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How to choose the right small business phone system

Choosing the right small business phone system whether you’re just starting out or growing a new empire, can feel like a secondary priority amid the sea of to-do’s, customer priorities and fast approaching deadlines. It might not feel like it but getting your small business phone system right can give your business and your team a huge advantage in the competitive world we live and communicate in. Whether your team are taking calls on the go, switching between locations, devices or platforms, or just trying to give your customers the absolute best possible service you can, getting the right communication platform for you is critical.

Too often phone systems are a second thought and unfortunately whilst they can make or break your business they can also be expensive to run, time consuming to manage and worse still tough to make modifications as your business grows and changes. At Voice Simplified we’ve heard pretty much every horror story that small businesses have had to contend with and made it our mission to help small business owners break free from traditional, legacy telephony services and power up their own success with modern, flexible, powerful, cloud-based communication solutions.

In this blog we’ll look at some of the key areas that Small Business owners should be considering in selecting a new phone system – sharing with you some of our top dos and don’ts to help your phone system work for you today and tomorrow.

Look at your communication and phone requirements today and tomorrow

For any small business owner looking to update their phone system or find a new one for the first time the web is a huge source of information, but it can be misleading and difficult to untangle the differences between providers. Instead of searching the market first try taking a step back and looking at what you really need to help your teams perform and communicate seamlessly both internally and externally.

How many people need to use the phone system?

For example, if you’re just starting out it may just be you that needs a new phone system but if you’re planning on growth plan out what your business might look like in 3, 6, or 12 months – if you’re hiring new staff on a permanent basis will they need to connect with your network and will they do so from the office or home-work environment? Similarly, if you’re not sure, which, let’s face it, can be the case with any business in the current climate be sure to look at how quickly and simply you can scale your phone system up or down – and at what cost.

If you’re already established and looking for better performance from your platform then you’ll probably already know how many users you need and the make-up of office/ virtual and home working but definitely take the time to look at what’s working and what’s not working for both your business and your team today. Perhaps it’s reducing the cost of your outbound phone calls, reducing the complexity of managing the system or maybe like many businesses you need to provide better tools for employees working from home? One of the most common challenges we hear is that employees spend too much time switching between voice, chat and video – especially with Teams

Choosing the right small business phone system - Expert Tip 1

Ensure your new small business phone system can accommodate all of the functionality you require whether you’re working from the office, home or mobile; Microsoft Teams can combine your chat, calling and video call needs across multiple devices, such as mobiles, laptops and SIP handsets.

What devices do you have today?

As business evolves more and more of us are opting to reduce the overhead costs associated with providing employees with dedicated mobile lines, meaning employees may be using their own devices on behalf of your business. This can be a great way to cut out on some of the onboarding costs when hiring new staff but does mean that employees may also use their own phone numbers and technology that can disrupt business and impact on the quality of service. If you are planning to let your teams use their own devices then investing in unified communications technology like Microsoft Teams will enable you to connect your teams to a single telephony solution and let your teams take work calls, voice and video without you needing to buy expensive hardware.

If, like most small businesses you are still providing the devices (mobile, laptop, desktop, desk phone) that your teams need then looking at what efficiency you’re currently getting at what cost from your devices can be a great way to identify cost savings. For example, organisations that are using legacy PBX (private branch exchange) solutions from traditional telephony providers are likely to be paying considerably more in maintenance, upgrades and have little in the way of flexibility as they’ll be using traditional telephones lines. Traditional PBX users will also struggle to connect any of the modern communication features that customers and employees need to be successful.

Choosing the right small business phone system - Expert Tip 2

Cloud-based telephony can enhance your existing service by adding call handling functionality. Using softphones and Teams enabled devices removes the complexity and cost normally associated with upgrades. Ensure a smooth transition from your legacy system, by adopting familiar features and processes minimising the impact on your staff and the need for expensive and time-consuming training.

In searching for a new small business phone system organisations are likely to encounter IP-PBX or VoIP providers – this type of small business phone system can help new and growing businesses to reduce the costs of calling by using the internet to make and receive calls. However, it’s well worth noting that this type of technology also needs additional infrastructure (SIP trunking) and hardware in the form of SIP phones – normally these involve either significant up-front costs or long-term commitments on your part to the provider.

For most businesses cost, functionality and ease of management will be major considerations for any change in the phone and the communication platform you choose. Regardless of the devices you have today knowing what type of technology will suit you best is a key consideration. Many small businesses are moving away from both traditional PBX and IP-PBX providers and towards Cloud Based VoIP platforms like Voice Simplified, 8x8 and RingCentral because of their cost saving benefits, ease of management and ability to access professional features as well connecting across multiple devices for better performance.

Know your connectivity

Over the last ten years or so the quality of our internet connectivity has made cloud-based communication for all channels, voice, video or chat a much more seamless experience. Gone are the days of poor quality, stuttering calls or dropped video connections – in fact it’s predicted that by 2025 15% of all businesses will have ditched traditional telephony altogether for cloud communications. However, and there is a however, if you’re choosing a cloud communications platform like Voice Simplified for your small business phone system, you’ll need a stable internet connection. The good news is that the vast majority of business broadband is more than capable of supporting cloud communication and most home networks will be too meaning that your team can work from practically anywhere.

