Open Source Voip
Most consumers would say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. When a customer calls into your business with an issue, a poorly designed or outdated phone system can throw them over the edge, and you can quickly lose them as a customer. Understanding the most frustrating experiences customers have with a business’s phone system is the best way to design a solution that enhances your customer’s experience by solving their issues quickly and efficiently.
Here are some of the common customer pain points with a business phone system, and how a Unified Communication (UC) solution can solve them:
Pain Point: Inadequate staffing & long hold times. (The customer might say, “I’ve been on hold for over five minutes. Maybe you should hire more people to answer the phones.”)
How UC Solves: Managers can correlate agent staffing with call reports, which show the heavy and low-volume call times during the day. Appropriately staffing call center agents based on call volume reduces on-hold time for customers, enables issues to be resolved faster, and can save on costs.
Pain Point: Confusing phone menu (IVR). A poorly designed IVR is a very frustrating experience for customers, yet the majority of businesses have just that: an outdated, unhelpful, confusing IVR . (The customer might say, “I pushed 2 for support and it transferred me to sales. Can I just speak to a manager now?”)
How UC Solves: The IVR was designed for several reasons: to enable customers to help themselves without involving an agent, to route customers to the correct agent who can help them with whatever they need, and to provide general business information. A solid UC solution will provide businesses with several options for their IVR needs, including stock voice prompts, stock music, extension setup, and integrations allowing for more advanced features and capabilities. With the correct tools, your business can create a helpful IVR that will reduce customer frustrations and get them the information they need, faster.
Pain Point: Lack of communication mediums to work through a technical issue. (The customer might say, “I’m having an issue with this feature… there is a little box and a confusing pop-up thing. I wish you could just see what I’m seeing.”)
How UC Solves: A web-based solution allows for collaboration among internal and external users (customers and agents) without the need for plug-ins, separate applications, or passwords; all users need is an Internet connection. Some customer issues are hard to explain without visually seeing what’s happening. In cases like this, the right UC solution allows employees to screen share or host a live video session to walk the customer through an issue or to demonstrate a feature.
Pain Point: Having to repeat information. (The customer might say, “I already dialed in my case number, and now you’re asking for it again?”)
How UC Solves: In addition to a well-designed IVR, CRM integration enables an agent to view detailed customer records as soon as the call comes in (including recent case numbers). If there is an issue, the agent can identify the appropriate person to handle it, check their presence to see if they are available, send them an instant message to give them a heads up about the call, and then route the call. While the IVR provides options for customers to be directed to the appropriate person, the CRM screen pop provides the agent information about the customer. With these two UC features, the agent should have a good idea of who the customer is and how they can help before they even engage in conversation.
Pain Point: Lack of proper agent training (the customer might say, “You aren’t understanding what I’m saying. I need to speak with a manager!”)
How UC Solves: Barge and Whisper features allow a manager to interact on a customer call by joining the conversation (barge) or speaking to the agent without the customer hearing the conversation (whisper). These features are also useful when training new call center agents on the appropriate (and inappropriate) ways to handle a customer issue. These conversations can also be recorded and filed in agent’s personnel folders or used for future training sessions.
Request a personalized demo to see for yourself how Switchvox can immediately improve the customer experience for your company!
The post Customer Service Pain Points a Unified Communications Solution Can Solve appeared first on Sangoma.
Last week, I explored why virtualization is a possibility for a UC solution and why it may be a viable option for some businesses.
This week, I want to go through some of the benefits.
One of the biggest benefits is saving money. If you already have a few servers running other business applications, then you don’t have to buy a new piece of hardware. You can put your UC software on the existing server. However, there is likely still some money to spend because you’ll need to buy virtualization software (such as VMWare or Hyper-V). RedHat does have a free one if you are using Linux. Additionally, you will be spending less money on cooling and electricity and have a smaller overall data center footprint because you’ll have less servers.
The environment and “going green” is also a big deal. You may want to do your part to help the planet or there may be business benefits for saying you are “green”. One of the benefits mentioned in the above paragraph is using less power than if every business application had it’s own server. Using as little power as possible means being as green as possible.
Another benefit that I mentioned briefly last week is improved uptime and disaster recovery. The virtualization technology also comes with the added benefit of not only scheduling multiple applications on the same server but also enabling two different physical servers to work together, bringing the benefit of increased reliability and uptime.
