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Top 10 Reasons to replace your legacy phone service with Granite Cloud SIP Phone Service

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Jun 8, 2018 2:50:35 PM

  1. Rapid ROI – SIP Trunking does not require a significant capital expenditure but immediately begins to reduce costs while also maintaining the features customers have with their local PBX.
  2. Leverage ubiquitous broadband availability. SIP Trunks are delivered over IP, and often with compression you can get more call concurrency or call volume over a modern broadband circuit vs old style T1 / PRI telephone services.
  3. Enables fast geographic growth. By using networking to combine voice and data, SIP Trunks can connect distant business locations to expand a company’s geographic voice and data system.
  4. Reduced call cost. This is a no-brainer for you, but your customers might not be aware that SIPtrunking can dramatically reduce the cost of making and taking calls.SIP Trunks Explained
  5. Unified Communications. SIP Trunking provides a gateway to creating an IP-based UC system that brings together voice, data, Instant Messaging, presence, and application sharing.
  6. Increased productivity. SIP Trunking enables improved collaboration of your customers’ workforce by creating the ability to seamlessly connect multiple offices and mobile workers.
  7. Mobility. SIP Trunking can help tie together mobile devices and remote workers by enabling a blend of premise and cloud based services.
  8. Scalability. Unlike traditional POTs and T1/PRI lines that require planning for peak at all times, SIPtrunking offers on-demand scalability. You – and your customers – only pay for what you need, and enable excess capacity when and where needed. Best of all, you can plan for peak at the enterprise level, and not just by office location.
  9. Reliability: SIP Trunking is very stable. Rather than being at the mercy of local events such as power or circuit outages, SIP trunking can automatically be rerouted to other offices, mobile phones, or virtually anywhere based on your business rules.
  10. User Experience: SIP Trunking creates an easy-to-use communications interface for IT managers and the employee users.For your customers that are small to medium-sized businesses, SIP Trunking is an efficient and cost effective way for to scale quickly without big capital expenses. The upside for providers is the opportunity to create (or enhance) a long term relationship and drive valuable recurring revenues.

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Topics: IP Phone Service, SIP Trunk, VoIP Phone System, Mobility, VoIP Telephone Service

Making your Smart Phone Smarter

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Oct 8, 2013 8:34:00 AM

I use my smart phone as a level, flashlight, music player, GPS, contact manager, calender, calculator, game console and, oh yea, a phone. I get my office e-mail and office voice mail and sync with my office contacts with my phone. There seems to be no end to the tricks and tools this little chunk of technology can perform. Every month we hear about new "killer aps".

Here's one that really is impressive. By loading a free ap on my smart phone, and licensing my office phone system for mobility, I can morph my smart phone into my office phone. Mobility allows me to make and receive calls from my smart phone using my office phone extension. Even more impressive, I can transfer calls, record conversations, send calls to my office voice mail, set up conference calls, and access my office phonebook.Mobility Ap

Calls from the Mobility Ap show my office phone number, not my cell, and incoming calls show the caller ID of the incoming call. No one needs to know you are actually at a ball game or fishing. Best of all, you can log in and out so you decide when you want to take calls on your cell. Lastly, if you don't answer, the message in stored in your office voice mailbox so you can treat it like all the other business messages.

If you'd like to call me and talk about my new ap, dial my office number - 203-234-4901. Of course, I may be doing hot yoga, and you'll never know.

Hot Yoga

Topics: VoIP Phone System, Smart Phone, Office Phone, Business Telephone Systems

10 Simple Rules for Setting up a Business Phone System Auto Attendant

Posted by Gregg Haughton on May 11, 2012 1:44:00 PM

When we install a business telephone system, part of the job is to script the auto attendants and creat the menu trees. This blog post will provide 10 simple rules to follow to make your business phone system a productivity tool rather than a source of frustration to your customers.