What Features does your small business phone system need?

This can be a tricky ask for small business or growing business owners, do you need call routing? Would you benefit from creating hunt groups or spy groups, dynamic CLI or personal and private number separation? First things first let’s look at what these mean…

Simple Voice PBX
Receive Inbound Calls
We can supply national and international Direct Dial Inbound numbers. Internal PBX to PBX calls are free of charge.
Set Inbound DDI
Allocate national or international Direct Dial Inbound numbers via our web portal.
Set Internal Extension Number
Set your extension to either a 3, 4 or 5 digit number. Choose to match it to the last digits of your Direct Dial Inbound number.
Set Ring Duration
Set how long each PBX extension will ring before the call is terminated or passed to Voicemail.
Make Outbound Calls
Place calls to national and international destinations and access the online rate sheet. Internal PBX to PBX calls are free of charge.
Default Presented CLI
Set the number presented to the dialled party when making outbound calls. This can be your DDI or your corporate number.
Dynamic Presented CLI with CRM Integration
CTI controlled, automatically change the number presented to the dialled party when making campaign based calls.
Set Outside Line Prefix
Set '9', none or another digit to get an outside line when making calls. Match your old telephony system for easy user transition.
Free Internal PBX to PBX Calls
Have multiple offices spread across the globe all sat on a single PBX. This allows you to make and receive internal calls free of charge.
Simple Voice Connect
Integrate our VoIP telephony with Microsoft Teams. Use your existing Microsoft 365 subscription.
Place Calls On Hold
Place a caller on hold while you make/receive another call, investigate an enquiry or introduce a caller when transferring.
Call Forwarding
Set call forwarding to another extension or any national or international destination.
Call Waiting
See another incoming call while already on call. Choose to ignore, reject or answer it.
Multi Device
Integrate Multiple VoIP Devices and Microsoft Teams behind a single PBX extension and DDI.
Call Transfer
Transfer a call to any other extension or national/international number. Direct transfer or introduce the call.
Transfer Calls to Simple Voice
Transfer a call to any Simple Voice service. For example, transfer direct to a department, queue or menu.
Conference Calls
Add multiple parties direct from your device or set up Inbound PSTN conference bridge via Microsoft Teams using our inbound numbers.
CRM Integration
Use a compatible soft phone to Screen-pop into and place calls from web based CRM. Microsoft Teams users require our Agent Desktop CRM Integration.
Voicemail
Enable voicemail per extension, email notifications and pick up messages via your device. Set greetings via the web portal or your device.
Online Endpoint Management
Manage all PBX extensions (Endpoints) via our web portal. Update existing configuration and provision new extensions in real time.
Hunt Groups
Add PBX extensions as group members and distribute calls either simultaneously, round robin or by priority. Allocate group voicemail.
Pickup Groups
Add PBX Extensions as group members to allow members to pick up each other's calls via their own extension.
Eavesdrop and Agent Training
Listen into live calls. Assign external number or access via an internal extension. Choose to listen only, whisper to agent or barge-in.
CTI
Our Agent Desktop can Screen-pop into API and URL based applications. Screen-pop inside Microsoft Teams or your default browser.

One of the biggest challenges we hear from small businesses is the amount of technical jargon that comes with choosing a small business phone system so hopefully that’s a helpful overview of some of the features that can really help businesses.

Now that’s out of the way it’s well worth looking at what would really benefit your business today in both helping your teams, employees and clients communicate better but also what’s really going to help your business grow. It can be really helpful to ask existing customers what they’d like to see from you in the future as part of building out your feature requirements.

Wherever you end up in building the perfect platform for your business make sure that your provider gives you the flexibility to switch on and off services and functions as you need them, getting tied into contracts for features you never or rarely use can be a drain on small business resources and much better channelled into growth.

Choosing the right small business phone system - Expert Tip 3

Flexibility is key. A company that enables you to try before you buy and provides monthly rolling contracts will enable you to change, reduce or grow your services without penalties as and when the need arises.

Who will manage the phone system?

Managing your phone system is actually one of the hidden costs that many business owners and operators find themselves having to contend with. We’ll all recognise the frustration of dealing with huge telecoms giants and it can be difficult to navigate between departments and people to get simple changes made let alone manage more modern features.

If you’re outsourcing telephony then the chances are that you’ll be facing similar issues, lack of control, slow to make changes and in some cases loss of functionality – it’s not ideal reading. Even internal IT teams that manage their own in-house telephony report that it can be a drain on resources and a limiter in helping businesses to grow. In choosing your small business telephone system ask for live demos of the platform and see for yourself how simple they are to use. A good small business phone system should make your life easier and help you to be more effective but if you find yourself needing a degree in programming to do simple tasks like adding users, changing menus or creating new call groups then chances are that it’s not going to give you what you need.

Will you need to connect to Microsoft Teams?