Please read our whitepaper to find out more.
Most of us understand the on-prem or cloud options when considering a new UC solution. But what about a virtualization option for on-prem solutions? That is, taking the UC software and running it on an already existing high-powered server that is running other of your business applications as well. This would save you money because you wouldn’t necessarily have to buy another piece of hardware to go with your new UC software.
First of all, let’s examine why this might be possible in the first place.
One reason is pure advances in computing power. The COTS (commercial off the shelf) server you buy today clearly has a lot more computing power than the server you bought 5 years ago or even 18 months ago. I learned all about Moore’s law when I worked for Intel. As such, you don’t need discrete hardware to run each business application. It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around if you haven’t thought about it, but it makes sense. If the server has more computing power, then for any given application there will be “wasted” computing power on such as server. So why not use up that computing power by having it applied to multiple tasks or applications?
Another reason is that, as the computing power has increased, software that allowed discrete applications to be run concurrently, yet separate from each other, on that same server came to the forefront. The initial virtualization technology that ushered in the cloud era was geared more toward transactional computing and not really suitable for VoIP applications that are sensitive to latency and dropped packets. However, today the virtualization technology can handle real-time communication applications as well.
The virtualization technology also comes with the added benefit of not only scheduling multiple applications on the same server but also enables two different physical servers to work together, bringing the benefit of increased reliability and uptime.
The post The Virtualization Option for Unified Communications appeared first on Sangoma.
Open Invention Network teams up with IBM, Linux Foundation, and Microsoft to protect open-source software from patent trolls
It was only a matter of time before someone bought the division since it had a robust channel. And so a couple of months after that original announcement, Mitel completed the acquisition of that division. It then predictably subsequently announced a Toshiba product phase out plan.
The phase out plan is now near its end. October of this year marked the end of any add-on hardware sales. So that’s it for any new sales, though there are two more years of support.
Obviously, Mitel would like the old Toshiba dealers to sell Mitel. However, since that acquisition Mitel is going all-in on cloud.
If you are a Toshiba dealer and would like to sell on-prem andcloud, not just cloud, what is one to do? Sangoma is there to help you. Our Switchvox Business Phone system is available both in the cloud and on-prem and better yet, they share the same exact code base. It looks and behaves the same.
Or if you are an end-user and your Toshiba system starts to get long in the tooth, what are you to do? You probably picked Toshiba since it did the basic functions well, and you didn’t feel like a number being a customer of a behemoth. With the world moving to UC, you want a good value-based UC system, and you want it from a company that won’t treat you like a number. Why not come to Sangoma, who has a great value-based UC system, sold by a great reseller channel.
As I’ve written about before, the drivers for buying UC phone systems typically revolve around efficiency improvement and productivity gains. These can be realized because with all the communications ‘unified’, there is less time lost trying to just connect with each other, track people down, and get info from other systems. In other words, different communications methods in one system enable a “best” way to get to someone when you need them.
A new Frost and Sullivan UCaaS report adds a few more value propositions to the mix. As seen from the table above, improving customer experience and satisfaction and launching new products and services are also important. The improving customer experience and satisfaction, to me, are about obtaining efficiencies – but from the customer point of view. For instance, when I call in to a call center, my phone number identifies me, and my call history can pop up. So while that saves the call center time, it also saves me time and makes me happier because I don’t have to report rote information. So it gets me to my reason for calling, quicker.
Launching new products and services is very interesting. In my opinion, this is just about the entire UC value prop. There are many elements of UC, and it’s doubtful a user, during the initial deployment, utilizes all of them from the get-go. We frequently see customers who like 1 or 2 elements of UC, and that’s why they buy it. Yet, over time, they really like other functions that weren’t part of the purchasing decision. And these other functions enable new services that they hadn’t thought of before. For instance, with mobility, your office phone number can ring on your smartphone. And since your smartphone is with you at all times, maybe you can offer expanded service support times and charge more for that.
Often, one technology has to be retired to make way for newer, more efficient technology. Wooden ships that relied solely on wind and tides gave way to steel ships with powerful onboard engines and sophisticated geopositioning technology, cutting ocean passage times dramatically. In the same way, telecommunications technology has advanced, and telecom service providers worldwide have begun the process of retiring the older technologies and infrastructures. The public switched telephone network was upgraded to the integrated services digital network (ISDN), which now faces retirement to make way for more advanced IP communications networks.
