Tips for Better Business Communications

Not long ago, the business world embraced simple, concise written communications as a powerful tool. Whether in business plans, white papers or daily correspondence, clarity was key. In recent times, communication seems to have been diluted by an onslaught of email, website content, text messages and now Facebook and Twitter posts. Many struggle to keep up with business correspondence in harried exchanges on the go.

However, email, blog posts, comments to blog posts, social media updates, plans, memos, reports, texts/SMS messages and more would be well-served by a more conscious awareness of some of the business communications principles of not-so-distant times. Yes, it’s more efficient to type “IDK” instead of “I don’t know” in a text message, but today’s acronyms can be balanced out with a measure of old-school business communication conscientiousness.

Whether you’re following up with clients on social media or crafting your latest business proposal, these tips can serve you well in today’s fast-based business communications climate:

Make an impression. Use a strong opener, title or headline, then supplement as needed. People tend to skim written communications these days.

Get to the point — efficiently. Use short, concise sentences and simple, to-the-point, no-nonsense words. Avoid jargon, buzz-words and obtuse “ten-dollar words” that your readers will have to “Google” to define.

Use those English skills. Take the time to use basic, proper capitalization and punctuation, even in text messages.

Simplify. Avoid lengthy emails or proposals with multiple points and topics; people just don’t have the attention spans they once did. Create a separate document for each topic with a new, fresh, engaging subject line. Recipients are far more likely to receive and integrate your message if you stick to one topic each.

Of course, business communications have ventured far beyond just the written word. Integrated Communications offers comprehensive telecom communications services for businesses, including:

• Business Telephone Systems

• Business Internet

• Business VOIP

• SIP Trunking

• Hosted PBX

• Conference Communications

• Telecom Consulting

Solid written business communication aligned with the latest cutting-edge technology creates an unbeatable partnership. Contact Integrated Communications for business solutions you can trust.

Choosing A Partner: Telecom Consulting Services in Minneapolis

As the pinnacle of telecom consulting services in the greater Minneapolis area, Integrated Communications is dedicated to bringing our local clients expert telecommunication advice for installing their business phone systems. Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding areas support numerous businesses, both small and large alike. We connect those working to better themselves and our community by providing solutions for phone system services.

Low Costs, High Local Pride

Costs for implementing or updating a telecommunication system can start to rack up – depending on the services and contractor you choose, of course – but with our Cost Reduction program, our 800 clients save an average of 25% on their monthly expenses.

Serving every town and suburb throughout the Twin Cities, we offer free telecom consulting services to any local business owner, startup, corporate entity — whoever needs assistance. We aren’t a boss, we’re a partner. In fact, we are so good with our clients that they come back 98% of the time. Now that’s consistent customer service.

Every day, we preserve and act-out the goal that everyone in the telecommunication industry strives to reach: Be a trustworthy and useful resource for our customers. Instead of dictating, we democratize, working with each client individually to provide decades of experience in telecom consulting services. We will assess your situation, and make our professional recommendations within your company’s business VoIP systems needs.

If you have questions about business phone solutions, don’t worry. The process may be in depth, but thankfully partners are available right around the corner to provide you with stress-free options in phone system services.

A Local Partner for Telecom Consulting Services

We are proud to say that we serve every type of business in the Twin Cities and it’s surrounding suburbs. Our telecom consulting services are unmatched in the local business scene. Fill out our form so we can contact you directly, or call us locally at  (763) 201-8000 for a free consultation in phone solutions today.

Phone Systems For Small Business: Minneapolis Telecommunication

Integrated Communications strives to bring connectivity and optimization to phone systems for small business in Minneapolis and beyond. We serve the greater Twin Cities area, supplying the most capable local, long distance, conferencing and business phone systems in Minnesota. Our customer service reputation is unmatched, and with a 98 percent client retention rate, we will guarantee your satisfaction with our proven process. Read on to see how our free consulting services will improve your Minneapolis small business telecommunication issues.

Locally Focused – Nationally Recognized

When you partner with Integrated Communications, your small business receives over two decades of expertise in the communications industry. On top of that, you will be paired with a national network provider; relationships we have developed over several years so we can give our clients the most network options possible. Rest assured that when we take on a project, we will provide you with unbiased consulting to best serve your company’s interests.