One other, vital, consideration to make in choosing a small business phone system is if, and when, you’ll need to integrate not just voice but collaboration tools like video and chat. More and more frequently as businesses look to connect their unified communications platforms like Microsoft Teams are becoming the go-to choice to help improve both internal collaboration and external service. If you’re one of the 250 million active Microsoft Teams users then choosing a partner with native Microsoft Teams integration {LINK} is a great choice for speed, simplicity and cost.

Choosing the right small business phone system - Expert Tip 4

If you’re using Teams functionality and need to ensure compliance with PCI DSS don’t get caught out with pricey call recording costs. Call recording for Microsoft Teams is a hidden cost for many cloud providers but our native integration means that users can deploy compliant call recording from as little as £2 per user instead of up to £9 or £10 with other providers.

Choosing the right small business phone system can feel like a minefield and we know from experience that it’s easy to get lost in the sheer weight of information available. At Voice Simplified we made it our mission to create and power the world’s most effective, scalable, and intuitive fully cloud communications platform – empowering organisations to accelerate, enhance and connect their business communications quickly and simply, wherever, however, and whenever they want.

If we can help you navigate the minefield of small business phone systems then please get in touch on 0343 88 99 111 or take a demo of the platform itself – we’re so confident that we’ll even help you trial the solution for 30 days, no costs, no strings, just Voice Simplified.

Complete guide to call recording for modern businesses

How many times have you heard, “This call is being recording for training and monitoring purposes” or “We may record calls to help us improve your customer experience”? Well, you are not alone – across the UK call recording is used by countless businesses for all sorts of reasons, some of which we’ll be familiar with including regulatory compliance and professional indemnity for example. Today, many successful businesses choose to implement call recording not just for compliance and regulatory reasons but to improve their internal processes, customer service and team performance as well, of course, as improving their customer experience.

Call recording should be a simple process but as many small and growing businesses will have discovered, it can be a bit of a minefield and a costly one at that. In this blog, Voice Simplified bring you a complete overview to implementing call recording in your business, including some of the big areas businesses need to consider when finding a call recording solution and of course key tips on how to save money on your call recording too.

Why is call recording important?

If you’re reading this then you’re probably already thinking about implementing call recording in your own business or researching the best ways to switch on call recording in your own telecoms. If you’re building a business case for call recording here are just some of the reasons that call recording is such an important part of a modern business phone system.

Call recording for regulatory and standards compliance

Whilst it’s always good business practice to ensure that you comply with relevant standards, regulations and industry frameworks it can be difficult for organisations to ensure that all staff always act as they would recommend. Business leaders and team managers simply cannot monitor every interaction that teams have, and many rely on call recording to sample test phone interactions to ensure that staff are providing compliant advice, recommendations and meeting the standards that you set.

Sample testing and good practice aside many industry standards, certifications and frameworks also require evidence of compliance which call recording is ideally placed to ensure you can provide. Similarly, regulations can require evidence to prove legal compliance, although typically required in retrospective or disputed cases call recording often becomes critical evidence should it be required.

Expert Call Recording Tip 1

Remember that regulations and standard compliance which rely on communications will extend across devices and platforms so make sure to choose a solution that covers voice and video calls across applications like Microsoft Teams too.

Improving customer service with call recording

Call recording that improves customer service is probably one of the most common use cases across all industries – however it’s somewhat of a misnomer – just implementing call recording in isolation won’t automatically improve customer service. Although ironically anecdotal feedback does suggest that teams that know that their calls are being recording are more likely to provide better service.

Using call recording technology can have a massive impact on customer service if implemented practically and used effectively. First and foremost, it’s crucial that the right people can access call recordings quickly – complex, legacy tools are often difficult to use, search and manage – resulting in lack of adoption from team leaders and senior management.

If like many you’re working to improve customer service with call recording, then it’s well worth thinking upfront about key features that will help you and your team to identify issues quickly and use your call recordings to optimize your customers’ experience:

Key Features to look for in call recording solutions

  • Record by person, team, department or group
  • Enable inbound OR outbound or inbound AND outbound recording by user
  • Use voice analysis to detect important key words and phrases
  • Detect emotion from voice patterns to identify issues
  • Securely store and access recording quickly
  • Intelligent search recordings by keywords and phrases

Expert Call Recording Tip 2

Most organisations won’t need full inbound and outbound call recording for all team members and it’s vital that you’re in complete control of who is and isn’t being recorded. One size fits all solutions can be expensive, so make sure to choose a provider that will help you tailor and quickly manage your call recording solution.

Identifying performance issues with call recording

At Voice Simplified we hear all the time how useful our call data records{LINK} and information are for our clients, but as any team manager or business owner will tell you, statistics and numbers are often only half of the story. Call recording in conjunction with agent performance reporting provides a really powerful partnership for your team to identify any current or emerging performance issues.

In cases where staff are struggling or need additional training call recording can be used to examine historic calls and allow team leaders and managers to build a clear picture of any potential training needs in conjunction with agent stats – both live and historic. Training is, of course, a positive outcome for many team members but what about situations where genuine performance issues are in question? Call recording for performance management is a key tool – but as with all technologies it needs to be implemented well to give you the impact you need. Voice Simplified’s call recording solutions give you the power to search calls by key phrase, words, emotional sentiment and a host of other criteria which means that your team are able to identify potential issues even before they arise.

