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Blogs

The AGCC Ultimate Business Show

12 April 2018 at 16:04pm

Fancy finding out more about VoIP from your local, independent specialist?SureVoIP Attendance AGCC

Come and meet us at this year's AGCC Ultimate Business Show to find out more.

Ask our friendly and experienced staff anything, from how VoIP works, to which options are best for your company.

The Ultimate Business Show brings together a variety of businesses from the North East. Visitors have the chance of meeting a variety of exhibitors. Last year's participants included 75 local companies, all willing to communicate with anyone interested in what they can do.

SureVoIP® will be attending (stand 76). We would love to see you there.

Come and chat about our Award Winning Hosted VoIP services, or our brand new Customer Portal.

We are only happy when we are pushing the boundaries of what VoIP can deliver to customers. Our host of developments this year prove our position at the forefront of industry innovation. With our new Customer Portal now released to our customers and our brand new innovative Minute Bundle packages set to disrupt the market, we are pushing both delivery and capabilities to their limits.

We will be more than happy to discuss just how all this will benefit the average VoIP customer, just drop by for a chat.

If you want to know more just now just get in touch

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Innovating For Success

23 March 2018 at 14:03pm

Covering the start of our company, the thinking behind it and the drive moving us forward, the feature in today's Press and Journal provides a great insight into SureVoIP®.

Gavin Henry, SureVoIP MD - The Big Interview

It tells the intriguing story of how our MD, Gavin Henry, found himself in the position of starting Scotland's only independent VoIP Provider.

 

Gavin Henry started the company after gaining a BEng (Hons) in Electronic and Communications Engineering. From there he gained an interest in programming, including Linux and Open Source software. This was the start of a recurring theme, and in 2003 he developed a consultancy selling Linux IT support.

 

The next milestone for the company came 2 years later, when Gavin took the decision to leave his full-time job, concentrating solely on developing the target market and capabilities of his own consultancy.

 

A big step for anyone, Gavin's decision was encouraged by a growing customer base, and a desire to move into the exciting field of VoIP telephony.

 

SureVoIP® was born!

 

From there, the company has gone from strength to strength, adding to its portfolio of business-grade services along the way (including the ability to supply internet connectivity).

 

The company now has a customer base of over 1,000 customers, all relying on it to provide business-critical telecoms. SureVoIP® is the trusted supplier of telecoms to a vast range of companies, including oil majors, multinationals, national charities, TV channels on Sky, wind farms and national hotel chains.

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Working Safely In The Big Freeze

02 March 2018 at 16:03pm

We are all seeing the stories of snow covered roads, stranded motorists and people braving snow storms to get to the office.

These are all ordinary risks associated with living in the UK, where we get bad weather, freezing winds from the Arctic, and icy cold fronts blowing over from Siberia.

Or are they? Is it possible to run your business without taking these risks?

What would the knock-on effects be if you could guarantee your employee safety, make sure no-one is late to their desk, and that people don't have to be sent home early due to blizzards?

If this sounds like an ideal solution, then you should consider a Hosted VoIP solution.

Due to the technical abilities of such a system, workers can be geographically located anywhere, and still work as if they were at their desk. As long as the employee in question has a good, stable internet connection, they can work for you from literally anywhere.

At times like this, many workers repeat the golden phrase - 'working from home'. If you don't have a VoIP system, then this is just a warming daydream, taunting you as you trudge through slush with shoes filling with ice water.

But if you do have a VoIP system, then suddenly other possibilities open up for you.

Not only do you have the ability to allow your workforce to work from anywhere, but you can allow this to become policy. You can hire remote workers, avoiding the need to supply desk, chair, utilities, security etc. Indeed, some companies now work entirely from disparate locations, without a physical office housing them all.

They transfer calls just as if they were in the office, phone out using the company number, and have the same company Music on Hold and auto-attendant menu for callers as the standard phone system.

Another factor to bear in mind is the company's Duty of Care. No-one wants a staff member injured due to travelling to work, or travelling home at the end of the day. Allowing working from home removes that risk.

Working from home can increase productivity in general, increase your company's growth potential, and increase staff safety.

It can also give you the edge over the competition. Remember, if a VoIP system puts you ahead of the curve, so you are also ahead of all your competitors. As they struggle with staff not attending, or taking time off to look after kids on snow days, or staff slipping on the ice and heading to hospital, so you are up and fully functional, answering customer phone calls without a 'slip up'.

