Archive for May, 2010


4 Steps In Selecting The Best VoIP Provider

Communications is an essential component of any business, regardless of their size, industry or scope. Locating the correct small business VoIP provider can quickly become a time consuming and daunting task, especially when plagued by industry terminology and the attractive promises of many hosts all competing for your business. Here are 4 tips to assist in the process for finding the right provider.

1. Industry Experience
The VoIP solutions market is both complex and competitive, but small businesses are guaranteed to save time, money and effort is they partner with a solutions provider with strong technical expertise and high quality customer support. It is important that the provider chosen is experienced in providing dedicate VoIP services to the small business market.

2. Nix the industry terminology.
It is very time consuming trying to stay ahead of industry terminology, and truth be told, most businesses will never need to know half of the industry terms out there. Save time by doing business with VoIP providers that speak in a language their clients can understand. Focus attention on knowing what you need the system to do, and then select a VoIP system that does just that.

3. Features and applications that make the grade.
The VoIP solutions provider chosen should be able to assist businesses in selecting applications that are necessary for their day-to-day functions. Carefully outline the security, integration, management tools etc.. that the business requires and have the VoIP provider match you with the most appropriate options.

4. Value is perceived on many levels.
Customized solutions may save more money by determining the exact needs of the business, but pre-packaged solutions can provide tools necessary for expansion and growth at a low flat rate. Talk to the VoIP provider that is most capable of providing the tools and features that you want and need, not the provider who tries to tell you what you want and need.


Big Impact for Little Cost: Only with Business VoIP

The impact a communications system has on corporate image is often overlooked. With the right VoIP solution smaller businesses are able to effortlessly manage their telecommunications processes in an efficient and organized fashion.

1. A wide variety of easy to use call handling features.
A VoIP solution designed for smaller enterprises will provide the most advanced call handling features, similar to those found in the complex systems utilized by major Fortune 500 enterprises. Some of these features include automated attendant, enhanced voicemail, IP fax, voicemail to email notification, Find Me – Follow Me, and many business enhancing menu options.

An automated attendant exists to professional greet incoming callers. These callers will most often be given a menu to choose their most appropriate party. Multiple callers can easily be greeted and routed, ensuring that no caller to the business ever hears a busy signal.

2. No call is ever missed.
Find Me – Follow Me is quickly becoming one of the most sought after business communications features. It ensures that calls to a designated number are redirected to a list of available numbers, allowing for seamless communications between employees and clients even when the employee is miles away from the office location.

3. Budget friendly communications.
Taking advantage of the business enhancing properties of VoIP, through a hosted option, does not require the purchase of costly onsite equipment and in most cases is available for a low monthly flat rate. The hosted solutions provider will not only house their infrastructure offsite, they will also assume responsibility for ongoing maintenance and support.


An Economical Solution For Competitive Business

For the smaller organizations that managed to emerge from the recent economical recession reevaluation of existing infrastructure is an essential element in not locating new areas of cost savings, but also maintaining a competitive advantage. Migrating from a conventional office communications system to a VoIP solution enables smaller businesses to remain competitive while realizing much more than cost efficiencies. Communications systems, as they pertain to smaller organizations in a competitive market, must be clearly evaluated by three specific criteria: capital expense, operational expense, and features.

Smaller enterprises the world over are becoming increasingly familiar with rising business expectations and declining budgets. The workforces of small businesses are familiar with the need to do more with less, the fundamental necessity to stretch the life of equipment is not a new concept to most business managers. Especially those whom have been forcing economical efficiencies from existing telecommunications systems since long before the economical crunch.

A hosted small business VoIP solution can bring many great advancements to the way small business IT departments deploy corporate telephony systems during economical downtimes. A hosted VoIP solution is not only faster and far less risky than conventional telephony, it is also extremely cost effective and compatible with existing infrastructure.

There are several factors leading to the on-going success of hosted VoIP in the small business market. In fact, choosing the right hosted VoIP provider will enable businesses to experience an almost immediate return on investment with very little capital expenditures.

‘Look to the cloud’ is a term that most IT professionals are familiar with today, and the same statement applies to corporate communications, both internally and externally. When it comes to telecommunications, small enterprises actively source for systems that deliver a rapid return on investment, requires little to no capital expense, helps to minimize on going operational expenses and can simplify their current processes substantially. A hosted VoIP solution will help businesses to realize each of these qualities, and much more.