We serve all cities and suburbs in the greater Minneapolis area, continuing our mission of working with small businesses and commercial entities alike. In Golden Valley, we serve small business telecommunications by positioning ourselves as the best source of local, long distance and conferencing business phone solutions.

Over the past 5 years, we have seen a shift from hardware-based phone platforms to software-based phone systems. While Integrated Communications still hosts both of these, the trend is continuing, making installation, service and upkeep much easier – while also saving you a lot of money. Whether or not you will need one platform or the other depends on your business’ wants and needs, but we guarantee that our recommendation will be finely attuned to meet both of these for you.

Phone Systems For Small Business Minneapolis

Integrated Communications prides itself on serving your small business with distinguished telecommunication services. Our phone systems for small business Minneapolis and in the encompassing Twin Cities Area will cure all the connectivity issues you are facing. Call us locally at (763) 201-8000 for a free consultation in optimization solutions today.

 

Three Reasons Why the Business Telephone is More Important Than Ever

More companies than ever are using VOIP (voice over internet protocol) or allowing employees to “bring your own device” and use smartphones on the job. With options like this at the disposal of an organization, is there a need for standard business phone systems any longer? Actually, a regular telephone line is still an important investment for most businesses. Consider these three reasons why having a business phone service is important for your organization.

Business Phone Systems Offer Quality – While smartphones and internet telephone options are convenient and often affordable, the audio quality does not compare to the quality of a standard business phone service. This is important if you use the phone to conduct business internationally–it can be very difficult to understand the other person talking if the line is not clear.

These Systems are Secure – When you are in a business that deals with confidential information, you want to protect the integrity of the data you share by phone. A quality business phone system is easier to secure and protect against wiretapping devices than a simple cellular phone.

A Business Phone Service Grows With You – Even if your company is on the small side right now, choosing a good system will allow you to expand it as the company grows. Right now you may only need a line or two, but these systems can be expanded to allow for dozens of lines across multiple locations.

These reasons are only the beginning. Having a “landline” phone for your business may not be one of the latest trends in technology, but it is an important way to make sure your company operates at the top of its game. Finding a company that can provide business phone systems, as well as a full-scale internet solution is a great option for the business owner who wants to save time, money and effort while he or she puts a company-wide communications plan together in or around Minneapolis or the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

Minneapolis Phone Systems: Calling All Businesses To Optimize Now

At Integrated Communications, we provide industry-leading phone system services throughout Minneapolis and the surrounding areas. We adapt strongly to emerging technology. We strive to bring you products that will outperform and outlast our competitors. If you’re considering updating your current business phone system or installing your first, we’re guessing you have some questions. Let us take it from here.

Integrated Communications has been offering Minneapolis phone systems, Internet services and conferencing solutions to local businesses for more than 20 years. A partnership with us means that you will receive not only those 20+ years of expertise, but also strong ties to local and national network providers. Our relationship with carriers and vendors has valuably progressed over the past two decades, allowing us to provide our clients throughout the greater Minneapolis area with an unbiased variety of network solutions for their business phone system needs.

Like we said, we adapt–strongly. Over the past half decade or so, Minneapolis phone systems have started moving from a traditional hardware-based platform, to a software-based system. Both traditional PBX platforms are hardware and software based, but emerging today are hosted platforms that make it easier to service, install and update. We offer both and will hook you up with the most appropriate system for you.

We tailor your phone system to your business’ needs and goals. By checking out your specific connectivity demands, how many employees you have and our product options, we’ll consult you on vendor choice, order your services, proactively coordinate installs and partner with you throughout the contract and its subsequent renewals.

Integrated Communications will provide you with the preeminent telecommunication services we have built a nearly-flawless reputation upon. Visit our areas served page to see the Twin Cities area locations we directly provide Internet, VoIP and phone system support to. Or, give us a call locally at (763) 201-8000 to for a free consultation in telecom solutions today.

Phone Systems as Your Company’s First Impression

We’re taught early in life the importance of first impressions. Most have learned the value of a smile and eye contact in endearing you to someone you first meet. We have heard how polished shoes and a firm handshake can help shape that first impression. We know that bad first impressions are difficult to change, while good first impressions can move a relationship along quickly.

