Posts Tagged ‘Business VoIP’

How the Modern Call Center Enhances Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Smiling young executives sitting with headsets and using computer There are many misconceptions about the modern call center. Most people perceive call centers as large call floors with expensive infrastructure and rows upon rows of cubicles. In reality, the present-day call center refers to a group of features that are geared toward managing call flow, increasing efficiency, and software integration. Cloud communications has eliminated the need for expensive hardware. Now businesses of all sizes can use the same feature set that has long been reserved for large enterprises for a fraction of the cost.

A Call Center in the Cloud will save you Money

In the past, call centers were huge capital investments that required a large floor space. Making updates to a call center was a frequent expenditure. By leveraging the power of cloud communications, companies can now turn over the maintenance and system upgrades to their service providers, such as Nextiva. Soft phones, such as the Nextiva App, are a great tool to increase mobility and lower hardware costs. These applications can be downloaded to a variety of devices and used in lieu of desk phones to make and receive calls. This feature is becoming increasingly popular with SMB’s as no additional equipment is necessary.

Technical support can run diagnostics virtually. They can access your call center system remotely and take care of any unforeseen problems.  There is no longer a need to hire a third-party contractor to come out to your call center location and fix phone issues.

SMB’s Call Center Features

While all call center features have their benefits, the three below will significantly improve your call center efficiency and productivity.

  1. Call Center Reporting– Call center reporting allows for real-time monitoring of call volume, agent performance, and key metrics such as abandoned calls and service levels. It generates in-depth reports that can be analyzed to improve agent and overall call center performance. SMBs are able to generate a variety of reports that accurately predict call flow for more efficient staffing. This simultaneously improves customer service levels while saving the company money.
  2. Call Queues– Call Queues allow businesses to route calls to the appropriate department, team, or individual. This reduces the amount of time wasted from transferring calls and will help your customers get the help they need from agents with the appropriate skill set.
  3. Business Integration- Cloud-based call centers allow SMBs to integrate their various business tools together to create one powerful platform. These third-party applications, such as CRM software, can transfer data seamlessly between the different tools and enable click-to-call functionality.

11.9.15 NextOS 3.0 Beta Release Notes


For Users, you can now:

  • Use Do Not Disturb to automatically forward all the user's incoming calls to voicemail, without ringing their phone.
  • Play an announcement to an incoming caller, before their call is put through to the user, with a Pre-Alerting Announcement.
  • Allow the user to place a call by pressing a reduced number of keys, instead of the entire phone number, with Speed Dial.

For Locations, you can now:

  • Use Group Paging to enable a user to page a group of users by dialing a paging group number or extension, like a group intercom.
  • Allow a user to answer a ringing phone within a predefined zone with Group Pickup.


  • You can now access your call center directly from the portal!
  • You can now click the System Status bar at the top of your dashboard to go directly to, and find more details about the status of any Nextiva service.
  • The tutorial videos found throughout the portal now pop out to their own window and are draggable, making it easier to follow the instructions in the videos as you perform the actions described.

The 10 Digits That Are Vital to Your Business

10-27 Importance of phone numbers smallWhile email and chat have become increasingly popular, many customers still prefer to talk to a live person on the phone. In order to do so, they have to be able to reach your business. That’s where your all-important business phone number comes in.

Cloud phone systems provide today’s businesses with unprecedented flexibility when it comes to their communications systems, and this extends to phone numbers.

Below are two popular phone number options available to businesses with a cloud phone system.

One Number For All

Your business can have one central phone number, such as a toll free phone number, that can route to multiple locations based on criteria you specify. This is a great option for companies that serve customers that are not centralized to one area.

This concept is also common with customer service centers. Have you ever called a toll-free number and then been routed to a location in your city or state? I recently called AAA for roadside assistance, and based on the phone number I was calling from, they routed me to an agent in my local area.

The beauty of cloud phone systems is you have unlimited flexibility when it comes to your call flows. Based on the phone number of the inbound call, you can determine the best location, department or individual to answer the call without the caller needing to dial multiple numbers to reach the desired destination.

Multiple Numbers for One Business

Alternatively you can have multiple phone numbers route to one central business location. If you choose to have multiple numbers, say with different area codes to show a local presence, cloud phone systems allow you to route all of these numbers to a central location. When you, or a member of your team, answer the incoming call, the number the caller dialed will appear on the phone so you can answer appropriately. For instance, if the customer dialed the number for your Phoenix office and the call was routed to your headquarters in Los Angeles because of criteria you specify, the user can still answer, “Thank you for calling our Phoenix office, how may I help you?” 