Supporting dispute resolution with call recording

Most successful businesses will experience customer disputes from time to time, it’s a normal, if not frustrating, part of any business and there’s nothing worse than an unhappy customer with unanswered questions and complaints. Whilst the adage of “the customer is always right” will always have credence, in today’s world many customers actually expect businesses to record calls and to be able to access them in settling disputes.

If you are planning to use call recording to settle disputes then it’s also important that storage is effective (and cost effective), backed up robustly for GDPR and other compliance needs and that they’re accessible quickly. Call recordings are ultimately data and personal data at that, so making sure they’re encrypted in a compliant manner and stored securely is part of your responsibility too.

Expert Call Recording Tip 3

All calls that pass through the OneVoice platform are encrypted and secure; adding the call recording option ensures that the calls you record and store will meet your industry compliance requirements.

Optimising call flows with call recording

Reducing complaints, improving performance, and reducing time to resolution are all major advantages of call recording but larger and growing businesses also look to call recording to support optimisation of their call flows – effectively helping solve customers’ challenges quicker and saving your business money in the process. Listening to call recording provides useful insight into why customers are calling in the first place but let’s face it, your teams simply don’t have the time to sit and listen to hundreds, if not thousands of call recordings looking for trends. Instead combining trends in call flow information via your management platform and selectively listening to calls to validate trends can help you spot key areas for optimal routing, see opportunities to scale teams up or down and in some cases help you cut your time to resolution down significantly.

Expert Call Recording Tip

Road test your providers management platform before you commit to a solution – often traditional voice providers make it incredibly difficult to see your own call records and routing trends, that’s why we made OneVoice the easiest tool to use – giving management teams everything they need at their fingertips.

Reducing the cost of call recording

Call recording has huge benefits for businesses of all sizes but finding a solution that fits your budget can be tricky – especially if you’re using a traditional, legacy phone system. Even major providers like BT and Gamma struggle to provide connected call recording which means that often businesses are opting for third party, stand-alone call recording solutions which can be expensive and create additional complexity for business leaders and IT teams.

Call recording costs can vary widely but on average cost around £10-£11 per user per month – even with a relatively small team then these costs can add up quickly. So, what can businesses do to reduce their cost of call recording:

Work out which users need call recording

It can be really easy to fall into the trap of giving all your staff call recording licenses “just in case” but the reality for most businesses is that not everyone needs their calls recorded and in some cases that can be a real business problem. Perhaps it’s the customer service team, or the sales team that actually need call recording but often the finance, accounts, facilities and many other teams won’t need their calls recorded and knowing that upfront can give you a massive advantage.

Work out whether you need inbound OR outbound recording or both inbound AND outbound

We’ll try and stay clear of all the technical how’s of call recording but it’s worth knowing that call recording solutions that automatically record both inbound and outbound calls could be costing you 2, 3, 4 and even 5x the amount of solutions that recording specific calls or on specific lines. For example, Voice Simplified work with you to map out the nature of the calls that you need to record - meaning that you only pay for what you actually need, rather than being lumbered with a one-size-fits-all, expensive solution.

Reduce waste on multiple call recording platforms

If like many organisations you’ve switched to a business productivity suite like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams then you may have already ditched the traditional phone system but if you haven’t and you and your team are using both Teams and your existing desk phones then you may be paying double+ for call recording that you simply don’t need.

Expert Call Recording Tip

Call recording should be a powerful tool for businesses but can be difficult and time consuming to implement. At Voice Simplified we wanted to change all that which is why our users can turn call recording on and off in an instant, all from the comfort of their own desk – no complex technical process, no hard sell, just easy to use, simple call recording.

Call Recording for Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams has seen exponential growth over the last few years, as businesses across all sectors have turned to hybrid and working from home models in response to the pandemic. Businesses that use Microsoft Teams report significant improvements in everything from productivity to morale, customer service to bottom line numbers and it’s no surprise either, we’ll all recognise the power of being able to communicate with our clients, peers and colleagues in a more collaborative way. But, and there is a but, the migration to Microsoft Teams, as well as other similar products has given businesses a new but familiar challenge to consider….the cost of calling and of course, the costs of call recording.

Switching to a Microsoft 365 subscription is pretty easy, as is getting a Business Voice licenses but as we all recognise Microsoft is not a telecoms business and therefore has its own challenges. We won’t get into those here but it’s absolutely worth noting that even the majority of Microsoft’s calling plans and bundles are built on legacy PBX technology, not progressive, flexible cloud solutions.

So, what does this all mean?

Well firstly it means that Microsoft Team’s users all need licences – there is no getting away from that. It can also mean that the costs can add up pretty quickly especially when adding call recording. As Microsoft Teams doesn’t have call recording as part of the core solution it’s an additional cost of around £10 per user per month and even when adding this as a solution it’s pretty restrictive – effectively on or off per device. Worse still it also means that anyone using hunt or pick up groups isn’t guaranteed call recording either as the technology is placed on the device rather than the call itself. Still with us?