In your business, you may have taken the time to create appropriate signage and a welcoming entranceway to welcome guests and create that great first impression. You may even invest in small details like quality raised lettering business cards, and fine paper letterhead.

What you may not have given much thought about is something that is at the front line of your business. It serves as the first impression for many who contact your business.

We are talking about business phone systems.

phone systems

Phone systems are the gateway for many considering using your products and services. How that system funnels prospects and customers says a lot about your small or large business. Yet many base that decision on price, rather than customer experience and effectiveness.

We’ve all had those nightmare experiences dealing with companies whose systems are syrupy slow, cumbersome, and inefficient. Although frustrating, it is almost understandable for companies outsourcing their call centers overseas. But sadly, right here in the Minneapolis and Twin Cities area, there are otherwise professional organizations that have poorly designed phone systems.

If you haven’t reviewed how your incoming calls are handled and the importance of making a great first impression, contact us. Technology continues to improve the ability to enhance your customer’s, and your potential customer’s experience. Let’s get together and talk about the impact your phone system has as your company’s first impression.

Let’s make sure your phone system has the equivalent of a firm handshake.

How to Protect Your PBX System from Fraud

A private branch exchange (PBX) works by having a piece of hardware that acts as a switchboard, sorting, routing and connecting all the calls that use the system. It’s an enticing option because a corporation owns the PBX system, not a phone company, and can cut the cost of having to get a specific phone line for each user in the organization’s central office. But despite its simple and straightforward approach, PBX hasn’t ignited the public’s attention the way the telephone first did.

PBX Fraud

There are two basic kinds of telecom fraud: PBX fraud (DISA), and voicemail fraud. With the first one, PBX (direct inward system access), fraudsters sell the PBX lines to third-party operators who sell long-distance at a high profit. Because these calls look the same to the service or equipment providers, all an intruder has to do is use a system command to get a dial tone. Once they’ve done that, they make long-distance calls on behalf of those selling them for profit.

A really simple way to help prevent this is to use access codes in your PBX system. As businesses grow and acquire more people, requiring each employee to input an authorization code or smart password can drastically cut down on the amount of long-distance hacks that take place after business hours. You can also block long-distance calls to the Caribbean, one of the biggest hotspots where long-distance calling fraud occurs.

Voicemail Fraud

By far, the most common type of telecom fraud to take place is through a PBX system’s voicemail. But whereas an intruder committing PBX fraud would use a system command to place long-distance calls, here they would do so via voicemail. And once they get the dial tone, they’ve successfully commandeered your PBX system for their own profit and benefit.

Having a complex voicemail password, changing it on a regular basis, and using the maximum number of characters are three of the easiest ways to cut down on voicemail fraud happening to your PBX system. Another is to delete a mailbox when an employee leaves the company because the longer the mailbox is not attended to (and the password left unchanged), the easier it is to hack into it. You can also limit the voicemail to internal calling so third parties have a much more difficult time accessing your PBX system voicemail.

Although there’s no foolproof method of protecting your PBX system against fraud, you can make it just about impossible for third parties to intrude. And remember to always monitor and analyze activity because the more in tune you are with your PBX system, the less chance there is of fraud taking place.

For all of your business PBX and telecommunications needs, contact Integrated Communications today.

Homegrown Telecom: Business Internet MN

Near and far our toys and our cars are shipped and sold to us from out-of-State and out-of-Country. While this has been great for the consumer wishing to lower their overall spend, it isn’t great for the consumer who incurs problems and needs to get a hold of the manufacturer or have their issues solved in a timely fashion. Telecom, IT, and other technology facets, these days, seem to be no different; businesses big and small are working with carriers and vendors who are “housed” in another area.

Is this a problem?

Well, as these carriers grow and expand into uncharted territories, their appreciation and attentiveness for their clients depletes significantly. Calls being made by a client to their provider are being handled outside of the local sector and businesses are starting to experience extreme down-times as they wait for their connectivity issues and/or business needs to be handled – oftentimes incurring endless “on-hold” hours.

How can this be avoided?