Contact us to put a VoIP service in place, for a competitive advantage and to increase staff safety.

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Find The Right VoIP Provider For You in Three Easy Steps

12 January 2018 at 17:01pm

Choosing a VoIP Provider requires some thought as to the end result you wish to achieve.

Having a clear idea in your mind as to what you actually want from your phone system helps to clarify the choices available from different Providers.

We work with many different companies from different stages of the VoIP-knowledge, from those who are completely new to VoIP, to those who have a history of using VoIP and are analysing prospective replacement services.

 

1) Draw A Map

It's a good idea to start with the basics. Sit down with a piece of paper and draw out your phone system.

Map how you want customer calls to flow - who answers in the first instance? What happens to the call if it isn't answered? Do you want all your staff to have a Direct Dial number, or do you want all calls to route through a central reception?

This will allow you to see your phone call routing at a glance, and should provide a good place to start mapping your ideal solution.

 

2) Start Wishing

Next - think about any additional features you might need or want. If you are signing up to a service with a minimum term contract, then have a think about a Wish List. It will be a better idea to engage with a new system that allows you these capabilities, rather than looking to change again to another Provider. Apart from the time and hassle, you could well lose out due to minimum contract terms or cancellation fees.

If, for instance, you like the idea of being able to Conference Call with customers, then it is better to have a service which gives this option. It will be much easier to request a feature be enabled, than switching Providers to one which can offer it.

If you have a clear idea of your requirements, then congratulations! After mapping out your call flow, and creating your Wish List, you should have a clearer idea of your wants and needs. If this is simple, or unlikely to change, then your search will be narrowed. You can restrict your list of possible Providers, and speed up the change process.

If you only have a rough idea of your requirements, then it may be an idea to factor in your Wish List. This way you will be covered if you decide to include any additional factors, or if you have to include anything in the future due to business requirements.

Preparation will allow you to smooth your transition from one Provider to another. If you are completely new to VoIP, then it is even more essential to do the thinking first.

 

3) Start Phoning

If a VoIP service will be completely new to your company, then phone round prospective Providers to open a dialogue with them.

A bit of research on the web will allow you to narrow down your list of prospects, bearing in mind your current and potential future requirements. Working with your list of Providers, you can cross-check with your Wish List and current requirements, and dismiss those you know aren't suitable.

From there, you should call the list of Providers you have left. Open a discussion with them. Feel free to ask questions, and request their input. After all, they are the specialists. Any Provider worth the money should be able to not only answer questions but also provide input and insight you may not have considered.

Be wary of any Provider you can't enter into discussions with. Any telecoms company who won't actually use the phone when dealing with customers and potential customers should (quite rightly) crossed off.

 

Thinking Long Term

One possible solution is to select a Provider who supplies a modular solution. This allows users to purchase add on features as and when required. However, bear in mind the possible costs, particularly for any add on features. It is quite common for Providers to charge higher than expected costs for additional features. They know you are committed with your company phone system. They also know that you have to take their solution - you have no choice.

Another possible solution is to sign with a Provider who provides a comprehensive feature set. If the Provider in question has a full, feature-rich business-grade service, then you will be covered both for your needs and your future wants. Your basic requirements will be covered, as will your Wish List. The standard cost may be higher, after all businesses have to make money. However, you know that this price won't increase, even if you request every single feature on offer.

The best way to determine your phone system requirements is to run with it for a while. Improvements can be incremental. Listen to customers and staff, and see where improvements can be made.

Just be sure you have the option to switch on features if you need them, and you have factored the price of these into your initial analysis. Also reassure yourself that the Provider in question is easy to contact, and knows their subject. If they were unhelpful, vague, or unwilling to listen to your specific situation, question using them. If they wouldn't discuss your situation thoroughly, didn't listen, or kept steering towards a solution you felt wasn't right for you, cross them off your list.

If they wouldn't even discuss things with you in a conversation, they shouldn't have been on your list to begin with.

 

Contact us to discuss your situation with us in a proper, old fashioned phone call

 

If you are currently weighing up VoIP Providers, we have a useful Whitepaper that can help. It gives handy insider tips from our Technical Team. It gives background on the technology, some points to note, and a comparison table at the back for you to fill in with your potential supplier details.

Get in touch and we'll be happy to send this to you.

