Telephones have existed in the United States since 1876, and they have experienced an impressive evolution. A device that once was a rare commodity is now something that individuals and businesses rely on each day. The same goes for the internet. When the internet was invented in the 1980s, it was slow and rarely used. However, the internet today is considered a necessity for schools, businesses, and homes.
It’s clear that modern businesses depend on reliable phone and internet services, and companies are always looking to improve their efficiency. One of the most efficient ways to utilize an existing internet connection is to set up a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business phone system. Could VoIP make sense for your business operations? Keep reading to discover if it’s right for you.
How Does VoIP Work?
VoIP is a system that allows businesses to make and receive calls over the internet. This method of using digital lines to carry phone calls was created in the late 1990s. Essentially, VoIP is an alternative option to using a local telephone company. If your business has an internet connection, you can make or receive calls without a local phone service or contract. In addition to making and receiving calls, VoIP provides other functions, such as:
- Call forwarding
- Call recording
- Caller ID
- Conference calling and video conferencing
- Hold messages or music
- Fax to email
- Web-based system administration
- Integrations with Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Salesforce, and more
VoIP is incredibly accessible for businesses because 93.5% of people in the United States have access to high-speed broadband internet. Broadband internet includes cable, DSL, and fiber internet. VoIP converts phone calls to data and sends the calls over the internet in less than a second. Your business can access the internet through Ethernet cables or Wi-Fi signals.
VoIP works in four simple steps:
- Your business phone connects to your switch or router in your Local Area Network (LAN).
- When you dial a phone number, your IP phone communicates with your VoIP provider to call the number.
- Your VoIP service initiates the call and exchanges data from your IP phone.
- The VoIP phone transforms the digital signals into the sounds you hear.
Signs VoIP Is Right for Your Company
With VoIP, your business can bypass analog phone systems and telephone companies entirely. Many companies rave about the benefits of business VoIP, but how do you know if it’s right for you? There are a handful of indicators that suggest your business could be a perfect candidate for VoIP, such as:
1. You Have a Small or Medium-Size Business
If you don’t own a large business, don’t fret. VoIP is ideal for small businesses of all kinds. Small and medium-sized businesses are fantastic candidates for VoIP because many small businesses already rely on cloud-based applications for file sharing, file storage, and backing up data. VoIP fits into this equation by utilizing the cloud, no longer requiring expensive appointments with service technicians, and hosting an unlimited number of incoming and outgoing calls.
2. You Want to Simplify Your Equipment
Quality is better than quantity, especially in the business world. If you’re looking to consolidate your business equipment from multiple inefficient systems down to a few reliable systems, VoIP is an excellent option for you.
Say goodbye to the frustrating and tedious process of installing special wiring and bulky equipment. Companies that utilize VoIP don’t have to purchase extra equipment or use an IT team to install or maintain it.
Businesses that use traditional analog phones know that diagnosing and fixing issues when the landline goes down is time-consuming and irritating. With VoIP, you can cut out the landline entirely and rely on your existing internet network.
3. Remote Connectivity Is Important to You
As society continues to change, the business world adapts with it. Nowadays, it is incredibly common for businesses to operate in a hybrid setting where employees come into the office a few days per week and spend the other days working remotely. Many other companies even provide fully remote working opportunities for all employees.
Not to mention, some occupations require employees and owners to travel for work. Whether you want to support your employees working from home across town or traveling to a different state on business, remote connectivity is essential.
VoIP is the perfect business phone system for remote demands because it allows employees to bring their business phone line with them anywhere they go. Most VoIP providers have a mobile app that can ring when a client or customer calls an employee’s business line. VoIP apps also allow employees to make outgoing calls on their business line from their personal cell phones.
4. You’re Looking to Save Money
Most businesses would happily take any opportunity to lower their operating costs. If you’re looking for additional ways to save money, switching to VoIP can help. Since VoIP doesn’t require special equipment or an IT staff, your business can save significant amounts of money. Additionally, most VoIP providers charge a monthly per-use fee instead of a fee based on how many minutes are spent on the phone.
Some VoIP providers even allow free access to some services. Typically, cloud-based business solutions can be as low as $10 to $30 per user, per month. VoIP avoids toll charges from traditional telephone services and consolidates video conferencing, voicemail, and long-distance calling services into one system, allowing your business to bundle services and save money.
5. Your Business Prioritizes Customer Service
If providing excellent customer service is one of your business’s core values, you may be able to increase your capabilities by using VoIP. With the efficiency and accessibility offered by VoIP, your business’s customer service will stand out from your competitors.
Amp up your customer service by starting calls with a customizable welcome message and add pleasant music or an informative message while customers are on hold. You can even utilize call transcription features so that your employees can give their full attention to clients without having to take notes.
