As one component of your financial ledger, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service has th potential to positively affect the bottom line.
John Curry, founder and president of Curry IP Solutions, has been providing telecommunications expertise to businesses and individuals for more than 30 years. He has been in the forefront of VoIP, analyzing how best to deploy VoIP for improved business operations while minimizing overall telecommunications costs.
Smart Business spoke with Curry about how technology can be better utilized and its impact on the bottom line.
How important is it for a small to mid-size company’s telephone system to emulate a large company’s telephone system?
The goal is to make communications flow easily and to not create any bottlenecks. Your phone system can be used to direct and funnel customers to the appropriate department or channel.
I dislike calling a large company that has a complex auto attendant system that after the fifth selection disconnects me or does not recognize my selection. What if my selection is the repair department and not the tech support and the employee does not know how to transfer the call to the right extension?
No matter how large or small the organization is, the system needs to be designed to overcome any awkwardness experienced by the caller. You should also coach your staff to listen for complaints from consumers trying to maneuver around your system. I am not suggesting you keep a phone vendor on staff, but I do suggest that your initial contract should allow for modifications for a period of time while you become accustomed to the new technology.
How important is every call getting to the right person, quickly and professionally?
It’s very important. Let’s face it. We all have busy lives and we don’t like to wait. We have become an instant society. We want it now.
I believe every business recognizes the need to serve its customers. To do this, you need the consumer to get to the right person in the most efficient manner. You also need your staff to know how the system works for their and the company’s benefit as well.
I am keen on automation. I feel my contact information should be a part of the information I communicate to my doctor, dentist, insurance company or to anyone I do business with on a regular basis.. When I dial a phone number, wouldn’t it be helpful if my caller ID which is part of my contact information would direct me to the agent or sales representative or pulled up my patient information on the computer screen at the doctor’s office? These features can really work well if implemented properly.
Does the sophistication of a telephone system impact a company’s bottom line?
In some ways, it may eliminate an employee or two. Many companies like the personal touch to have all callers greeted by an operator. Due to this, servicing all callers in a timely manner may take two operators. Newer systems are tied into the operator’s desk, which may show an icon for each person in or out, online or offline. This increases the efficiency and information at hand by the operator, who can now say, ‘John Smith is not in at the moment. Would you like to speak to John Doe, his associate in sales?’ or, ‘I can transfer you to his voice mail.’ Some vendors offer a buyback or upgrade program.
How can a telephone system increase productivity for a positive bottom-line impact?
The newer phones have been simplified to provide some direction on call transfer, call forwarding and conference calling. I still sometimes have difficulty splitting a conference call and dropping the right person. The new systems have solved that problem by provided directions for their features.k a phone? ‘Meet-me bridges’ are also available, that provide the ability to schedule meetings in advance.
Do IP systems have any other advantages?
A few years ago, if I were in a remote office, I would need to have a phone line in my office along with a data connection. This phone line would run about $75 per month; fax would be about $50 and the data line would be about $75. When a call was placed to or from the home office, there would be a usage charge. If someone wanted me, he or she would need to know my home office number as well as the corporate number. So, on average, my home office cost the company $250 per month, and in a way it became an island unto itself.
With the newer systems, I would just need a high-speed Internet connection at my home office, which is about $25 to $50 per month. The phone number that is displayed on my home service is the corporate phone number. If I’m working remotely or on a business trip, I still can be reached by someone dialing our company’s main number and my extension and the system finds me by ringing either my cell phone or the the IP phone wherever I am located.
JOHN CURRY is founder and president of Curry IP Solutions. He has been providing telecommunications expertise to businesses and individuals for more than 30 years. Reach him at (412) 307-3600, ext. 9007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.