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Eric Moore

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Call Recording on your Business Telephone System

Posted by Eric Moore on Apr 19, 2012 12:08:00 PM

“Your call may be monitored or recorded for quality assurance purposes”. It seems like every time we make a call these days, whether it be into a financial institution, an insurance company, a customer service center or even a small mom and pop car dealership, we hear that recording prior to reaching a live person.

Why is that? Well, with the advent of digital recording technology, inexpensive call recording software has replaced older, costlier reel to reel or DAT tape recording platforms that formerly, only large corporations could afford.

Whereas call detail reporting on a business telephone system provides the ability to track, monitor and optimize call activity, call recording platforms gives a company the tools to ensure that their customer facing personnel are interfacing properly with the public.

Conspiracy theorists and paranoiacs will claim otherwise but there are actually valid and constructive reasons for recording calls: order entry/accuracy, training purposes, performance management, dispute resolution and keeping the occasional rude employee in line are but a few examples.

Consider taking or documenting a complex order with many components- what better way to guarantee that you’re taking down the correct info than recording the conversation, then going back and listening to each entry and confirming that you have all the pieces to the puzzle before submitting for entry?

Or contemplate a new hire in a telemarketing firm that needs to learn a new sales pitch- recording the call will allow the recipient to listen and fine tune their delivery before sending them out in the field and running into the proverbial buzz saw that is the general population.

There are regulations at the State and Federal levels to recording calls so please consult with a legal advisor to determine what is and isn’t acceptable. Suffice it to say that to inform the caller that a recording is taking place is the first step. If you feel that Call Recording could benefit your business, please inquire within our office- we can help!

 

Bluetooth for your Business Telephone System

Posted by Eric Moore on Apr 5, 2012 12:41:00 PM

 

Bluetooth technology, created by Telecom giant Ericsson in 1994, is a proprietary open wireless standard for exchanging data signals over short distances from fixed and mobile devices, creating what are now called personal area networks with high levels of security.

Bluetooth is an effective and clutter free replacement for cabling and it provides a secure way to connect and exchange information between popular electronic devices such as PDA’s, mobile phone, laptops and video game consoles to name a few.

Interestingly enough, the word “Bluetooth” is the English derivation of “Blatand”, the name of a 10th century Danish king who succeeded in uniting numerous disparate Danish and Norwegian tribes into a single unified kingdom- Bluetooth technology does the same with communications protocols by uniting them under one universal standard.

ICON Voice Networks has embraced Bluetooth technology by providing an industry-first internal Bluetooth module that allows users to pair and use a Bluetooth headset with their Iwatsu Icon Series telephone. This effectively gives the end user more choices of comfortable ear piece headsets at significant cost savings than other wireless headset options currently available.

It allows for one touch remote answering and disconnection from calls and alleviates the need to pick-up your telephone's handset. Plus the range is up to 300 plus feet in a normal office environment. Please inquire with our office to see how this technology can benefit your work environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Benefits of Telephone Headsets

Posted by Eric Moore on Mar 29, 2012 1:01:00 PM

With the rise of computer and telephony-based occupations, many workers experience neck pain or upper back pain in the workplace due to poor posture, positioning, or simply handling the telephone incorrectly. Once worn only by telephone operators 60 years ago, business telephone headsets are becoming more and more prevalent and with good reason. Headsets add many advantages to the workplace as they significantly reduce neck pain, upper back pain, and shoulder tension. You can go so far to say that it improves productivity as well.

It is in the use of the telephone handset that the most significant work related disorders of the neck could occur. When the habitual act of cradling the handset against the shoulder and neck is performed routinely, or held for long periods of time, discomfort, chronic neck pain or back pain, is often the result. As a result, headsets have become a key accessory in alleviating workplace injury.

So, where to begin? There are many flavors and models to choose from but they’re broken down into 2 basic groups- Wired headsets with a base station that connects directly to your phone and Wireless headsets which though the base station is connected, the actual headset is free of any encumbrances which allows for mobility while engaged in a call.

 Advantage to the wired model is its less expensive and more suitable to the worker that simply needs hands free capability. Wireless models allow the user to be mobile within the confines of the office, free to move to a filing cabinet up to even 300 feet from their workstation to retrieve a relevant file. But, they can range anywhere from 60% to 80% more costly than their “wired” counterparts. Bluetooth technology has enhanced the wireless models functionality and headset design by interfacing with many current business telephone systems- but please check with your current vendor as to which headsets integrate with your phone system before choosing a model and purchasing.