There is a better way, we know, we’ve built it. At Voice Simplified our native Microsoft integration enables us (and you) to record calls in the way that you want to, turn them off or on based on settings you decide per user. Record inbound or outbound to suit you and most importantly save up to 80% on call recording costs.

Fully compliant to GDPR, PCI, FCA, MiFID and many more, Voice Simplified’s call recording solution works with Microsoft Teams to give you a simple, cost effective and compliant solution.

Expert Call Recording Tip

The ability to analyse calls by identifying key words, sentiments and trends will help you to determine which recordings to focus on when reviewing and using your stored calls for training or dispute resolution.

So, there you have it, the complete guide to getting started with call recording, how to use it, what to look out for and how to save money on your call recording too. If this or any other communication challenge is holding you back, we’d love to help so do get in touch on 0343 88 99 111 today.

Transforming the Customer Experience with better communications

Since the pandemic began the world has changed dramatically. With long stints of lockdowns and sickness levels at an all time high, we’ve seen massive shifts in how we go about our daily lives. Business’ have had to adapt fast to a new way of working, with more of us working remotely than ever before. Lockdowns have forced us to spend more time at home in general, meaning that we’re spending more time online too!

The pandemic saw consumers take to shopping online in waves we’ve not seen before. As a result, E-commerce has become a fast-growing industry with experts predicting that by 2023, e-commerce will account for around 22% of all global retails sales, up from 14.9% in 2019. And whilst this is great, it means that customers themselves are becoming more demanding and businesses are playing catch up.

In a more connected world, we want answers just as fast and as easily as we can purchase, so providing an excellent customer service has become crucial to a business’ survival. Around 80% of consumers say that one bad experience alone would force them to consider taking their custom elsewhere, most likely to a competitor, on the flip side 89% of consumers said that they would return after a positive experience. Getting customer experiences right, could really transform your business.

Adapting to a new way of working

Whilst most businesses have adapted to the new world, it poses as a huge challenge for customer service, sales, and support teams. Much like the rest of the world, these teams have had to adapt to the new way of working with many working from home and often struggling with high levels of absenteeism across teams due to the virus. Whilst working from home has certainly grown, the challenges of staying connected wherever you are and in ensuring productivity is as high as it can be are nothing new and will feel all too familiar to business leaders struggling with increased pressure and potentially lacking the right tools for the new world order. By tools we mean legacy, old, clunky and outdated telephony systems that simply cannot keep up with this shift in work culture, putting pressure on these teams to deliver the high-quality customer service levels that are demanded.

As if business owners weren’t under enough pressure to deliver, we are also seeing upswing trends in so called “cancel culture” at an all-time high. With consumers turning to social media platforms to highlight their bad customer experience, one simple mistake can wreak havoc on a hard-earned business reputation. Getting customer experience right is crucial to a business’ future. Not only that, but if a business can provide better customer experience, making it a priority, it can help grow their business revenues between 4% and 8% above others in their market. But, if not prioritised and done badly it could be damaging. Not only are you likely to lose that customer, but they are 4 times more likely to switch to one of your competitors according to research carried out by Bain & Company.

So, how can we transform the customer experience to ensure that customers keep coming back (and don’t go to a competitor!)? At Voice Simplified, we have the answer by providing revolutionary telephony solutions that are built for the way we work today and empower your teams to provide better experiences and the high levels of customer service that are in demand.

Using communication to improve your customer experience - Expert Tip 1

Using one platform to handle your communications, agents are able to work from home or the office while providing your business with the ability to remotely monitor, coach and assess agent performance.

How Do We Provide Better Customer Experiences with Telephony?

Our smarter business communication solutions are rich in functionality and fully cloud-based allowing you and your teams to communicate across voice, text, chat, instant message, video, and Microsoft Teams all from one central platform and without the need for complex or costly integration. With direct integration to Microsoft Teams Voice Simplified enables your teams to make and receive calls on any device, wherever they are in the world.

Built for the next generation of business communications, the Voice Simplified platform includes advanced features as standard. Features that we may take for granted when calling a huge multinational but ones that make a huge difference for small businesses,. Features like hunt groups to help get your calls answered quicker, pick up groups that let other team members pick up people’s lines and call routing that helps your customers get to the right place, quickly and easily can make significant impacts on reducing the time that your customers wait to resolve their issues or speed up the time to sale too.

Using communication to improve your customer experience - Expert Tip 2

Combining intelligent contact centre tools like real time dashboards and performance reports with queue management and screen pops into CRM enables your team to deliver the service your customers expect.

But How Does this Help Transform Customer Experience?

