How to Overcome Common Hosted PBX Problems

Switching to a hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) solution from a legacy PBX is one of the best ways for businesses to cut costs, enhance customer service, and streamline communications. Because most of the responsibility is shouldered by the service provider (including maintenance and upgrades to the equipment and platform), a hosted PBX enables you to focus your attention on more important matters like managing operations and improving your bottom line.

However, it’s still possible to encounter some issues as you make the transition towards hosted PBX. But fortunately, these issues can easily be resolved thorugh careful planning and foresight. Below are a number of common issues you might face with a hosted PBX and some tips on how to overcome them.

Connectivity and call issues

Problem: Are you experiencing dropped calls or are hearing echoes on the phone? Does the audio quality vary between different times of day? Are you unable to complete a call? These are some minor problems that customers may face.

But truth be told, there are various factors that can affect call quality. However, most call quality and connectivity issues are often due to your existing internet connection. With a hosted PBX, all call data is transferred over the internet in packets. So it’s vital that you ensure you are subscribed to the right internet plan with the proper level of bandwidth to handle your call volume.

Solution: To correct the issue, conduct an internet speed test to see how efficient your internet connection is. If the results are satisfactory, talk to your hosted PBX service provider to help you investigate the issue. If the results are poor, however, then contact your internet service provider as the issue is likely with them. They might be able to suggest the best plan that meets your current usage. You should also ensure that your router is up to date and that there are no loose wires between your connections.

Old hardware and phones

Problem: Another headache businesses face when moving to hosted PBX is the stock of old routers, legacy phones, and other hardware they now have to dispose of. Using outdated and incompatible equipment can make the transition more painful as compatibility issues may arise. Plus, upgrading to new equipment may not be an option due to the costs involved.

Solution: The great thing about hosted PBX solutions is that they do not require users to invest in new phone equipment or other hardware. It helps businesses save on IT costs since they can use their desktop, laptop, or any mobile device (through mobile apps) to access their new phone system instead of buying new IP phones. And most providers also offer BYOD options to help subsidize costs.

Tech-averse staff

Problem: Is your staff not as excited as you are about your transition to a hosted PBX? It is natural for employees to resist change, especially if they have been using and are accustomed to a traditional phone system. They may fear that the new PBX is difficult to operate and that it may affect them and their work. But while it may take some time for them to adjust to the new system, there’s nothing to fear.

Solution: You can quickly overcome resistance from employees by keeping your staff on board from the beginning. Talk to them about the upcoming changes and make sure their concerns are addressed. Most hosted PBX providers also offer training and helpful online resources. This will help your team familiarize themselves with your new hosted PBX solution and be more confident in using the system. You can also implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to keep the learning curve low and to help your employees be more comfortable.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind if you are thinking about or are in the process of making the change over to a hosted PBX solution!

Debunking 4 Myths about Hosted PBX

Business phone technology has evolved much faster than most people realize. Not too long ago, companies that need a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system for office communications had to deal with complicated wiring systems, costly maintenance, and frequent upgrades. But now, companies can simply subscribe to a hosted PBX service, connect their hardware or mobile device to the internet, and start making and receiving calls in no time. But despite the advantages of using a hosted PBX over an on-premise solution, some companies remain reluctant to make the switch due to the various myths and misconceptions surrounding hosted PBX.

So let us set the record straight and debunk four of the most persistent myths about hosted PBX solutions:

Myth 1: Hosted PBX solutions costs more

Businesses that use on-premise PBX systems oftentimes choose to stay with their current system because they wrongfully assume that switching to a hosted PBX solution would be too expensive. Or they believe that they would have to completely overhaul their equipment. On the contrary, moving to a hosted PBX service actually helps businesses save.

You can save more with a hosted PBX solution because there is no need to upgrade or maintain costly phone equipment and other hardware. You can use your current IP-phones or BYOD with the help of an ATA adapter. You can also access your phone system using a computer, laptop, or any internet-connected device through mobile apps and desktop integration or softphones. Plus, hosted PBX systems mean companies no longer have to keep a dedicated space for their phone hardware and thus occupy lesser office space. This, in turn, helps to lower rent.

Myth 2: Call quality is poor

Hosted PBX solutions use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies to deliver high-quality calls. When VoIP was still in its infancy (over 20 years ago), call quality wasn’t as good due to unstable internet and low grade technologies. But all that has changed.

