Thursday, February 13, 2020

Cloud/Hosted VoIP Phone Systems vs. Premise Based VoIP Phone Systems



Cloud/Hosted VoIP systems have become a preferred choice for many that are looking for a new UC solution for their offices. And on the surface it's easy to see why. In most cases there is a small initial investment, one bill for equipment and service, the entire solution managed entirely by your hosted provider, latest technology, etc. However there are advantages and disadvantages to both cloud/hosted VoIP as well as the traditional premise based VoIP designs that should be considered before investing in a new solution for your office. Office Telesystems has taken this into consideration with our system offerings.








Advantages and Disadvantages to Premise Based and Hosted Solutions

For Premise Based (server on site) Solutions (CapEx or OpEx)
Pros
Favorable total cost of ownership long term for just a few sites
Security of Network  
Control of your own equipment
Comparable Feature Set to Hosted
More Features on Desk Sets
Higher level of equipment support/dealer support
Life span‐once lease is completed, retain benefits of equipment after lease with no equipment payments (the average phone system lifespan is 7-8 years)
CapEx or OpEx financial options
Remote worker options

Cons
Upfront equipment cost for CapEx/cash purchase (OpEx lease can offset this)
Integration to separate services provider, 2 or more bills
Cost of professional services added to initial CapEx 
Cost of upgrades (wrap into your lease to offset this)
Equipment possibly outdated quickly or no future upgrades available (Make sure your equipment is NEW or supported by manufacturer and provides software updates)

Cloud/Hosted VoIP Solutions Pros and Cons (OpEx)
Pros

Flexibility
Low Cost Initial Investment
Multi-Site Integration
Lower short term total cost of ownership  
No long distance expenses for remote sites in other area codes
Bundled payment plan for both equipment and service in most cases
Quick, easy disaster recovery
Easy to relocate endpoint devices, remote workers
Robust Software Applications for Call Center, CRM Integration

Cons

Higher long term total cost of ownership  
Basic feature set‐upgrades significantly increase monthly cost 
Lack of performance guarantees unless requested at time of purchase
Minimal equipment and service for your money
Most require minimum 3 year contract term
Longer response times for service

Office Telesystems offers both on premise and cloud/hosted VoIP! Contact us today. 844 544 4900.

Getting the Most from Your Call Center, Inbound Service Center

Many customers who operate call centers or inbound service centers are interested in ways to connect their phone system, whether VoIP or digital, with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, such as Salesforce, Act, Goldmine, Sugar and others. In this blog we will discuss the various ways to integrate phone systems with CRM, and what benefits you can realize from CRM Integration.

Request a Quote Here



Initiate outbound calls from a CRM application, WebPage, Outlook



Click-to-Call, Highlight Dial and more

Systems such as the NetFortris/Fonality Call Center Edition software includes a feature called Click-to-Call which allows you to hyperlink the phone numbers in your web based CRM applications contacts so that when you click the phone number, it originates an outbound call from your extension telephone. Other CRM integration tools such as NEC UC Suite can provide similar integration.

Programs like Outlook that use a standard TAPI interface will be able to initiate calls from your contacts using CRM Integration software from Fonality, Ayava, NEC and Mitel products we carry.

TAPI

To initiate a call on a VoIP phone from an instruction page on a Windows-based software PC or laptop, a TAPI interface, available on many digital and VoIP systems can be used. This is useful if a CRM application running on a desktop or laptop would like to place a call through the VoIP system to the associated employee's desk phone.
A TAPI driver is included in most CRM integration software for this functionality.  It was developed in order to give the Microsoft dialer built into numerous tools (Including Microsoft Outlook) access to place calls through your phone system. 
  1. Support will be restricted to only manufacturer tested Windows versions and service packs.
  2. Support hours will be coordinated in advance by appointment only.  
Screen Pop/Web Launcher


Systems such as the Netfortris/Fonality cloud VoIP may include an optional software program named HUD Agent that is used to identify inbound calls by Caller-ID information in your CRM, among many other things. One of the features of HUD is a setting called “Web Launcher” that will allow you to open up a custom configured URL automatically in a web browser window when a call comes in. You can pass the Caller-ID number to your web application in a variable to allow you to look up your customer information by Caller-ID information. Also available, along with caller-ID number information, is the caller-ID name and the extension number of the extension receiving the call.
You can configure the URL to match the URL needed to integrate with your web-based CRM application. We know of customers using this to pull up customer/opportunity records in SugarCRM and Salesforce.com CRM systems using this feature.

