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Blogs

Forget-Me-Not – A Guide To Being Memorable

08 September 2016 at 16:09pm

The holy grail of most companies is to be THE company to call within their market place.

 

You want customers to pick up the phone without even thinking about it. They dial, they speak to one of your representatives, they ask a question or present their problem. Your company is half-way to making the sale, and more than half-way if the customer has dealt with you previously and been happy with your product or service.

 

You can cover the first stage of this with some advertising and marketing. Your website is out there, you are being found from Google or other search engines. Your adverts are placed strategically, and your sales people are feverishly working to build relationships and open doors.

 

The second stage in the process is trickier to manage. Getting the customer to actually contact you.

 

If your product or service is complicated and involves discussions, then email isn't ideal. Conversations become drawn-out, lengthy affairs. People lose track of the thread. Other things creep in, and before you know it the enquiry has been going on for 2 months and has covered a variety of topics. You know the customer has an issue with your website, or wants another staff member to contact him, or has a vague idea about another product you offer. What you don't have is a clear sign of the enquiry progressing to a sale. Your hot sales lead is cooling by the minute and you haven't moved forward at all.

 

This is why a simple phone conversation can be so beneficial.

 

However – apart from hiring clairvoyants, and tasking them with phoning all the people who might phone you before they actually do, or mind readers to phone all those currently thinking about phoning you, how do you address this?

 

Simple – by making it easy for customers to phone you.

 

A simple, easy to remember phone number could be all that is standing between your company and a barrage of sales calls.

 

Numbers which can be associated together stick in the mind much more easily than others. It sounds so simple we take it for granted. If I asked you to remember '1,2,3,4,5,6' you would manage without too much trouble! But if I asked you to remember '5,3,7,9,4,1' you would probably struggle. If I asked you to recite each sequence after a ten minute interval, one sequence is going to come to mind much more easily than the other. Again, it sounds easy, but there is psychology behind it.

 

In the first sequence, because the numbers can be associated, your brain doesn't actually remember the numbers at all – it remembers the association. And one association is much easier to remember than six numbers. The random sequence requires more space in your memory, because your brain cannot create a short-cut, and so has to remember the six individual components. The random sequence is more likely to be forgotten or recalled incorrectly.

 

So, the answer to being memorable is to employ a little bit of psychology. Ensure your phone number is easy to remember, and customers will find it much easier to get in touch. Simple!

 

Get in touch to discuss how we can help you be Memorable

Read more interesting articles on VoIP and telephony

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The Traditional Phone And The Sword Of Damocles

02 September 2016 at 16:09pm

Over the last few years there has been a steady shift from traditional telecoms set ups over to internet-based telecoms.

 

There are a number of advantages using the internet to deliver services, for instance scalability, speed of provisioning, and end-user control.

 

There is another advantage which is perhaps not as well known.

 

Traditional telecoms has been sentenced to death.

 

BT decided that the ISDN telecoms service (the network which delivers voice and data across the country) will be shut-down in 2025.

 

An alternative, SIP trunking, has been becoming increasingly popular, boosted by the need for more control and increased flexibility from end users. In our digital-driven fast-paced environment, people require more functionality with less rigidity associated with traditional telephony. People expect to be able to make changes quickly and easily, and preferably in real-time. Customers expect access to portals giving control and relevant information. What customers don't want, and will no longer accept, is waiting weeks for changes to be implemented.

 

The change from ISDN to SIP has been gathering momentum, and the recent announcement from BT will only increase the numbers seeking to change.

 

Hosted VoIP is one of the opportunities which SIP technology has opened up. A Hosted VoIP system gives customers much more functionality than traditional telecoms. On-line portals give real-time information, and the ability to up-date and control system functions. Delivery over the internet gives the ability to up-date functions, alter and customise features, and push out settings to hardware.

 

It gives a scalable, usable telephony resource to customers, with the reassuring factors of longevity and stability. The ISDN option offers little regarding these factors. It is an anachronism in an environmnet of data packets and virtual machines. After all, think about any other technologies from 1988 – would we expect our old desktop PCs to run a modern business? Or would anyone be happy to walk around with a huge brick of a mobile phone? So it is with ISDN, it is simply not capable of keeping pace with the demands we now place on the technology.