Feel free to inquire with our office as to which headset is right for you.

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Topics: Business Phone System

What is Call Detail Reporting and how can it help my business?

Posted by Eric Moore on Mar 22, 2012 12:27:00 PM

CDR or Call Detail Reporting is the process of collecting phone call data on your business telephone system and analyzing this data, and then reporting on the telephone network's cost, performance and capacity

Traditional PBX manufacturers would typically provide a “bolt on” component piece to capture this information or use a third party software package due to the fact that older phone systems could not provide this functionality. Many current telephony systems include Call Detail Reporting largely due to systems being software rather than hardware based.

On older, traditional PBXs, the connection is through a serial port. On newer models, an Ethernet connection is normally used. The information is delivered via the appropriate method to a PC running the CDR software.

The objective reporting software is to gather the raw CDR data and allow the user to produce graphical reports. Call logging software packages differ in the sizes of PBX systems that they can support (from hundreds of extensions to hundreds of thousands of extensions). They also differ in reporting capability and support for specialized PBX features.

In general terms, Call Detail reporting can offer a snapshot of how effectively a company is using their telephony resources- some of these include:

Cost Control – it can track the cost of calls, cost of trunk lines, costs by department or individual extension the number of unused extensions, etc. It can also capture instances of telephone fraud or scamming campaigns.

Performance– looks at how long it’s taking to answer phone calls- by extension or by department and demonstrates whether they meet acceptable levels of customer service.

Capacity Management – judges whether the system is being over or under-utilized. It examines trunk usage and call patterns that show where extra capacity is required or where cost savings can be achieved.

CDR reporting provides essential information to help streamline costs, enhance customer service and maximize existing resources.

MPLS 101

Posted by Eric Moore on Mar 15, 2012 4:46:00 PM

 

Many companies today have the need to connect to multiple business locations. The legacy technologies for doing this were Frame Relay networks and point to point dedicated circuits. But newer MPLS networks now offer a lower cost higher performance way to send data, voice or video between locations.

MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. It's yet another Telecom acronym that basically describes a privately operated network that allows for carefully controlled connection paths between locations. You can have a connection between two locations across your town/ city or from the East Coast to the West. Or you can set it up to allow any of a dozen or a hundred locations communicate with any of the others at will. Because it's multi-protocol, MPLS networks can handle nearly any type of digital traffic you can generate including VoIP and TDM telephone, IP video, and packet data.

The rapid growth of the Internet has been attractive to many companies for transporting voice and data traffic. Internet based VPNs or Virtual Private Networks have the advantage of using a public infrastructure with costs that are shared with millions of users. But therein lays the problem- because it is a public means of access, there is no way to guarantee quality or consistency of service. A private network has inherently better security and can be structured to guarantee important parameters such as bandwidth, jitter, latency, and packet integrity. The newer MPLS networks tend to be designed for higher speeds to match today's business bandwidth needs, unlike Frame Relay Circuits, which were based on older, slower technology.

The other traditional means of connectivity mentioned which is still a viable alternative is the point to point solution; Point to point means just that. You have a dedicated line of a certain bandwidth between point A and point B. If you need to add another location, point C, you have to connect it with two PTP (Point to Point) connections. One goes from C to A. The other goes from C to B.

Unfortunately, this can get expensive fast and a logistical challenge when you try to connect a dozen or a hundred locations; and in most cases, its distance sensitive so it can get pricey real fast.

It's become popular to think of large networks as clouds. Data goes in one point of the cloud and comes out another. The magic of how it gets from input to output is in the cloud technology. MPLS makes a perfect cloud for transporting text, images, streaming video, data backups and whatever among locations. The label switching technology tags the input packets with their source, destination and quality of service requirements. Tag switches or label routers then efficiently get that packet to its destination intact.

Since the cloud is a private network, you have the advantage of a carefully managed service that gives you the quality you want. You have the costs of transport between location and the access cost, which is generally a T1 line at each location. In addition, it is scalable so that when your company grows the bandwidth can increase as well. The rapid growth of MPLS networks can be attributed to the same or higher performance than other transport solutions, but at much lower cost.

What is SIP?

Posted by Eric Moore on Mar 5, 2012 12:54:00 PM

 Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is a signaling protocol used for establishing sessions in an IP network.

SIP is an established standard from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the body responsible for administering and developing the protocols that comprise the Internet. This IETF driven protocol represents a key component in the converging world of telecommunications based applications.

