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VoIP optimization tips: Don’t let the holidays overwhelm your business

If you don't want to be overwhelmed with the influx of calls from customers this holiday season, it’s important to optimize your Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system for maximum efficiency. Be ready for anything — read on for tips that can help you optimize your VoIP system.

Inspect your VoIP equipment

Sometimes, issues with VoIP have nothing to do with the hosting provider or the service itself. Instead, such issues are likely because of physical VoIP lines and devices. For instance, if your VoIP equipment is stacked too closely, it's more likely that users will experience low-quality calls.

To fix this, have your IT team inspect call quality, particularly if there are two or more VoIP devices located near each other. If they experience any glitches, simply moving the devices farther apart should resolve the issue.

Moreover, make sure that you routinely inspect all cables and connections to guarantee they are in good condition to handle increased utilization during the holidays. And if you have any old or outdated equipment, then it may be wise to get an upgrade so as not to experience any downtime or interruption of service.

Implement a VoIP monitoring system

By having a VoIP monitoring system in place, you will be able to anticipate any problems before they become full-fledged disasters. And with the increase in inquiries and customer support calls during the holidays, your organization can benefit from the improved responsiveness that this solution offers.

In implementing a VoIP monitoring system this season, consider the following:

For busy periods

  • Set up call queuing with hold music or an accurate estimated wait time. This will help optimize caller experience.
  • Leave your callers a comprehensive, recorded message. Provide them with alternate contact methods for support, such as calling a hotline, sending an email, or visiting your website or official social media page.
  • If you have shorter business hours during the holidays, set up your VoIP configuration to help manage your customer's expectations. You can do this by rerouting their call or putting messages on hold.

For closed periods

  • Take the hassle out of informing customers that your business will be closed during the holiday season by setting up automated messages or announcements. Let them know when you'll reopen so they can plan accordingly.
  • Make sure your receptionist greetings are updated before the holidays to inform callers of your adjusted operating hours.
  • Automatically direct incoming calls to staff members who are on duty and can accommodate customers.

Utilize dedicated support

VoIP is a marvelous technology that allows for enhanced communication at a lower cost. With VoIP, you can ensure your employees working from home are still able to connect with customers. Your VoIP system can be set up to serve both your and your customers' needs regardless of your holiday business hours. Calls can easily be diverted to mobile devices or remote machines, which allows your team to assist your customers when needed.

Partner with a trusted IT provider

The holiday season is a crucial time for businesses. A properly optimized VoIP system can help you manage the increased call volume and keep your customers happy. If you have any questions or need assistance selecting the right VoIP solution for your business, call us today. We’ll be happy to recommend the best VoIP solution for your needs and set you up for success this holiday season.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2022/12/28/voip-optimization-tips-dont-let-the-holidays-overwhelm-your-business/

Publish Date: December 28, 2022


What are the costs associated with owning a VoIP system?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems are a more cost-effective alternative to traditional phone systems. For a fixed monthly bill, you get enterprise-grade business communication tools but without the expensive call rates of old landline telephones. But despite its affordability, there are still several costs associated with implementing a VoIP phone system.

1. Initial costs

Initial costs are the expenses related to acquiring the VoIP system. Most businesses usually pay a monthly subscription fee to access VoIP software and services, but the costs will vary depending on the VoIP provider. Some large corporations may even choose to set up their own VoIP infrastructure to establish private and more secure communication channels, but this comes at a more expensive price tag. Beyond the price of the VoIP system, initial costs also include hardware like headsets, webcams, IP phones, and voice-optimized network connections.

2. Setup costs

Implementation costs refer to the money spent on setting up the new VoIP system. If you hired a consultant or managed IT services provider (MSP) to customize and deploy your VoIP system, you should account for their service rates when calculating implementation costs. You should also consider the costs of hiring network engineers who are responsible for installing new network routers, cables, and security software to accommodate your VoIP systems. What’s more, if your employees are not familiar with VoIP, you’ll need to invest additional cash in training and instructional materials for future reference.

3. Operational expenses

Operational costs are the monthly recurring expenses that are required to keep your VoIP system running. These include the costs of monthly data plans as well as any VoIP-specific local and long-distance call fees.

There’s also the cost of managing the VoIP hardware, software, and network, which is usually included in the monthly subscription fee. But if you own the VoIP infrastructure, you’ll have to shoulder all of these costs yourself.

4. System upgrade budget

VoIP technology is adaptable and constantly evolving, which is why you need to budget for potential upgrades down the line. For instance, you could integrate VoIP with business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM) software to distill valuable insights from client interactions. Alternatively, there may be plans to increase internet bandwidth and purchase additional hardware if you anticipate steady growth in your company’s future.