 

So maybe it is with some relief that BT will take the venerable old beast out to retire in green pasture – the way is clear for a more capable, faster and user-friendly future.

 

See your Hosted VoIP options.

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Porting Trade Secrets

26 August 2016 at 11:08am

Anyone who has dealt with their office telecoms will probably have heard the phrase “Number Porting”.

 

However, unless you are a professional in the field, you may not know much about it.

 

 

This brief guide will give you some pointers.

 

However, if you are in the middle of a number transfer and need advice please get in touch.

 

Some may use the term “Transferring” or “Number Transfer”, but the subject is just the same. Number Porting is the process you

will need to undergo if you change telecoms providers, and wish to keep hold of a pre-existing number.

 

The process for changing provider generally follows five steps:

1) You decide to change your telecoms provider, and contact some for quotes

2) You decide on one supplier that you think meets your requirements and ticks all the boxes

3) You sign to their service

4) You realise you need to keep the number which you have advertised for years and is known to your customers

5) You request your new provider to 'Port' this number to your new service.

 

So far so good – your new service is up and running, and your old number is following along ready to be used.

 

Unfortunately, there are issues which can catch out the unwary.

 

As business telecoms specialists, we deal with these requests day on, day out. We have seen the pitfalls which catch customers

transferring over to ourselves, and have come up with some ingenious solutions.

 

These tips are not normally available to those outside the telecoms industry (unless you are a SureVoIP customer and have

benefited from us assisting you).

 

 

The First Trap To Avoid!

 

The first trap which can catch the unwary is having the existing number tied to their broadband contract. Did you know that if you choose to transfer a number with broadband attached, your broadband will be ceased? We have tackled this issue with customers, and have found the best way to proceed.

 

Trade Secret: Place the Porting request, and then request the internet connection is renumbered, thus allowing the number to be transferred. The existing number can shift to the new provider, and the broadband will remain active.

 

 

The Second Trap To Avoid!

 

Another potential pitfall comes from the number being ceased by your original provider. This can happen due to unscrupulous companies trying to make your life difficult because they know you are moving to a different company.

 

Trade Secret (2): We strongly advise only dealing with companies who are Ofcom regulated. In our field (VoIP) we also have the advisory body 'The Internet Telephony Service Providers' Association'. We would strongly recommend looking for their Quality Mark when checking new providers.

 

 

See here for more Porting information. If you are porting a number, or thinking about porting a number, and need specialist insider advice, feel free to contact us for a chat.

 

 

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The Importance of Choosing the Right Internet Connection for your Business

11 August 2016 at 14:08pm

The Importance of Choosing the Right Internet Connection for your Business

Many people are now using IP Telephony (or VoIP) for their calls. From the home user who makes calls to relatives abroad, to the person who works remotely and needs to take his office with him, more and more people are coming to depend on this technology for their communications.

But how many of them realise that this choice is affected by another choice, one they made beforehand without thinking about VoIP?

Choosing the correct broadband connection is essential to function in today's business environment. Careful needs to be applied to a number of questions, in order to select a service which adequately provides the bandwidth needed, the scalability required, without paying for unnecessary resources which will go unused.

There are many tiers of internet connection, and you can understand why many customers get lost in a sea of acronyms. Most will have heard of ADSL (Otherwise known as ordinary 'Broadband'). After this comes EFM ('Ethernet for the First Mile'), followed by FTTC ('Fibre To The Cabinet'). The top tier, the glacé cherry on top of the connectivity cake, is the 'Leased Line'.

The first stage in making your decision is to decide on your current and projected usage. If you are a company which routinely transfers very large amounts of data, for instance using graphic design or video editing software, then you should consider a Leased Line.

A Leased Line gives a dedicated internet connection straight to your premises. You know the green cabinets which you see dotted around? This is a BT Cabinet. If there is one on or near your street then it is probably responsible for delivering your neighbourhood broadband. Imagine having an entire green cabinet all to yourself. That is basically a Leased Line. It avoids the problem known as 'Contention'.