 

 

 

 

 

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24/7 emergency customer support and Christmas holidays 2017

12 December 2017 at 15:12pm

The SureVoIP office will be closed for normal business on:

  • Monday 25th December
  • Tuesday 26th December
  • Monday 1st January
  • Tuesday 2nd January

There will be limited email only support on:

  • Wednesday 27th December
  • Thursday 28th December
  • Friday 29th December

We will re-open on Wednesday 3rd January 2018.

If you have an emergency support requirement you can use our 24/7 emergency customer support telephone number 01224 245012. SureVoIP partners can call the on call support engineers directly.

Please note: this is for extreme emergencies regarding loss of service, not sales. When you call this number you will be asked for your SureVoIP telephone number and/or account number by a helpdesk agent.

Process: The helpdesk will call our internal test number to check all inbound and outbound systems. If there are no problems detected you will be advised to restart your equipment and verify your internet connection. If you are still experiencing a problem and require immediate assistance which can not wait until normal business hours, a call will be placed to our on call support engineers. We will already be alerted of any serious problems on our core systems due to our automated 24/7 monitoring and will post information about the problem on our Service Status page and SureVoIP Twitter Service Status feed, so please check these first. Thanks and enjoy the holidays!

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How To Avoid Downtime When Changing Providers

08 December 2017 at 17:12pm

The prospect of changing VoIP Providers holds a deep fear for many users. It is a legitimate fear, not an irrational phobia or fit of hysterical anxiety. We could call this fear 'Number Phobia'.

 

Anyone who has considered a change of VoIP Provider can suffer from it. Bouts can come on suddenly, and disappear, or some may suffer from recurring episodes for many years.

 

'Number Phobia' is characterised by one single, overwhelming fear - the fear that your phone number might suddenly stop working. The number advertised for years, the one known by all your customers, might, one day, just stop working.

 

This phobia can be brought on by switching VoIP Providers. Some say it can even be brought on by considering switching VoIP Providers.

 

Horror stories abound of unwitting companies finding themselves missing important calls, orders being unfulfilled and clients being lost. Just by considering switching from one Provider to another.

 

There is a cure for 'Number Phobia' however. It is called 'Number Porting'.

 

Number Porting allows you to transfer your number between Providers. No Provider can prevent you from moving your phone number from one Provider to another as you wish.

 

No-one can take your number from you. No-one can stop your number working, or use it as a bargaining tool to prevent you moving to another Provider.

 

Number Porting, in simple terms, means that all Providers agree to accept phone numbers from other providers if customers wish to move to them. Providers also agree to release numbers if they have a customer who wishes to move away.

 

It means customers who need no longer fear losing an existing phone number. Number Porting means an end to Number Phobia for ever!

 

If you are currently thinking of moving VoIP Providers, we have a handy Whitepaper which walks you through the process of evaluating potential VoIP Providers. Just ask and we'll be happy to send this out.

To discuss Number Porting with us just get in touch.

 

 

 

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Sound Amazing!

17 November 2017 at 16:11pm

There are a number of ways in which companies try to impress customers.

A gaudy, illuminated sign over a shop window, for instance, lets everyone in the street know where they are.

Or an expensive reception desk, in a polished wood carved from the heart of an endangered tree somewhere.

But there is an option a lot of companies miss. It is simple, and probably applies to more companies than an expensive sign or over-priced teak desk. Certainly to more office-based companies, without much footfall from the public, which is far more likely to interact with customers on the phone, rather than those who walk in. This option is within your phone system itself. Or should be.

 

First ImpressionsVoIP, Hosted VoIP, Memorable Numbers, IVR menu, Local numbers

The question is - how to impress your customers when they phone your company?

To answer this, let's take a step back for a moment. Think about two different scenarios.

In the first, you have called a major national chain. You phone a nice, easy to remember number. Your call goes through, and you first hear some music. This is followed by a nice message telling you of all the services they provide, and any awards they have won. An educated voice tells you nice things about the company in calm, reassuring tones. You then go through to the company's IVR menu, asking which department you wish to speak to and giving the appropriate button to push on your keypad. You push button one for sales, or two for accounts, and your call is directed to the appropriate person.

Now let's look at the second scenario. In this one, you have called a local tradesman. You dial on the only number you can find for him, which is his mobile. You either get through, in which case he will answer in his standard phone answering voice (bearing in mind he won't know who is calling, and he could be expecting a call from his Mum). If he doesn't answer, you hear a standard voicemail message provided by his mobile phone Provider.

