Integrated Telemanagement Services - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings to mind robots that can perform tasks and think like human beings. While that's certainly possible in the future, AI today is simply an intuitive set of technology that automates business processes. It’s been around for decades, and now it’s poised to make significant improvements to VoIP technology.
Contact Center Operations
Thanks to highly automated VoIP technology, businesses can manage their call centers easily. It also reduces the need for human interaction without sacrificing service quality. So how else can AI help?
AI-integrated VoIP systems can add back that human element to call routing by determining a caller’s personality, mood, and other characteristics so calls are routed to the agent best equipped to handle them. This makes call-center operations more seamless and cost-efficient because it reduces the need to deploy agents with specialized skills.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems
An IVR system is an extremely useful tool for businesses that get a high volume of calls. Not only does it save them from having to deploy staff to address queries, it also saves customers time.
AI enhances this feature by working in the background, gathering all relevant customer data such as personal information and recent transactions to resolve a query. The AI ‘worker’ then sends this information to the business representative, who will be much better able to serve the customer. It's easy to see how this feature would lead to an increase in customer satisfaction.
Internet telephony makes multi-location communication possible, which is indispensable to most organizations. Web conferencing has improved over the years, with internet speeds and telecom technology constantly improving. AI advances it even further with real-time language translation and speech recognition technology, which greatly benefits businesses with multiple geographic locations and whose stakeholders come from diverse backgrounds.
Chatbots are intuitive entities that receive instructions via textual or auditory means to perform automated tasks. They’re not to be confused with applications aimed to make processes easier. Apps differ greatly from chatbots in that they aren’t designed to simulate human interactions and they don’t have an ‘identity.’
Like IVR systems, bots are used by businesses to automate customer interactions. AI-powered chatbots go beyond regular bot duties by performing more complex tasks like setting up meetings, inviting attendees, managing schedules, and much more.
With AI-powered systems promising improvements in contact center operations, customers' IVR experiences, web conferencing, and scheduling, businesses are understandably eager to adopt them. There’s so much more that VoIP systems can do for your business, and we’ve got the expertise to handle all your VoIP-related concerns. Call us today.
Publish Date: January 12, 2018 5:00 AM
Gone are the days when you have to spend a large amount of money each month on the telephone bill. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology has made it cheaper -- and in most cases, free -- to place and receive calls. Whether you’re a business owner or an individual user, there is a VoIP option that suits you.
VoIP comes in a variety of forms. Do you rarely leave your house and office, or are you usually on the move? If you’re a business owner, what’s the size of your company and what factors matter most to you? Let's take a look at some of the VoIP services available on the market to help you make a better decision when it comes to choosing your means of voice communication.
Residential VoIP Services
For this type of VoIP, you use an adapter to connect your landline phone set to a Wi-Fi modem to make and receive calls over the internet. Depending on the plan you choose, you’ll be billed each month for either unlimited services or for minutes you actually use.
Examples: VoIP.com, Lingo
Device-based VoIP Services
This involves purchasing a VoIP device from a service provider and plugging it into your existing phone set so that you can make free calls within the U.S. This means not having to pay a monthly bill, and you need no other devices besides your old landline telephone set.
Examples: MagicJack, Ooma
Software-based VoIP Services
This is the most common type of VoIP, and many of us use it on a daily basis. You either access a web-based application online, or install it as software on your computer. Then you use your computer's audio input and output device to talk and listen.
Mobile VoIP Services
Like the software-based VoIP services, mobile VoIP is also an application. However, it is installed on mobile phones instead of computers, thus enabling you to make and receive calls no matter where you are as long as you have a good internet connection.
Examples: Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangout
Business VoIP Services
VoIP for business comes in two options: on-premises and cloud-based. Both provide much more cost-effective communication solutions than traditional landlines and have a variety of useful features for businesses. These include video and audio conferencing, screen-sharing, interactive voice response, automated attendants, call queues, and call reports, just to name a few. These features are scalable and you'll also get complete technical support.
For on-premise VoIP systems, businesses need to purchase all the equipment and house it in their office. This requires huge capital costs. Businesses also have to pay a monthly fee for SIP trunking or PRI circuit, as well as dedicate IT staff to maintain, repair, and upgrade the systems on a regular basis. The up side is you’ll have total control of your hardware.