If we return to your neighbourhood and its green cabinet, we can see the cabinet serving the houses and streets around it with FTTC broadband. So far, all well and good. However, now consider what happens when your neighbour (the annoying one with the huge garden) builds a cottage in his grounds. The new cottage will now need to connect to the internet. As the Green Cabinet has already been built, it is a finite resource which now most spread round more users. So, due to your annoying neighbour and his new cottage, your internet speeds will slow down. Now consider what happens when a developer decides to build five new houses on your street. Or ten. This slow down is caused by 'Contention'. You can see that the internet speed you started with can quickly degrade as time goes on.

This is annoying with general use within the home, but can be a major problem when trying to run a business.

The only problem with Leased Lines as a conection is the expense attached. Your really do need to be using the internet for huge amounts of data, and your business has to rely on this conection, in order for it to make financial sense.

So, we can move on to the second rung down on our Internet ladder. Or, sticking with our cake metaphor, the icing. An FTTC or EFM connection is seen by some as a good compromise. They offer improved connection speeds, and improved guarantees for upload and download speeds when compared with standard ADSL broadband.

The sponge at the base of the connectivity cake is ADSL – what most of us think of when we think of broadband. This has the lowest speeds of any variant, and is the most prone to issues, poor issue fix times, and contention.

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Top 5 Reasons For Using VoIP

23 June 2016 at 11:06am

1) Present your company in the best possible way

Create a professional, customised phone system which reflects your company's brand, values and customer expectations.

2) A flexible, scalable resource for your company

The flexibility to set up a customised phone system which fits your requirements, and which can be modified as your requirements change. Users can be added or removed, customer calls flow can be changed, as your requirements change.

3) Increased capacity, decreased cost

Increase your company's capacity to handle calls. With VoIP you gain the capability to deal with multiple concurrent phone calls without the expense of installing new phone lines.

4) No need for specialist IT or telecoms staff

Implement a sophisticated telecoms set up for your company, fully supported and customised to your requirements, and avoid the expense of hiring and training specialist IT or telecoms staff. With automatic provisioning, setting up your handsets becomes secure and hassle-free. A Hosted VoIP system is a true 'out of the box' experience, allowing you to focus on your business.

5) Change how you communicate

Your phone no longer ties you to a desk. A VoIP system will send your calls to anywhere, from a phone in your study at home to a smart phone app loaded onto your mobile. You can present your ordinary business phone number when you call customers. With VoIP, companies benefit from a modern, flexible telecoms solution. Users have the option of remote working or hot desking. Users don't have to be located in the same office (or even country) to transfer calls, pick up unanswered calls from colleagues, and monitor colleague availability at a glance.      
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VoIP As A Marketing Tool

22 June 2016 at 14:06pm
Telecoms provide a vital tool for your business, and not just to allow your customers to contact you, and you them. There are telecoms options available which give a range of other benefits. stock-photo-40332024-smiling-woman-holding-phone-in-front-of-wall-of-numbersVoIP is probably the most flexible telecoms option available to most companies, and can assist with projects and objectives above and beyond the capabilities of traditional phone systems. Marketing is often difficult to plan and manage, with different companies taking different approaches. Pundits argue over which tactics work, and why, but the last line is that your company needs information to inform decision-making. It is here where I throw the buzz-words “Campaign Tracking” at you. This is how Marketers track the enquiries and sales generated by campaigns. You basically need a source of phone numbers, and some Marketing to link them to. Either a piece of work (such as a flier, email or magazine advert), or individual campaigns themselves, are allocated a specific phone number. Then you simply look back over your records, and see the number of calls received for each number. This in turn allows you to track the most effective marketing for your company. More calls equals more effective Marketing. If you received more calls on the 'Advert' number than the 'Flier' number, then you know that the advert was the most effective Marketing work. It's that easy. VoIP makes sourcing and implementing new phone numbers simple, quick, and cost effective. Another way VoIP can assist your company's marketing is in the development of appropriate Sales Staff scripts. If your company uses Sales Staff as a way of communicating with customers, then it is essential to provide them with quality scripting to ensure they're always 'on message'. The Call Recording function can be of benefit here. Managers can listen to calls made by Sales Staff, analyse what works and what doesn't, and take an overview. This can be be difficult for the staff member, dealing with issues 'on the ground'. The Manager or Team Leader can then take a view on whether the responses given were the most effective, whether they achieved the company's objective, whether they represented the company correctly, and whether they were appropriate and correct for the customer. Sales scripts can then be honed and polished, in a way impossible without Sales Team Leaders or Managers actually sitting in with Sales Staff as they work. The Call Recordings can also be used as part of the training process. New Sales Staff can listen to effective sales calls, and actually hear the progress of a good call for themselves. Guess work is removed and the new start has a benchmark which they can work to. Many VoIP providers also give an 'Eavesdropping' function. Managers can listen in on calls as they progress, hearing any points raised by the customer, including tone of voice and emotional language. The Manager can gauge the engagement process with customers, and identify any weaknesses or points which need to be addressed. The company can then refine its customer conversation with actual customer feedback in mind. More info on our Fully Managed Hosted service (which includes Call Recording and eavesdropping). See The Chartered Institute of Marketing advice on campaign planning.
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Move to the Cloud or keep it in the office?