As mentioned previously, customers want better customer experiences, and over time we have come to expect everything instantly. One study from Microsoft found that our attention span was decreasing, people no longer want to wait and in particular people don’t have the time or patience for long, complicated and frustrating customer service calls. This is backed up by research carried out by HubSpot that found that 33% of customers are most frustrated by having to wait on hold. We’ve all been there, when you’re trying to get through to a specific department – whether it’s customer service or support, nine times out of ten you’re placed on hold for some reason or another. This could be because of staff shortages or internal teams trying to find the right person for you to speak to or even giving the representative a moment to gather your details, but regardless it’s frustrating. The frustration is only then amplified when you’re then passed from department to department having to repeat yourself, explaining who you are, what the issue is etc. And again, HubSpot found that 33% were also frustrated by this. In a similar study, Microsoft found 72% of consumers say that when contacting customer service, they expect the agent to “know who they are, what they have purchased and have insights into their previous engagements.”

At Voice Simplified we help you solve and resolve your customers’ frustrations by allowing your teams to create clear and concise single or multi-layer menu options for the customer, and simple routing options. Ensuring that the customer gets through to the right department, and the right representative, quickly, every time. Our smart communications solution also allows you to transfer a call to any Simple Voice Service. For example, transfer direct to a department, queue, or menu with ease, and with very little wait time for the customer.

And, by integrating our cloud solution with your web-based CRM, your caller’s information will be readily available eliminating the need for your customers to keep repeating themselves whenever they speak to a new member of your team.

Whether you receive your call on a handset, softphone or via Microsoft Teams, the Voice Simplified solution can screen pop into Microsoft Dynamics and other leading cloud-based CRM solutions

Become More Agile with OneVoice

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that business’s need to be more agile. A customer isn’t going to care where your team are working from, or whether you’re having staffing issues. The customer just wants their issues resolved quickly. In research carried out by Comm100, 71% of consumers between the ages of 16-24 believe that a quick response from your service team can drastically improve their customer experience.

Voice Simplified’s cloud communication solutions and OneVoice management platform allow you to make amendments to end points efficiently and simply. If a team member is absent for any reason, their number can redirected so that regardless of the circumstances, there is undisrupted service for the customer. Phone changes can be managed easily, and we guarantee business continuity so that no matter where your team are in the world, your teams are able to take the call and continue to provide the best possible service.

Also, OneVoice management system allows you to configure your opening times by day of the week and/or holiday, set welcome audios, call routing, queuing audio and standalone voicemail so that from the outset, the customer is getting a high-quality and clear service.

Using communication to improve your customer experience - Expert Tip 4

The OneVoice platform offers businesses the flexibility to work from home or work remotely whilst maintaining the same professional call handling service that callers would normally experience from a call taken in the office.

Empowering Your Teams and Business

One of the best ways to improve customer experience, is to look at what you’re currently doing and how it can be improved – what do you customers really want and how can you meet their demands whilst also reducing your own costs?

Our fully integrated cloud communications solutions give you full visibility of performance with the ability to download and view call details and statistics. Coupled with call recording, you are able to analyse call handling and agent performance, whilst seeing how your customers are flowing through the system to make sufficient improvements and in turn, improving the customer experience and your team’s output. Teams are able to take more calls and provide a seamless customer experience allowing your business to grow naturally. With multiple studies suggesting that “70% of consumers will choose to support a business with excellent customer service” it’s a clear pathway to growth by retaining existing customers. It’s a sobering thought that just by increasing your customer retention by just 5%, Bain and Company suggest that businesses could see profit increases of up to 25%.

Using communication to improve your customer experience - Expert Tip 5

Using our suite of Call Centre tools, combined with call recording analytics, you are able to monitor, adapt and improve the service experienced by your customers.

Transform Customer Experience with Voice Simplified

If you’re ready to transform your customer experience, empower your teams, retain your customers, and increase your profit, then please get in touch on 0343 88 99 111 or take a demo of the platform itself – we’re so confident that we’ll even help you trial the solution for 30 days, no costs, no strings, just Voice Simplified.

9 Reasons you should switch to Microsoft Teams Integrated VoIP

With more people using a hybrid working approach or entirely remote, enhancing your workforce’s flexibility, efficiency, and productivity is more important than ever.

In this blog, we run through the top 9 reasons you should switch your telephony system to a brand-new Microsoft Teams-Integrated VoIP phone system.

Better value for money

It almost seems backwards – why is the modern option significantly cheaper than the ancient technology?

VoIP is cheaper as it uses your existing broadband connection to send and receive calls. Older telephones that use ISDN or PSTN networks require users to pay line rental charges on top of their minutes and equipment.

Priced similarly to a mobile phone call package, VoIP calls are usually free internally or to other users on the same system. Calling from a VoIP phone to a regular landline or mobile phone will usually charge you, but you can pay via a monthly allowance or by the minute, depending on your contract. Whichever way you decide to pay, VoIP calls are generally cheaper than making calls on traditional landlines.

Depending on your setup, you can make further savings to your overall phone bill through a cloud PBX system. In a cloud PBX system, your telephony provider is responsible for housing your equipment; this means you don’t need to host your server on your premises. Using a hosted PBX system also removes any internal maintenance and staffing costs associated with the upkeep of your telephony system.

With VoIP’s softphone features, you can reduce the costs of other communication platforms you require, such as staff mobile phones. With a VoIP system, your team can install a softphone application on their own mobile phones without having to share their personal mobile number.

Security

Data is essential to all businesses, and ensuring it is secure is even more critical.