Is VoIP Right For Your Business? Get Started Today!
Does your small business sound like one that we described above? If so, you are likely a fantastic candidate for business VoIP services. Don’t wait any longer to save money, consolidate equipment, support remote work, and amplify your customer service; instead, get started with VoIP today.
If you need a trusted VoIP provider, contact Integrated Communications today. Our team will perform a free telecommunications audit report to decipher if VoIP makes sense for your business. For more helpful advice regarding business telecommunications, check out the other articles on our blog.
Voice over Internet Protocol, commonly referred to as VoIP, is a technology method that delivers voice communications over the internet. Business VoIP systems are essentially the modern form of a business phone. Instead of being tied to a landline, businesses can use the internet to send voice, video, and data communications. There are VoIP advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part companies can enjoy many VoIP benefits like flexibility, low cost, and mobility. Business VoIP is the future, especially with so many employees working remotely. No matter what size business you run, VoIP can help you stay modern and connected. Here are a few of the benefits of using business VoIP:
- Allows employees to work from anywhere, with the use of smartphones.
- Lower cost than traditional landlines.
- Easily scalable for when your business grows.
- Flexible phone option that won’t tie you down.
- More features than conventional phones.
How Does VoIP Work?
The VoIP definition is: communication that works by digitizing voice data and sending it over the internet. This means that you can make and receive business calls over the internet, using various devices such as headsets, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The only thing you need for business VoIP, or hosted phones, is an internet connection. Instead of using circuit switching like traditional phones, hosted phones utilize packet switching, which is much more efficient. It uses bandwidth only when needed.
Business VoIP Benefits
You might be wondering, what are the VoIP advantages and disadvantages? Believe it or not, there’s more than one benefit to using business VoIP. If your company hasn’t switched to it already, you might want to reconsider. Using business VoIP gives your business freedom and flexibility. Your employees will be able to take calls from wherever they are, with whatever devices are available to them. Business VoIP also comes at a lower cost than traditional landlines and is easy to scale up if you hire new employees and your company expands. If you think your business would appreciate this mobility and its low price, then you should consider switching to business VoIP with a trusted VoIP provider. Here are five of the best VoIP benefits to consider when making this critical choice.
With the world of technology expanding and the popularity of remote working on the rise, businesses have to find ways to adjust. Using VoIP phone services is just one way to do that. Employees can work from anywhere and still receive calls with the use of VoIP. Working from anywhere is essential, especially if your employees travel or often have meetings outside the office. With VoIP, everyone will stay connected over their business lines, making it easy to be mobile.
Using hosted phones is significantly cheaper than traditional landlines. Because of the way VoIP operates, you really just need to have a strong internet connection. By providing business VoIP to your employees, you will save a considerable amount of money in your budget, which can then be allocated elsewhere. Think about how much money you’ve spent installing landline phones and rewiring cables, plus adding additional lines whenever you have a new employee. Those days of costly services are gone, thanks to affordable hosted phone plans. Choosing business VoIP will give you mobility and flexibility, not to mention a good portion of your phone budget back.
When your business grows, your technology and phone capabilities have to grow too. Adding additional business VoIP lines is straightforward and easy, making this growth transition that much easier for companies. Instead of having to call your landline provider, buy a new hardwire, and reserve time for installing new lines in the office, you can just add lines through your admin portal. Whenever you hire new employees, giving them a phone line is simple with VoIP. Scalability is one of the many benefits of using business VoIP. Moving offices? That’s no problem either when you have hosted phones you can use anywhere, as long as there’s an internet connection.
Office workers used to be tied to their desks all day because of landline phones and technology that wasn’t flexible. Now, technology has made huge strides so that people can work from wherever they want. Business VoIP operates in the same way. You can stay mobile and flexible, opting to work from wherever suits you best, without giving up your phone lines. Stay connected and remain flexible with business phone hosting. If you and your employees are always on the go, VoIP is the best choice for reliable phone services that are as flexible as your company.
The final fantastic benefit of business VoIP is all the features that don’t always come with a landline phone. The VoIP definition communicates clearly how voice data is simply sent over the internet. These hosted phones can actually do so much more than traditional phones, including integrations with other work productivity systems and voicemail to email. With business VoIP, your phone system will help employees to be their most productive. If your company needs full functionality out of your phone system, then hosted phones are the way to go. Here are several of the features you can enjoy with business VoIP:
- Automated attendant
- Caller ID
- Call blocking, forwarding, waiting, and transferring
- Conference calling
- Contact Center/Call Center
- Integrations with Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Salesforce, and others
- Fax to Email
- Find Me/Follow Me
- Hold music
- Mobile management
- One-line sharing on multiple phones/devices
- Ring groups
- Voicemail to Email
- Voicemail to Text
- Web-based system administration
Choosing Business VoIP
When you choose a VoIP system, you will be investing in your company to grow into the future. Of course, there are VoIP advantages and disadvantages, but we think the pros outweigh any cons. Hosted phones allow for maximum flexibility and scalability while remaining the most affordable choice for business phones. VoIP technology is constantly evolving, and since it is cloud-based, you will always have access to the latest version without any significant changes to your system. Thanks to hosted phones, all you need is a strong internet connection to be able to carry conversations and receive work voicemails from wherever you are, on whatever device is available to you. The benefits of business VoIP are plenty, and it’s one of the best investments you can make for your growing business today.
