Archive for the ‘VoIP’ Category


Nextiva Customer Success Story: Austin Cake Ball

Part of our goal at Nextiva is to ensure your phone system is optimized so that you can focus on providing great service to your clients and customers this holiday season.

We’re always eager to hear feedback about our system and service, which is why we love to meet face-to-face with customers to hear their candid opinions about Nextiva. Our Customer Success Story series has taken us across the country to speak with small business owners in a variety of industries, and we are excited to introduce you to our first restaurant spotlight: Austin Cake Ball.

Texas-based Austin Cake Ball resides within Copper Restaurant & Dessert Lounge just north of the city in The Domain shopping center. Diners can satisfy their sweet tooth with a full menu of bite-sized cake balls, in addition to the full dining and cocktail menu that the restaurant has available.  The holiday season means that Austin Cake Ball expands their menu from classic options such as chocolate, red velvet, salted caramel, and Oreo to include festive flavors like pumpkin spice and white chocolate peppermint. In addition to shoppers dropping in from the nearby shops, the restaurant receives a steady stream of dining reservations and cake ball to-go orders – especially in the fall and winter months.

Austin Cake Ball Office Manager, Christi Greene, explained why their business decided to switch to Nextiva, “Before we used Nextiva it was extremely frustrating; we would unfortunately hear stories of people not being able to connect to us and our business.” And those were only the stories that Christi’s team heard – how many other potential customers had they lost because phone calls weren’t coming through?

Anticipating high volumes of bakeshop custom orders and restaurant reservations over the holidays, Christi looked to other business phone solutions so that their phone communications wouldn’t be hindered. “When folks reach out to us via telephone, it’s essential that we’re there to answer the call and that they don’t get a busy signal,” Christi says. Nextiva was able to give her team this peace of mind.

“With our Nextiva service, I know that our guests and clients are able to reach us, make their reservation or place an order and receive great information,” explained Christi. “Our phone system is our lifeline to the outside world.”

Meet Christi and hear her story here:


Changes Coming to Nextiva Invoices

As a service provider in the regulated VoIP industry, Nextiva is required to collect federal, state and local government taxes, surcharges and fees. These taxes and fees are location and usage based and will now be itemized on Nextiva invoices.

Monthly invoices, beginning this month, will include the following sections:

  • Subscription Plan Fee – Product price per user and usage charges, where applicable
  • Package Add Ons – Phones, devices and plan upgrades
  • Shipping – Initial order shipping of phones and devices
  • Taxes and Fees – Itemization of federal, state, city and other local taxes, regulatory surcharges and service delivery fees
  • Phone Numbers on Account – A list of all phone and fax numbers on the account
  • Billing Information – Account billing address and payment information

Standard Definitions:

RRF = Regulatory Recovery Fee: The RRF is assessed as a percentage of interstate and international charges. The RRF is intended to recover increased VoIP provider operating cost due to local, state, and federal regulatory compliance. RRF is separate from government taxes and fees. 

E911 = Enhanced 911 is a service that associates a caller’s physical address with their phone number. In case of emergency calls, the caller’s phone line generates an automatic number identification (ANI) signal to the network. The E911 system then routes the number to the appropriate emergency center. This service is supported by a dedicated network that has been built to address E911 call needs from a reliability, capacity and technology standpoint. All VoIP providers, as well as local and state emergency facilities, are responsible for collecting and funding different aspects of the infrastructure that supports this critical service.

USF = Universal Service Fund: Universal service is the principle that all Americans should have access to communications services. The USF assessment is a charge collected by telecommunications carriers for federal and state funds that support the provision of affordable communications services to rural, isolated, and high-cost regions of the country; low-income residential consumers; schools, libraries, and rural health care.

Invoice Modifications


NextOS Enhancements – What to Expect in Your Business Communications

NextOS EnhancementsNextiva is excited to announce the upcoming enhancements to the NextOS system. In the coming months, we will introduce several new features for Nextiva Office products as well as Call Center. We know these enhancements will help make your business even more efficient and productive. Here are the highlights

Nextiva Office

We are improving the experience for your customers from the minute they call into your business.

