Archive for March, 2013


Nextiva Team Building – Amazing Service Bowl 2013

The mention of a team building activity in an office can often invoke groans and eye rolls, as they can be seen as a silly, time-wasting activity. But properly organized team building can be fun and exciting, while increasing the skills, communication and morale of team members. Some of the many benefits of team building activities include:

  • Having the opportunity to complete unique, challenging tasks that are outside the realm of typical duties for a feeling of accomplishment amongst participants.
  • Communication skills will strengthen as people who may not be used to working each other begin working together and learning about each other.
  • Employees that usually delegate the work can focus on getting the tasks done and vice versa to allow all participants to experience new roles and improve leadership skills.
  • Relationships will strengthen as everyone bands together to learn new skills and complete tasks.
  • Depending on each other to complete a team building activity leads to an increased sense of trust amongst employees.
  • When given a task that is different than standard work duties, participants are able to develop new ideas and use their creativity.

Nextiva understands the importance of team building activities, which is why we frequently incorporate events like the Build-A-Thon and Office Olympics into our culture. Most recently, we held a company-wide flag football game for all members of the Unitedweb team, deemed the first ever Amazing Service Bowl! Split into four co-ed teams of 10, players took on the field at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale, Arizona and played bracketed games until a winning team was determined. After the showdown, employees dined on hot dogs, fruit and chips at a nearby pavilion. The game proved successful for boosting leadership skills, collaboration between members of different departments, building rapport and increasing communication. Check out the highlight reel of the Amazing Service Bowl, here:

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How to Keep Track of Your Passwords

These days, there’s a password for everything. But in the interest of your own security, every password should be different, which makes remembering them a difficult task. The following are some creative ways that can help you create new passwords and actually remember them all.

Remember 100 different passwords with 1 rule
One way to generate unique passwords that you can remember is to choose a base password and then include part of the name of the service associated with it, recommends LifeHacker.com. An example is use your base password – say “Love” – and add letters from the service. So your Yahoo password might be LOVEYHAO and your Google password cloud be “GOGLOVE”. Or, you can use your initials or favorite number to start plus the first 3 letters of a service name. So for Amazon, John Bob Smith could use JBS10AMA. To make a password even more secure, or applicable for services that require other characters, add special characters around it, like # JBS10AMA#.

Here are some other examples of patterns you could use:

  • Three letters, special character, three numbers
  • Three numbers, special character, three letters
  • Take a word and insert numbers and special characters in specific positions

Those are the basic components of your new password system. Even the simplest version is a fairly difficult password to crack. If you’re really security conscious you can make passwords stronger by:

  • Use both upper and lower case letters
  • Use more special characters
  • Make the way you combine them more complicated

4 Small Business Hiring Tips

Are you getting your small business off the ground but need help with the HR aspect of things? Find dedicated, quality employees to help run your business with these four tips:

Attract the right employee.         

Know what kind of person you want to hire before beginning the hiring process – you need to be able to fit the right piece into the puzzle. Decide what level of education and experience you will require for the position, and any special skills or personality traits that you would like them to have. Then, advertise the position in places your ideal demographic looks. Think outside the box by utilizing LinkedIn, Facebook, or a local networking website for your industry.

Make your position desirable.

Hiring a new employee is a two way street. Once they have shown interest in the position by submitting an application, it is the company’s turn to show interest in appropriate candidates by convincing them that the job is right for them. Tell your candidates what makes you stand out from other companies – growth opportunities, employee perks, a casual work environment. Differentiate yourself.

Keep your employees happy

It starts with the employees you already have. When an employee is fanatical about the company they work for, they tell their friends and acquaintances. Companies that are respected as a great work environment have the pleasure of larger pools of applicants to select future employees. On the other hand, if you have a team of unhappy workers, they may express their opinions to future hires, turning the qualified ones away.

Have a respected manager conduct the interview

Choose an interviewer that will show the company in a positive light. Do not send in a disliked manager, as they may give your company a poor image and potential hires could look elsewhere. Don’t scare away a good match! Select someone who is personable, knowledgeable, and knows what to look for in a candidate. 


Nextiva Customer Success Story: Apparel Candy

Online wholesaler of women’s clothing, accessories and perfume, ApparelCandy.com strives to offer the ultimate in hot styles for fashionistas across the country. The company strives to offer the best service and quality to their customers by offering new and innovative ways for them to easily place their orders, whether it’s through the phone, fax or on their website. Four years ago, Kam Javidzad realized the necessity of upgrading from basic landlines to a more sophisticated phone service, and chose Nextiva as the company’s communications provider.

Last month, we visited Apparel Candy’s California headquarters and met with Kam to learn more about his experience of switching to Nextiva’s cloud-based system. He explained to us how a reliable phone system is crucial to their revenue stream, as many of the company’s incoming orders are received over the phone.

We were thrilled to hear how much their employees appreciate Nextiva’s HD voice quality when conversing with customers and that the numerous features were benefitting their service delivery. Companies like Apparel Candy are ideal users of Nextiva’s voicemail-to-email feature, which allows Kam and his team to efficiently respond to customers’ questions and orders in a timely manner. Check out Apparel Candy’s full review of Nextiva’s VoIP service, here:


How to be More Productive When Working While Traveling

Working and traveling simultaneously is a fact of life for many people. Yet traveling often cuts into a person’s productivity significantly. The following are some tips to help you be more productive when you’re away on business.

Know your work habits

Be aware of the times when you’re the most productive and when you’re not. Then plan working on the more difficult or pressing work during those times and leave the easier work for the time of day you’re usually not as productive.