Software CRM integration from Avaya, NEC, Mitel and NetFortris/Fonality allow for incoming calls to "Screen Pop" contact information directly onto your PC or laptop screen in your existing CRM. VoIP deskphones and IP Softphones can provide this capability, whether from a hosted or on premise VoIP offering.  Ask one of our expert sales reps for more information.

Open a URL when placing an Outbound call

Similarly to the functionality described above, many CRM Integration tools will allow you to open up a custom configured URL automatically in a web browser window when a call is originated from within your CRM software. You can pass the Caller-ID number of the number being dialed to your web application in a variable to allow you to look up your customer information by Caller-ID information. Also available, along with caller-ID number information, is the caller-ID name and the extension number of the extension placing the call.


Detailed Call Records

For some CRM integrations, the logged historical records of each call are needed in order to compile a history of calls between customers and agents. Although this is an advanced, customized integration that will be very specific to your CRM application, we do sometimes get requests for this. You can collect the call data records (CDR) from your call accounting system in Comma Separated Values (CSV) format and insert them into a database of your choice, or store them in the software with a specified PC or laptop design with adequate storage to handle your call reporting achives.  Products such as Metropolis Office Watch, Office Watch XT and Profit Watch are considered the very best in the industry for management of historical call data.

Custom Call Routing and Special Configuration

Many call centers operate multiple queues, and want to be able to intelligently route calls to different Queues using number dialed (DID) or by more specific information entered by the customer. The NetFortris/Fonality Call Center Edition already includes a Call Sequence item named “Go to Submenu by Number Dialed” that you can use to route calls based on what phone number was dialed by the caller. However, sometimes more intelligent routing is desired for applications like the following:
  • Prompt caller for contract number, and be routed to a priority queue if they have an active contract in your database.
  • Look at the caller-id of the inbound caller, and look up what state in the US they are calling from, and route them to the closest local office.
  • Prompt the user to enter their zip code to be routed to your nearest retail store.
  • Integration with your logistics system to allow customers to know when shipments are due to arrive.
  • Allow lookup of billing information (last payment received, remaining balance, next payment due date, etc.)
All of the above (and more) are available by custom integration by Office Telesystems, your authorized Fonality dealer and Fonality’s Professional Services group. Voice recognition and text to speech voice synthesis features are available with these custom integrations. Each project is proposed based on custom requirements and is offered using fixed rate pricing based on engineering time required to perform the integration. 

Office Telesystems offers all products and services listed in this article.  Contact us today to find out how we can help your call center or service based contact center become a better customer service tool.  Contact us today! 972 484 4900 or 817 529 1700. Toll Free 844 544 4900.

Why Do You Need Call Accounting or Call Management Software?



Why do You Need Call Accounting in your Office?




         Here are 20 Reasons:       Request a Quote

1.     Detect fraudulent phone activity. Track questionable inbound and outbound calls, helping you quickly detect problems and avert risks.

2.     Reduce Labor Cost by identifying peak calling times, adjust staff accordingly

3.     Alerts on defined trigger patterns for calls like 911, 411 and other sensitive numbersGet 911 notification by extension, text, phone call, on screen.

4.     Facilitate timely client billing and cost recovery.  Set time/date for billing reports that automatically calculate usage and cost by client, tenant or partner.

5.     Scheduled Reports.  Email reports automatically based on preset criteria, allowing managers to respond immediately to call volume changes.  This can reduce your labor costs.

6.     Measure Campaign Responses and Effectiveness.  Know where your prospects are calling from and to which campaign or ad they are responding to.