  • The Auto Attendant now has the option for Holiday Hours on the menu.
  • Upon completion of announcements played on the Auto Attendant, it will automatically take callers back to the main menu.
  • You can store media files in a repository for all of your announcements and easily access different messages when you need to make changes.
  • If you use our Meet-Me Conferencing, you will notice that you can now see who is talking during the conference taking all the guess work out of collaboration.
  • Receptionist Consoles will now display calendar information for all users in real-time.
  • Everyone using the dashboard will see their colleagues’ presence/availability status and IM them on the spot.
  • New options will be available for Executive/Admin roles, allowing for multiple configurations, where all key features are supported in a single view, including Call Screening, Simultaneous Ring, Monitoring, Bridging and Call Push/Pull.

Call Center

We are also enhancing Nextiva Call Center to improve agent efficiency and customer experience.

  • Agent skill-based routing will send calls to only agents/groups of agents assigned to a certain business skill, i.e. advanced technical service, claims processing or administrator skillss.
  • Agents and Supervisors will see visual cues when agents are not operating within desired limits, SLAs or KPIs, so adjustments can quickly be made or training issues addressed.
  • Queue status will now be visible to support better staffing, call routing and training decisions.

Stay tuned for more information in the near future! 


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Use Incentives for Your Customer Service Employees

Salespeople typically get incentivized to motivate better performance, but do you offer incentives to your customer service employees, too? After all, they have the arguably harder job of keeping customers happy after the sale. Creating a customer service employee incentive program can not only improve your customer service, but also boost profits and help retain valued customer service workers.

Here are some tips for setting up a successful incentive program:

  • Set specific goals. What behaviors do you want to reinforce with your incentives? Take time to think about what customer service activities have the biggest effect on customer retention, profits and word-of-mouth. For example, rewarding the customer service rep who handles the most calls in the shortest time won’t be effective if those customers aren’t truly satisfied. In this case, rewarding employees who get the best customer reviews might be a better criterion.
  • Share the standards for obtaining incentives. Make it very clear to customer service employees what behaviors or actions you are rewarding and how you will measure their activities. This way, employees will know for themselves if they’re working up to par.
  •  Mix it up. Use different types of rewards depending on the behavior you’re trying to encourage, what your customer service reps want most, and what you can afford. You might want to use cash bonuses for some behaviors, gift cards or certificates for others, and recognition (such as “Employee of the Week”) for others. Also consider letting employees choose their own rewards from among a “menu” of options.
  • Make it fun. Customer service is a tiring job, so re-energize employees with game-oriented rewards that encourage friendly competition. For instance, you could wrap up a mystery prize and award it to the employee or team who most exemplifies going “above and beyond” at the end of a day.
  • Set a budget. Put money aside for customer service employee incentives—it’s important. If you’re on a tight budget, barter with other local businesses to get gift cards or free products and services you can use as rewards.
  • Make it a group activity. In addition to individual and team-based incentives, consider adding a departmental incentive such as an annual outing to a local theme park, sporting event or spa if the customer service department meets specific goals. Make sure the event is something all your customer service employees will enjoy and aspire to.

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.


Tips to Effectively Manage Remote Workers

I may not be Captain Kirk, but my extensive travel schedule makes it imperative that I meet my business responsibilities while remaining connected to my base.  Some of your employees may have the same needs.  Sales territories keep your reps far from your home office, but even local workers may need to work from home during inclement weather — or even just because they prefer wearing fuzzy slippers from 9 to 5.

Remote work can make sense, as long as your employees have the resources that they need to excel at their jobs wherever they are.  But it also takes disciplined workers and supportive managers.  Here are some tips on how to decide which employees will be effective remote workers and how to ensure that they provide professional representation for your company.

Identifying Good Remote Workers

If an employee that reminds you of Ferris Bueller or Dude Lebowski asks for the opportunity to work from home, just say no.  Self-motivated employees, on the other hand, are likely to be even more productive when they don’t spend time commuting to an office where distractions and interruptions typically exceed those that workers might find at home.

Still, employees who want to work from home need to show that they have an appropriate, interruption-free work area.  For example, they probably need to send the kids to daycare or hire a nanny.  But just as important, look for employees who already display dedication, as evidenced by the following traits:

  • They consistently meet or exceed deadlines, even if it means coming in early or staying late;
  • They take work home while still putting in a full workday, particularly when that work requires unfettered concentration;
  • They keep you informed of progress without the need to prompt them;
  • They are good problem-solvers on their own, but they know when to seek your help.