Finally, you should also set aside some of your budget for consultations from your MSP. These experts will evaluate the effectiveness of your current communications technology and find ways to streamline it even further while taking into account your company’s needs and budget.

If you need help setting up and managing VoIP, call our experts today. We’ll help you find the best VoIP solution and make sure you get nothing but crystal-clear calls.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2022/10/07/what-are-the-costs-associated-with-owning-a-voip-system/

Publish Date: October 7, 2022


Tips for moving your business’s UC system to the cloud

Migrating your unified communications (UC) systems to the cloud can offer many benefits for your business. Perhaps the most obvious one is the increased scalability that comes with cloud-based solutions. This means you can quickly and easily add more users or bandwidth as your needs grow. You can also take advantage of augmented security features that are not available with on-premises UC systems. However, if you want to enjoy these benefits, you must plan the migration carefully and avoid the potential risks involved in the process.

A gradual transition is the key

You don’t have to migrate your UC system to the cloud in one big move. Staggering migration can be more secure and beneficial. For instance, you can first move UC technologies for departments that will benefit from it. Meanwhile, those with no pressing need for a cloud-based UC system, such as a company’s call center, can keep using on-premises systems. Doing this allows users to ease their way into the new system without experiencing network disruptions that may hamper their productivity.

Ensure sufficient bandwidth

Speed and performance issues will inevitably arise, so make sure to cover all the bases before migration. To do this, you have to secure a reliable internet service provider (ISP), check the stability of your internal network, and have a backup plan. Ensuring sufficient bandwidth is a critical point to consider during migration if you often experience unstable or slow network connections that could pose serious problems. Determine the level of bandwidth your entire business needs, and get it from an ISP that can deliver.

Do not skip your tests

You may experience a smooth UC transition to the cloud, but you may also encounter unexpected issues that need ironing out long after the migration is declared a success. It’s best practice to test the systems throughout the migration process to soften potentially costly and time-consuming impacts. Whether you’re trying out voice, data, or video, you should conduct tests, set benchmarks for performance, and predict future usage patterns.

Immediately act on identified problem points

After going live with your cloud UC system, consider the overall user experience and availability of support for devices, applications, and other components. Are persistent connectivity issues going to cause trouble during conference calls? This and other issues may prove detrimental in the long run, so keep them in mind when deciding whether to keep, enhance, or discontinue a cloud-based UC system. Your new system should reduce headaches, not exacerbate them.

Constantly monitor performance and quality

Don’t be surprised if you encounter a few issues even after extensive testing. Migrating to the cloud requires planning and a sustainable strategy, especially if 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 the best service.

You too can have a smooth and secure UC cloud migration experience. With our cloud technology and VoIP know-how, we’ll make sure it’s an easy process. Contact us today to learn more.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2022/04/11/tips-for-moving-your-businesss-uc-system-to-the-cloud/

Publish Date: April 11, 2022


Tips to optimize your VoIP systems for the holidays

Many customer-facing businesses often experience a surge in customer calls during the holidays. It’s therefore important that your Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems are capable of handling the increased network demands and activity during one of the busiest times of the year. To ensure customer satisfaction during the holidays, here’s how you can optimize your VoIP system.

Check your VoIP equipment

Sometimes, problems with VoIP don't have anything to do with your service provider or even the servers that host the solution. Issues may stem from the physical VoIP lines and phones themselves. One common issue with VoIP is that if your equipment is stacked too closely, users may experience a degradation in call quality.

You can ask your employees to check call quality, especially if two or more VoIP devices are close to one another. If there are issues, moving the devices further apart should clear this up.

Beyond this, take the time to inspect all cables and connections to ensure they are in good condition and are able to deal with increased wear and tear during the holidays. If your equipment is old and outdated, you may need to replace them with newer models.

Establish VoIP system monitoring

With people rushing to get their last-minute shopping done, your staff will likely experience a sharp spike in inquiries and assistance. A monitoring solution can predict when issues may arise. Whether you are open or closed for the holidays, make sure to implement the following:

For busy periods

  • Set up call queuing with hold music or estimated wait time.
  • Leave recorded messages with complete information and an alternative way to contact support, such as a hotline, an email address, or your website.
  • Change your configuration to help you manage shorter business hours.
  • Reroute or put messages on hold when the company has reduced hours.

For closed periods

  • Set automated messages or announcements to inform customers that your business will be closed during the holiday season and what day you will reopen.
  • Update receptionist greetings before Christmas to remind callers of your holiday hours.
  • Reroute incoming calls for employees who will be working remotely.