VoIP and the Internet have come a long way since then, which means call quality has vastly improved. With the right hosted PBX provider and the right internet plan, you’re sure to enjoy crystal-clear calls.

Myth 3: You’ll lose control

Another common misconception businesses have about hosted PBX solutions is that choosing one means relinquishing control of your PBX system. But the truth is quite the opposite. Your service provider hosts and handles your call platform, features, and necessary equipment, but the control is still in your hands. Hosted PBX services often come with an online admin portal that lets users manage the features and functionalities of the phone system and make it easier to use and customize to a business’ liking.

Myth 4: It’s not secure

Because hosted PBX uses the internet to transmit calls, most businesses are worried about being vulnerable to security threats. Such security threats, however, can be minimized by following best practices and, of course, by choosing the right provider. A good hosted PBX provider will have security protocols and multiple redundancies built into their network to block any potential threats and avoid any downtime.

Final Thoughts

Although hosted PBX solutions are embraced by many businesses today, some companies still fail to adopt the technology because of the many myths surrounding it. By putting these myths to rest, organizations should consider switching to a hosted PBX for the huge potential and many benefits a hosted PBX brings.

How to Set Up Your Auto Attendant

 

Common with many PBX systems, the auto attendant feature automates the incoming call procedure and eliminates the need for a full-time receptionist. This feature provides callers with a greeting and a list of menu options to route their calls to the appropriate person or department. Because an auto attendant is often the first interaction potential prospects and customers have with a company, it’s important to ensure that it is properly set up in order to make the right impression to callers.

Below we identify four best practices in setting up your auto attendant so you can create a good impression and offer a pleasant experience to your customers:

Be brief and professional

Begin your message with a welcome greeting. It should be pleasant and professional as if you were shaking hands with a potential client for the first time. After your quick intro, get down to business immediately by offering the most important information customers need. Consider offering information about your business such as location, directions, office hours, and website.

Before introducing options to callers, make sure to inform them that they can dial their party’s extension at any time, in case they already know who to reach (and thus don’t have to listen through the auto attention options).

Avoid offering too many options

When designing your auto attendant, keep in mind that less is often more. Offering an endless list of options can confuse callers, leading them to hang up the phone or end up with the wrong extension. Limit your menu to five or six options, including only the most important departments such as customer service, sales, and billing. Also make sure to use clear extension names (“Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 For Customer Service, etc…) or call-to-actions (“To talk to a customer support representative, press 1, To hear your account balance, press 2, etc).

Include short sales information or slogan

While it’s important to keep your auto attendant message short and sweet, it won’t hurt to include sales information or a slogan to boost your brand and catch your caller’s attention. For example, a curtain supplier could begin their greeting with, “Thank you for calling Curtains Unlimited, your best source for custom curtains and draperies.” It’s a simple one-liner that already introduces callers to your brand.

You can also mention a sale or special promo and discount to entice customers. But make sure to direct callers to a specific extension where they can obtain additional information. You can say, “Would you like to enjoy a 20% discount on orders worth $100 and up? Press 3 to learn more.”

Customize greetings for specific times of day

Unless you operate your business 24/7, you’ll want your phone system to act differently during after business hours or holidays. It’s a good idea to tailor your message depending on the time of day so that customers who call you after hours will know when you will be available. Also, you should consider offering a voicemail option to ensure you don’t miss important calls.

Final Thoughts

An auto attendant is an excellent PBX feature that helps you not only to effectively manage and route calls, but also to convey a more professional and customer-friendly appearance. So make sure to set it up correctly by following these helpful tips.

Hosted PBX VS SIP Trunking: Which is Right for Your Business?

For companies that are hoping to save money and streamline business communications, the decision to choose a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system is a smart move. When compared to traditional telephone services, VoIP is far more customizable and feature-rich. Plus, the ability to scale at will on top of the system’s increased reliability make VoIP highly attractive.

It’s important to emphasize, though, that VoIP is not a single solution. Rather, it’s an umbrella term that covers any form of voice communication that is carried out over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. When implementing a VoIP solution, there are various options businesses can choose from. Two of the most common solutions are Hosted Private Branch Exchange (PBX) and SIP Trunking. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at each service to help you decide which option is most suitable for your business.

What is a Hosted PBX?