Remote Employees Must Maintain a Professional Image to the Outside World

No customer, vendor or other outside party should ever see the laundry basket in an employee’s living room and seeing the inside of a coffee shop is no better.  In other words, business contact must occur outside of the home in professional surroundings.

You work hard to develop a professional image for your business and your employees need to maintain it, no matter where they are.  I count on Regus (who, for disclosure is a client of mine, and whose services and locations I have used as a client of theirs for years), one of the largest providers of flexible workspaces in the world, for the professional image that I need. 

Using professional remote workspaces allows you to rent anything from office space to meeting rooms on an as-needed basis, but if you regularly provide remote workers with access to flexible facilities, a resource like Regus’s Businessworld card can help keep costs under control while providing a professional working environment.

Technology Creates a Bridge between Workers and Home Base

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Most remote workers use a computer in some capacity to do their jobs.  It doesn’t matter if 

they carry a company laptop back and forth between home and office or if they use their own computer — as long as they have access to the right functions.  But once you take employees out of the office, you often need additional technology such as the following to keep them connected:

  • A reliable Internet connection;
  • High-quality and secure access to your office computer network, including email, using collaboration suites like Office 365;
  • A quality phone system, like those provided by Nextiva;
  • The ability to attend interactive meetings and video conferences online.

Having appropriate technology makes it seamless for you to collaborate with your team or even your vendors from almost anywhere in the world.

Avoiding the Isolation of Remote Work Environments

I know someone who was forced to work from home during her first months with a new employer simply because her office computer did not work.  She would come in to the office for meetings, but she lamented that the delay in getting to know her co-workers made her feel alienated from the team.  Years later, after she formed a bond with the team, she started working from home several days a week.  She enjoyed her time at home, but she always felt a sense of renewal when she returned to the office.

All employees must feel a close connection to the company and their co-workers, and it is your job to make sure that happens.  By conducting regular one-on-one and department phone meetings, you provide them with vital information relevant to their daily activities, but face-to-face contact is incredibly valuable as well.  You should make it clear that you expect local employees to come to the office on a regular basis, and even workers on the other side of the country might be able to travel in for the quarterly company meeting or other major events.

Everyone would enjoy the chance to wear fuzzy slippers and PJs during their work day, but this is just one of many reasons why studies have shown remote workers to be generally happier and more productive.  Still, it is important to make sure that a remote workplace does not equate to a remote connection with the company team.  With your guidance, employees who receive this benefit will earn your trust every day — especially if those fuzzy slippers have your company logo embroidered on them.


Nextiva Customer Success Story: Five Star Tours

The leading tour bus company in San Diego, Five Star Tours and Charter Bus Company is a family-operated business that specializes in international group transportation and tour services along the Californian and Mexican coasts.

We recently met with Alfonso Hernandez, General Manager of Five Star Tours, to chat with him about how his company uses their phone system to conduct their business operations.

Located in a bustling train station, the Five Star Tours team used to have a phone system that was connected to the station’s PA. This proved to be a headache throughout their day-to-day activities, as the system consistently dropped calls, didn’t support caller ID, and wouldn’t accurately transfer calls. On top of that, they would receive conductor messages over their phone calls. It was time for a change.

We were happy to hear Alfonso report that Nextiva’s phone service gave them a 100% turnaround. They can now hear their clients clearly, and they have programmed their call forwarding functions and hunt groups to give the team more freedom of mobility.

Best of all, Nextiva gave Five Star Tours a competitive advantage. That’s the goal of Nextiva’s products and services – to make your day easier and give you a leg up on your competition. We’re glad that we were able to make that happen for Alfonso and his team.

Hear his full story here:


3 Ways to Prepare for a Trade Show

DS2_8820-maWhen we plan events as part of our marketing strategy, there typically 2 primary goals: lead generation and brand awareness, with leads being the most important. There are, of course other reasons to exhibit and sponsor events, such as partner relationship development, meeting with multiple current customers in one location, and even hiring new employees. However, these are generally secondary objectives.