Trying to sustain a bountiful business during times of economic hardships requires the ability conserve both money and resources, this is often achieved by postponing business enhancing projects that do not maintain the ability to produce an immediate return on investment. By deploying a hosted VoIP solution small businesses are able to effectively improve their corporate phone systems while leveraging their existing infrastructure: resulting in near immediate cost savings. One of the most common oversights of VoIP is how much quicker and less costly it is to extend the service to multiple office locations. The most basic requirement is an enterprise broadband Internet connection.

Migration to a hosted solution enables businesses to begin experiencing the gains associated with a complete corporate phone structure with little capital expense. The ability to pay as they grow allows smaller enterprises to expense most VoIP features as an operational cost. Not only does this practice minimize both project and economical risk since VoIP communications systems can be scaled to meet business expectations, but it also provides great improvements in areas such as efficiency and collaboration. For small enterprises, obtaining their communications needs over a hosted VoIP platform maintains the advantage of having no large up front expenses and therefore a substantially lower risk. It also enables both businesses and employees the ability to leverga more advanced communications tools and features for less money – resulting in the ability to do more with less.

Since a hosted VoIP solutions requires no software and a minimal amount of new infrastructure, both the maintenance and support costs of the system can be drastically reduced over time. Quality hosted VoIP service, such as that offered by Nextiva, includes user administration, globalization, security and centralized governance. Process that will be handled by the solutions provider to further assist in reducing project time and expense. After the installation phase of the initial phone system is completed, the hosted solutions provider will assume responsibility for ongoing operational maintenance. This allows internal IT staff to focus their attention on more pertinent IT tasks instead of having to manage maintenance and administration.

Since hosted VoIP is accessed through a secured cloud, businesses are able to effortlessly integrate their phone system with existing business applications; email, messaging and customer data bases can all be integrated with VoIP platforms to enhance efficiency, speed up processes and greatly improve client satisfaction rates.

A hosted VoIP communications system provides a logical solution to smaller enterprises seeking to reduce their ongoing expenses while maintaining a market edge over competitors.


Unlocking the Potential of Business VoIP

The goals and strategic processes of smaller enterprises really do not differ too much from those of larger firms. Unlike larger enterprises, however, the small business proprietor is limited by the financial resources available to him. For that purpose, it is increasingly important that small businesses explore the cost efficient options available to them. A small business VoIP communications solution is one of those options.

Efficient and flexible communications features assist greatly in ensuring continuous business success. In fact, there is a direct correlation between keeping pace with technological telecommunications advancements and ongoing business growth. Small businesses failing to maintain updated telecommunications systems seldom advance. Communications plays an integral role in the modern business world, both internally and externally, and VoIP is specially engineered to facilitate communications while working to improve employee efficiency and collaboration.

Not only does VoIP far surpass conventional telephony in both ease of use and functionality, it also offers the use of many features designed to save both time and money. Some of the most commonly utilized elements of VoIP technology include:

Enhanced Voicemail
Automated Attendant
Call Forwarding
Call Routing
IP Fax
Hold Music
Call Screening
Automatic Call Distribution
Find Me – Follow Me

Through the continued use of Internet based calling applications small businesses are able to carry out many business enhancing tasks. These tasks include:

The ability to communicate directly via a computer over a broadband Internet connection.
Simultaneously link all business computers.
Communicate will employees geographically dispersed in a virtual, real-time environment.
Hold business meetings, or conferences, in an Internet environment. Lessening the need for lengthy business travel.
Monitor and track employee performance, while increasing customer service capabilities.

The tremendous flexibility of VoIP greatly improves the way that small business, their employees and clients remain connected. Since communications are initiated through a data network, rather than over a conventional phone line, clarity and cost efficiency are unmatched. VoIP technology embraces growing businesses by enabling them add or remove extensions and users with ease.

Given the advances and benefits of a VoIP communications system, there is no doubt as to why budding small businesses prefer VoIP over its outdated competitor.


Common VoIP Fixes

A knowledgeable and pro-active small business owner will realize the most value of using a VoIP system. One of the driving factors to migrating to VoIP is the ability to send and receive faxes over the Internet; especially beneficial to businesses who make faxing a regular part of the office communications.

While most businesses elect to use software based faxing solutions, there still exist businesses who maintain their conventional fax machines. There may be complications when using an older fax machine with VoIP, certain adjustments can rectify this. The most common solution is to lower the Baud rate to 9600 and disable the error correction mode. It is important that the business VoIP provider supports the G7111 codec as this is the most commonly used codec with VoIP faxing.
Outside of faxing challenges, the most common pitfalls of VoIP and there most likely fixes are:

Missing Incoming Calls: This often occurs when the IAD is unable to register with the solutions provider. If there is a voicemail associated with the account then it is likely that the VoIP provider will route the calls directly to voicemail. The most appropriate solution for this, however, is a technology known as “Call forwarding upon the loss of registration.” When this technology is operational, all incoming calls will automatically be routed to a pre determined number in the event that Internet connectivity is lost.