A session could be as simple as a two-way telephone call or it could be a collaborative multi-media conference session. The ability to establish these sessions means that many innovative services become possible – think of SIP as a simple toolkit that service providers can use to build converged voice and multimedia services.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) has become a growing force shaping today's telecom industry and the Voice over IP community has adopted SIP as its protocol of choice for signaling. One might assume it’s because of the relatively low cost to the carriers to provide the service and in turn the competitive pricing offered to the end user.

Though SIP is still evolving and being extended as the technology matures SIP does not do everything, and it does not solve every problem and has limits. Many manufacturers need to certify the provider prior to ensure that it will successfully interface with their hardware. This certification process can sometimes be time consuming and arbitrary in their selection method of whom actually gets chosen as a viable candidate.

Despite the red tape of certification, the benefits of SIP outweigh the challenges of implementation and are worth pursuing.  Primarily, it provides a similar feature set that the larger, more expensive circuits offer but for smaller applications: Scalable service starting with a single trunk, Direct inward dial numbers (DID’s) and foreign number service (FNS). Of the 3, FNS is the most impressive- it allows a company to take an established, published number from an entirely different rate center or central office and port it to anywhere in the continental USA.

To learn more about the SIP advantage, inquire with our office.

How much bandwidth does a remote IP phone connected to an IP based business telephone system actually use?

Posted by Eric Moore on Nov 18, 2011 4:44:00 PM

With VoIP, your voice will be transmitted over IP- the Internet Protocol. The first thing you will need is a stable Internet connection, with sufficient bandwidth. Bandwidth is used interchangeably with connection speed although technically they are not exactly the same but we won’t split hairs for the sake of this discussion. A stable connection for voice transmissions would be any Cable circuit or an ADSL connection. ADSL is important because the upload and download speeds need to be identical for voice traffic over DSL to be successful.

There are so many factors affecting voice quality: the broadband connection, bandwidth, hardware, software and the technology itself but the key element of VoIP technology is data compression.

Compression software (called a codec) encodes the voice signals into digital data that it compresses into lighter packets that are then transported over the Internet. At the destination, these packets are decompressed and given their original size (hopefully), and converted back to analog voice again, so that the user can hear.

Picture Captain Kirk standing in his transporter chamber, getting converted into an energy pattern by Scotty, traveling through the ethernet and being reconverted into matter at his destination with all limbs and organs intact.  Thus is the journey of a voice packet.

There are 3 standard compression protocols most frequently used in the world of IP business telephone systems:

G.711 typically uses up the most bandwidth because it’s compressed the least- 75kb per second

In contrast, G.723 uses approximately half at about 35kbps 

G.729 uses the least at about 21kkbps

One of the most important factors to consider when you build packet voice networks is proper capacity planning. Within capacity planning, bandwidth calculation is an important factor to consider when you design and troubleshoot packet voice networks for good voice quality.

My phone lines are about to expire-what should I ask my carrier?

Posted by Eric Moore on Oct 11, 2011 9:07:00 AM

 A couple of years back you signed on with a carrier to provide, say, dial tone for your business. Its expiration time and you’re wondering how to proceed. Do you renew at the same rate? Are you concerned about locking into a contract for more than one year when new services/ technologies are being introduced daily? What if you have a downturn in business- can you afford to keep the same budget for telecom when your business is losing revenue?

 

If you’re comfortable with your provider and negotiated a pretty savvy contract last time, and revenues are stable for the foreseeable future, there may not be whole lot of room for improvement. But it wouldn’t hurt to always ask the following:

 

  1. Are there any promotions for renewing the contract? Carriers will often offer credits for service if you sign for a lengthier contract.
  2. If you are moving within the next six months, what is the rate for going month to month? That is, if you’re moving to an area where your current provider cannot provide service.
  3. What if I have a down turn in business and want to reduce my services- what are my early termination charges? Make sure you have some wiggle room to remove lines without penalty - inquire if you can remove up to 50% of your lines without getting termed; that would be the amount billed per line, per month times the months remaining on the contract. If your carrier doesn’t offer a down turn in business clause, seek out alternative service providers- they’re out there.
  4. Are there new, less expensive products that can supplant my current services and, does it require hardware upgrades to my business telephone system?
  5. Can I bundle services for a better rate on my lines and internet?

 

Due to technological changes and fluctuating prices on services, if you haven’t reviewed your telecom budget in awhile, you may find there’s some fat that can be trimmed off your bill. Check with a Telecom Consultant or your hardware vendor- because they’re usually carrier agnostic, they have access to product and pricing information on a variety of service providers- not just one.

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: Business Phone System, VoIP Phone System

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