It's no secret that events are quite costly. In fact, they can quickly command 20-30% of your marketing budget with just a few events each year. So, it pays to do it right.

Here are a few tips that can make sure you get the biggest bang for your buck.

1. Start early. With planning, promoting and logistics – it is never too soon to start the process. From ordering onsite services to designing your theme, message as well as promotional and educational materials – event dates are hard deadlines. The show must go on, as they say, so it’s better to be prepared and have all of your information ready with a consistent look and feel, and of course, content.

​Here’s why:

  • Discounts are often available if you order onsite services early.
  • Shipping costs less if you can send ground and use the event transportation company.
  • Avoid rush charges on graphic production and material printing.

2. Prospect pre-event. Tell your customers, prospects, previous event leads and potential partners which events you will be participating in and what you’ll be doing at each one. Share your role in the event; let them know if you are exhibiting, speaking, sponsoring or hosting a custom event. Spread the message across multiple channels and sources so you can attract as many targeted attendees as possible.

Here’s why:

  • The audience is already spending the time and money to get there.
  • Meeting with so many people in the same place reduces your travel budget.
  • Filter through the primary prospects from the “just kicking the tires” so you can focus your follow-up activities on your best opportunities.

3. Create a fun, engaging experience at the event. Background banners and a literature stand with hand sanitizer as your give-away (granted, a much needed item at events, but not the reason people attend) in a 10×10 booth are common place. Be different. Do something fun! Make people want to seek out your booth, event, activity, etc. You are spending a lot of money to produce an event (even with a 10×10 booth) so create a memorable experience that people talk about well after the event ends.

Here’s why:

  • An extra dollar or two (yes, that’s all it takes) on your give-away can stand out as something people remember – and use.
  • Your fun theme will stick with people and help them remember your brand as one they associate with smart and creative people.
  • The last thing you want is to throw money away. And that’s what happens when your give-away is cheap or not memorable.

Nextiva Customer Success Story: Fanology Social

The vibrant team at Fanology Social spends their days helping their clients form one-to-one relationships with fans across social media platforms. The award-winning digital content agency works with celebrities and big brands across the country including Toyota, Mini Cooper, Ashley Tisdale, Waka Flocka Flame, and Shay Mitchell.

We met with Richard Janes, CEO of Fanology Social in Los Angeles, to learn about how his company uses their phone system on a day-to-day basis.

“We’re in social media, so the biggest thing for us is talking to people and having those conversations,” explained Richard. “So if your phones don’t work and they’re crackly…we’re in trouble.”

Once a small team of only 3 employees, their only work phones were their mobile devices. Now at 16 employees and growing, they knew they had to transition to a more reliable communications solution.

When searching for new VoIP service, Richard’s first priority was to find a provider who could provide great customer service. After reading reviews and narrowing down his choices with a few phone calls, he chose Nextiva.

When asking Richard why he picked Nextiva out of all the VoIP providers available, he explained: “They took an interest in our business and about how we could best utilize their toolset. And obviously there were some things that we’re applicable to us, but there were some things that I hadn’t thought about that immediately made total sense when it was explained, because they had the expertise.”

Find out why telephones are not something that Richard has to worry about anymore:


Nextiva Customer Success Story: NDN

The team at News Distribution Network brings content to life for over 146 million viewers worldwide by providing publishers with over 100,000 real-time stories each month. Their mission is to revolutionize the digital marketplace for their publishing partners and brands through profitable, next-generation media solutions.

Every day, NDN employees across the country work 24/7 to provide short-form video content to online publishers and content creators. Founded in 2007, the NDN team now has over 100 employees with locations along both the east and west coasts.

A reliable phone system has proven critical to NDN, as they use it on a daily basis to:

  • Receive information on breaking news stories to get them on their partners’ websites as quickly as possible
  • Have immediate access to contacting their media distributing partners 24/7 in case there is a problem
  • Let employees easily travel between nationwide offices without having to reconfigure a phone each time

We met with Joe Bunker, Senior Director of Network Operations at NDN’s headquarters in Atlanta, to learn about his company’s transition to Nextiva’s phone service in 2009. We’d love to share his story with you:




 
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