 

From a Customer Point of View

Placing yourself in the shoes of a customer in these two scenarios, it is immediately obvious that one creates a significantly better impression than the other. One sounds professional, well produced and reassuring. You have the image of a large company in mind, one which can help, which is well organised. A company which is established and trustworthy.

The other scenario doesn't give quite the same impression. You called a generic mobile number, which could belong to anyone. The number wasn't a local or national code, and wasn't memorable. Some guy answered with 'Hello', but could equally have said 'Hi Mum' if he had been expecting her to call. Or if he didn't answer, then you heard a generic voicemail message that you've probably heard a hundred times before. It certainly didn't encourage you to leave a message or talk to the company in question.

It doesn't matter if you wish to discuss an invoice, place an order or discuss Christmas presents (if you actually are his Mum).

 

Using First Impressions to Your Advantage

Now we get to the surprising bit. With a VoIP service, you can place your customer calls in the 'Scenario One' bracket. Even if you are a local tradesman with no departments (sales, accounts or otherwise). You might not have any other staff, but you can at least have a nice, memorable number, with an area code local to your customers. You can have a professionally recorded message, read by a voice artist, giving interesting and relevant facts about your company. You can emphasise what makes you special, and highlight any achievements or awards. Or you can include a relevant message based on season, or holidays, or national events.

Even if you have no staff, the customer doesn't necessarily need to know. They don't need to know that all the button pushes go to one person working from home. As far as their first impression is concerned, they have heard your company message, a nice voice giving some interesting messages, and have now selected the appropriate department to talk to.

 

So which do you think makes the better impression?

 

Contact us to find out how we can help you sound amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Top Three Concerns People Have Over Moving to VoIP

10 November 2017 at 16:11pm

Many people are considering the move to VoIP, but as with any unknown there can be some concerns.

As a VoIP Provider dealing with the business end of the market, we recognise that not all our customers or potential customers will have the same level of knowledge or passion for the subject as ourselves.

After dealing with many customers wishing to move, but holding back due to a perceived doubt or concern, we decided to compile a list of those which have been most frequently raised.

 

Concern #1: Inability To Retain Existing Numbers

The most raised concern we hear relates to retaining existing phone numbers. People are often concerned that they will lose phone numbers which they have had for years.

Solution

Number Porting. The process termed 'Porting' allows numbers to be moved from any Provider to any other Provider. The process is regulated at a national level by the industry overseeing body (Ofcom).

This alleviates any concerns regarding retaining a number. The Porting process ensures that existing customer-facing numbers, or in fact any numbers the customer wishes to retain, can be moved with the minimum of effort.

The overseeing body also offers the re-assurance of having recourse should anything untoward happen.

If, for instance, the customers existing Provider should decide to cancel numbers when the contract is ceased, then the customer has the overseer on-hand to fight their corner.

 

Concern #2: Service Quality

The second most raised concern relates to service quality. To a surprisingly large number of people, VoIP relates only to a well-known proprietary system. Said system is not renowned for its quality, and this perception has overflowed (perhaps stained would be a better word) the VoIP industry in general.

Solution

Not all VoIP Providers focus on the consumer end of the market. A reputable business-grade Provider, with appropriate infrastructure and investment, can give a communications service with call quality far superior to any available previously.

 

Concern #3: 999 Emergency Access

A lot of people are worried about 999 Emergency Access. Many people are under the impression that, because VoIP means phone calls from the internet, there is no way to connect a caller or phone to a physical location.

Solution

Again, this is another concern we can easily alleviate. By choosing a reputable Provider 999 Emergency Access can be easily provided, in exactly the same way as a traditional landline. We recommend that all potential customers looking for a VoIP service ALWAYS check that this feature is available before signing up.

 

We have a handy Whitepaper which walks you through the process of evaluating potential VoIP Providers. Just ask and we'll be happy to send this out.

To discuss any concerns you may have, just get in touch.

To see the infrastructure behind the scenes that powers SureVoIP see here.

 

 

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Staying In Touch Via Text

20 October 2017 at 16:10pm

There are now officially a multitude of ways in which companies can stay in touch with their customers.

Email, of course, is great. Widely used, reliable, and easy to use. Phones - another good one. Make contact with the individual in person, and add in the human touch of tone of voice. Then there are the bulk communications - marketing emails with special offers or regular updates.

Websites work hard to communicate for companies. Acting as a news source, product list and price guide, no company can exist without a decent website.

