Archive for the ‘VoIP’ Category


Business VoIP ‘s Time Has Come

Posted on by Leo Welder

In the early to mid 1990’s, the Internet was a cool thing. Unfortunately, extremely slow and unreliable Internet Service Providers made it little more than a gimmick for most people. Not too long ago, smartphones with web browsers gave us a glimpse at portable computing, but it took the iPhone and high-speed wireless data plans to integrate them into the mainstream. VoIP is another technology that has taken many years to mature, but its time has finally come. Smartphones and VoIP are rapidly pushing traditional phone lines out of our homes, and all the signs point to the same happening in the business world.

I’ve been reviewing business technology products for the past seven years, and I started paying attention to VoIP services targeting business in 2009. At the time, my office was using a traditional Nortel phone system with AT&T phone lines, and I absolutely hated all of it. The phones were stupidly expensive and the functions were counter-intuitive. We also had to pay an IT guy to setup a new phone every time we made a new hire. When I read that business VoIP phones were less expensive, more flexible, easier to use and required no special IT skills to configure, I was excited to try them out. Unfortunately, when we started testing the products, the reliability and call quality was so poor that we couldn’t justify making the switch in our own office, let alone recommend other business owners purchase the products.

Over the next two years, the business VoIP companies invested heavily in their data infrastructures as well as the VoIP technology itself. The data compression technology that the companies developed dramatically decreased the amount of bandwidth that the phones needed to provide clear reception. Some companies also started creating redundancies with their servers and data, so if systems failed in one location, a backup would automatically take its place. These and other technological and process improvements dramatically improved VoIP’s call quality and reliability.

Stocksy_txp0e3537cfRr5000_Small_177711Our company finally made the switch to business VoIP in 2011. Everything worked as advertised and the features and cost savings were substantial. However, as we grew, we found that the lower equipment costs and monthly per line costs were eventually offset by the fact that every phone had to have it’s own dedicated line. Rather than paying for 4 rollover lines with AT&T, we were paying for 20 lines with our business VoIP carrier (one line for each employee and 2 conference rooms), but most of our employees only needed the phone a few times per week.

Over the last six to nine months, VoIP companies like Nextiva have started to offer customized plans based on each individual company’s needs. You can get dedicated lines, shared minute plans (VoIP’s equivalent to rollover lines), virtual extensions for mobile employees, and any combination of these in order to pay only for what you need.

Like high-speed wireless and smartphones, VoIP technology isn’t perfect. VoIP phone service still isn’t as reliable as a traditional landline, but its dramatically improved reliability combined with flexible pricing plans, incredible features and flexibility have leveled the playing field. The telecom industry recognizes that VoIP is where businesses are heading and the quality is only going to get better. For many businesses, it’s already a much better option than old school landlines.

 

Leo Welder is the Founder of Zilker Ventures, which owns and operates a family of websites focused on business technology. The company’s latest website is FindAFax.com, which is dedicated to online fax and Internet based communications.



How Can Voicemail-to-Email Make Your Life Easier?

Paul Kida has been a member of the Nextiva Support Team since 2010 and now serves as the Onboarding Team Manager.

Voicemail is a very common way for a customer or client to provide you with detailed information about questions, concerns or projects. With so many different things going on in the work place day-to-day, it is expected that at least a few calls might end up in your voicemail box. 

When listening to a voicemail from the phone, it is often easy to miss a phone number or not clearly understand an important part of the message. And starting the entire message over just isn’t an efficient way to work. When using the voicemail-to-email feature, incoming messages are sent to your email where you can open the audio file and listen to it on your computer – a feature that saves time and increases your ability to work remotely.

When listening to a voicemail on a deskphone, you may be required to listen the entire message over again just to catch every important detail.  If there are account numbers, phone numbers, addresses, or other detailed information being left in the voicemail, you may need to listen to the entire voicemail multiple times in order to catch everything. Listening to your voicemails on your computer gives you a time saving advantage, because you can easily rewind to certain parts of the message in case you missed a detail. 

Voicemail-to-email can also help you organize how you will address the voicemail you just received. Certain email programs will let you set up flags and reminders that will ensure you don’t let certain high priority messages fall through the cracks. 

And, you have the ability to control the archived messages on your computer so you won't have to worry about a new message pushing an old message out. This way you don’t have to worry about accidentally deleting important information.

Check out the voicemail-to-email feature with any of the Nextiva Office plans. This feature can be set up within minutes on your phone system.

 


The Nextiva App Has Arrived!