With cloud-based VoIP systems, you outsource the phone system to your VoIP provider. This means there’s no need to purchase hardware or invest your resources into maintaining the systems since your provider will take care of everything for a fixed monthly fee. You can also add or remove users easily. The con is that you’re not in total control of the hardware and need to rely on your provider’s expertise to ensure system reliability and security.
Want more detailed information about VoIP and how to choose the most suitable VoIP provider? Talk to our professionals today. They have extensive knowledge about this efficient, low-cost communication technology and can explain everything to you in plain English!
Publish Date: December 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Switching to internet-based phones gives you the chance to enjoy innovative new call features and significant cost reductions. There are a lot of options when choosing which voice over IP (VoIP) platform you use, but first you need to pick whether you’ll use an open-source or proprietary system.
What are “proprietary” systems?
When most companies release VoIP software, such as Microsoft’s Skype, they often package it in a way that makes it almost impossible for users to view or alter the programming code. By keeping it locked down, they can retain control over which hardware and software systems it is compatible with and prevent hackers from uncovering vulnerabilities.
Pros and cons
One of the biggest benefits of a proprietary VoIP system is a consistent user experience across compatible hardware devices and software integrations. Brand-name handsets and third-party software must be programmed by the VoIP system’s developer to be compatible, so you know everything will be optimized for a uniform and reliable user experience.
But keep in mind that, in the majority of cases, the added security and polished integrations of these systems cost more than open-source alternatives.
What are “open-source” systems?
The programming code that enables open-source VoIP solutions to work is free and accessible to anyone. Open-source systems are made to be more of a starting point than a finished solution, which means they’re usually pretty rough around the edges until you customize them.
Pros and cons
The two best things about an open-source system are the cost and the flexibility. The core system will be totally free, but tailoring it to your desktops, handsets, and servers will require a fair amount of time and technical expertise. This usually requires a larger upfront investment when compared to proprietary systems, but will pay off with lower operational costs as time goes on.
The tradeoffs between open-source and proprietary systems are fairly even. The former is often better for business owners who prioritize keeping costs low, while the latter is usually better for those who prefer refined solutions. Choosing between the two comes down to your customer service model, IT resources, and business priorities.
Small businesses like yours can enjoy personalized, high-end IT solutions, they just need support from experienced technicians. With years of experience in VoIP, we’re the answer to all your problems. To learn about what we think is best for your business, call today!
Publish Date: November 24, 2017 5:00 AM
At the Ignite conference in September, Microsoft announced that the Teams app will eventually replace Skype for Business as the primary communication tool for Office 365. This is a huge development, and there are undoubtedly many questions that need answers. To find out more about what’s going to happen to Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams, read on.
Upgrades for Teams
To phase out Skype for Business, Teams will gradually acquire communications features such as the ability to call traditional landlines and phone numbers, call routing, speech-to-text, voicemail, and HD video conferencing.
On the back-end, Microsoft will beef up their servers and smooth out some glitches to ensure crisp and clear communications between team members.
Why is this happening?
Over the years, Microsoft has improved the Skype infrastructure to enable faster, clearer, and more reliable voice and video communications. But as executives noted, Microsoft applications are disjointed, requiring users to switch between windows to use their favorite collaboration tools. To schedule events during a video conference, for instance, you need to open the Group Calendar and Skype for Business app separately.
With Teams, users can enjoy Skype for Business features that are seamlessly integrated with other Office 365 applications like SharePoint, Outlook, Groups, and Dynamics 365, all in one window.
What about on-premises Skype for Business?
While Skype for Business in Office 365 will eventually be replaced, on-premises versions of the VoIP software will still be available for the foreseeable future. In fact, Microsoft stated that they will release another version of the Skype for Business on-premises server in the second half of 2018.
Can you still use your VoIP devices?
To make the transition process much easier for users, Microsoft Teams is compatible with the same VoIP devices used by Skype, including webcams, microphones, and desktop handsets. What’s more, Microsoft announced that communications devices made by third-party manufacturers like Lenovo and Logitech work with their new platform.