VoIP is much more secure than the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which is vulnerable when copper wiring is accessible. With a VoIP phone system, you cut out the need for a physical infrastructure outside of your network connection.

As long as your internet connection is secure, your internal calls are protected against external security factors, such as hackers, eavesdroppers and hijackers. Reputable VoIP providers will do the rest for you - encrypting your call data and safely storing it in the cloud.

Call Recording

Recording your phone calls can help protect your organisation, staff, and customers. Imagine a situation where a customer has disputed what a member of your team has told them over the phone – now you can easily refer back to your calls. Businesses focused on customer experience and upskilling staff tell us that without voice recording they’d be lost – and whist it can be expensive to implement Call recording on legacy systems. Modern VoIP connectivity with Voice Simplified can give you a huge advantage especially when connected to productivity platforms like Microsoft Teams.

If you decide to record your phone calls, you should ensure that you follow relevant data protection regulations. Apply the seven data principles whenever you handle a user’s data; compliance, consent, purpose, minimisation, accuracy, accountability, and security.

Access on any device

VoIP works differently than PSTN or ISDN systems which use analogue signals – each caller's identity is virtual, and data is exchanged digitally. Because of this network capability, users can access their VoIP phones through many different devices, such as landlines, mobile phones and computers.

You can access your VoIP phone through a computer or mobile/tablet app, known as a softphone. A softphone is a piece of software that allows you to mimic your landline phone through another device. For Small Businesses this is a huge plus that let’s your team work from practically anywhere with an internet connection and make and receive calls from anywhere using an internet-connected device still provide the level of service (on the same number) that they would if they were in the office!

Better voicemails

VoIP’s internet capabilities help boost even the most superficial phone features you’re used to. Voicemail features in VoIP phones are upgraded, allowing users to receive transcripts of their messages via email or through their desktop. Whilst VoIP wasn’t designed to specifically help with voicemail it can mean that your teams save a couple of minutes every day and that soon adds up.

Conferencing

There is a wide range of phones that are suitable for conferencing available, with features such as front-facing cameras and more extensive microphone coverage that make them perfect for larger boardrooms or conference spaces.

Voice Simplified offer a range of landline devices, complete with special Microsoft Teams features. Easily manage your Microsoft Teams account and calls through your desk phone device with the dedicated MS Teams interface.

Better call management

Call management helps businesses handle incoming and outgoing calls in an effective and timely manner.

You can choose custom call diverting options, which determine the order phones ring in. Options include Sequential Diverts, pick a receiver for the call and dial through users on a list until one answer; Simultaneous Diverts, where all phones ring at the same time until someone answers; and finally, Simple Diverts, where the call is diverted from one line to another.

With a VoIP phone system, you can quickly review your call logs, allowing you to monitor phone attendants’ answer rates, call lengths and quality of service. You can also identify unusual calling trends and behaviours to protect the security of your phone system and ensure that your business is providing the best level of service to your clients without over staffing.

Multiple extensions

It doesn’t matter where you’re located anymore. There are several reasons why a team member may be working in a location other than the office; perhaps your staff work from home, occasionally in the office, or they may be on the road.

With users potentially working from any location, it’s crucial to be able to reach your team without jumping through hoops. With a VoIP device, you can have the same extension number on all your devices.

As well as helping you improve the performance and productivity of your core team this also is great for anyone who does your manual call routing, such as receptionists or front of hose – they don’t have to worry about trying to connect the call or which extension to try first.

Scalable

Cloud business communication platforms help your business collaborate faster and can aid in the growth of your business, but what happens when you need to expand on that platform?

Cloud telephony systems offer scale up or down easily. In the instance that a new member of staff joins your company, you can simply add an extra device to the telephony network. And if you move premises, unlike complicated legacy systems you won’t need to take out new physical lines, or move equipment. Similarly, if like most businesses you need to scale up and down - you’re free to ditch a number, change it to someone else or transfer it with ease. That’s the power of cloud telephony with Voice Simplified.

At Voice Simplified, we take the worry out of scaling your phone system up or down. Our [cloud name] platform is designed to be flexible, allowing you to add and remove users as you go. Plus, with no contracts, exit clauses or tie-ins, as your VoIP provider we take care of managing and maintaining your phone system, you can be sure you’ll receive excellent value business communications you can rely on.

4 Common Communication Challenges (and 5 Solutions)

Intro

Communication is critical in any organisation, and modern technology allows us to be more productive and efficient. All businesses face challenges at some level when communicating internally between team members and externally with clients, contractors and customers. Simple challenges include workload and infamous phone tag issues, but some go deeper to the core of our phone systems. The good news is that whilst we may not be able to completely solve your phone tag issues, all businesses can make positive changes that will go a long way in helping to keep communication as efficient as possible.

Communication challenges are often exacerbated by the use of legacy systems and adoption of hybrid or remote working in businesses, which now more than ever shows the importance of facilitating communication as a core part of an organisation's strategic planning.

This blog looks at 4 common communication challenges seen in businesses and 5 ways to overcome them.

