like at a water cooler, coffee station, or lunch room. I’m seeing our employees get on Sangoma Meet video calls a little early so they can just talk for 5 minutes. The need to be connected is more significant than ever now.  

Given what is going on out there around the world, we’ve decided to make our Sangoma Meet™ video conferencing and collaboration service available for free. We’re simply asking for feedback during this time via filling out a form when the call is over.   

Go to https://meet.sangoma.com to get started. It is a stand-alone service that can be used independently or with our award-winning UC solutions.

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Categories: , Blogs, Open Source Voip

Sangoma and .e4: Long Live Open Source

DigiumBlogs - Thu, 05/21/2020 - 18:00

It’s been a little over two months since .e4 joined the Sangoma team. In that time, we’ve had an opportunity to adjust to multiple new realities, and we are finding our stride despite the ongoing craziness of the world. It has been an enjoyable onboarding experience. Having worked closely with the Sangoma and Digium teams for years, the .e4 crew has had fun getting up to speed on our latest innovations and sharing in the “I can’t believe we’re all on the same team” conversations. 

The talent pool is deep here at Sangoma, and I’m excited to report that our Open Source projects (Asterisk and FreePBX) are flourishing. Having known some of the more visible players from community events like AstriCon, folks like Jared Smith and Matt Fredrickson- my team felt right at home, but still, I wasn’t sure what to expect knowing that some previous members of the FreePBX team had left. 

Having said that, I’m pleased to report that, while separated by great distances, our development teams continue to collaborate closely and produce effective work. Both the Asterisk and FreePBX teams have redoubled their efforts to be actively engaged in our online forums and mailing lists. Both teams are focusing both upon improving innovation and improving process. For example, they are improving their respective test suites so that more bugs are caught during the development process. These efforts keep both projects relevant to our customers, to our resellers, and to those in the ecosystem that use and contribute back to our open source communities.

While two months isn’t much time, and I am reminded daily that there’s much to learn when working at a bigger company like Sangoma. One thing is crystal clear: we have thriving FreePBX and Asterisk teams. Long live Open Source!

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Categories: , Blogs, Open Source Voip

Why are there 5G Routers and Gateways?

DigiumBlogs - Tue, 05/19/2020 - 20:30

First of all, the question is really why would anyone need a cellular router? They could be useful as a backup mechanism in case your landline internet goes down.

That’s why I first thought of this blog. Everyone on the street was WFH, kids were “going to school” on the internet, and, poof, the internet goes down. Sheer panic, right? What does everyone do? I heard screaming for sure. And more. But soon everyone goes outside to see if anyone else is having the same problem, and soon, the whole street was outside (6 feet away from each other, of course)! Yes, we felt good it wasn’t just us, but it was good the internet came back on soon enough. Some people, though, just used their 4G/LTE phone as a hotspot and kept going…

But there could be another use for a 5G router – there is WiFi, and the data needs to go out on a cellular network. This could be because some IoT data needs to be transmitted, or because it’s more secure going on a cellular network. There are numerous use cases where a cellular to Wi-Fi router/gateway could be useful.

5G is coming, and just like Wi-Fi 6 (which I wrote about a month and a half ago), you’ll need devices and networks that support 5G to take advantage of it. So if you have 5G service in your area, it could be an option on how to get internet to your house. It could be the primary method, or maybe it’s a good backup method if you tend to have spotty landline service. And like I said above, it could work the other way around to get local Wi-Fi information back out.

In this case, a 5G to Wi-Fi router might make sense as a last mile option.  

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Categories: , Blogs, Open Source Voip

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