How do you migrate?
The Office 365 administrator portal allows you to easily manage the migration process. If you want your employees to get acquainted with Microsoft Teams first, there is a “side by side with notify” option. This feature allows you to run both Skype for Business and Teams to train employees how to use Teams features, and alert them when telephony features are available in Teams.
Before the cutover date, users also have the option to import all contacts from their Skype directory to their Teams list, so they can quickly move to the new platform with a click of a button.
The takeaway here is you really shouldn’t be too concerned about the shift to Microsoft Teams. All the Skype features you know and love will still exist, but improved with tighter integrations with other Office 365 products. The migration process is also painless, so if you use Office 365, do your employees a favor and have them get used to Teams today.
For more information on Microsoft Teams or other VoIP-related trends and services, call us today.
Publish Date: October 24, 2017 5:00 AM
Business communication has come a long way since traditional landline calling. Today, it’s all about internet-based phone systems, aka, VoIP. But before investing in VoIP phones, you need to determine how you plan to deploy them -- in the cloud or on-premises. Let’s dig into the differences between the two options.
Installation and maintenance
On-premises VoIP phone systems are installed at your company’s office, typically managed and maintained by your own personnel. While you can hire a third party to manage the phone system for you, what you can’t avoid is the hardware cost of setting up your VoIP phones.
Cloud-based VoIP, on the other hand, means all the software and hardware are hosted and maintained by a VoIP provider. Other than the physical phones, everything else is provided virtually, which means you won’t be bothered with expensive hardware costs nor will you need an in-house staff to manage the system.
But since all support requests must be addressed by your VoIP provider, service responsiveness and flexibility are crucial as they can directly impact your daily operations.
You might think having on-premises VoIP is the obvious choice when it comes to security, and in one specific case that’s very true. If you have vast IT resources, deploying VoIP on-premises gives you better security control since you will know your system’s capabilities as well as every nooks and crannies.
But for small- to medium-sized businesses, cloud-hosted VoIP remains a favorable option because every aspect of security is taken care of by a provider whose reputation rests on maintaining the most stringent security measures. They are well-versed in identifying vulnerabilities, reducing the area of attacks, and protecting all entry points.
On-premises solutions give you better control of your VoIP phones since you can design systems suited to your needs without relying on a third-party. This makes it a popular choice for larger enterprises with dedicated IT technicians needed to customize and manage the system.
With cloud-hosted VoIP, you relinquish certain control to your service provider, which is the price you pay for the convenience of professional deployment and maintenance. This, however, doesn’t give your provider the right to monitor your calls or conduct any activity that breaches your business’s confidentiality.
With on-premises VoIP systems, you rely on your in-house personnel to add or remove features to accommodate your changing needs. There are various backend processes involved and every expansion often increases the complexity you have to manage yourself.
With a cloud-hosted solution, you’ll have an entire team of technicians at your beck and call so features can be added or removed as needed. If you’re anticipating future changes, cloud-hosted VoIP will be more effective in the long run.
Whether you’re looking to host your VoIP phone systems on-premises or in the cloud, we can help make the process quick and painless. Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to advise.
Publish Date: October 6, 2017 5:00 AM
With more than 100 million monthly active subscribers, Office 365 has attracted the attention of hackers who’ve revamped an age-old trick. This time, they come up with a highly targeted, well-crafted spear-phishing scam that's even more difficult to identify. Here's everything you need to know.
What makes it different from other scams?
The new threat comes in the form of spear phishing, an old familiar method in which hackers send emails that purport to be from trusted sources and dupe you into disclosing sensitive information. In this particular attack, the email messages are admirably well-crafted, making them even harder to spot.
The emails are also rid of the usual telltale signs such as misspelled words, suspicious attachments, and dubious requests. You might have to recalibrate what you know about phishing scams, because this new threat ticks all the boxes that make it look legitimate.
How does it work?
The hackers behind the attack craft personalized messages, pretending to be from trusted sources, such as your colleagues or Microsoft itself, and send them to your inbox. The messages could contain a link or a PDF file that leads to a legitimate-looking landing page. Upon clicking the link, the user will be prompted to enter his or her credentials, which the hacker will use to launch attacks within the organization.