7.     Analyze Traffic.  Capacity planning tools help you identify peak calling times and who’s calling. What-if analysis allows you to balance infrastructure needs and take proactive measures to ensure uninterrupted and efficient phone service.

8.     Flexible call costing & time-billing-Flexible options for bill back.

9.     Trunk Analysis-Eliminate underutilized trunks for cost savings
10.  Multi-site capability providing consolidated or individual office reporting 

11.  Export reports to multiple formats like Excel, Word, PDF, HTML (to view using Web browser on the internet from Web folders)

12.  Call costing with user-programmable rate plans and rate tables

13.  Automatic scheduling of all reports and data archival

14.  Time billing reports based on hourly consulting rates

15.  Completes the feedback loop on agent productivity and phone presence, telemarketing efforts and service levels

16.  Understand call distribution (IN/OUT) for agents during various times in the day and days of the week by category

17.  Wildcard searches for random/specific calls, information

18.  Import contact information from ASCII files generated by Outlook etc.

19.  Network-based remote and consolidated multi-site reporting capability


20.  A complete call management tool to increase productivity, profitability, with rapid return on investment!  Ask for a product demonstration today! See more at our Call Management Software page.


 Request a quote or call 972 484 4900/817 529 1700. Toll Free 844 544 4900.


What Type of Phone Service or Cloud VoIP Should You Use and Are You Paying too Much?



Analog (POTS) lines, PRI, SIP Trunks, Cloud VoIP Phone Systems. Which is right for you, and are you paying too much?

No matter what voice and internet carrier services (AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Business, Logix, etc.) you have for the phone system in your office, chances are you have an auto renewal clause in your contract (most agreements are 3 year terms) with the provider you currently have. In most cases, a written cancellation 60-90 days before your contract ends is required on your contract. If you do not address this prior to your contract expiration, your providers contract may auto renew and you’ll be paying 30-50% more than you should for your services for another year, and even longer in some cases. This includes cloud or hosted VoIP phone systems, which are also offered in a contract term format.
Check your contract now. If your voice/internet services or cloud/hosted VoIP solution are coming out of contract, Office Telesystems could save you up to 50% or more on these services, which can also include faster internet, more inbound/outbound lines and other service enhancements. Many cloud phone systems also include voice/internet carrier services along with your desk phones, endpoints, and the features associated with them. If your phone system is a premise based VoIP design, reduced services provider costs can also help you afford that lease payment on a new system, perhaps even pay for the entire monthly payment!  Office Telesystems works with several different providers so we can find the right one for your needs. Office Telesystems offers premise based VoIP phone systems as well as cloud based VoIP systems such as Fonality cloud/hosted solutions.

Service Types Include:




Analog or “POTS” lines                                      Request a Quote

These are the type phone lines you have at home or in a small businesses.  They use copper wire or may be delivered by VoIP. Many small businesses still use them if their needs are minimal. 2-6 lines coax or ethernet type internet are still cheaper than dedicated fiber services designed for larger applications and many don't require a contract of 3-5 years. They are adequate for most offices with 2-12 employees.

PRI Service                                                    Request a Quote

PRI has been around for a while but is still very prominent in the marketplace. Each PRI circuit allows for up to 23 voice channels or “call paths” and can be sold as a “fractional” PRI, usually provided with 6 or 12 channels instead of a full PRI's 23 channels. You can even have multiple PRI's. Many larger premise based systems can hold 8 PRI's or more with 23 Channels each! There are some advantages of PRI services over analog lines. All carriers we partner with provide PRI type services as part of their carrier offerings. Systems will require one PRI card for per PRI circuit.  The cost to deliver PRI service to offices has decreased steadily over the last few years. As contracts come up for renewal, there is a good chance for a customer to save money on services renewal, enough to justify a new phone system or an increase in internet speed (bandwidth). PRI generally gives better sound quality throughout your system over analog lines, along with some offering direct dial numbers, a block of long distance minutes and less cost per line than analog lines when your needs require over 8 lines. PRI also can let your phone system provide additional features that are not available with analog lines, such as linking your mobile device and other features.