No dial tone: If, when attempting to make an outgoing call, there is an absence of dial tone the first thing to do is make sure that the broadband Internet service has not been interrupted. If the Internet is ok, check for a light on the phone line indicator on the router. If there is no light, simply reboot the router. If the light is on, and not blinking, try to connect the phone directly to the router without any external devices or splitters. It may be necessary to replace the phone or phone cords.

Static noise: Static or buzzing sounds are generally the result of electrical interferences. It is important to make sure that cordless phones always have charged batteries. Moving away from other magnetic or electrical objects can also decrease static buzz.


Number Portability An Option With VoIP

It is not uncommon for smaller businesses to stay with their current communications provider, even though they are not receiving the best service, simply because they fear that switching will mean a necessity to change their business phone number. The VoIP revolution has prompted nearly half of the nations businesses to migrate to a more cost efficient platform while maintaining their existing business numbers. Thanks in part to number portability. The business phone number is one of the key elements to any successful business as it allows for both internal and external contact, consumers are likely to associate certain phone number with the business and changing that number may make the company appear less credible. When making the decision to migrate to a small business VoIP solution it is essential that the service provider selected offers number portability.

Another great advantage to number portability is the ability to utilize that number from any location the business happens to operate out of. It is important to remember though, that there may be instances where the business may have to forfeit their existing phone number if they move out of the service area of their solutions provider.

For those businesses unfamiliar with the basics of transferring phone number the thought of number portability may be difficult. Small businesses are urged to run compatibility checks with all potential new VoIP providers as there are certain scenarios that may make it difficult for small enterprises to retrieve their original calling number.

Having to give up the original business phone number may have detrimental effects on the corporation. If, after migrating to VoIP, businesses do decide to change their corporate phone number it is highly recommended that they notify customers of their new contact information as soon as possible. The number portability offered by VoIP has the potential to take businesses in either direction. To make certain that the direction taken is the right one adopt a best practice methodology of:

1. Updating consumer lists

2. Contact consumers in the event of corporate contact alterations

3. Email, or advertise the new number to current consumers

4. Ensure that all company marketing material contains the correct and updated contact information
Small enterprise proprietors must review their VoIP solution providers’ policies regarding phone number changes. The majority of VoIP providers have a clause that prevents switching numbers from one VoIP providers to a competitors.

However, switching from a non-VoIP provider to a VoIP provider is often widely accepted.
VoIP provides a cost effective medium for small enterprises to carry out both their internal and external communications functions. Internet based communications are becoming increasingly popular amongst self-employed professionals and small business proprietors due in part to the business essential features it affords its users.

The cost savings associated with VoIP solutions make IP telephony a valuable asset to those businesses who routinely communicate internationally. The bare minimum pre-requisite for migrating from a conventional telephony system to a VoIP solution is an active enterprise broadband Internet connection. VoIP is extremely user friendly; however, it is important to remember that there will be occasions where the system may cause minor hassle to the business.


Conference With Ease Thanks To VoIP

Modern businesses are becoming increasingly reliant upon video and web conferencing as a means of meeting their business conferencing needs. Not only is hosting enterprise meetings on a virtual sphere more cost efficient than the traditional business meeting, it is also much more ecologically sound as the need for consumable materials is lessened. The Internet has far altered the way businesses operate, and VoIP based conferences hold a significant advantage over historical practices.

Both IP telephony and VoIP have become leaders in the Internet communications industry, record sales exceeding $15 million per year prove the stability and popularity of VoIP in business environments. Given some small businesses owners inability to welcome technological change it may be daunting to view the correlation between the Internet and voice communications. Regardless of this, however, the concept of VoIP is relatively noncomplex. VoIP works by converting human voice into a digital codec that is then transported over the Internet and converted back into an analog signal so that it can be correctly interpreted by the receiving party.

Use VoIP in a web conferencing scenario provides businesses with the latest technology, and a large variety of user friendly tools and features. Some of the most essential VoIP conferencing features maintain similar qualities to those that one would expect to utilize in a conventional conferencing environment. These tools include; white boards that can be drawn on virtually, pointers, slide shows and file sharing. A particular benefit of VoIP based conferences is their ability to be recorded for playback at a later date – this enables absentees to easily review missed materials.