Once they gain control of your account, they might set up new forwarding rules to monitor your communication patterns, which will be useful for their future attacks. They might even use your account to send further phishing emails to your co-workers to collect more sensitive information.
As for the phishing emails with PDF attachments, there will be instructions to fill in username and password to view the document. And once you do, your account is no longer yours.
Another way they can get your credentials is by sending an invoice that requires you to log on to a web portal to view the file. Attackers can also use this technique to trick you into performing a certain action, such as forwarding sensitive information or paying an invoice.
What can you do to stay protected?
Your first line of defense is multi-factor authentication, whereby you use a password and another authentication method -- like an SMS code -- to secure your account. This function is already included in Office 365 and here's a step-by-step guide on how to activate it.
The second line of defense is training yourself and your employees to spot common phishing techniques. In particular, verify the accuracy of the wording and the sensibility of the requests in the messages.
For good measure, your organization can also install an email-validation system which is designed to detect and prevent email spoofing, such as the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC).
Identifying phishing emails and planning and implementing a robust defense system are ways to protect you and your organization against the new Office 365 threat. For tips on how to spot this type of scam and how to plan thorough security practices, contact our experts today.
Publish Date: September 15, 2017 5:00 AM
Your business may be well-armed against email-based phishing scams, but you shouldn’t neglect your VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems. Through ‘vishing scams,’ hackers can disguise themselves as a bank representative and convince your employees to provide confidential financial details via a seemingly harmless VoIP call. Your business will be well-served by guarding itself from this new breed of phishing scam.
VoIP makes it easy to create fake numbers
One of the main reasons why vishing scams are on the rise is the ease by which cyber criminals can hide their tracks and pull off scams with minimal risk of detection.
Using a fake number, they can call one of your employees, pretend to be a bank or government representative, ask for critical business information -- like employee data, bank details, and company intellectual property -- and get away with it. Scammers can also manipulate local numbers to emulate multinational banks, which they will then use for various VoIP scams.
VoIP is easy to set up and difficult to track
Cyber criminals don’t have to be geniuses to configure VoIP deployments, make personal or automated phone calls, and run away with your money and data. They only need to know the basics of a VoIP setup.
VoIP hardware such as IP-PBXs, IP phones, and routers have become affordable and more accessible. Hackers can conveniently connect this equipment to PCs for the purposes of recording phone calls and stealing information from conversations.
Also, fake numbers are difficult to track because they can be destroyed instantly. And with advanced voice-changing software widely available nowadays, a vishing scam is much easier to pull off.
Caller ID can be tampered with
In some vishing scams, attackers don’t even have to destroy a number to cover their tracks. Instead, by tampering with the caller ID, they can trick users into thinking that they’re talking to a legitimate Microsoft technical support staff, a PayPal representative, or a fraud investigator.
VoIP scamming is cost-efficient
Traditional phones are still used for phishing scams, but they don’t compare to the efficiency VoIP affords, which allows attackers to target victims all over the globe at a fraction of the cost.
Other than traditional phones and email phishing scams, cyber criminals are resorting to VoIP scamming due to its cost-efficiency. Vishing scammers are sneaky and resourceful, and they will exhaust all possible means to attack your systems for profit -- that includes your VoIP channels.
Protecting yourself is simple
To protect against VoIP-based scams and ensure your employees aren’t easy targets, set stringent policies on information-sharing and impose strict security processes for all business communications. Protect your company against all types of scams by getting in touch with our experts today.
Publish Date: August 21, 2017 5:00 AM
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service providers are fully aware of the causes of static, dropped calls, and other problems that occasionally diminish call quality, and may offer higher speed plans as a solution. The same problems may persist and you may end up switching to other providers, but it’s not likely to eliminate the issues. If your business can no longer endure problematic VoIP calls, consider asking your provider for a dedicated circuit.
Landline versus VoIP calls
Landlines use ‘circuit switching,’ a method of connecting two or more parties via a dedicated channel, which ensures that the connection will be maintained throughout a call’s duration. On the other hand, VoIP calls do not require the same dedicated channels as landlines to function.
