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Conference Room Telephones for Business Telephone Systems

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Mar 9, 2012 9:33:00 AM

I was recently on a conference call with parties in several parts of the country. It was difficult to clearly hear many of the participants and the call was far less productive than it should have been. Most business speaker phones are poorly suited to be used as conference phones because the microphones are directional and do not pick up sound behind the phone. A phone designed for conferencing has echo cancellation and background noise suppression to enhance the clarity of the call. There are many options for conference phones and picking the correct business phone system conference phone is important.

Business telephone system conference phones can be broken down into three catagories: desktop, modular, and installed systems. Each is designed for a specific application.

Desktop - Desktop Conference phones are stand alone multi directional conference phones with high quality speakers and microphones. They are effective in offices and small conference rooms and will work well for a small group of people where the distance from the phone is within 10 feet. Typically the cost for a desktop conference phone is less than $500. Some models are wireless allowing them to be located where they are needed. This is an example of a desktop conference phone:Desktop Conference Phone resized 600

Modular Conference Phones: For larger conference rooms, or when you need to have more than a few people on the call, a modular system is recommended. By connecting several units together, called pods, and adding remote microphones, the coverage can be expanded to accomodate rooms up to about 20 ft. square and groups of up to 20. Modular systems start at about $500 and top out at about $1500 for units with 4 pods and remote microphones. Here is a modular conference phone with two pods:

Modular Conf Phone resized 600

Installed Conference Systems - When the audio quality is paramount or the space is large, installed systems can't be beat. These are installed in Board Rooms, Video Conferencing Centers, Auditoriums, large conference rooms and other large areas. They need to be custom designed and installed to fit the room and the application. Using a control panel users balance the sound, select microphones, manage the audio and microphone coverage. These systems use hi-end components such as Bose speakers to create full spectrum, room filling sound. Installed systems start around $3000 and go up from there. This is an installed system:

Installed Conf System resized 600

Granite has extensive experience with conference systems and can help you decide which is best for your application. We take into consideration room acoustics, how you plan to use the system, and your budget to suggest the most appropriate system.

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Topics: voip phone systems, Business Phone systems, conference systems

Business Phone Systems with ACD Call Centers, not just for LL Bean.

Posted by Gregg Haughton on Feb 28, 2012 1:34:00 PM

One of the longstanding challenges that we face when implementing a new business phone system is how to handle a large number of simultaneous inbound calls. We work with many medical offices and this is a problem that, although not unique to the medical industry, is common.

The old approach was to hire a skilled receptionist who could stack the calls at the console and systematically pull the calls off hold and route the calls to the appropriate party. When the calls came in quickly, hold times grew, and clients something got aggrivated. When the call volume exceeded the ability of one receptionist to keep pace, a backup receptionist was hired or calls were overflowed to other departments.

Today, few companies can afford the luxury of hiring staff just to answer the phones.

Thus grew the common practice of using an auto attendant to answer the incoming calls, prompt the caller for departments, and offer a directory for callers who don't know the extension if they are trying to reach an individual. If there was no person available to take the call, it was sent to a voice mail box for later retrieval. This works OK if the call volume is low. Many callers need to reach and individual and are not comfortable leaving a message in voice mail and waiting for someone to call them back. This is especially true in the medical field where patients might be sick or otherwise in need of immediate help.

The best approach is to use Automated Call Distribution (ACD). These systems used to be expensive and complex to operate. Now, ACD is usually a software license which unlocks software that is already resident in the business phone system. ACD is very common when you call a customer service department in a large firm (like LL Bean). ACD is a method of queueing calls and providing a set of rules for the queue. ACD allows the system integrator to establish call routing rules based on many parameters such as time of day, number of calls in que, number of agents available, average hold times, etc. If properly set up, ACD improves both customer service and employee productivity. This tool allows companies  to track metrics that can be used for staffing, to track call volumes for many variables, and to measure how well your staff is performing.

ACD is one of those often overlooked communications tools that can improve customer service dramatically.

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Topics: Business Phone systems, Call Center, ACD, Automated Call Distribution

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