Legacy systems

Businesses are hesitant to upgrade legacy systems, often citing time, resource, or budget constraints. However, cutting costs here could impact employees’ productivity and output, as well as customer satisfaction. In the last five years alone, average broadband speeds have increased from 7.4Mbps in 2017 to 23Mbps in 2022 meaning that more options are on the table for improving these systems than ever before.

Consider this example, an HR employee accesses payroll through an online, cloud-based system, but the broadband in the office is slow, and their computer is dated. Accessing the payroll system and performing any actions is incredibly time consuming compared to a user accessing through a modern fibre broadband connection. Worse still when someone tries to talk to HR either through phone or video connections suffer and both parties are left feeling frustrated.

Engaging with employees is challenging enough, especially when they are located remotely. But if outdated technologies or legacy systems are left without migration plans, communication challenges will continue to seep through the business.

What’s the solution?
It may seem daunting, but discussions need to take place to determine the expected gains of investing in a new system. Most organisations will have several systems, each in different stages of their lifecycle; importantly, CIOs and IT departments will need to determine what needs to be upgraded and what can wait.

But one area that you should look at sooner rather than later is your telephony system (LINK - https://www.voicesimplified.com). The UK is set to discontinue all traditional phone lines by 2025, replacing the existing phone network with a cloud-based system, known collectively as VoIP (LINK https://www.voicesimplified.com/Voip). These traditional networks, known as PSTN and ISDN, use copper wiring, the same as the first-ever telephone system!

Before ISDN is shut down, there are a few things your business can do to get ahead of the game. Start looking at the types of VoIP systems applicable and relevant to your business and see if your current equipment is compatible. If you are using a legacy system, check your current contract’s terms and conditions and see if you can leave early, citing a move to VoIP as your reason.

Landline cost

Landline costs consist of two separate charges: the line rental and the calls themselves. If you have an ISDN landline-only contract with your telephony provider, you could be overpaying on your contract.

If you have a legacy system, such as ISDN or PSTN, you have to pay line rental on every device you use. Maintaining a legacy telephony network is costly as it relies purely on hardware within your organisation. Additionally, it’s tricky to scale up and down because you will need to purchase more equipment to give the network extra capacity.

What’s the solution?
Switching to an Internet-based phone provider can cut your costs significantly. As VoIP calls (LINK https://www.voicesimplified.com/Voip) occur over your broadband connection, you eliminate the need for line rental, and this means the only additional fees you pay are for your broadband connection.

Maintenance is also cheaper – many VoIP providers offer hosted PBX solutions, which take the physical infrastructure of your telephony network out of your business premises and onto a server. The provider is then responsible for providing the telephony services.

With VoIP phone networks, internal calls and calls from VoIP-to-VoIP devices are usually free. The price you pay your provider is all-inclusive of maintenance, service and network management.

Combatting Overload and Burnout

The challenge of overload and burnout isn’t usually associated with communication, but the shift towards favouring remote working and technology has contributed to employee stress.

Whilst the pros of working from home can’t be ignored, the daily pressures of the office are simply brought into employees’ spare bedrooms and workspaces, blurring the lines between work and personal life.

Many people feel more obliged to continue to work outside of their typical working hours. This “always-on” culture can negatively contribute to stress, anxiety and burnout.

What’s the solution?
Unfortunately, combatting burnout starts at an individual level and can’t be fixed overnight. By setting boundaries, planning the day ahead and rethinking how you use technology, you can reduce the risk of burnout. For example, with a VoIP system, you can integrate your mobile phone into your cloud PBX system to work anywhere at any time.

Other powerful VoIP features can aid you on your journey to reduce burnout. You can use call routing features to transfer all your calls to another user or group of users. You can also use intelligent voicemail features to receive transcriptions of your messages via email.

Hotdesking

With the onset of and seeming permanent shifts created by the pandemic, many businesses removed fixed desk locations in favour of a hotdesking approach that allows social distancing and hybrid working. If users do not have their own desk, they may not be able to use some of their communication equipment, such as a traditional landline.

What’s the solution?
If you choose to use hotdesking in your business (why not? It’s a great way to save money on rent and encourage employee collaboration!), selecting a communication system such as VoIP can help you retain some familiarity with a personal workstation.

A SIP trunk system could be the perfect solution. These are virtual phone lines that communicate over an internet connection, using digital information packets to get the call to its final destination.

Staff can also use a number of their own personal devices to take work calls through a softphone. A softphone is an application installed on a mobile device, tablet or computer that mimics a landline device. All the functionality of a traditional landline phone is rolled into the softphone but can be taken anywhere and accessed through many devices. Moreover, the softphone retains the same phone number as your landline device, so you aren’t tied down to your desk. Don’t forget too that softphone and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams should also be on your agenda either now or into the future.

Summary

For many businesses, the phone and internet systems in place have existed for years. Change is always daunting for any business, but embracing a shift in attitude towards communication can stop holding companies back from peak performance.

Having a cloud based system and faster broadband in your business can help you futureproof your communications, especially in an age where the office environment has been turned on its head.

If you’re thinking of moving your business to a more collaborative, cost effective and scalable way of working then get in touch, we’d love to help!

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