Also referred to as an IP PBX or virtual PBX, a hosted PBX solution is a telephone system that provides PBX functionalities (such as call conferencing, automatic call distributions, call forwarding, do not disturb, etc.) to businesses but without the need to own or maintain any onsite equipment. With hosted PBX, the call platform and its features are hosted or handled by the VoIP service provider in the cloud. It is no longer the business’ responsibility to own, operate, secure, maintain or upgrade the necessary hardware. This allows companies to focus on their core competency, as well as enjoy significant cost savings through limited required equipment.

What is SIP Trunking?

With Session Initiation Protocol (or SIP trunking), users are able to continue using their existing telephone system or PBX equipment, but without the exorbitant costs of connecting to the PSTN. SIP trunking replaces traditional phone trunks with the internet; which means your phone calls will be routed through the internet instead of traditional phone lines. This solution requires an IP-enabled on-premise PBX and a VoIP gateway that connects your PBX to the cloud.

So Which Solution Should You Choose?

As with any business technology, the decision depends on the needs of your business. You need to consider various factors first before making the switch. The following are only some of the things you should weigh in order to make an informed purchasing decision:

    • The size of your business – For startups and smaller businesses (with anywhere from 5 to 20 employees), hosted PBX is usually the better choice as it provides all of the standard and advanced VoIP features at a lesser cost. SIP trunking, on the other hand, is ideal for larger enterprises that already have an existing PBX in place and simply want more affordable calling.
    • Scalability – As a business expands, so do their communication requirements. Both options are highly scalable, but with SIP trunking you would need to purchase additional on-premise servers (and thus spend more money) to be able to add new phones and users to your phone system.  A hosted PBX service, on the other hand, would only require a notification to the provider or a few changes in your account’s web portal, which can be completed in a few simple steps.
    • Maintenance – If you’re choosing SIP Trunking solutions, maintenance issues must be handled by your IT staff. They are responsible for the upkeep and must ensure that your software is up-to-date. This can prove extremely challenging for some businesses, especially if they don’t have highly skilled and knowledgeable IT personnel. With hosted PBX, on the other hand, all of the necessary upgrades and maintenance will be taken care of your VoIP service provider.

Assess your business’ wants and needs and choose the most appropriate VoIP service solution today!

 

 

Ooma Office Introduces IP Phone Support to Offer Flexibility to Small Businesses

Leading cloud-based phone system provider Ooma Inc., recently announced on its blog that it intends to expand its Ooma Office phone system by including IP phone support. This means small businesses now have the freedom and flexibility to utilize a combination of phone technologies and devices (including analog phones, mobile phones, IP phones, and fax machines) on their Ooma phone system.  

According to Ooma, some of their users have expressed the desire to be able to use IP phones (alongside their analog and mobile phones) as their business and phone system expands. Ooma has responded to this need with the introduction of IP phone compatibility. Eric Stang, CEO of Ooma, said, “We’re excited to expand our offering to include IP phones so our small business customers have the flexibility to choose the phone technology and features that are right for their business, without incurring a big monthly bill.”

Improvements to Ooma Office

Ooma Office now supports three popular IP phone models: Cisco SPA303, Cisco SPA 504G  and Yealink SIP-T21P E2. They plan on increasing this selection in the near future.

These phones will be part of the Ooma Office phone system and will be offered exclusively by the company. In addition to basic features such as call waiting, three-way conference calling, message waiting indicator and caller ID, all three models also come with a set of advanced phone features useful for businesses (like 1-step and 2-step transfers, Do Not Disturb, and internal extension dialing).

For smooth and easy plug and play installation, Ooma CEO Eric Strang also said the IP phones will be pre-programmed to work with Ooma.

An Enterprise-Level Phone Solution at a Small Business Price

Ooma has consistently been ranked as one of the top Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers due to its reliable service and quality business communication solutions offered at the best prices. In fact, readers of PCMag have chosen Ooma as the best VoIP service for small businesses for three consecutive years.

Starting at just $19.95 per user per month (with no contract required), businesses can take full advantage of Ooma’s complete business phone experience without the high price tag. Each Ooma account comes with a local and toll-free phone number, a virtual fax extension and a conference extension, plus a range of other big business features (including virtual receptionist, conferencing, ring groups, and much more). Setup is easy and customer support is offered 24/7.

Apart from improving communications, Ooma is also committed to protecting the privacy and security of its customers. All data are backed up in the cloud to ensure a high level of security and redundancy not usually available in on-premise business phone systems.

To learn more about Ooma Office, visit: www.ooma.com/business.