17 June 2016 at 13:06pm

stock-illustration-39677664-white-cloud-illustration Should you move your Telecom system to 'The Cloud', or keep things based at your own premises? To answer this question, it may be helpful to consider a few other questions first.

  1. Does your company have its own IT staff, who understand how an on-site phone system will work?
  2. How much flexibility do you require from your phone system? Do you need to implement small changes and tweaks on a daily basis, or will it simply run as it is?
  3. Does your company need more from a phone system, perhaps you need user hardware configured, or want to implement some new 'on hold' music?

Question 1 – If you have an existing IT department, (particularly if they are experienced in telecoms), then this will point to an on-site system being a good option. You will be able to utilise an existing resource effectively, supplying the system you need and providing an ongoing solution.

Question 2 – If you think you will need to adjust your phone system regularly, this may push an already stretched IT Department passed breaking point. If you have a sophisticated telecoms set up which requires ongoing support, it may be better to turn to a dedicated provider, even if you have an IT department.

Question 3 – Do you think you will need in-depth, telecoms-specific assistance? Examples could be implementing international numbers, or configuring desk phones. These issues may sound simple, but require a lot of relevant experience, training and industry knowledge. If you think you will require this on an on-going basis, then you should consider using a dedicated VoIP provider.

If you answered 'Yes' to question 1, but 'No' to the others, then you should consider an on-site phone system. We term these 'PBXs'. As long as you have an IT Department with the skills, time and staff resource then you will benefit from the advantages of VoIP, whilst utilising your IT Department.

If you answered 'Yes' to question 1, and 'Yes' to either of the others, then you should consider a Cloud-based solution. Your IT department may not have the skills, resources, or expertise to deliver all that you require from your phone system, and may become bogged down trying to complete tasks they don't really understand, or haven't been trained for.

If you answered 'No' to question 1, and 'Yes' to either of the others, then you should definitely consider a Cloud-based VoIP provider. You will benefit from the advantages of VoIP, and won't be burdened with having to provide the resources to support it. In either case, SureVoIP® can help. We specialise in the world of VoIP. We can supply SIP trunks for an on-site system, or manage the whole thing for you with one of our Hosted VoIP packages. Read more about the features and benefits of our Hosted VoIP. Learn more about SIP trunks.