Stay homegrown! Many businesses are beginning to turn back to their local providers and/or agents (such as business internet MN master-agent Integrated Communications) to handle their business’ services and voice and data needs. IT companies such as Velocity Tech Solutions are seeing the change and it’s becoming a huge factor for many local and multi-site businesses. Anne Tarantino of Velocity Tech Solutions (2013) notes, “Big businesses are competitive and are taking many local vendors out of the market; but, things are starting to shift back towards the use of local vendors as people realize the satisfaction, customer service, and timeliness with big businesses just isn’t there”.

If you are a business looking to ensure your needs are met and issues are being handled instantly, then you need to go homegrown. Integrated Communications has partnered with many local voice and data carriers, as well as phone and IT vendors to ensure your business has the proper resources just around the block. Call us at 763-443-7009 for questions regarding our homegrown style of business and the partners we love.

*Velocity Tech Solutions is a partner IT vendor of Integrated Communications – located out of Spring Lake Park, MN

“Keeping-up” with Integrated Communications (POST#1)

It looks as though summer is coming to an end soon enough. How do we Minnesotan’s measure this? Easy, the MN STATE FAIR! That’s right folks, the great Minnesota get-together commences this weekend, and so, in spite of our beloved summer winding down, we would like to reminisce about our summertime adventures…

This summer at the office:

– We switched over to a new web-hosting group and are THRILLED to be receiving less spam in our inbox – hallelujah.

– Our new plasma television arrived for our conference room, and we are excited to make our company meetings, carrier lunch and learns, etc… much more visually appealing and technologically advanced.

– Integrated Communications got our website off and running, and are working diligently on all things social media.

This summer outside the office:

– Thalina has appreciated a summer filled with twins, dog-sitting, Wisconsin dells and all things fun with her two awesome children! Thalina’s doggy-daycare endured a busy August, so far, with a total of 7 dogs at one time!!

twinsgame dogsitting1 wiscells

– Sandy relished the company of her lovely granddaughter Zuzu who visited her and her husband, Bill from San Diego – this was the first time she’s come here all on her own! Sandy and Bill were thrilled (we even got to see Zuzu @ work a few times) and took her to see a Twins game.

photo(38)

– Setara and Nick adored the summer while preparing for the arrival of their very first addition to the twosome. That’s right – a baby! After an awesome trip to Las Vegas in June, they were able to find out they are having a little baby boy, and couldn’t be more ecstatic!

P1030397_1 IMAG0147_1 P1030401_2

– Kip, Nate, and Greg enjoyed some whiffle ball, golf, and carrier magic @ the On-Track convention in Madison, WI!

 

**Be sure to check-in soon for the next post of “Keeping-up” with Integrated**

A Business Phone System Memoir – Music on Hold

Hi, I’m your new business phone system. I’ve done my due-diligence by answering calls, recording important messages, forwarding my direct calls to your cell phone, and have even taken the time to show you who’s on another call! But, what about when you put me on hold; why is it so silent?

Studies have shown that 50% of callers hang up after 20 seconds of silence, and 90% of callers hang up after 40 seconds of silence. Most callers will assume silence for disconnection. Music on hold can help to reiterate your companies’ impeccable customer service, intrigue your clientele to stay and wait for you, as well as ensure no miscommunication has occurred in the process. Can you afford to lose a sale due to complete and utter silence?

According to Maratona Communications (a dedicated partner company), U.S. laws currently in tact protect copyright owners from unlawful use of their music; using music on hold requires permission from the owner of the copyrighted music. Amy Johnson (2013) states, “If you want to use copyrighted music, you must obtain permission from the owner. This includes playing CDs, MP3s and the radio. Currently, performance rights societies such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC will sell blanket permission to use music titles in their catalog for MOH purpose, for an annual fee that is calculated by size of your business and the frequency of usage” (Maratona Communications). However, “side-stepping” these incredulous music licenses and fees is made easy with the customizable music oh hold Maratona Communications purchases directly from the composer – they are able to convert the music into any digital format to be integrated seamlessly with your current business phone system. Johnson (2013) continues, “Our writers can also record custom messages using our in-house voiceover talent, using your existing script or one we write for you. Many companies offer canned royalty free songs for you to choose from. At Maratona, we do have our standard music options, but we will also customize a song to meet your individual needs, making your on-hold music unique to your company” (Maratona Communications).

 

Call Integrated Communications today @ 763-201-8028 to set-up a live demo of Maratona Communications’ music on hold and the many customizable options offered for your business phone system!