The Nextiva App is here! Available for Nextiva Office ProPlus and Enterprise users on NextOS, it's a free application that simultaneously syncs your business communications between multiple devices. Find out more here:

Download the Nextiva App to your desktop and smartphone today!


Why Scary Sells

??????????????????????????????????????????????????Can you scare customers into buying your product? Fear can actually sell as much as sex or desire since it will trigger people to take action.

According to Lea Dunn of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business, when people feel alone and afraid, they form an emotional attachment to the brands around them. She states that in this heightened state, consumers are more likely to remember those products and think of them favorably. Dunn says this happens because fear induces a need for human connections and if there are no people present, products fill the gap. She believes this emotional attachment happens because people think the product actually “shared” that experience with them.

In works in many sales situations. Behavioral psychologist Dr. Wyatt Woodsmall said that “If you can find out what people’s worst nightmare is, camp out inside their nightmare…[they’ll] do anything…to get out of that situation.”

News broadcasts have peddled fear for years. An insider rallying cry of the media has always been, "If it bleeds, it leads".  Famous brands use fear all the time to sell their products. For example, L’Oreal’s tag line of “Because I’m Worth It” confronts self-loathing among women. FedEx’s “Absolutely, Positively Overnight” addresses the fear of missing a deadline. Nike’s “Just Do It” takes aim at missing out because the consumer is afraid.

Fortunately, you don't need to rob prospects to sell them a home security system. Here is how to scare customers into buying:

  • FUD. When I was at IBM in the 1980s, they told us that “no one ever got fired for buying IBM.” This concept helped because I had to sell against competitors whose products seemed technologically similar to ours but always much cheaper. I frequently used a technique that was called “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to direct the decision maker to buy IBM.  In my sales calls, I recounted all the things that could go wrong if he chose a competitor. Fortunately, the decision maker many times chose IBM, despite the fact that we were more expensive, because we were perceived as the low-risk alternative.
  • Deadlines. Consumers are afraid of missing a deadline. This could be an expiration date of an offer, a holiday calendar deadline or other imposed cutoff date. Dates will push consumers to take action. Note the surge of people signing up for insurance to comply with the Affordable Care Act on March 31.
  • VIP. Consumers want to be a part of “a club” that not everyone get into. Put of a gate and watch how many people want to get in. This is exactly what many buyers’ clubs like Costco do with their small membership fees. The marketing message is that the consumer will miss out on some incredible deals if they are not a member.

Fear-based marketing does not have to be all gloomy. Articulate the negative to what prospects are currently doing and provide a solution to alleviate that fear.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Is It Time to Invest in New Employees—or Is New Technology Enough?

Do you really need to hire new employees—or would new technology serve the same purpose? According to the fifth annual Brother Small Business Survey, a whopping 72 percent of small business owners believe new technology would provide a better return on their investments than hiring new employees (28 percent) this year. No wonder nearly half (49 percent) the small business owners surveyed said investing in new technology is their top priority this year.

It’s not exactly cut and dried. If you’re confused, you aren’t the only one: 63 percent of survey respondents say they often feel “overwhelmed” by the number of tech tools available to help run their companies, and struggle to keep up with knowing what technology to buy.

What are small business owners planning to buy this year? Well, 41 percent say they’re going to invest in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. About one-third will buy Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, 20 percent will buy social technologies and 15 percent say cloud services will be essential to their businesses this year.

So how do you know whether you should hire—or if buying new technology could fill the bill just as well? When debating new technology, ask yourself:

  • ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What is the learning curve for this tool? Can you or your existing employees get up to speed quickly enough that the tool will quickly start providing a return on investment?
  • How much time will the tool save? If the amount of time it saves allows you or your employees to absorb the new tasks into your existing workday, that’s ideal. However, if the new technology will add hours to your workday, you may need to hire new staff to handle the load.
  • Will this tool create additional work or additional business? Sometimes a tech tool can work so well it creates more work. For instance, your new CRM system may create more work at first as you follow up more frequently with prospects and customers. However, eventually it should create new business, not just new work. When you implement a new tool, figure out the break-even point at which it’s generating enough new business to finance hiring a new employee. 

Nextiva Tuesday Tip: How to Get the Most From a Temporary Employee

??????????????????????????????????Are you using (or considering) temporary employees in your small business? Last year we told you why hiring temps can be a smart way to staff up without the hassles of hiring permanent employees. These tips will help you get the most out of your temporary employee relationships.

Welcome temporary employees on board. Too many temporary employees are met with blank stares when they arrive at a new job, then essentially ignored for the duration of their employment. Just as with any new employee, your temporary workers should receive a warm welcome to your business. (This is especially important if you think you may eventually want to hire the temp full-time.) It’s a good idea to match the temp with an employee on staff who can show him or her the ropes of company culture. Talk to your full-time employees about the importance of making sure they help the temp fit in.