Enable dedicated support

The great thing about VoIP is the support that comes with it. You can keep call costs low, as employees working from home can still communicate with the office. A good VoIP system can be configured to work for you and your customers no matter what hours you are open during the holidays.

Whether it’s diverting calls to mobile devices or remote machines, a good VoIP service provider understands that your business needs to be operational even during the holidays, and can accommodate those needs.

Work with an experienced IT provider

Christmas is busy enough without having to worry about something like a phone outage. If you need help with your phone systems or want to discuss how VoIP could help your business, call us today and we’ll recommend the best VoIP solution to ensure that your customers are happy and satisfied.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/12/13/tips-to-optimize-your-voip-systems-for-the-holidays/

Publish Date: December 13, 2021


5 Key security measures you need for VoIP

As a more convenient and less expensive alternative to traditional phone services, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is now a business necessity. But as with any other piece of technology that can connect to the internet, VoIP can and will be exploited by cybercriminals. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your company’s VoIP systems, which include implementing the following vital security measures.

24/7 monitoring

VoIP security breaches usually take place outside operating hours. Attackers make phone calls using private accounts or access call records with confidential information on the sly. To avoid these security breaches, contract outsourced IT vendors to monitor network traffic for any abnormalities.

Virtual private networks

Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a secure connection between two points, as if they belong in the same closed network. It’s like building a safe secret tunnel between you and the person you’re calling. Using a VPN can also help overcome complications involving Session Initiation Protocol or SIP trunking, which is a recommended VoIP feature.

VoIP firewalls

Firewalls specifically designed for IP-based telephony curb the types of traffic that are allowed into your network. They ensure that every connection is properly terminated at the end of a session and identify suspicious calling patterns. Virtually every VoIP vendor provides these protocols, but you should always consult with your IT services provider as to how these protocols will be managed within your organization.

Encryption tools

VoIP systems that lack encryption can be easily broken into by hackers — even by amateur ones who can simply download and deploy tools to eavesdrop or intercept your calls. Some services claim to have built-in encryption, but companies still need to be vigilant and investigate how effective these are.

Using encryption ensures that even if hackers successfully download audio or video, they still won't be able to decode the file unless they have the decryption key.

Password protection

Using passwords to authenticate your access to private information is not as secure as it once was. Hackers can easily guess a password and use it for cyberattacks. Protecting the passwords themselves adds a layer of protection against threats. This can entail enabling multifactor authentication or using a password manager to generate and store an array of complex passwords.

VoIP is as important as any of your other network security considerations. It requires a unique combination of protection measures, and we’d love to give you advice on these. Give us a call today to get started.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/11/02/5-key-security-measures-you-need-for-voip/

Publish Date: November 2, 2021


5 Steps for securing your VoIP systems

If your company’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony systems are not equipped to weather disasters like wildfires and hurricanes, then they may fail when a calamity occurs. This could disrupt your operations and you may lose productivity, customers, and profit as a result. To avoid such losses, you must follow these important steps.

Choose your provider wisely

When choosing which VoIP system to adopt for your company, carefully evaluate the service level agreements offered by each provider. Inquire about the provider’s security and availability guarantees and how these will be achieved.

Ideally, you must partner with the firm that can host your VoIP systems in facilities that are safe from local disasters such as flash floods or earthquakes. Your provider should also employ advanced network security solutions to protect your calls and data.

Invest in VoIP monitoring services

Before implementing any of the next two VoIP continuity solutions, install a third-party VoIP monitoring service to keep tabs on the status of your phone system. This tool will identify all network issues disrupting your phone system, enabling you to resolve them quickly.

Have a backup broadband line

Since VoIP solutions are dependent on internet connections, you should have a backup or alternate internet service provider (ISP) in case your main network goes down.

Have one ISP dedicated to your VoIP service and another supporting your main computer network. Once you’ve installed both networks, you can then program them to automatically transfer services to the other should one network fail. Thus, if your main phone network goes down, your VoIP solution switches to the other network and suffers no interruptions.

Of course, subscribing to two separate ISPs will increase your internet expenses. But if you perform a cost-benefit analysis, you’ll find that the cost to maintain both is far less than the cost of downtime in case your only ISP were to fail.

Route calls to mobile devices

Cloud-based VoIP solutions allow you to choose where you receive your calls with call forwarding — a feature that automatically reroutes incoming calls to other company-registered devices. This enables staff to receive work-related calls when they’re out of the office on a remote assignment, working at home, or when your main office is hit by a local disaster or network outage.

To benefit from this feature, register all employee mobile devices to your VoIP system and configure such devices to receive rerouted calls. Don’t forget to set policies for remote working. For instance, you should forbid staff from connecting to public Wi-Fi networks because this can put them at risk of cybercriminals eavesdropping on VoIP conversations.