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Never Miss Another Call

09 June 2016 at 14:06pm
VoIP offers many advantages to business users. Increased flexibility, increased functionality and an improved customer experience all feature as notably better than traditional phone systems. One of the most useful advantages is being able to work as if you are in the office, even when you are not. You can be located anywhere, and still receive your calls. We call this function 'Follow Me', a simple but ingenious function which allows your incoming calls to be diverted to your mobile when required. The caller has no idea you are not sitting at your desk. They have dialled your ordinary work number to reach you, and you receive the call to your mobile. There is nothing to indicate you are currently working from home, or on a site visit with another client, spending time with the kids, or sitting in the garden. Depending on the service you are subscribing to, there are a number of ways to achieve this. For instance, users of the SureVoIP® Hosted packages can set this up from their main 'Ring Group' (or from their personal 'Ring Group' if on our Fully Managed Hosted service). Our 'Follow Me' function will achieve the same thing. The number to forward to can be permanent, or changed as needed via the user's portal. Those who are not using our Hosted services can still use this function, we offer it as a stand alone package. There are other advantages of the 'Follow Me' function. Rather than needing to advertise two numbers (your office number and you mobile number) you only need one. The 'Follow Me' function will make full use of your mobile when you require it, but you only need to advertise your office number.   View our web-page on our Hosted VoIP Services View our web-page on Call Forwarding
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How To Move Office And Take Your Phones With You (The Easy Way)

02 June 2016 at 13:06pm
stock-photo-14804954-stressed-young-couple-relocation Moving office is a stressful time. You have decorators to arrange, furniture to move, files to transfer, and all while keeping your customers happy. VoIP users have the flexibility to take their telecoms set up wherever they go. As long as they have an internet connection, all the phones will just unplug from the old office, and plug in when in the new one. As the provider has all the details of the system (extension numbers, call routing etc) then the system will behave exactly the same in the new office as it did in the old one. Where your phone is physically based makes no difference to the system (we like to call this a platform). After all, your LinkedIn account doesn't care where you are – you just log-in from any internet connection. A VoIP system is just the same. All users of a Hosted ('Cloud-based' is just another way of saying 'Hosted' by the way) VoIP service can take advantage of this. Many people change where they work on a day-to-day or even minute-by-minute basis. Need to work from home for the rest of the afternoon? Simply unplug the phone from the internet, and plug in at home (although you can use a smartphone app, or buy two phones, if you want to save the hassle of carrying a phone with you). It is this flexibility which makes VoIP so appealing when it comes to managing an office move. If you are considering relocating your office, then moving to VoIP would be an ideal starting point. You can transfer existing numbers to your new VoIP account (termed “Porting”), and acquire new numbers with your new area code. We assist our customers in any way we can, including assisting with the transtition to a VoIP system, and helping to move and relocate existing equipment. We have also helped by specifying, supplying and setting up new equipment. Obviously, we can only provide this level of service to customers who are physically located near us, but we are happy to offer the benefit of our experience to customers based anywhere. To read more about SureVoIP's experience with Porting numbers, please see our Number Porting article. As the UK industry regulatory body, Ofcom offer their own advice on Number Porting.
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Benefits of VoIP for Flexible Working

26 May 2016 at 15:05pm
stock-photo-77804333-businessman-using-laptop-in-a-desert The workplace changes as worker's expectations change. One of the work benefits which employees now expect is the possibility of flexible working. Working parents, those with varying outside commitments, remote workers or those who job share can all benefit from taking part in flexible work arrangements. UK legislation requires companies to consider all flexitime working requests from employees. Do you or your employees need to work in a non-traditional set up, where a 9 – 5, office based role simply isn't accommodating enough? Do you have staff with children requesting to work around school hours, or change their hours depending on school holidays? Or those with other family commitments, who need to work from home for some of the week? How about remote staff who are autonomous, who need to integrate with office-based staff but also require a degree of flexibility? Or, given Aberdeen weather, how does your company cope with employees being snowed in? Should workers travel when it is unsafe, or can your company offer an alternative? If you face any of these issues, then a Hosted VoIP solution would definitely be worth considering. As long as workers have an internet connection, then they are reachable anywhere. Your “office” doesn't actually need to exist at all, calls can be transferred from one person to another, with the caller completely unaware that the two people are in different towns, or even different countries! You can work remotely from home and communicate with your customers as if you were in the office. Callers experience your menu system, or calls being transferred seamlessly, or hear music on hold, with nothing indicating you are anywhere other than at your desk. You can even present your office number to the people you call, giving that final professional touch. Make use of all the features of a business telecoms system, and present a more professional image, while working from wherever suits you.   To see the UK Government advice on flexible working, please click here. To see more on the features and benefits of our business-grade VoIP service, please click here.
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