Hosted VoIP: The Business Case for SMEs

Business VoIP ServicesAccording to the telecoms regulator Ofcom, 95 per cent of small businesses in the UK still use traditional landline telephones.

However, the further up the enterprise chain you travel, a very different picture emerges. Amongst larger businesses, landline use has fallen into the minority, overtaken comprehensively by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – otherwise known as internet telephony.
Continue reading Hosted VoIP: The Business Case for SMEs

How Hosted VoIP Can Save Your Christmas

Christmas is the time of year that most office workers look forward to. It offers family time, some decent TV and a chance to forget about deadlines and stress. For entrepreneurs and business owners, Christmas isn’t always a time to switch off, since there’s always another phone call to handle.

If your family members are already fed up with your smartphone addiction, they aren’t going to enjoy hearing your ringtone when they’re trying to watch Dr Who. How can you manage your availability without switching your mobile off for good?

VoIP - Voice of IPEnter the IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

An IVR is an automated menu that lets customers select options with their keypad. Most banks use IVRs to direct calls to the right department, or deliver automated messages to callers.

When you set up hosted VoIP, you can create an IVR menu that puts you in control of the way calls are routed. You could send sales calls to an answerphone, while sending support calls straight to your mobile phone. You can also assign a ring group to any selection so that the calls are spread evenly over a team.

IVRs let you stem the flow of enquiries without making people feel abandoned. You can allow certain calls to come through, while filing less urgent enquiries in your voicemail inbox so you can deal with them once Christmas is over.

All of this can be controlled using Cloud4’s simple, straightforward VoIP dashboard.

Our 4 Golden Rules of IVRs

We’ve all encountered IVR menus that have driven us to frustration. A complicated IVR is not a great way to spread festive cheer. We recommend that you follow these four golden rules to ensure your IVR is successful:

1. Keep it short and sweet. IVRs can have up to 10 options at every stage, meaning they get complicated very quickly. Don’t use 10 options, ever. Five is plenty. If you send your callers on a wild goose chase, they will be more likely to abandon the call. Remember: each caller should be on the phone for 5 minutes or less.

2. Make people feel wanted. Your IVR needs to manage calls, not turn people away entirely. Reassure the caller that their message is important, and give them a timeframe for a reply. Then stick to it.

3. Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t use jargon or slang. If you’re not confident about your vocal abilities, hire a voiceover artist to record your IVR message. It’s amazing how much better the pros sound.

4. Offer an emergency contact option. Make sure your valued clients can reach you in a dire emergency. Many businesses assign the 0 key for this purpose.

Is There Still Time to Save Christmas?

If you’re still using an inflexible PBX system, or handing out your mobile number, it’s time to rethink your approach to business telephony. Hosted VoIP is a far more flexible solution, and it costs less than a PBX while offering much, much more.

If you sign up with Cloud4 today, you could have your shiny new IVR in place before the festive season arrives. Contact us to find out how VoIP can make your business more streamlined and responsive to its clients.

Attention: Your Phone Number Isn’t Working

Businesses do a lot by email these days, but the phone is still a critical tool.  Despite the existence of teleconferencing, video calling and real-time instant messaging, it’s often better to pick up the phone and call.

Through convention, most businesses have acquired geographical or non-geographical numbers pointing to fixed landline phones.  We have also seen a surge of mobile numbers replacing geographical numbers, particularly for businesses who do not work from an office.

But there are some problems with the traditional phone system, and they can result in the competition getting an edge.

The Evolving PBX

Traditionally, businesses have installed PBX systems on premise to handle incoming calls.  An old-fashioned PBX requires engineer visits to achieve most management and maintenance tasks.

If you need more lines, fewer lines, or a repair to the infrastructure, it’s generally going to be an expensive affair.  Phones are hard-wired to desks, and there’s no freedom of movement at all.

This is where VoIP steps in to fill the void.  A hosted PBX is entirely software based, apart from the device you use to answer the call (your laptop, or your phone, in most cases).  So there’s no engineer to call out.  Need a new line?  Add one in a click.  Noticed a fault? Your host is there to fix it, under the terms of your monthly agreement.

Call My Mobile

Naturally, the mobile is more portable.  But with mobile numbers, we have another problem: people don’t trust them.  A landline or geographical number can be traced; it has longevity.  A mobile phone number could be attached to a throwaway pay-as-you-go SIM.  It could be obtained online for free, and disposed of at the end of the week.

For many businesses, mobiles don’t give their business gravitas, or a local presence.  That matters if you’re running an ad campaign and you need people to convert.

Let’s face it: the main reason people like mobiles is that they’re not in a fixed place.  What if you could use your mobile, but advertise a landline?  That’s exactly what VoIP allows you to do.  You can purchase any number of telephone numbers and route them to your mobile, laptop or tablet, providing you’ve purchased an extension for each device or user.  Numbers are available with your own local area code, or another area code, or even another country.

Switch and Save

Changing the fundamentals of your business can be costly, confusing and more hassle than it’s worth.  But if you’re still using a fixed line phone, VoIP is worth the effort.  It will free you from line rental, release you from your desk, and allow you to take more calls as you go about your main line of business.  And, most importantly, it’ll save you money.

If you’re still advertising a mobile number, VoIP’s a no-brainer, too. For a small monthly fee, you could advertise a fixed-line number without giving up the convenience of your smartphone.  And if you’ve got more than one business, you can have as many lines as you need, all pointing to the same place.

Intrigued?  Find out more.  Contact Cloud4 and find out how VoIP could work for you.

How to choose effective business communication solution?

Using phone on a computer over the internet via VoIP

Communication is the most important aspect of any business and although phone systems are prevalent and indispensable on a day to day basis, not all businesses know about Hosted VoIP and how it can decrease their telephony spending whilst giving them more flexibility. Continue reading How to choose effective business communication solution?