Test your continuity measures regularly

There’s little value in VoIP continuity and disaster recovery strategies if they end up failing when you need them the most. Test your VoIP service and check whether contact details are up to date, call forwarding features are routing calls to the right devices, and your backup internet service works. Ultimately, your goal is to find flaws in your strategies and make the necessary adjustments to avoid potential hiccups from occurring in the future.

If managing VoIP is too time-consuming and complex, call our professionals today. We design, implement, test, and monitor powerful, disaster-proof VoIP phone systems to ensure your communications are always online.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/10/15/5-steps-for-securing-your-voip-systems/

Publish Date: October 15, 2021


The ideal internet bandwidth allocation for WFH staff

Internet access is one of the most important resources people need to be able to work from home. However, poor internet quality can lead to poor job performance and a dip in productivity. If you want to know how much internet bandwidth is needed for remote work, this guide can help.

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the maximum data transfer rate possible in a network or internet connection. It indicates the amount of data that can be sent over a connection in a given amount of time, and is usually expressed in bits per second (bps).

Imagine two computers with the same internet speed at 100 megabits per second (Mbps): the first computer only has a 50 Mbps bandwidth, while the second one has 100 Mbps. If they were to download the same packet with 500 megabits (Mb), the first computer would be able to do it in 10 seconds, while the second one could do it in just 5.

This is because the first computer’s bandwidth is capped at 50 Mbps — even with a high-speed internet service, the limit of transfer would still be low. Therefore, the higher the bandwidth, the more data can be sent over a connection, contributing to faster uploads and downloads and a better internet experience overall.

How much bandwidth do you need for remote working?

To answer this question, you need to factor in the type of work that you do and the apps that you use. If your job mostly consists of sending emails, editing and writing on Google Docs, and communicating on Slack, then you can do your job with ease even with a low bandwidth. On the other hand, if your day-to-day tasks consist of frequently attending meetings through video calls, then you’d need a plan with higher bandwidth.

Once you have a clear picture of how much data you send and receive on an average workday, you can start looking for plans that can support your needs. And while you don’t need to conduct virtual meetings in 4K quality, you also won’t want your clients and colleagues to appear pixelated during a meeting. Neither would you want a session that gets choppy or cut off mid-conversation.

Here are the minimum requirements for the most common video chat apps used by remote workers today:

  • Zoom

For 1:1 video calling:

    • 600 Kbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • 1.2 Mbps (up/down) for 720p HD video
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (upspeed)

For group video calling:

    • 800 Kbps/1.0 Mbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • For 720p HD video: 1.5 Mbps (up/down)
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 2.5 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 3.0 Mbps (upspeed)
  • Google Meet

HD video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 3.2 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 2.6 Mbps with two participants; 3.2 Mbps with five participants; and 4.0 Mbps with 10 participants

Standard definition (SD) video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 1 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 1 Mbps with two participants; 1.5 Mbps with five participants; and 2 Mbps with 10 participants
  • Skype

Video calling:

    • HD: 1.2 Mbps (up/down)
    • SD: 400 Kbps (up/down)
    • The more participants, the higher the bandwidth requirement for downloads: 512 Kbps for three participants; 2 Mbps for five participants; and 4 Mbps for seven people. Upload requirements remain constant at 128 Kbps.
  • Microsoft Teams

Teams requires the same upload and download internet bandwidth for the following scenarios:

    • At least 30 Kbps for peer-to-peer audio calling
    • At least 1.2 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 720p
    • At least 1.5 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 1080p
    • At least 500 Kbps/1 Mbps for group video calling

If you’re worried about your internet bandwidth, you can opt for audio calls instead of video calls. This considerably helps lower the information you need to upload and download.

For more tips and solutions on how you can work from home without a hitch, call us. We’d be happy to help.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/10/11/the-ideal-internet-bandwidth-allocation-for-wfh-staff/

Publish Date: October 11, 2021


Computing the ownership cost of a VoIP system

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems are tried and tested tools for business agility and continuity, so it’s no wonder that many companies use them. But they also come with ownership costs that you should anticipate. Read on to learn more.

Upfront costs

Upfront costs are largely determined by the manner in which you acquire your systems, such as whether you buy a VoIP system outright or rent it from a third party. Although the former carries a steep upfront cost, payment does not continue indefinitely. This makes sense for large, fully staffed corporations with massive budgets. Meanwhile, the latter option is better for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that prefer to pay a small monthly subscription rather than make a huge initial investment.

Beyond the price of the VoIP package, upfront costs also include additional costs like headsets, webcams, and a higher-bandwidth network connection to ensure crystal-clear, uninterrupted calls.