  1. KISS - If you choose to answer your calls with an Automated Attendant, which is common, make sure the front end greeting is simple and easy to follow. It's tempting to try to provide options for every type of caller or question. If you use an auto attendant, keep your front end options to the few most common types of calls. If your auto attendant tree has more branches than a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick bush you'll confuse many callers.
  2. Option 1st, then number - Many auto attendants are set up backwards. "Press 1 for sales" should be "For Sales, press 1", otherwise when the caller recognizes what dept they need to reach, the number will have already been said.
  3. Make sure everyone has a name recorded in their mailbox - How many times have you spelled a persons name int the directory only to hear "for extension 345, press *". The name recording in a mailbox must be recorded so the system can confirm to the caller they are reaching the right person.
  4. Have something on hold - When an auto attendant transfers a call, make sure the caller is not listening to dead air. Maybe it's our inherent mistrust of machines, but callers will fear they have been disconnected if all they hear is a click, then silence. This is an ideal time to play some recorded marketing message (see the messaging on hold blog for more detail). If not, then music is a good alternative.
  5. Never create a loop - Often referred to as voice mail jail, make sure that each branch on your auto attendant menu tree has an end. Ideally,  someone should answer the call, but if no one is available, send the caller to a mailbox. Never send the caller back to the beginning of the auto attendant menu.
  6. Check mailboxes - If you set up a general mailbox, or departmental mailbox, make sure it gets checked regularly. Ideally, the mailbox should light a message waiting light or be converted to an e-mail and sent to someone responsible for returning calls.
  7. Check your hours - Most companies set up day and nite greetings. Make sure the clock and settings in your auto attendant match your business hours.  
  8. Set up a back door - Give your employees an easy way to call in and check messages. If you don't have voice mail to e-mail, program a number or extension that plays a simple message such as "to check your messages, press #". You'll be surprised how many folks don't check messages after hours because they don't know how to navigate in the auto attendant.
  9. Keep the voice consistent - Make sure the same (preferrably cheerful and clear speaking) voice is used on all company greetings. As callers move thru the system, they should recieve instructions from the same voice.
  10. Keep the menu current - You shoud periodically listen to your greetings to make sure they are relevant. If you close a department, make sure it's eliminated. Make sure any names listed still work for your company. 

For many of your customers, your auto attendant is your businesses front door. Make sure your front door gives a great first impression and your business will benefit.

I welcome your comments and encourage you to check your front door.

Gregg Haughton

 

Topics: Business Phone System, VoIP Phone System, Auto Attendant

Maintaining Mobility WITHIN Your Office

Posted by Justin Stackawitz on Mar 29, 2012 4:08:00 PM

"Mobility" is a term that you will often find associated with VoIP business telephone systems. In almost all cases, the mobility that is being referred to (especially if it is in the context of marketing a phone system) has to do with connecting to a system from outside of the office. For example, we often license IP phone systems to include software for Smart Phones which allows remote workers to use their mobile phone as an extension directly from the phone system inside the office.

However, today I am writing about a different kind of "mobility"...having the ability to move around WITHIN an office, warehouse, plant, or even outdoor grounds. It is fairly typical to have the need to be able to move around within a facility while maintaining a conversation, but users are often confused by exactly how to accomplish this, and what capabilities their specific phone system supports. For the purposes of this blog, I will refer only to handheld cordless phone options, but there are also versions of wireless headsets which provide the freedom of mobility.

Some business phone systems have proprietary cordless phone models which will only work with that particular system...while they may be harder to come by (particularly if it is an older phone system), they are likely more user friendly because they can have multiple lines and behave more like the other desktop sets.

In addition to these proprietary models, good old fashioned analog cordless telephones (just like one that you might put in your house) are also a completely appropriate option for integrating with a phone system. These phones are only single-line devices, so they have some limitations, but they still serve the basic needed purpose of allowing users to move about while remaining communicative.

A third option for intra-office mobility is a variation on the single-line cordless unit just described. There are third-party manufacturers that produce long-range cordless phones designed to integrate as an extension on a telephone system. EnGenius is the manufacturer of choice for Granite Communications, as they offer a few different versions of their phones, each for a different type of application. We have installed this type of phone for a wide spectrum of customers, from residences all the way to an orchard...in each case, using the phone with appropriate range for that specific location.

Please inquire with me if you want to explore cordless options and increase your mobility!

Topics: business telephone system, cordless phone, VoIP Phone System

Phone System Buyers Guide

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Jan 31, 2012 3:31:00 PM

VoIP Phone 

www.granitecomm.com

Phone System Buyers Guide

 

Whether you have to buy a new phone system because yours is failing or you are evaluating investing in new technology, your purchase decision should be framed by the following objectives:

 

  1. Improve Employee Productivity
  2. Enhance Customer Service
  3. Lower Costs

 

If your phone system investment does not address at least one of these objectives, you are simply putting a new piece of plastic on your desk and likely missing an opportunity to improve your business.