This type of call routing and phone number usage is great for marketing purposes and companies that want to appear more local, such as real estate agencies where local expertise is important to customers.

Your phone number is vital to your business, and you now have more options than ever when it comes to call routing and call forwarding thanks to the advancements of cloud phone systems. Since they are hosted in the cloud, these systems offer significant scalability and flexibility, and they can be adjusted as frequently to meet the evolving needs of your business without the hassle of costly equipment and maintenance fees.

10.9.15 NextOS 3.0 Beta Release Notes


For Users, you can now:

  • Record a user’s incoming and outgoing calls with Call recording.
  • Use Push to talk to set up intercom-like functionality between the user and others they speak with regularly on their phone system.
  • Redirect the user's incoming calls to a specified number outside of the location's business hours using Group night forwarding.

For Locations, you can now:

  • Use Music on hold by uploading an audio file to play for your customers while they are on hold, in queue, or being transferred.
  • Redirect incoming calls for all users at a location to a specified number outside of the location's business hours using Group night forwarding.

In My account, you can now:

  • Check the status of your ported phones numbers.


  • The Manage user table now allows you to change the columns that display – and is loading 8x faster!


  • The announcements available for auto attendants now includes your location announcements.

Go Mobile and Break Free from the Shackles of Your Desk Phone

Mobility ImageWhat is mobility? In today’s business environment, mobility leverages the latest cloud communication technology to enable workers to stay connected anytime, anywhere. Mobility is more than being able to make and receive calls from multiple locations. It’s using mobile devices to work anywhere and access company information, social media, web conferencing, note taking, virtual office on the go, and much more. Additionally, it helps companies improve team productivity, decrease costs, increase revenue, improve service and ultimately gain a competitive advantage.

So you know your business can benefit from being more mobile—now what?  Start by moving your phone system to the cloud. Implementing a cloud phone system, also known as a hosted or VoIP phone system, provides you with endless benefits that go far beyond saving your business money.

Go mobile and….

Maximize Productivity

  • Employees no longer need to be sitting at a desk to make and receive calls from their office number.
  • More effective collaboration within your business through improved internal communication.
  • Start a call at your desk and transfer it to your mobile device via an app during the call. The person on the other line will never know you are no longer at your desk.

Improve Customer Satisfaction

  • Respond to customer calls and queries wherever you may be.
  • Advanced call routing ensures customers are connected to the proper department or individual to reduce waiting time and multiple transfers.

Increase Efficiency

  • Reduce travel time through mobile conference technology.
  • Eliminate the need to give out multiple phone numbers to customers.

Manage Tasks

  • New mobile technologies integrate with office tasks so employees can manage their calendar, alerts, connections, etc.  

Create a Flexible Work Environment

  • Employees can essentially work from anywhere they have an Internet connection.
  • Empower them to work from home or elsewhere depending on their schedule and needs.

In today’s fast-paced and connected environment, customers expect to be able to reach you at all hours of the day. Moving your phone system to the cloud allows you to meet your customers’ needs while improving their experience with your business, ultimately building a loyal customer base that advocates for your business.

To learn more about Nextiva’s cloud phone system, visit

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:

How May I Direct Your Call?

Cara Plowman has been a member of the Nextiva team since December 2010. She has previously served as Nextiva's OLS Supervisor and Technical Support Manager, and is currently the team's Channel Operations Manager.

When I started my career at Nextiva, I wanted to make a name for myself, have my voice be heard. An eager 20-something, I knew little about the emerging technology known as VoIP, or to what extent my voice really would be heard.  Curious about all facets of cloud communications, I certainly started poking my nose around the office – hungry to learn what everyone knew about VoIP.  I quickly realized how deep the waters run, and how pliable the service has to be in order to meet the needs of so many different styles of business in multiple industries. 

Almost immediately I gravitated towards a high-demand feature, the auto attendant.  A fan favorite as more companies utilize automated systems, the auto attendant replaces the old fashioned switchboard operators of yesteryear.  Think, “How may I direct your call?”   Or, remember the movie Office Space, “Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking, just a moment.” 

Previously, auto attendants did not leave a great impression on the caller, as they were often shuffled off to hold music by an over-worked, cold secretary. Beginning in the early 1980s, many companies started realizing there’s a better way to route callers, and do so without utilizing man-hours.