Implementation costs

Implementation costs include the fees of consultants or managed IT services providers that design, deploy, and configure your VoIP system. And if you’re installing a completely new phone system, you also need to factor in costs associated with training employees on how to use the VoIP system effectively and securely.

Operational costs

This covers monthly recurring costs of voice and data plans. For example, some service providers charge local and long-distance calls per minute, while others offer unlimited local calls for a fixed monthly fee.

If you’re managing your VoIP infrastructure yourself, you also have to take into account monthly power, cooling, and maintenance fees. If you opt for hosted VoIP services, however, you are only billed for maintenance.

Upgrade costs

You should also need to set aside some room in your budget for VoIP upgrades. For instance, you may need to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. Aside from the cost of the upgrade itself, you should also anticipate spending on consultation, as upgrade integrations have a better chance at success if deployed by experts.

Evaluating all the costs that apply to your business will give you a clear idea of how much you can expect to pay for your VoIP system. If you’re having difficulty calculating the actual costs of VoIP implementation, call our experts today. We’ll help you figure out which VoIP solution is most ideal for your business and budget.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/09/22/computing-the-ownership-cost-of-a-voip-system/

Publish Date: September 22, 2021


The dangers of TDoS to your VoIP systems

Most businesses are familiar with denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, or attacks that cripple an IT network, system, or machine to deny access to intended users. Not many businesses know, however, that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems can be a DoS attack target too. If you have security measures in place against regular DoS attacks but don’t have one for your telephony system, it’s about time you fix that.

Denial-of-service attacks

The end goal of any DoS attack is to overwhelm a system with so many requests that it is eventually forced to shut down. Telephony DoS (TDoS) attack is a subcategory leveled at VoIP systems. Alarmingly, this attack is commonly used against hospitals and 911 phone lines. Some TDoS attackers even demand a ransom to halt the attack, which is similar to ransomware attacks. They take advantage of cryptocurrencies and caller-ID spoofing to make it incredibly difficult to identify attackers.

TDoS attacks generally employ fewer resources than the DoS attacks that are designed to cripple IT systems, which include networks, servers, and software. At its most basic, a TDoS attack requires only an automated phone dialer that calls a target phone number and hangs up — over and over. That very simple strategy can stop anyone else from getting through the line.

What organizations need to do

While your first instinct may be to lock down your VoIP system with complicated security measures, doing so will only do more harm than good. Most businesses can’t operate if they can’t communicate with their customers, business partners, and other third parties.

Although VoIP may be a digital resource similar to other components within your IT systems, the very nature of phone lines makes hiding them behind firewalls and other protections impossible. Fortunately, there are now new security protocols that can protect your communication infrastructure against those who try to use force to gain access to your directory information. These protocols can also identify, reroute, and filter calls coming from known attackers. Get in touch with our team to learn more about these protocols.

If you’re experiencing any abnormalities with your VoIP system, or if you want to deploy the most advanced solution that the market has to offer, our expert team of IT professionals is ready to help you at the drop of a hat — just call today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/08/13/the-dangers-of-tdos-to-your-voip-systems/

Publish Date: August 13, 2021


Improve your customer reach with a well-designed website

Most modern businesses build and maintain their own website to reach more customers. It’s good to have an online presence, but know that your competitors are also doing their best to optimize their websites for better brand awareness and profitability. Don't fall behind -- follow these web design trends to increase web traffic and boost your bottom line.

Mobile-friendly layouts

Many websites today are designed to have a mobile version. With around 47.07% of all internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s safe to assume that you are losing a big percentage of your viewership by not having a mobile-friendly website.

Implementing a thumb-friendly mobile web design is also critical, as most people who browse websites on mobile do so with one hand while on the go or doing another task or activity. Putting important navigation features within reach of a mobile user’s thumb on the screen will greatly improve your website’s user experience.

Website load time

One of the most important web design features these days are high-speed website load times. Site visitors seem to be more impatient than ever, and they would most likely close websites that take three or more seconds to load. According to a study conducted by Pinterest, efforts to speed up web page load times reduced perceived wait times by 40%, resulting in a 15% increase in search engine traffic and sign-ups.

One technique for cutting down load times for content-rich sites is to lazy load the page instead of fully loading it before it can be viewed. Lazy loading is when a browser is configured to only load the portion of the page that is currently viewable on the screen. The parts of the page that are currently off-screen won’t be loaded so that they don’t consume too much processing power. This works great for websites that are configured to have infinite scroll, like Pinterest.

Micro-interactions

Micro-interactions are small animations that provide subtle feedback after they complete an action. These are usually found on navigation and tool buttons to further emphasize the purpose of each button. For example, if your cut button is a pair of scissors, you can make it do a couple of snip motions during mouseover. Or if your delete button is a rubbish bin, you can make its lid pop open during mouseover.