Social Media has to be listed here as well. Company profiles are updated, news is released, and articles shared.

There is one other method of communication with your customers which may have slipped under your radar - text.

We often see this as a more personal way of keeping in touch, and associate it with quick messages to friends about where to meet or when.

But it can prove an invaluable tool to update customers and add to your customer experience.

You can send a notification regarding a delivery, or inform as to a quote or invoice being sent. In fact, you can send just about any message you like. Straight to your customer's mobile.

Any communication with your customers can be a negative or a positive, depending on how it is handled.

With a simple text giving an update or notification, you can keep customers in the loop, and keep them informed.

To see how you can send your customers a simple, 160 character text message, contact us and ask for a trial. You will receive access to our Customer Portal, which has an in-built text messaging feature. Then you can sit and dream up all the ways you can use it to enrich your own customer communications.

 

Contact us to find out more or to arrange a trial, or to discuss our new Customer Portal.

 

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The Benefits Of Speaking To Each Other

04 October 2017 at 16:10pm

At SureVoIP we are really looking forward to the forthcoming Granite City Expo. The chance to meet those we know. The chance to get to know people new to us.

One of the major advantages of actually talking to people is you get a far better feel for them. How they use language. Their tone of voice and the terms they use. We always take the time to have a conversation with current and prospective customers, and it always proves worthwhile.

Thinking about this got us thinking about communications in a wider context.

No-one can doubt the positive impact electronic communications have had. Most of us now hear or read about the day's news stories almost as they happen, sent straight to the smartphone in our pocket. The ability to send instant chat messages to friends and colleagues allows a quick and convenient method of passing on brief messages, files and weblinks. Email is now intrinsic to our business processes, and is embedded in how most of us work.  Most official communication is now done via email, and for understandable reasons. It is quick, relatively secure, and allows for interchanges to be recorded and re-read for clarity.

Just as we have gained, have we also lost?

Are we now too reliant on electronic devices and communications? Do we miss something when we just hit 'reply', rather than picking up the phone?

Thinking about the things we gain from our own conversations, we have to say 'Yes'.

We DO lose something by over-reliance on email. We DO lose something by missing the opportunity for a personal discussion.

Just picking up the phone is a fantastic way of improving your customer knowledge. So many things can come up in a phone call. From your customer's likes and interests, to a need for a service or product you didn't know about. The problem with email is that it is very regimented, with a list of tasks or requirements which we must give answers to. All questions answered, job done. But it doesn't leave any room for actual communication.

Don't just talk on the phone. Listen.

The beauty of talking to someone is that you also get the chance to listen to them. And SO many things come to light when you listen to customers.

For a start, there is the tone and implied emotional content of the message.

Consider the phrase: "I would like this to be done by Friday."

Imagine you have received an email from a customer and it includes this line. It gives a deadline, but it is given in quite an informal way. So, what is the deadline? Is it set in stone and has to be Friday? Or is Friday just a suggestion? Does the task need to be completed by Friday, or is completion by Friday a 'nice to have' movable deadline?

A conversation, either by phone call or face-to-face, gives so much more to go on. You can hear the person's tone of voice, and gauge much more accurately their mood and attitude.

"I would like this to be done by Friday", said in clipped, cold tones, gives no ambiguity as to the person's desire. It isn't a request, their expectation is that it will be done on or before Friday.

"I would like this to be done by Friday", said in a warmer, friendlier tone, suggests a more movable deadline. There is room for movement and you can negotiate. If the person emphasises the word 'like' then they are telling you that this isn't a deadline at all, just their personal preference.

As you can see by analysing one simple interaction, differing emphasis on words, tone of voice, attitude and cadence all guide us automatically when communicating.

Relying too heavily on electronic text communications means we miss a whole library of information.

Speech is encoded in our DNA.

After all, humans have been communicating via speech since we were painting on cave walls and chipping cutting tools out of bits of flint.

Our new forms of electronic communications haven't been around so long. It's no surprise that we are instinctively better at one then the other.

We've had much more practise!

So the next time you need to clarify a point in an email, make a suggestion to a customer or find out some background for a quote or tender, think about whether you want to send an email or pick up the phone.

Start a conversation - you never know what you will gain.

 

 

More on our Hosted VoIP Phone services
Or - if you wish to pick up the phone and talk to us, call 01224 900123.
Find our other contact methods here

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