Block out Distractions

Cut out the countless distractions that can sabotage your work, including email that can interrupt your productivity. Close your web browser and resist the urge to engage in social media and read articles and any other Internet activities not related to work. Save those for your downtime. If you’re working in a busy coffee shop, wear earphones and listen to classical music.

Find a Dedicated Workspace

Having a dedicated work space puts you into productivity mode, but when you travel this can be more difficult. You can use the hotel kitchen table, but a local coffee shop is often better. Better yet, go to the local library for less distraction.

Set Concrete Work Hours

Trying setting a time limit to get your work done, say 90 minutes, and you’ll be surprised at just how productive you’ll be in that short time, says FreelanceSwitch.com. With a limited time frame, people are often more efficient, since Parkinson’s Law suggests that a task will inflate in difficulty and importance relative to the time allocated to it, the site says.

Keep three lists of three

Zen Habits suggests creating a list that prioritizes work. The first list has three things to be done today. The second is three things you’d like to get done, but aren’t essential. The third is three things that need to be done at some point.


Nextiva Customer Success Story: Retrospec Bicycles

Retrospec Bicycles produces fixed-gear, single speed, and urban bicycles to sell around the globe. The youthful company designs, manufactures and distributes the products from their Los Angeles headquarters to offer cycling enthusiasts the most customized, high quality riding experience around. Retrospec takes pride in delivering riders with powerful and durable products – so it’s fitting that they have chosen Nextiva’s robust, feature-full service to support their efforts.

Although their office currently has only four employees, Retrospec is expanding quickly to support their growing demand. Their Nextiva cloud-based service will easily expand as they add new employees, and the marginal cost structure will allow them to save money in the process. We spoke with Ely Alexander, CEO of Retrospec, to learn more about his experience with Nextiva over the past three years:

If you find yourself frequently traveling like Ely and his team, don’t be afraid to trust your cell phone to keep in touch with customers and clients. Nextiva’s fax-to-email and Nextiva Anywhere are great for helping you stay in touch with office communications through your mobile device!


What difference can an hour make?

It’s that time of year – time to spring forward and to set our clocks ahead one hour. Pushing an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening allows for long summer nights, but can also make for a sleepy Monday morning this coming workweek. Although the clock on your nightstand may have changed, your body’s internal clock may have not. Here are some tips to prepare for the time change without having to load up on an extra mug of java:

  • Take advantage of the weekend and begin adjusting your snoozing hours on Saturday or Sunday. Your sleep schedule is typically more flexible on the weekend so there’s no reason you have to wait til Monday to start acclimating to the new time.
  • Avoid long naps and opt for a power nap instead. Short, 20 minute naps tend to be more energizing than lengthy snooze fests.
  • Exercise early in the day to boost your energy and release serotonin. This will raise your heart rate in the morning so your body is more prepared for rest at nightfall.
  • Avoid sleep medications that can negatively impact the quality of sleep you’ll receive. Try to cue your body that it is bedtime by dimming the lights, reading a book and playing soft music.
  • Eat a light dinner an hour earlier than usual, avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks. This will help your body’s digestive cycle adjust so that you are comfortable when it is time to go to sleep.

No matter what method you decide to use to ensure you’re bright eyed and bushy tailed on Monday morning, don’t forget to “spring ahead” on March 10th!


Nextiva Customer Success Story: The Promoting Group

Last month, we took the time to meet and interview Nextiva enthusiast, Eli Natan of Promoting Group. Based in Los Angeles, Promoting Group is an interactive agency that creates online campaigns for businesses who want to drive leads and traffic to their website. Eli switched his company from a large traditional phone provider to Nextiva’s cloud-based phone systems and we were eager to hear how VoIP phone service has been able to help his business.

Promoting Group prides themselves on using cutting-edge technology and marketing strategies to deliver public relations and search engine optimization services to their clients. The team at Promoting Group found the need for a feature that would let them easily add extensions for their growing team of marketers and SEO professionals. We were happy to hear that after a quick call to Nextiva’s Amazing Service team, their employees were able to learn how to utilize the NextOS Portal to adjust their extension settings.

Because Promoting Group employees are in constant communication with their clients to ensure they are offering efficient and results-oriented service, the ability to transfer calls and reach international destinations is critical. We are ecstatic that they are so please with their service and look forward to providing Eli and his team with a smooth, clear connection and useful business features for many years to come. View our interview with Promoting Group, here:


Feature Focus: Nextiva Anywhere

Last month, we shared with you some different ways that mobility is helping SMBs compete with enterprises. VoIP technology is allowing smaller organizations to experience remote access to customers and clients, increases in employee productivity and cost savings.

Nextiva increases the ability for you to stay mobile on-the-go through a handy feature called Nextiva Anywhere. This tool allows you to forward calls to your mobile device or home phone, then toggle back and forth between any of the devices. Find yourself on an important call at the end of the day but are in a rush to get home and see your family? No problem – seamlessly transfer the active call from desk phone to cell phone with the press of a button and you can finish your conversation on your drive home.

With Nextiva Anywhere, you also have the ability to dial out from a mobile device and have the caller ID on the recipient’s end represent that the call is coming from your desk phone. This lets you maintain the professionalism of being “in the office” even if you are traveling or working from home.

Nextiva Anywhere is available with Nextiva Office Enterprise and can be easily set up and managed through a user’s NextOS Portal.  Check out our “Tip in a Minute” video and let our VoIP Specialist, Mathew, explain the Nextiva Anywhere setup in 3 simple steps:




 
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