 

The following are conversations you should be having with a prospective vendor. If the salesperson is not asking you these types of questions, you are working with the wrong person.

 

PRODUCTIVITY

 

  • Do you have employees who work out of the office? Would it make sense for your customers to be able to reach them any time, any place?
  • Does your staff carry smart phones or tablets? If they could manage their messages (voice, fax, e-mail) from their devices, would it help them do their jobs?
  • Have you invested in a CRM or Sales Automation package? How important are metrics to your business?
  • Do you keep business contacts in either a CRM system or in an Outlook Contacts or similar address book?
  • Do you frequently have conference calls with multiple outside parties?
  • Are you using cloud applications such as Google docs? Is your e-mail on an in-house server or hosted? Are technology initiatives moving to the cloud?
  • Do you have IT staff that can handle changes to the system or will you need outside support?
  • Does staff move within the office frequently?
  • Do you have multiple locations? Can you transfer calls from location to location?

Enhance Customer Service

 

  • Do you have either a formal or informal call center? Are your customers frequently looking for the same person or groups of people?
  • Do your clients spend time waiting on hold for help?
  • Would it be a benefit if your customers could call your staff directly?
  • What is your customer’s biggest frustration when they call your company?

 

  • Do you have to ask the same questions of many callers (i.e. what is your account number)?
  • Is your turnaround time getting back to customers too long?
  • Would call volume metrics make it easier to schedule staffing for key phone positions more effectively?
  • Would it be useful to be able to record conversations? Is there a legal need to record calls? Do you bill your clients for time on the phone?
  • Do you provide the same information repetitively? Are your clients calling to ask questions where the answer resides in a database?
  • Do you need to confirm appointments or manage a schedule? Is there a need for mass notification?

 

Lower Costs

 

  • When was the last time you reviewed your network services? Have you looked at what several carriers can provide for voice and internet access?
  • Are you currently under contract with your carrier?
  • Do you have dedicated to answering calls, if so, does the call volume vary?
  • Are you expanding into new markets or geographic areas? How are you supporting the remote operations?
  • Do you make international calls?
  • Do you provide your staff with cell phones or reimburse staff for their personal cell plans?
  • Do you track phone usage and assign costs to departments?
  • If you have a call center, do you track agent productivity and follow trends?
  • How much do you spend with your current vendor on service calls? How many times do you pay to have program changes or moves on your phone system?
  • Do you have a budget for the technology investment? What ROI is acceptable?

 

A good first meeting with a prospective vendor will likely last about an hour.

 Gregg Haughton

Gregg Haughton

203-234-4901

Gregg@granitecomm.com

Topics: Business Phone System, VoIP Phone System, Phone System Buyers Guide

Uncle Sam Can Help Buy Your New Business Phone System

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Nov 30, 2011 11:20:00 AM

2011 can be a great year financially, you can save money and get new equipment to improve productivity and enhance customer service!

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 Section 179 of the United States Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 179), allows a taxpayer to elect to deduct the cost of certain types of property on their income taxes as an expense, rather than requiring the cost of the property to be capitalized and depreciated. This property is generally limited to tangible, depreciable, personal property which is acquired by purchase for use in the active conduct of a trade or business. You can expense up to $500,000 in 2011.
This deduction maximum is slated to be reduced to $125,000 at the end of 2011. Though Congress could elect to extend the higher allowance, don't count on it in the current political environment.

So how can this program allow you to save money on a business phone system? Let's look at the following expample:

  • You buy a new business phone system for $20,000
  • Let's assume you are in the 35% income tax bracket
  • You expense the entire system in 2011 according to section 179 rules
  • Your savings is 20,000 X .35 or $7000
Many businesses have cash flow constraints at year end that make a $20,000 outlay difficult. You can lease a business phone system to conserve cash and still take the deduction. This can be like Uncle Sam making the first 14 payments for you. Here's the example:
  • You Lease a $20,000 phone system over 60 months at $475 per month
  • You take the 179 deduction and save $7000 (35% rate)
  • The first 14 months are on Uncle Sam

By investing in a new phone system that will improve your team's productivity and enhance the service you provide for your customers, the 179 deduction will lower the cost.