These actions will make your website more lively and easy to navigate for site visitors. It’s also a great way to keep them on your site for longer periods of time.

Micro-animations

Although similar to micro-interactions, micro-animations are more for aesthetic purposes. You can use them to make your site more visually appealing, as well as to subtly direct visitors toward certain parts of your site that you would like to gain more attention. For example, if you run a coffee business, your website’s micro-animations can be a pot of coffee brewing for page loads, or a big puff of steam from an espresso machine for page transitions.

Dark mode

Many users appreciate dark mode because it helps them conserve device power and lessens the strain on their eyes when they browse the internet before bedtime. Websites that offer this option may entice visitors to stick around to read articles and learn more about the product offerings, simply because the site is comfortable to use.

If you need help staying on top of website design trends or adapting to an ever-changing digital landscape in general, give us a call.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/08/09/improve-your-customer-reach-with-a-well-designed-website/

Publish Date: August 9, 2021


Everything you need to know about business phones

Should you consider adopting new phone systems for your business? To help you decide, we've defined the various types of phone systems, their different life cycles, and technology options in the past and the present.

Different phone systems

Today’s businesses still use landlines to connect with various stakeholders, such as customers, investors, and suppliers, to service their needs. However, telephony has come a long way from when it first came about in 1876. For instance, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones have virtually unlimited reach, are automated, and are cheaper than ever to acquire.

VoIP is a telephony solution that uses the internet instead of wired circuits to transmit data. VoIP does more than just transmit audio — it can also send a variety of data (video, multimedia, SMS, etc.) and perform other tasks as well.

A VoIP system’s hardware (phone units, cables, CPUs, etc.) and software (one or more applications that run the system) can be either on-premises or hosted:

  • On-premises – Hardware and software are physically housed within the premises of the company.
  • Hosted – Some of the hardware, like phone units and other equipment, can be found within the premises. But most, if not all, of the software is hosted online. Service providers look after hosted systems for their clients.

Life cycles: On-premises vs. hosted

With hardware, it doesn’t matter whether it’s on-premises or hosted. Hardware is affected by the wear and tear stemming from daily use. Barring any accidents or physical damage, VoIP hardware should last several years.

On the other hand, software requires regular updates. It’s worth noting that it’s faster and cheaper to update software that’s hosted in the cloud versus one that’s on premises. However, there’s not much difference in how much either one can last — software for both types of VoIP systems can last upwards of 10 years, depending on how dependable your IT support is.

Technology today vs. before

In the past, hardware and software were built to last. Today, they’re built to adapt and change, thanks to cloud technology.

The effect of this shift on hardware and software is dramatic:

Most hardware components are very similar, with replacements and upgrades coming every 5–8 years on average.

Cloud software is faster, easier, and cheaper to upgrade than software for on-premises systems. Critical cloud updates can be released almost constantly, and a cloud system may be completely overhauled in as short as 2–3 years’ time.

Whichever phone system you choose, it should integrate smoothly with the other systems in your business, such as email or customer relationship management software. And as your business expands, your chosen phone system should easily scale with it, too.

Be a step ahead

Downtime results in loss of potential sales and, essentially, wasted money. If your phone service is spotty and constantly unreliable, perhaps it’s time to switch to VoIP phones.

Nowadays, it’s not the longevity of a tech solution that’s important, but rather staying ahead of the curve to trump the competition. Call our experts today so you can always leverage the best VoIP and other IT solutions available today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/07/27/everything-you-need-to-know-about-business-phones/

Publish Date: July 27, 2021


AI-powered VoIP: What businesses can expect

Automated processes powered by artificial intelligence (AI) makes operations more efficient and effective. For many companies, AI-powered Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is taking telecommunications automation to a whole new level. Here are the things it can offer your business.

Interactive voice response (IVR) systems with conversational AI

An IVR system is designed to automatically respond to customer queries with AI agents. These agents allow businesses to take on more customer calls without having to hire more human agents. Among AI assistants’ most powerful features are the following:

  • Text and speech recognition – the ability to understand and respond to written and spoken messages
  • Intent recognition – the ability to discern what the person communicating with the AI tool wants to happen based on what that person is saying
  • Contextual guidance – the ability to “keep in mind” what was stated earlier so that the AI tool can understand references to those past statements
  • Multilingualism – the ability to communicate in many different languages

While in a call, AI assistants can concurrently gather and assess all relevant customer data such as personal information and recent transactions to resolve a query. In this manner, this makes them more efficient than human agents who have to put a caller on hold in order to access that caller’s records.