At first glance, the auto attendant may seem to be yet another hindrance to “talking to a real person.” But peel back the layers and there’s so much more.  I spent the past 3 years working as one of the “voices” of Nextiva’s auto attendant and "greeting recording team," recording thousands of custom greetings for industry leaders, start-up entrepreneurs, and even a few residential customers.  I learned a few tricks of the trade along the way I’m happy to share.

The big and small of it all

big-dog-little-dogIf you are new to VoIP, you may not know where to start when it comes to drafting an auto attendant. A great first question is, “Do I want my business to look small? Or big?” 

To properly approach this, you’ll need to know where you stand in the realm of the business world.  With only a handful of employees under your wing, it’s easy to designate your company as a small business. But what if you have 20 employees?  What about 50 or 100?  Essentially you should decide if you want your business to look bigger than it is or smaller than reality?

Remember Mom and Pop shops where you call and talk directly to the business owner no matter the time of day? Well, that charm and level of attentiveness isn’t easily obtainable in the modern world. However, if you’re setting up your attendant and want to go for that small-town tenor, make your greeting short and sweet. Delivering callers quickly to a live person should help you convey this impression.

On the contrary, let’s say your business is a one or two person operation. You may not want all clients to know you’re a startup company still. Or, perhaps you are so busy you’d like to have callers navigate through an automated menu to buy time.

Fortune 500 or startup, an auto attendant can dynamically change the way you operate your business.

Take it on the run

If your business expands multiple locations, an auto attendant can unify your business in countless ways. First, with an automated system you are able to have one primary contact number but still route callers to any location under the system. For example, let’s say when your main number is called the greeting states, “Press 1 for the California location. Press 2 for Arizona.”  Now your main number expands over any physical location imaginable. In the past, each location would have a designated phone number.

Or, let’s say you have a representative who works from home or travels. Auto attendants, and VoIP in general, make it easy to route callers to remote employees, while the caller is none the wiser. This also works great if your business utilizes outsourced teams, for example.

Another option is to use the attendant if your business secretary is out for the day or on vacation. Setting up an emergency greeting you can use in cases like this will likely turn a hectic day into one more manageable.

Although you may choose not to use an attendant for day time hours, many entrepreneurs choose to deploy an automatic greeting for times when the shop is closed.  This is a great alternative to being open 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week.  And don’t forget, you can still route calls to remote locations, such as a cell phone, so you never miss a call.

Design on a Dime

Nextiva offers all account holders a free greeting recording, which is a great way to experiment with your new phone system. First you’ll want to draft a game plan. Start with a simple layout and then add to it later. Analyze how callers use your current phone system, and what features would improve their experience.  Let’s say callers are currently routed quickly to a phone, but are placed on hold often for long periods of time. Expanding your greeting would help your reps stay organized and better prepare for the next call.

Figure out how many access points callers require to reach your staff – say, Billing, Sales and Management, and then create dialing options for your attendant.  For example, let’s say you have two primary departments callers can be routed to.  Create an easy-to-follow attendant that welcomes callers, states the company name and 2 dialing options. Then, add in personal touches, such as a company slogan or a nicety, such as “Make it a great day!”

Welcome to PaperTime, the best in the biz when it comes to paper accessories. If you’d like to talk to a sales representative, please press 1. Otherwise, press 2 to speak to the next available support technician. Or, if you’d like to leave a voicemail, please hold or press 3. We appreciate your business, and be sure to make it a great day!

Life Hacks: Auto Attendant Edition

  • Don’t talk too fast or too slow!
  • Long auto attendants can frustrate callers; Be sure your attendant isn’t working against you. Use a timer to see how long it takes to navigate your attendant – most average 1-2 mins.
  • Make sure the script is well-written and easy to understand.
  • Test to be sure night-time schedules work properly.
  • Set up a generic “Closed for the day” greeting for holidays or unexpected office closures.
  • Update your attendant whenever your business needs change.
  • Don’t stray too far from the norm – make sure callers can navigate the system with ease.

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, which is dedicated to online fax and Internet based communications.

What Can VoIP Do For Your Business?

How can switching to a cloud-based telephone system transform your business? Our latest infographic breaks it down for you. In addition to huge cost savings and innovative features, the cloud will keep your employees more mobile and productive than ever before!


Interested in discovering a customized cloud-based communications solution for your business? We would love to chat! Contact a Nextiva account executive at 800.799.0600.



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