Note: I am not an accountant and your situation may be different than the example. You should speak with your accountant to see if the 179 deduction works for your business.

Gregg Haughton

Topics: Business Phone System, Tax Savings when buying a business phone system on, VoIP Phone System

Why buy an IP based Business Telephone System?

Posted by Eric Moore on Sep 29, 2011 4:28:00 PM

 A Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) based phone system is more than just a few new phones plugged into your network with slick displays and pretty flashing lights.

VoIP transforms your phone system into a next generation communications hub; complete with cutting edge technologies that allow your organization to deliver superior customer service while cutting costs. An IP based system piggybacks on your data network and can connect to the public-switched telephone network (PSTN) through a variety of voice services.

Here are 6 reasons why you should consider an IP based phone system:

1. Reduce the cost of phone charges by taking advantage of newer, less expensive voice technologies. And for companies with several branch offices, you can reduce the number of circuits or lines to the PSTN for substantial cost savings.

 2. Provide better customer service-since IP systems are inherently software based, it’s easy to integrate other customer relationship management (CRM) business applications to enhance customer service.

 3. Reduce the cost of network management by consolidating your voice and data networks onto one network which translates to less time and money spent on network management.

 4. Simplify system management while reducing the costs of ongoing system maintenance for adds moves and changes.  An IP telephony server has an intuitive Web based interface which allows for easy changes to any extension on the network- even remotely.

 5. Access sophisticated features that were traditionally out of reach for the smaller phone systems such as Call Center, Call Detail Reporting and Automatic Call Distribution capabilities.

 6. Leverage new technologies- again, because it’s software based, it’s easy to add new applications such as integration to smart phones (mobility) and Unified Messaging (voicemail, email and fax all at your desktop) efficiently and cost effectively.

Legacy TDM based systems are a thing of the past- go IP!

Topics: VoIP Phone System, Business Phone System

We are moving! What I need to do to move my Business Phone System

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Sep 26, 2011 1:30:00 PM

PHONE SYSTEM MOVE CHECKLIST

 

So you have decided to move your office...

 

Moving Van.jpg

 

Moving is never fun, use this checklist as a guide when moving to new space. The lead times are typical and may vary greatly.

  1. Call your phone and Internet providers and check availability of services. Sometimes you may not be able to duplicate services (such as Cable Internet) in a new location. Ask for lead times for installation. Lead times can range from 10 days to 12 weeks depending on the services you require. Make sure service orders get placed with enough lead time to allow for possible delays due to facilities problems. Document all service order numbers and contacts.  
  2. Call Your telephone system vendor to get a quote and make arrangements to move your telephone system. They typically need two to three weeks lead time to schedule manpower and gather materials.  If your system is older, you may want to evaluate whether the cost of moving the system could be better invested in new technology. Many businesses use a move to change to a cloud phone system or invest in a VoIP Phone system.
  3. Find out if the location you are moving to is cabled for voice and data. If it is not, or changes are required, call your phone system vendor for a cabling quote. Find out if your landlord is responsible for tenant fit out. 
  4. Contact your printer to print letterhead, business cards, forms, etc., which need to be changed. Note: New telephone numbers are not guaranteed until they are installed. You may have to install the new services before they are required in order to lock in telephone numbers. 
  5. Create a floor plan. Label it with the location of all telephones, fax machines, networked computers, printers, scanners, network copiers, wireless access points, time clocks, and any other network appliances. Pick a climate controlled and secure location for your IT gear and for the control unit of your telephone system. Label all staff locations so your vendor can place phones in the correct place. If  you are taking over space that is already cabled, compare your floor plan with what is actually in place to make sure there are cables and jacks where required.
  6. Contact your IT vendor - You will need to move your data network, and this may involve changing public IP addresses. Your IT vendor should look at cabling (either existing or plans for new) to make sure there are provisions for all your IT gear. If you have a Cloud Phone System or a premise based VoIP phone system, then you'll need the LAN in place before you can liven the phones.  
  7. Determine how you’d like to handle telephone calls, faxes and e-mail during the move. If your move is local, you may be able to get dual service for a week. If the move is not local, you can set up forwarding on your main number and send calls to a voice mailbox or cell phone.  
  8. If the move requires a telephone number change, decide how you want to handle the old numbers. Most phone companies will provide a reference of calls for one year. Contact your phone service provider to make sure that this is provided for all published numbers (fax, private lines…). Make sure your telephone number is correct on your Web site and any on-line listings. 
  9. Once your new numbers are in and guaranteed, send an e-mail blast to you clients and vendors alerting them of the move. Let them know if you will be closed for the move and how to reach key people during the move. Set up a fax machine in the new office so customers and vendors can fax important information.