Thanks to machine learning and natural language processing, these AI-powered IVR systems will only get better at communicating with customers over time. However, for more nuanced queries, AI agents still transfer calls to human business representatives, who are better equipped to serve customers.

Chatbot functions

Chatbots are useful programs that receive instructions via textual or auditory means to perform automated tasks.

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.

AI-powered call recording analysis

AI tools can parse through call recordings to identify issues such as poor customer service. These tools can also identify trends (e.g., increasing customer satisfaction) and the challenges your agents encounter when they provide customer support or try to keep customers from closing their accounts.

AI-enabled web conferencing

Web conferencing has improved over the years with internet speeds and telecom technology constantly developing. AI advances it even further with real-time language translation and speech recognition technology, which greatly benefits businesses with offices in multiple geographic locations and whose stakeholders come from diverse backgrounds.

AI-enabled web conferencing can even provide intelligent prompts and relevant data to guide your conversations and ensure a fruitful meeting.

With AI-powered systems vastly improving contact center operations, 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. Just call us today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/07/02/ai-powered-voip-what-businesses-can-expect-2/

Publish Date: July 2, 2021


Empower your mobile workforce with VoIP

Remote work policies require companies to expand their communication capabilities. Many businesses aim to increase productivity and improve customer service by turning to a VoIP solution. There are several factors that will make your VoIP more mobile while ensuring both your customers and employees remain satisfied and can communicate hassle-free.

To cater to your out-of-office workers, there are a variety of ways by which you can expand the mobility of your VoIP services.

1. Look into unified communications (UC)

If your employees are able to bring their personal devices to work, your IT administrators will insist that all of them comply with your company’s policies. You will need to establish good security and compliance measures to meet the needs of both your customers and employees.

A solid solution is UC, which integrates real-time communication services, such as instant messaging, telephony, data sharing, and video conferencing. UC bridges the gap between VoIP and other computer-related communication technologies. It makes communication more convenient and manageable by providing a single number to reach as well as a status indicator that conveys whether employees are available or if they don't want to be disturbed.

2. Employ easy-to-use apps

Most top-rated business apps began as user-focused tools to help people find data more independently. Some of these apps have transformed into more customized tools focusing on specific business needs. The problem with this is that satisfying these needs often sacrifices overall usability. If your employees are struggling to use the mobile version of your VoIP solution, then they likely will dump it.

This can lead to employees using unauthorized apps, which increases security risks. To avoid this, implement an app or a tool that is easy to use, navigate, and manage. Ask VoIP providers for a free demo to evaluate how user-friendly the software is.

3. Cloud support

Having on-premises equipment and support for your VoIP solution is a good idea. However, your existing IT team may not be ready for the challenges of providing a cloud-based mobile app or voice support. We recommend you go for a hosted VoIP solution, which delivers the same cost-effective, network-based service, but the equipment is housed based at a provider’s site rather than in your data center. This eliminates the cost of on-premises gear, maintenance costs, and overall management while increasing the overall effectiveness of your mobile solution.

4. Work with an experienced solution manager

It can be tough to manage your VoIP solutions as you’re expanding them. That’s why it’s best to work with an IT partner like us; we have the expertise and experience to pull it off. When you outsource the management of your solution to us, we can get your apps and solution up and running, then administer them for you.

If you need to expand your VoIP mobile capabilities to enhance your efficiency and productivity, or if you’re interested to learn more about VoIP solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/06/14/empower-your-mobile-workforce-with-voip/

Publish Date: June 14, 2021


What are the top 5 benefits of a cloud ERP?

As more and more solutions are made available in the cloud, more and more small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are flocking to use them. One increasingly popular solution is cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP). If you want to integrate your systems using an ERP program, then you should seriously consider a cloud-based ERP solution.

Define: Cloud-based ERP

ERP is management software, usually offered as a bundle of applications, that aims to help businesses automate the collection, storage, management, and interpretation of data from disparate sources like accounting, inventory, marketing, service delivery, etc. With ERP, business owners and managers can get an integrated real-time view of business processes, resources, and commitments.

Cloud-based ERP solutions are simply a suite of ERP apps delivered to users over the internet, usually accessed via a browser. The software usually does not need to be installed on computers and is offered on a per-user, per-month, flat-rate fee.

Companies using a cloud-based integrated ERP solution have experienced the following five benefits:

1. Decreased operating costs

An in-house ERP solution requires purchasing software and hardware to support it. Once you’ve built the solution’s infrastructure, you need to hire staff to install and maintain it. All of these will drive up the overall IT budget, something most SMBs cannot immediately afford.