VoIP calls work by taking analog audio, converting it into digital data, and transmitting them via the internet in a process called ‘packet switching.’ Because transmission of data over the internet can be affected by traffic issues, VoIP calls without a dedicated connection may be choppy or delayed.
How does a dedicated circuit improve VoIP call quality?
With a dedicated circuit, you’ll have a designated line that connects your organization’s on-premises phones to your hosted VoIP provider’s off-site servers. Having this setup simply means your users will be able to make phone calls over a private bandwidth that’s not shared with other users.
When you use a dedicated circuit, you are bypassing the public internet. To do this, a VoIP provider uses Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology, a system that enables them to control the causes of poor VoIP call quality -- latency, jitter, inadequate router, and packet loss -- and ensure clearer, landline-quality calls.
Ideally, your hosted VoIP provider could offer this specialized service. Not only is a dedicated circuit setup cheaper than getting a separate connection intended only for VoIP, but it also reduces the workload of your IT staff because they would have to manage only one internet network.
VoIP providers’ well-kept secret
Although a dedicated circuit solves businesses’ call-quality woes, it’s a highly specialized service that only a few providers offer. In fact, many providers wouldn’t offer it upfront because configuring a circuit requires greater effort on their part. However, there are providers who would be happy to customize your VoIP settings without additional charges.
Internet telephony is fast becoming the default choice for business communications because they’re multi-purpose, technologically advanced, and cost-effective. Businesses can’t afford to stick to legacy phone systems if they want to stay competitive. Get in touch with us to explore a vast variety of VoIP options for your company.
Publish Date: August 3, 2017 5:00 AM
Our craving for data seems to increase every year, fueling the constant advancements in wireless technology. The latest is 5G, an abbreviation for the fifth-generation wireless systems, and it is set to transform VoIP for the better. Here are three ways it will do that.
Improved video conferencing
The major factor holding web and video conferencing back is how fast current networks can transmit data. Fortunately, innovations like Web Real-Time-Communications (WebRTC) and 5G networks will enhance VoIP for businesses. Providing open and stable streaming as well as sufficient transfer speeds will soon allow businesses to accommodate higher quality, even 4K and 8K resolution videos.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
With 5G network speeds, virtual and augmented reality will become more common for small- and medium-sized businesses. 5G will blow past 4G’s Gbps (gigabits per second) limit, which is currently holding back the adoption of VR and AR applications.
VR and AR need to process significantly more visual data because of the freedom of movement they allow, and this puts an enormous strain on mobile networks. 5G is also set to ensure a better user experience by lowering latency levels that simplify and smoothen daily business operations, preventing network delays from affecting your bottom line.
VoIP calls rely heavily on sufficient download and upload speeds. For example, when mobile VoIP users on 4G networks are limited to 12Mbps upload and 2Mbps download speeds, they experience unstable and poor call connectivity and clarity. These limitations could also lead to packet loss, which happens when one or more “packets” of data traveling across a computer network fail to reach their destination, typically caused by network congestion.
When businesses decide to adopt the up-and-coming 5G network, businesses can expect to see significant improvements when it comes to VoIP. Ensure the success of your SMB with increased network speeds, better call quality and conversations with consistent connectivity. If you’re looking to set up a VoIP system for your business, call or email us today!
Publish Date: June 30, 2017 5:00 AM
Amazon is setting its sights on the VoIP market again and will use its Alexa technology to launch a new phone system. Based on a new patent, users of Amazon’s artificial intelligence (AI) devices might soon be able to enjoy a smart speaker and phone in one. This won’t be the eCommerce giant’s first attempt at launching a wireless phone system, but this time it seems that they’re taking the time to develop the technology. Read on to find out more.
How it works
Amazon’s 3D-enabled Fire Phone was its first attempt at launching a smartphone, but it failed to set the mobile phone market ablaze. Based on the company’s recent voice-controlled phone patent, they are developing a smarter and more practical wireless phone technology, which will be integrated into their successful smart speaker devices, Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show.
The system will work by linking a mobile number to the Alexa devices, which would have a mechanism for notifying the user of incoming calls, answering calls via the smart speaker itself, as well as placing calls by giving commands to Alexa. What makes the Alexa-powered devices a compelling phone system is its ability to identify users based on a voice recognition system already built into the devices.