Moving is no fun, but if you plan ahead, organize, and get your vendors on board, the discuption can be minimized.

 

Gregg Haughton has been helping buisnesses increase productivity, enhance customer service, and lower costs for over 20 years. If you have any questions about business communications systems, cloud phone systems, public address or access control please:

 

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Granite Cloud Phone Systems - A good option if you are moving.

 

Gregg Haughton

Topics: Moving a business phone system, VoIP Phone System

Should I have a maintenance program on my business phone system?

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Sep 23, 2011 2:37:00 PM

Let me start by saying I never buy extended warranties. When I go to Best Buy and the sales person starts bringing up the extended warranty I tell them "Don't even start, I never buy extended warranties." I guess I am a  risk taking fool!
I have to give Chris Hoffman from Great America Leasing in Cedar Rapids, IA credit for helping me realize there is a difference between an extended warranty and a maintenance program. He came to Connecticut a few years ago to help us design our managed services program.
So why should you cover a business phone system with a managed service program? This post will explain why I believe it's a smart business move.
  1. Technology changes - Back when I started selling small business phone systems in 1986, they were stand alone systems. The software was burned on chips on the processor and the system did it's thing without interaction with your computers or data network. If you needed to interface with another system, you added a card that performed that task. Today, business phone systems are yet another application server on your information network. They interact with client PCs, software applications, and servers. So, when another system is upgraded, if you don't keep your phone system software up to date, you can lose that interaction. A managed services program provides a software upgrade subscription so your systems remains compatible.
  2. People forget - A business phone system can have  a transformative  effect on your business, but only if people know how to use it. A managed  services plan provides for ongoing training and as the system evolves will ensure that new capabilities are actually used.
  3. The way you use the system will change - If you get a bill every time you make a change, then you will hesitate to make changes even though it might make you more productive or provide better customer service. I hear it all the time..."I'll just wait until I have a few changes..." If there were no cost, then you'd make the changes that would benefit your business. A managed service plan allows you to have your vendor make changes with no service charges.
  4. Discounts - Typically, a managed service program entitles clients to reductions on additional business with the vendor. If you are a growing firm, or planning more investments in technology, the savings can be substantial.

Does this mean next time I go to Best Buy I'll say "yes" to the salesperson when she brings up an extended warranty? Probably not. But I believe that a well designed managed services program benefits most organizations.

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Topics: small business phone system, VoIP Phone System, Business Telephone Systems, managed services plans

Business Telephone System vs. Hosted Applications

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Apr 26, 2011 4:24:00 PM

Frequently, we are in a competition not with another business telephone system company, but with companies selling hosted solutions. For years, pundits have been touting a new era in telephony - the end of the installed business telephone system.

Remember Centrex in the 80's -

Don't get me wrong, there are applications where a hosted solution is a viable solution. However, the two biggest attractions of a hosted business telephone system, low cost and easy of configuration changes, is most often elusive.

Let's look at an expample. We recently replaced a hosted solution which had been installed at a real estate company's four offices. The office had between 30 and 50 phones. They were paying an average of $2200 per site per month for phones and traffic for the agents. That translates to $105,600 per year. Over three years the cost is $316,800.

Our installed IP solution was a one time cost of $98,000 and monthly cost of $600 per site for PRI services and a toll calling plan. Add a support plan that allows unlimited program changes, software upgrades, and a parts and labor hardware warranty for $780 per month and the cost over three years is $212,480.

That's over $100K less. Over 5 years the savings is $239K or enought to buy the system over 2.4 times.

The lesson is that although the idea might seem attractive - no up front costs, no maintenance costs, easy changes - make sure you compare the costs over the time you expect to use the system. It might be surprising...

 

 

Topics: Hosted Phone System, VoIP Phone System, Business Phone System

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