What is the ISDN?
In the late 1980s, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) received a massive upgrade. Implementing new digital signaling protocols, such as Basic Rate Interface (BRI) and Primary Rate Interface (PRI), allowed the traditional circuits of the PSTN to transport voice services digitally as packets of data.
Opening the door for a number of value-added services from service providers, the new ISDN was born and enjoyed widespread adoption across Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia.
ISDN Switch Off
This technology was revolutionary and defined twentieth century communications. But as the world has grown comfortably into the twenty-first century, these technologies now represent an expensive liability as the aging network struggles to keep up with the demands of the modern world.
Thus, nearly all service providers have announced dates in the 2020s as the end of life for the ISDN and PSTN.
British Telecom (BT), for example, will cease supplying in 2020, with a full migration to digital voice services by 2025.This move comprises a part of their cost transformation program. High maintenance legacy telecommunications infrastructure is not sustainable. Retiring the older technology opens up capital for investment in next generation IP networks that will not only be more cost effective but will provide more flexible services to meet the increasingly demanding business needs of the future.
While this does present massive potential for growth and progress, the ISDN switch off affects over two million businesses in the United Kingdom alone, with millions more being affected in the coming years as European and Asian service providers also migrate toward IP networks and cease ISDN service.
What is Sangoma’s Solution?
Understandably, retiring the ISDN leaves customers with the challenge of reviewing their options before the network switch off. Luckily for these businesses, Sangoma has been preparing for this situation for years, developing a portfolio of products designed to ease the transition from PSTN and ISDN to full Voice over IP (VoIP) and Unified Communications (UC) service.
In fact, Sangoma’s solutions allow businesses to migrate at their own pace without getting left behind and without service.
Businesses ready for a major communications overhaul will find Sangoma’s on-premise and cloud hosted UC business phone systems the perfect full service solution with hardware, phones, accessories, and services like fax and SIP trunking service available from the same vendor.
Those that need more time to transition their network or that simply want to get a little more life out of their existing PBX solution will find in Sangoma’s variety of VoIP gateways and other offerings the right hardware and services to connect their existing equipment to the IP network.
Regardless of the pace at which a business is seeking to migrate, Sangoma is confident they will find switching to VoIP advantageous not only in its long-term cost effectiveness but also in productivity that can be gained by incorporating Unified Communications into the business workflow.
As expected, I’ve had a few questions about why we purchased VoIP Innovations.
One of the most obvious reasons is the addition of revenue (and recurring revenue at that) and healthy EBITDA. You can read the press release to see those kinds of details.
Strategically, adding VoIP Innovations supplements Sangoma’s long term growth and direction as a Communications as a Service company – we provide UC, Contact Center, SIP trunking, and Device all as a Service today. This deal enhances our SIP Trunking and CPaaS “as a service” offerings. While we will still obviously continue to sell and invest in hardware such as UC/PBX on-prem, gateways, SBCs and phones, etc., the industry is evolving towards Cloud, and, thus, Sangoma needs to continue to evolve in this direction. VoIP Innovations helps us in this continuous evolution.
One of the biggest questions I’ve received is related to why we are going down a service provider path, given most of VoIP Innovations revenue comes from their wholesale carrier services. Well, there are two reasons.
First of all, with Cloud, the demarcation line between enterprise and service provider is blurred. For instance, Sangoma itself is a service provider because we offer cloud services to business users. So are we in the enterprise business or service provider business? Where is the line? The customers of the VI wholesale carrier services tend to be MSPs and large enterprises who also need UC solutions. And, as I just wrote, we can deliver that to them. So we see channel synergies.
And, if you go back to the “traditional” definition of service provider, it is not like Sangoma is NOT in the service provider business. We sell to quite a few service providers, and when the Dialogic gateways came over in early 2018, Sangoma also picked up quite a few wholesale carrier customers and other service providers. So we know service providers, and there is also synergy with that part of our business and VoIP Innovations.
Finally, the CPaaS development platform APIdaze will enable additional applications to be written (by us and by third parties) and paired with Sangoma solutions. We are excited about that opportunity going forward.
In summary, we see revenue growth from the additional selling opportunities each side obtains by bringing the two companies being together.