Note, however, that the mobile carrier would still be providing the communication service, with the Alexa device serving only as a medium, which is how most VoIP communications works.
What it means for your business
Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices are attractive for their voice-control technology. Although they did not pioneer it, they integrated it with devices that allowed them to go beyond what other AI devices can do. The Echo Dot, for instance, is especially useful to those who use a variety of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices, such as lights, switches, and TVs, to name just a few.
Its voice recognition capabilities are also a cut above the rest, being able to recognize voice and adopt your speech patterns the more you use it. It can also serve as an all-around assistant in a room or in any office setting, helping you check the weather, send a message, or provide calendar event updates.
As Amazon develops its voice recognition technology for its Alexa-powered phones, it can be expected that this same technology would make it a formidable home or office phone system that can easily find contacts, screen callers, or conveniently set up conference calls -- all by voice command. But as of now, Amazon’s patent is in the early stages of development.
There are plenty of communication options for your business, and although there’s nothing quite like the Alexa phones yet, there are plenty of viable substitutes that can suit your business’s communication needs. Call us today for VoIP option recommendations.
Publish Date: May 30, 2017 5:00 AM
With a quick Google search, numerous VoIP distributors instantly appear. The problem is knowing whether they will meet your business’s needs. To attract consumers, these professionals throw around superlatives such as 'the best' or 'world-class' -- but that doesn’t always mean they are. Before committing to a distributor, here are some things you should take into consideration:
Highly-trained technical support
A good VoIP distributor will provide technical support both before and after the sale. But a great VoIP distributor will offer highly skilled, well-trained, and certified support. Make sure your distributor’s IT team has been trained on the latest advances in VoIP technology and has obtained the appropriate certifications.
Provisioning means providing service to the user. This includes the hardware, wiring, transmitting the voice and data, and especially the final configuration. It can also refer to configuring the hardware and software in order to provide service. In other words, when a device is provisioned, it works. Ask your potential distributor how many stations and ports they have available, and whether or not they offer custom provisioning packages.
Check whether your VoIP distributor offers Advanced API services. Short for Application Program Interface, an API is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications that specify how software components should interact. It helps streamline your ordering process and ensures your hardware will arrive correctly provisioned on your service platform.
Before committing to any VoIP distributor, be sure to check their educational resources. How often do they offer webinars on new products? Do they provide training and educational material on their websites and product portals? Also, check whether your VoIP distributor will create custom training materials for you and your customers.
Remember, a VoIP distributor that offers a complete suite of telephony services helps you overcome your business's phone service obstacles and lets you better serve your customers.
For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Publish Date: May 16, 2017 5:00 AM
Eavesdropping is the intentional act of secretly listening in on a conversation, usually not for the best of intentions. Although today the act also includes VoIP telephone systems, it’s not a recent trend. As exemplified by the SIPtap attacks of 2007 and the Peskyspy trojans of 2009, cybercriminals have had their eye on VoIP ever since it was introduced to the market. Here are five tips to combat VoIP eavesdropping:
Never deploy with default configurations
Everyone wants to get things rolling as quickly as possible, but this often results in VoIP phones being deployed with their default configurations. You don’t want to do this because it allows the bad guy to search vendor documentation. Depending on your VoIP solution, you should have the option of changing default handset configurations. Otherwise, you’ll need to come up with a manual process to change phone defaults when you roll handsets out to your employees.
Listen to your handset vendors
An ideal example of VoIP handset vulnerabilities happened in 2015, when Cisco detected vulnerabilities in IP phones which enabled an unauthorized attacker to listen in on phone conversations. If it weren't for those security alerts, several companies could have found themselves victims of VoIP eavesdropping. The lesson learned here is you must regularly monitor advisories from your hardware vendor. Without proper monitoring, you won’t know how susceptible your corporate VoIP phones are to being eavesdropped.
Update session border controllers
Another tactic to combat VoIP eavesdropping is to constantly update your session border controllers (SBCs). By doing so, you’ll be updating your VoIP’s antivirus software; because cyber threats are constantly evolving, your security products should as well. Routine SBC updates are essential for secure SIP trunking as well as responding to new threats.