Provide adequate orientation and training. Sure, a temp will come to you with knowledge of a skill, such as how to use Excel spreadsheets, code websites or operate a certain type of machinery. But that doesn’t mean he or she knows how the particular job he or she is doing at your company works. No matter how impatient you are for the temp to get to work immediately, spend some time orienting temps as to where their job fits in within the company, what the goals of the job are, and how to perform the specific duties of the job. It will be time well spent.

Take care of the proper paperwork. Just because a temporary agency is handling the temp’s payroll doesn’t mean you’re off the hook legally. Temporary employees can still file claims against your company if they feel discriminated against, harassed or if you are breaking wage and hour laws. Make sure each temporary employee reviews your employee handbook and signs a document that he or she has read and understood it. Also review your contract with the temporary agency carefully so you know what forms you need to have the temp complete, what records you’re required to keep about the person’s employment, and how long you need to maintain them after he or she leaves. By dotting all the i’s and crossing your t’s, you’ll protect yourself and your business. 


Public Speaking: 5 Tips for the Perfect Presentation

Stocksy_txp46994a3ceH3000_Small_128894You are a few weeks away from giving your first talk at a big industry conference and you’ve never been a fan of public speaking. Fear not. Study the following tips and you will be ready in no time.

Research your audience

Who will be listening to your talk? What companies will they be representing? What will they be looking to learn from your presentation? If you don’t have the answers to these questions, try asking the conference organizer for attendee demographic information, recommends Jeannine Kay, public speaking coach and owner of Giving Voice in San Francisco.

Establish your takeaways

In the process of developing your presentation, think hard about what you want your audience to talk about after the fact.  “Ask yourself what your key messages will be,” suggests Kay. “What do you want your audience to walk away with and remember?”

The best presentations impart wisdom that couldn’t otherwise be gleaned from a simple Internet search or reading an industry-specific book. Come to your talk with some original insights and have a solid idea of what actions or lessons you’d like your listeners to learn from your talk. 

Plan to interact

The most memorable presentations are those that somehow incorporate the audience, be it by way of bringing an unsuspecting conference-goer on stage or polling listeners with electronic survey consoles.

“Be authentic when you are up there; it will help you make a connection,” she says. “Speak the language that they speak, don’t talk in jargon that they may not understand. Identify a few key messages that you want to get across and talk about those messages in several different ways. Don’t overload your audience with too many concepts; they may zone out.”

While speaking, try to change things up. Don’t just stand behind a podium; instead walk around on stage or maybe even stroll down to the level of the audience. The more you interact, the more effective your presentation will be.

Practice, practice, practice

Even if you think you know your material cold, it is vitally important to practice. If you don’t, “game day” can feel a lot like “trying to get up and run a race by just putting your shoes on, but not doing any training at all,” says Kay. She recommends not only focusing on what you will say, but how you will say it. “Non-verbal communication such as what you do with your hands and your face is very important.”

Calm yourself down

Even if you have glossophobia (a fear of public speaking), there are ways to calm yourself down before you go on stage. “I frequently refer to Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk where she found that when people make themselves bigger and take up more space, it encourages people to take risks,” says Kay.

A person who is hunched over and staring at their smart phone will be less mentally prepared to stand up in front of a crowd than a person who is standing in a confident position with their arms at their side and their head held high. “When you are in front of a crowd, instead of putting your legs close together or having your arms wrapped around your torso, balance yourself on two feet with a few inches between them and don’t shrink behind the podium.”

Simultaneously, try to breathe slowly and deeply. Kay explains that when we get anxious, we tend to take shorter breaths high up in our chests. “Combat that by slowing down your breathing even before you get up there.” 


Top 10 Nextiva FAQs

fawThe Nextiva Support Team loves chatting on the phone with customers every day to help answer questions and set up devices. We researched your most frequently asked questions and compiled a list of the top 10.

Save time by finding answers to these popular topics below, or access all of our tips and videos on the Nextiva online Support Center.

  1. How do I log in to the NextOS portal?
  2. How do I set up my phone?
  3. How do I use my auto attendant?
  4. How do I program custom on-hold music?
  5. How do I set up a 3-way conference call?
  6. How do I resolve a dropped call?
  7. How do I adjust my billing information?
  8. How do I send faxes using vFAX?
  9. How do I log in to my vFAX account?
  10. How do I adjust my vFAX billing information?



 
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