Businesses actively deploying VoIP conferencing cite its resourcefulness and cost efficiencies as their primary drivers for accepting the technology. While web conferencing is certainly not a new concept, web conferencing on its own was a costly activity. Often such conferences were limited to the amount of attendees that could be present and video and voice services were often billed per-minute; more if the conference was held by participants from different geographic locales. Merging VoIP with web conferencing proved valuable in mitigating those pitfalls and eradicating the threat of long distance billing as it provides the same unlimited calling capabilities as normal day-to-day VoIP calling.


With Nextiva Business VoIP, Promoting Group Now Ranks #1

By switching from an on-premise PBX phone system to Nextiva’s award-winning Office phone syste, PromotingGroup.com has significantly lowered its telecommunications costs while improving its operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Promoting Group, an Internet marketing agency located in Los Angeles, California, is experiencing the many benefits of a hosted business VoIP phone system since switching to Nextiva. Promoting Group provides its clients with full service website design, social media marketing, reputation management, and search engine optimization. Promoting Group’s clientele includes high-profile celebrities, athletes, Inc 500 companies, as well as small businesses in many industries. When the company was founded, its President, Eli Natan, invested in an expensive on-premise PBX that was to be used with various communications service providers for their toll-free numbers, local calling, long distance, and fax. After experiencing quality and performance issues with the original on-premise PBX system, Natan realized that his company required a superior business phone system that’s cost-effective and easy to manage. After performing diligent and extensive research, Natan selected Nextiva for its scalability, powerful features, and low price.

With over 20 employees on the phone during business hours, Promoting Group was running a phone bill of over $2300 each month prior to switching to Nextiva. By switching to Nextiva’s Office VoIP phone system, Promoting Group no longer has multiple telecommunication providers. All PBX features, local, long distance, fax, and toll-free services are now with one provider on one bill for less than $500 per month. “We had difficulty dealing with the costs and headaches that come with multiple communications vendors,” says Natan. “Our company now operates on an impressive, high-quality phone system that is reliable and easy to manage.”

Nextiva has differentiated its business VoIP phone service from the competition by offering a high quality service, Amazing Support™ and low prices. As the business telephone market continues to transition from traditional local phone service to VoIP phone service, Nextiva has positioned itself to be a top choice in VoIP service for many businesses. The Nextiva Office phone system is managed online and requires no technical experience.

“Switching to Nextiva was a great decision, the transition was smooth and simple. We’ve seen a dramatic decrease of our monthly telecommunications costs while experiencing a boost in how our company communicates with clients and vendors,” says Natan.”


Save Time And Money With Business VoIP

The small enterprise world is experiencing huge payoffs by migrating towards VoIP communications systems. Experienced and knowledgeable VoIP solutions providers assist businesses in improving their proficiency and support capabilities through the use of hosted VoIP systems. By replacing their existing PBX with a virtual solution, businesses greatly enhance their access to revolutionary features and realize benefits never before experienced. Not only does VoIP afford smaller businesses a competitive advantage it also enables them to save a great deal of time, money and effort.

A hosted business VoIP system takes advantage of the functionality of a high speed, broadband Internet connection to create a complete and comprehensive corporate communications system. Operating on a virtual platform to initiate their communications processes opens the doors to benefits and tools that were never accessible over a conventional PSTN network.

Given the virtualized nature of VoIP, business administrators are able to effortlessly control their communications systems, over Internet channels, through specialized applications provided by hosted solutions providers. The concept of VoIP calls are simple, analog voice communications is converted into a digital signal and then routed to either another VoIP platform or to an existing public telephone line where it is then converted back into an analog signal so that the conversation is recognizable by the recipient.

As mentioned earlier, there are many benefits of a VoIP system; both in terms of functionality and scalability. Companies experiencing growth are able to quickly add virtual extensions to further extend their corporate communications networks. Increasing a communications network by traditional means is a costly expense; this is not the case with VoIP.

There is no question as to why VoIP provides the most successful methods of small business communications. Enterprises are able to effectively reduce costs, while significantly enhancing their service and collaboration abilities. Calling between VoIP systems is generally available at no cost, while calls made to wireless of public telephone networks are often available for a single low monthly flat rate. Since VoIP service is available inclusive of services, there is no need to budget for support fees or to purchase additional features a-la-carte; enabling businesses to realize monthly savings often amounting to 80% off of their regular communications expense.




 
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