Encrypt VoIP calls
Many cloud VoIP providers offer call encryption guidelines, and some even offer it as a premium service. If you work in a regulated industry like healthcare or finance, encrypting VoIP calls are essential to staying compliant. Work with your VoIP provider and auditors to determine the best encryption options for your communications infrastructure.
Build a hardened VoIP network
Another method to fend off VoIP eavesdropping is to build a hardened VoIP network that includes:
- IP private branch exchange (PBX) using minimal services so that the hardware can only power the PBX software
- Firewalls with access control lists set to include call control information
- Lightweight Directory Access Protocol lookup, and signaling and management protocol
- Reinforced end point security with authentication at the endpoint level
In order to effectively combat VoIP eavesdropping, businesses need to take a holistic approach. This includes policies, deployment, as well as security practices to ensure malicious agents are unable to tap into your calls. Feel free to contact us for further information on how to protect your business.
Publish Date: April 27, 2017 5:00 AM
Online video chat turns stiff customer service interactions into a more personal experience. Seeing the person you’re talking to makes for a more substantial conversation. With that in mind, businesses ought to integrate such a function if they want to make significant changes to the way they handle customer inquiries. Despite the obvious advantage, few companies have adopted an online video chat functionality. It’s predicted that by 2018, that will change.
More visuals, better service
Unlike other customer service platforms such as phone, online chat, social media, and email, online video chat is highly personal and markedly interactive. The advantage is obvious: Customers see the person they’re talking to, which lends a greater sense of urgency and professionalism to a conversation. Businesses looking to improve their customer satisfaction rating can also benefit from a video-enhanced customer service capability.
That is not to say that an online chat or other ‘less visual’ modes of communication are insufficient in handling or managing complaints or queries. For some businesses, certain product or service inquiries could benefit from a visual demonstration, such as fixing a malfunctioning electronic equipment or assembling furniture. A video chat can also be massively beneficial to customers seeking help for an extremely technical computer issue.
Not all customers, however, would opt for a video chat to get assistance, but having it as an option is definitely going the extra mile. Having a video option also expands the customers’ options and increases their confidence in your capacity to assist.
Is online video chat really necessary?
Some companies aren’t eager to adopt a video-based customer service functionality due to several factors, such as costs associated mostly with staff training and contact center structure improvements. Despite being the least personal of all customer interactions, interactive voice response systems are still preferred by many because they’re cheaper to implement and maintain.
Other hurdles include inconsistent video chat quality and customer preference. The ubiquity of other platforms such as social media also poses a barrier to adapting video chat. Why spend money hiring extra staff and expend effort adding video capabilities when you can have anyone on the team log on to Twitter -- for free -- and solve complaint tickets?
Despite widely recognizing customer service and experience as a competitive differentiator, many businesses still resist video technology. For small- and medium-sized firms with limited resources that are therefore slow to adjust to new changes, this is understandable. Nevertheless, exploring video chat’s potential can undoubtedly enhance their customers’ experience, and, in time, prove invaluable.
As with many advances in unified communications technology, it wouldn’t be surprising if online video chat decimated other VoIP services and became the new norm rather than a budding trend. Do you want to explore the various features of your existing VoIP systems for your business? Call us for advice today.
Publish Date: March 27, 2017 5:00 AM
“Follow-me” features from VoIP vendors have revolutionized modern business telecommunications. Because internet-based phone solutions allow office workers to answer one phone number from multiple devices, companies can reduce costs and increase efficiency. But for all its certainties, VoIP may have you questioning one thing: Do you even need office phones any more?
Question #1: How often would employees answer work numbers from their mobile devices if you purchased desktop phones?
We’ve all been there, you see a great new feature and automatically jump to the conclusion that you don’t need legacy technology. Just because call-forwarding and follow-me features are convenient, doesn’t mean you should use them exclusively. If employees would use desktop phones for more than half of their calls, you probably don’t want to skimp on handsets.
Question #2: Do your employees ever take calls from their personal numbers?