But with a cloud-based ERP system, you normally only have to pay a flat-rate monthly fee, so the total cost of implementation will likely be far lower. Many providers can also manage the solution for you (i.e., they’ll take care of maintenance, upgrades, etc.). This will even out your operating costs, and if implemented correctly, will result in an overall decrease in expenses.

2. Increased ERP performance over in-house solutions

In-house ERP solutions require correctly configured hosting and proper maintenance to function at their most efficient. Your IT staff will be responsible for both, but if these are done poorly, then performance suffers.

With cloud-based solutions, the provider takes care of hosting the solution. You know that system maintenance is being done by experts, so you’re assured that your ERP software will be at peak performance.

3. Enhanced access to information

Companies that don’t have any ERP system will likely struggle to find the information they need, when they need it. ERP programs can help consolidate the relevant information in a more effective manner than, say, spreadsheets.

And since cloud-based ERP solutions are accessible via the internet, you now have access to the information you need from anywhere with an internet connection.

4. Continued support

Providers of cloud-based ERP solutions offer 24/7 support and can fix problems faster than if you leave them to your employees. They also make sure to keep their solutions updated. Hackers have been known to attack businesses that use outdated versions of popular ERP programs.

5. Increased security

ERP systems process critical business information, so you will want to keep your data secure from outside sources and unauthorized users within your organization.

In this regard, cloud-based ERP solutions have enhanced security measures that protect your data in storage and when it moves from your systems to the host servers.

And for internal data security, users will need an assigned account to access your ERP system. This gives you control over who is given an account or not. Furthermore, you can also limit who can access your system via central admin panels. All of these features make cloud-based ERP solutions more secure than in-house ones.

If you want to learn more about cloud-based ERP solutions, contact us. We’ll be glad to assist you.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/06/09/what-are-the-top-5-benefits-of-a-cloud-erp/

Publish Date: June 9, 2021


Cloud-based OMS: 5 Benefits to eCommerce businesses

A cloud-based order management system (OMS) is a powerful and intuitive tool for tracking orders, sales, and inventory as well as streamlining the processes involved in order fulfillment. Learn more about this essential tool and its many benefits to eCommerce businesses.

First off, we need to clarify that an inventory management system is not the same as an order management system. The former is a solution for analyzing sales history and forecasting demand for product and raw materials. On the other hand, the latter is all about the here and now, as it tackles transactions as they happen.

What does an OMS do?

A cloud-based OMS enables eCommerce businesses to track orders for goods and services via a centralized dashboard, which your staff can access anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected device. In general, it can help you organize orders into a coherent and manageable workflow by:

  • Updating your website to reflect when certain items are out of stock
  • Automating payment authorizations and integrating these with your shipping services
  • Providing reports to customers about their order’s shipping status
  • Automatically restocking products and materials once they dip below a certain level
  • Automatically processing refunds and returns
  • Monitoring your business on mobile/on the go
  • Storing data in a more efficient and less costly manner
  • Ensuring your data is protected in the event of a disaster

There are dozens of OMS platforms with niche functionalities that may be better for specific business models regardless of the industry. The important thing is that you find a solution that reduces the most tedious organizational tasks for tracking your store’s orders.

What are the benefits of an OMS?

Below are five key advantages of using an OMS:

Fewer errors
Since an OMS allows you to automate various stages of order processing, it eliminates the need to manually enter and update order details. This reduces the risk of error, increasing your eCommerce business’s operational efficiency.

Lower costs
With fewer errors, you can avoid having to rework inaccurate order information, saving you time and effort. This means your business also saves on labor. And because a cloud-based OMS requires virtually no hardware, you can eliminate installation, maintenance, repair, and other associated costs as well.

Better visibility
A cloud-based OMS offers a consolidated view of your orders and inventory in real time, which allows you to stay on top of the entire fulfillment process so you never miss a sale. This also enables you to optimize inventory levels while minimizing surplus.

Not only that, but an OMS gives you better visibility into your business’s processes, so you can easily identify issues and make the necessary adjustments to achieve operational efficiency.

Faster delivery
When a customer places an order, your OMS will choose the warehouse or fulfillment center closest to them as well as the method of fulfillment. A fulfillment request will then be sent automatically to the warehouse so the item can be prepared and shipped out immediately.

Enhanced decision-making
With an OMS, you have all the information you need to make smarter business decisions at the tip of your fingers, from consumer behavior to market trends to product performance.

Improve your eCommerce business’s workflows and profitability with an OMS. If you need help choosing the right OMS platform for your company, give our experts a call today.

Source: https://www.itstelecom.com/2021/06/07/cloud-based-oms-5-benefits-to-ecommerce-businesses/

Publish Date: June 7, 2021

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