When it comes to deploying security in a virtual environment, some industry professionals draw a blank–or, worse, they think that it’s necessary to replace existing physical security protocols with virtual substitutes. This is not true.
In fact, the best approach to use when viewing virtual security is a logical one. Consider this: A jewelry store owner who expands the physical location or who opens a new facility would not try to use his/her current security force to protect the new location, nor would the owner secure the new location by trying to stretch the current security force between two facilities and simply hope that the depleted resources will cover the need. Both sites need to be secure.
Considering the current, overwhelming surge in virtual as-a-service solutions, knowing how and when to apply virtual security measures like firewalls has become a crucial consideration for businesses. This is especially due to the fact that according to industry specialists, over one-fifth of all VPN (virtual private network) security will be deployed in a virtual format by the end of the year.
Companies already understand the flexibility and cost-saving advantages of moving information and even key infrastructure to the cloud (hence, the rapid growth). That said, virtual security protocols should not be an either/or dilemma; they should be employed in a layered defense. The physical systems already in place should be supported with virtual firewalls—not replaced with them—depending on the level of the workload requirements.
The reasons for this layered defense are abundant. Not only does it secure the virtual aspects of the data system, but the same ease of alteration and on-demand access that is available in a virtual environment is accessible with virtual firewalls. Companies can adjust deployment according to specific needs, which allows them to better control financial commitments.
The issue of deployment confusion has been discussed at length by industry experts. Keeping pace with the rapidly expanding network services available in a virtual environment means finding ways to secure that activity from threats.
Therefore, deployment should depend on the same workload and accessibility requirements that have determined the current physical security measures.
Notably, there are two basic types of virtual firewalls:
- Introspective: This type resides within the hypervisor side of each virtual NIC (network interface card). Although it offers a well-managed way to keep virtual machines protected, it is limited in availability at this time.
- Edge: This is the most common form of virtual firewalls. These reside between two or more virtual portgroups or switches. The beneficial aspect of this type of virtual security is that companies can deploy them at the “edge” of their data center or between trust zones in a cloud environment, depending on their workload and throughput activity.
Rules of the Game
In general, there are three fundamental rules when it comes to adding virtual security services to a network:
- Deploy virtual firewalls to enhance the depth of network safety in conjunction with the physical securities already in place.
- Know the specifications of a virtual firewall. (The specs for physical firewalls are outlined; virtual ones should be outlined, too.)
- Don’t limit virtual security to one type (or breed) of firewall. (Requirements play an essential role in the types and amount of firewall protection needed for a network.)
With the changing environment of virtual services, companies can discover the best means of keeping their networks secure by incorporating virtual security protocols. The investment is well worth it when the risks are considered, and the faster, more adaptive role that these protocols play can make a huge difference in security compliance.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Selecting a business phone system can be hard work – but, is that the hardest part? For many of our customers, ongoing training and/or initial comprehension of the product purchased seems to be an evaporating offering by business phone systems vendors and telecom carriers. The big WOW factor comes into play during the phone demo you and your executives sit through, but, once you’ve inked their papers it’s all very “thank you, come again”; it doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, at Integrated we partner with business phone systems providers who will ensure your company’s employees are well versed with the product purchased, as well as training a system administrator who may be put in charge of handling small changes with your new phone system.
If you are apprehensive about understanding your new business phone system, be sure to speak with your provider or telecom agent prior to purchase to guarantee they will offer you and your staff proper training. Check out our recommended business phone system provider if you are looking for a company that will be with you 100% of the way, guiding you through your new technology purchase.
Recommended for Excellent Phone System Training:
Company Name: Cutting Edge Communications
Business Phone Systems: AVAYA
Training Offered: SMB Market, Corporate Training – for end users and system administrators
Services Offered: Phone Systems, Structured Wiring, Programming, Training, Video Surveillance, Staging Preparation, Legacy Equipment Maintenance and Repair, Maintenance Plans, Firewall Security and VPN…
*A great provider should always offer your company a review of their product, a demo of their product, and training after implementation of their product – never settle for less.