If employees are already handing out personal numbers to customers and clients, the transition to taking work calls on their mobile device is far more likely to go smoothly. If not, you need to clarify what’s expected of employees during off hours before making the decision to go 100% mobile.
Question #3: How much texting, emailing, and messaging do employees do from their personal mobile devices?
Similar to question #2, how much business is already taking place on mobile devices will play a big factor in transitioning to a mobile environment. If your team is taking calls at their desk, but sending the majority of their text-based correspondence from mobile devices, getting rid of desktop phones may actually be a more streamlined approach.
Question #4: Do you want employees to focus on desktop integrations during calls?
Don’t forget about the profitable ways you can integrate a desktop phone with customer relationship management software, productivity tools, and call tracking. Most of these won’t be nearly as effective when 100% of calls are taken from a mobile device.
Question #5: Does your company have a mobile device management system in place?
Unless your organization already has a full-fledged BYOD plan, it’s not prepared for the onslaught of security risks associated with connecting your business data to your employees’ personal devices. In an all-mobile environment, every single employee device would need to be set up with a personal profile and a work profile to keep the two data streams separate and secure.
Question #6: What are employee experiences with call quality on mobile devices?
Preconceived notions from employees about VoIP call quality can play a tremendous part in a mobile device transition. If employee devices are older, run-down devices, there may be problems with getting the most out of your VoIP solution. And even if your organization is providing the mobile devices, employees may still be looking to complain to colleagues, and even customers, about the “reduction” in call quality -- even if there’s none to speak of.
The sexiest answer isn’t always the right one when it comes to technology. Going all-in on a mobile call strategy may sound great as a headline, but it’s not a project to be taken lightly. However, if it still sounds worth it you, we’re the team to make it happen. Contact us today to get started.
Publish Date: February 20, 2017 5:00 AM
Migrating your organization’s unified communications (UC) to the cloud seems like a no-brainer: it’s practical, it’s cheap, it’s the future. Big-name companies such as Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Verizon now offer Unified communications as a Service (UCaaS), and it’s only a matter of time before it takes over the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) space. Despite that, IT departments of many organizations remain hesitant due to concerns about network stability, service performance, and over-reliance on legacy systems. To alleviate those concerns, here are five tips you can consider when moving your UC to the cloud.
Opt for a gradual transition
Migrating unified communications to the cloud doesn’t have to be done at one fell swoop. You can move UC for departments that can benefit from it, while those with no pressing need for a cloud-based UC, such as a company’s call center, can keep using on-premise systems. This way, users can ease their way into the new system without experiencing network disruptions, which could lead to reduced productivity.
Secure sufficient bandwidth
Issues on speed and performance will inevitably arise, so make sure to cover all the bases before migration. That means securing a reliable internet service provider, checking the stability of your internal network, and having a Plan B. This is a particularly critical point to ponder if you have operations in locations where unstable or slow networks could pose serious difficulties. Determine the level of bandwidth your entire business needs, and get it from an ISP that can deliver.
Test, test, test
Transitioning UC to the cloud may appear seamless, but there may be a few unexpected kinks that would need ironing out long after the migration is declared a success. To soften the potentially costly and time-consuming impacts, test the systems throughout the duration of the migration. Whether you’re testing voice, data, or video, conduct tests, set benchmarks for performance, and predict future usage patterns.
Go live and act on identified problem points
After going live with your cloud UC, consider the overall user experience and availability of support for devices, applications and other components. Are persistent connectivity issues going to cause troublesome conference calls? This and similar issues may prove detrimental in the long-run, so keep them in mind when deciding to keep, enhance, or discontinue a cloud-based UC. Cloud migration should be solving problems, not causing them.
Constantly monitor performance and quality
Don’t be surprised if you encounter a few issues even after extensive testing. Migrating to the cloud simply requires planning and a sustainable strategy, whether your organization is dependent on instant messaging, voice conferencing, or video calling. There’s also a good chance that you will be working with several vendors, so always demand for the best service.
Having your UC moved to the cloud may seem like a daunting move, but with our cloud technology and VoIP know-how, we’ll make sure your unified communications in the cloud precipitates just benefits. Contact us today for advice.
Publish Date: February 1, 2017 5:00 AM