For businesses of all sizes, the pandemic accelerated the shift to hybrid information technology solutions that facilitate both remote and in-office communication and collaboration for customers and employees.
In today’s market, this increasingly includes mobile and office phones with embedded software that offer sophisticated voice, video, messaging and workforce management capabilities.
This has increased the complexity of phone system requirements and provided businesses with a plethora of options. Users typically work from office phones and mobile devices, and are more likely to work in and out of the office, so there is a greater demand for message forwarding to avoid missed calls.
In addition, a large number of new services beyond telephony are often expected, such as e.g. B. Short Message Service (SMS)/Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), video conferencing, visual voicemail and call recording.
In addition, the telephone system is increasingly being connected to existing company systems such as contact centers, workforce management and customer relationship management systems (CRMs) via APIs, so that important data can be monitored and evaluated in a variety of ways.
However, the challenge for businesses has been dealing with quality and integration issues, along with ever-increasing provider prices and add-on fees that can end up costing over $70 per user each month.
When managers need the services to stay up and running but don’t have the time or inclination to sort through complex billing, they can feel like a prisoner of their technology provider.
“Today, business owners feel overwhelmed with all the software-as-a-service fees that keep creeping up, never down. They are lured in with low introductory offers, and then the price doubles or triples on renewal or changes,” said Eric Brackett, president of BTI Communications Group, a technology convergence provider for the business and logistics sectors.
The company operates as a full-service provider from complex telephony (VoIP), network and physical security systems to installation of cables and wires, as well as cybersecurity monitoring and protection.
“Bait-and-switch phone system pricing is a huge burden for businesses when it becomes an overhead and operational expense,” he adds. “Instead, managers want to capitalize on the full cost over a few years or own the system with minimal operating costs.”
In addition, businesses prefer a phone system that offers out-of-the-box access to all service options, whether used or not, for a low fixed monthly fee, thereby avoiding additional fees and complexity.
“Entrepreneurs and managers appreciate having just one item on the bill that covers everything. When prices don’t change for a fixed period of time, the problem of escalating expenses and surprise extra charges goes away,” Brackett said.
He notes that such a system can enhance both customer and employee experiences by integrating web services such as voice, video, SMS/MMS, smartphone and PC, as well as contact center, CRM and workforce management.
“Today, a business phone system must be able to work from anywhere, whether in the office, at home or on the road, and offer the full breadth of communication technologies,” said Brackett.
He adds that some of the more advanced marketplace options are now easier to integrate and use than ever. These allow business workers to use their own smartphones without buying new devices, as the service works with almost every mobile operator.
To optimize usage, a web portal can allow users to take control and manage the entire system from a simple interface. Video conferencing also makes it easy to collaborate anywhere on any device, and some or all calls can be recorded and retrieved as needed.
Optimization of business telecommunications
Montvale, New Jersey-based Astral Energy buys and sells energy wholesale and retail to over 15,000 companies in the B2B market. Ashton Fox, Astral Energy’s Chief Operating Officer, was looking for a more robust, stable solution than what his existing telecommunications service offered.
“Many of our customers work on the go without their smartphones, so text and multimedia messaging are important to communicate with them. If our customers are having trouble reaching us or we’re having trouble reaching them because of our phone system, it doesn’t work,” Fox said.
“We had some issues with call quality, SMS and MMS service, and tech support from our provider,” he adds. “We also wanted better price transparency. We didn’t want to find out later that we really needed a particular feature and had to pay more for it each month, which would strain our budget,” Fox said.
As a solution, Fox and Astral Energy turned to a new option in the business market called BTI’s GoodPhone, which offers comprehensive web, voice, video, SMS, MMS, CRM, contact center and workforce management services and -Provides integrations for customers and employees.
The service works on smartphones and office phones as well as on PCs used as a phone.
A full phone service with all the options you need costs a flat monthly fee of less than $25/user. For the contract period, each user can use an unlimited number of phones within the framework of the same flat rate. Telephones can also be rented or bought from BTI, or existing VoIP devices can be used.
When employees use their personal smartphone by downloading the GoodPhone app, they no longer need to reveal their personal cell phone information to handle business calls. Instead, they can provide customers with an office number to reach them and make and receive calls from their web phone, mobile app, or desk phone, while always showing the office number.
“Employees only give out a business number and all calls and SMS remain in the GoodPhone portal on their smartphone or PC app. If a customer calls their number and doesn’t answer it on their smartphone, the call can go to corporate voicemail, not their personal voicemail,” explains Brackett.
The service also allows businesses to send promotions via SMS and contact customers via SMS and MMS messages, as well as track responses. Employees can monitor messages and set auto-replies with custom text from one account.
The service makes it easier to resolve customer issues by enabling search of text archives with a 360-degree view of customer interactions. When video conferencing is required, the service currently allows up to 1,000 people to participate and up to 25 people to share a screen.
Fox is very satisfied not only with the ease of implementation of the GoodPhone service, but also with its quality and reliability.
“The phones that came to our office were already programmed, so all I had to do was plug them in. They essentially gave me a turnkey system,” Fox said.
Fox appreciates that the technology integrator isn’t just a phone company, which it says has helped improve system reliability.
“The system is far more global and robust than what we had before. It’s very reliable and we haven’t had any problems. In a year we had less than 20 minutes of downtime and they responded very quickly to resolve the issue,” he said.
Fox credits the telecom service with facilitating his duties as manager and COO. GoodPhone makes it easy to monitor and manage workforce from anywhere and includes a web phone and smartphone app, call statistics/call center dashboard, and real-time and historical reports.
“As a manager it is important how I can see and manage the entire backend. Unlike many apps, the mobile app actually works and doesn’t just redirect you to a website or browser. I can do pretty much anything I can do on a desktop in the app,” Fox said.
“The service allows me to manage my team more effectively,” he adds. “For example, if there’s a problem on the phone with a customer, I can quickly pull up the recording on my phone to resolve it.”
Other companies are also finding value in simplifying the complexity of their phone systems for a low, flat monthly fee.
Market Contracting Services, a construction company in Chicago, Illinois, had remodeled its facility and planned to buy expensive landline phones for the office, but reconsidered when its technology integrator suggested a better option, according to Esmeralda Macias, the firm’s office manager.
“With the new VoIP smartphones that BTI is providing, we don’t have to pay any landline charges. We can now see everything online through one portal, so we can see all incoming and missed calls,” she said.
According to Macias, employees no longer have to be at a desk to take calls because they can do it anywhere they have an internet connection.
“Even outside of business hours, we can transfer calls to our smartphones. This has translated into better customer support and more sales,” she said.
The VoIP telephone system was also a success from a budgetary point of view. The system not only eliminates current carrier bills, but also includes unlimited local and domestic long distance calling.
“The landline phones and service would cost a lot more. We are already well ahead financially with the implementation of GoodPhone – and we are just beginning to leverage the capabilities of VoIP phones,” she concludes.
Enterprise telecommunications systems have long been complex and expensive, leading to frustration among users. However, with the greater choice in today’s market, companies that integrate essentially all required telecommunications services via VoIP phones at a low fixed cost can streamline their operations and gain a competitive advantage.