Cloud or Hosted VoIP systems                             Request a Quote  


If you have a cloud based VoIP system, you usually have a contract term associated with your system. Evaluate your system 6 months or so before your contract expires to see if it is providing you the features you need, and if you are getting adequate support from the provider. In many cases, if you have purchased your VoIP desk phones, you can re-purpose these phones onto a new cloud or hosted provider.  



SIP Trunks                                                             Request a Quote

Cloud or hosted VoIP systems utilize SIP trunking, but todays premised based systems can utilize this type of service as well. SIP Trunks are a VoIP type voice line, or “call path”, similar to PRI design but with a different delivery to your office. The number or SIP trunks can vary from just a few to a few hundred in one location, whether in cloud design on premise based. The main advantage to SIP trunks is that multiple area codes can be provided in one location for centralized answering. If you're using a premise based VoIP phone system, you can usually add SIP licenses on the same card in your system that supports your VoIP phones. SIP licenses for an existing VoIP card will cost less than a PRI card in many cases. Also, SIP service per call path can be less than PRI.

Ask Office Telesystems how we can help get you the right services provider for your cloud/hosted VoIP or premise based VoIP system.  It could end up providing enough cost reduction monthly to pay for a whole new system! Call us today 972 484 4900, (817) 529-1700 or visit our website at www.officetelesystems.com.

Mobile Extension, Mobile Twinning. Pick Your Flavor!



Mobile Extension, Mobile Twinning. Pick Your Flavor!

Request a Phone System Quote Today

For many business owners, organization leaders, and employees alike, the telephone system in their office, whether cloud VoIP or premise based VoIP, is packed with features that are rarely utilized. Many features in today’s business telephone systems have been designed to increase productivity, productivity, customer service and seamlessly connect people anytime at anyplace.  A properly designed phone system will give you far reaching benefits you may not realize.


One feature that is valuable to those who are regularly on the go during or after working hours is Mobile Extension, also called Mobile Twinning by some manufacturers. Nearly all of today's VoIP phone systems include this feature. The ability to be mobile and communicate with your customers and co-workers alike can dramatically improve the efficiency and productivity of an office. Hybrid VoIP Systems such as the Avaya’s IP Office, Mitel MiVoice, NEC SV9100 and SL2100, along with NetFortris/Fonality Hosted VoIP all come with the ability to link your cell phone or mobile device to your office extension. Many systems allow you to call back into the office from your mobile device and use your extensions direct number caller ID to call out from mobile device on your office phone system lines! Using this method presents the caller identification as if the call was being made from your desk. Not only does this preserve your personal contact information, but also appears more professional.


There are many benefits to Mobile Extension/Mobile Twinning. With this feature your extensions direct number becomes your one-number access. Therefore, anyone who tries to reach you only needs one phone number to call and you can keep your cell phone number private. 
How often have you been on an hour long drive back to the office hoping that important call doesn’t get missed? With Mobile Extension/Mobile Twinning, you can be reached regardless. If an incoming call is not answered at the mobile extension, it will utilize your office voicemail.  If a Mobile Extension/Mobile Twinning call is answered, users can transfer the call, place on hold, or even engage in a conference call. Check to see if your system is set up with this option. PRI or SIP trunk services are usually required for proper operation of this feature.
Other desktop phone features that can be accessed by Mobile Extension/Mobile Twinning users include Do Not Disturb, Station and System Speed Dial, Internal Group Paging, Meet Me Answer, Voice Over, Account Code, Park Hold, and Park Hold Answer.
Having the ability to conduct business, professionally and while on the go, can be critical to your business success. Those who travel regularly, take personal time off, or possibly have an unforeseen circumstance come up can all benefit from this useful mobility feature. With the flexibility of Mobile Extension/Mobile Twinning, the benefits are endless.  Ask one of our sales experts about how this feature can benefit your business today at 972 484 4900 or 817 529 1700, or visit our website at www.officetelesystems.com.