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7 Call Center Tips to Stay Competitive in 2021

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As with any business, it is important to be aware of the ongoing trends and developments in the industry. Furthermore, it is essential to know what customers expect from your business at the current time. Here we discuss 7 practical solutions and call center tips to help your business stand out among the competition.

2021 Call Center Tips

The following call center tips are suggestions for call centers that do not have these solutions in place. Staying competitive in 2021 means staying relevant, providing easy access and quick resolutions, and keeping with the trends.

1. Be Aware of TCPA Compliance

First and foremost, ensure your call center is TCPA compliant. Be aware of the current and upcoming TCPA compliance regulations to avoid fines and lawsuits. TCPA guidelines for call center telemarketers and robocalling state that telemarketers must:

  1. Obtain written consent from consumers before robocalling consumers
  2. Not use an existing relationship with a customer to avoid getting written consent
  3. Offer an automated “opt-out” mechanism or Do-Not-Call feature during each call so that customers can tell the marketer to stop calling

2. Consider Call Center AI

If you do not already have call center AI tools, then now is the time to upgrade. Automation and AI tools can help improve efficiency and streamline processes so everything runs smoothly. Certain tools may even interact with customers and offer solutions to common questions or provide troubleshooting help, without the need of an agent. It is important to note that AI does not necessarily replace live, human agents because customers will want to talk to a live person at some point. Automation merely helps organize calls and take care of simple, mundane processes.

There is a variety of call center AI tools offered by virtual phone service providers. For example, some common call center automation tools include:

  • AI virtual agents
  • Chatbots and email automation
  • Interactive voice response
  • Smart and automatic routing
  • CRMs and agent assists
  • Notifications and alerts

3. Maintain Call Center QA

One of the most important call center tips is to continue to maintain call center QA. Quality assurance (QA) is the process of studying how your call center performs in terms of quality and working on areas of improvement. Some ways to improve and maintain your call center’s quality assurance is by:

  • Training agents and providing training materials regularly
  • Sitting in on agent calls or reviewing recordings of calls during performance evaluations
  • Using assessment tools to evaluate agent and call center performance
  • Conducting workshops and seminars
  • Creating and using professional scripts
  • Collecting feedback and analyzing data to identify ways to improve performance
  • Providing agents with the right call center software tools to aid them in their jobs
  • Providing valuable incentives to boost performance

4. Plan for Remote Team Management

The COVID-19 pandemic led to many businesses working from home in 2020. As a result, call centers have found usefulness in virtual call center software that helps agents stay connected and continue to make professional business calls from any location.

This trend will continue into 2021 with many call centers moving to the cloud or converting to cloud-based contact centers. Virtual call center software comes with a variety of tools to support remote working and remote team management, such as:

  • Outbound calling with customizable caller ID
  • Cloud-based dialers that can be used from any location and any device
  • Smart call routing (time-based routing, location-based routing, simultaneous ringing, etc.)
  • International call forwarding
  • Call detail records and metrics that can be used for performance evaluations
  • Inbound and outbound call recording

These tools help virtual call centers remain active and continue to work efficiently, irrespective of where agents are located. Furthermore, there are tools that call center managers can use to observe and evaluate their agents’ performance.

Useful call center tips for 2021.

5. Track and Measure Call Center KPIs and Metrics

Collecting data and tracking call center metrics goes a long way in understanding how your call center is performing and how it can do better. One of the most common call center tips you will hear when starting a new call center is to identify key metrics or KPIs and track them. Most call centers track the following call center KPIs to evaluate performance:

  • Average Time in Queue
  • Calls Handled
  • Average Speed of Answer
  • Average Handle Time
  • Percentage of Calls Handled by Type
  • Average Abandonment Rate
  • First Call Resolution
  • Percentage of Calls Blocked
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Net Promoter Score
  • Customer Effort Score
  • Agent Turnover Rate
  • Cost Per Call (CPC)

6. Offer More Communication Channels

You may even want to consider omnichannel solutions for your call center. Most call centers specialize in phone and email conversations. However, there is a growing preference for live chat, chatbots, and video conferencing as customer service options. For this reason, switching to a multichannel support model may prove more useful to your call center.

7. Continue to Offer Excellent Customer Service

Lastly, continue to train and motivate your agents to offer excellent and empathetic customer service. Research shows that going into 2021, customers expect high-quality care with empathetic and quick responses for customer support teams. Keeping these trends in mind, retrain your agents with a focus on empathy, respect, patience, and positivity. 2020 was trying for us all but 2021 can certainly be more considerate.

Improve Communications with Virtual Call Center Software

Need help finding a reliable virtual call center software provider? United World Telecom can help get you set up with virtual call center software and advanced communication tools. Browse our features online or speak with our experts to learn more!

What is VoIP QoS and How to Set it Up?

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Are you noticing more dropped calls or jumbled audio during your business VoIP calls? While cloud phone services can be much superior to traditional phone services, they cannot guarantee high-quality phone service at all times. This is because many factors influence the quality of a VoIP call. Here we discuss the importance of VoIP QoS and how to set it up.

VoIP QoS: Definition, How it Works, Best Practices

VoIP Quality of Service (QoS) is the process of addressing and fixing voice quality issues so your employees can effectively communicate with business contacts. This process is crucial to understanding how your business phone system works and what you need to do to improve it. QoS is one such way to maintain good call quality.

What is VoIP Quality of Service (QoS)?

VoIP QoS prioritizes network traffic passing through a router to provide acceptable-to-good service to users. Quality of service, therefore, helps address voice quality issues within a virtual phone system.

In a VoIP phone system, voice protocols are converted into data packets and transferred between two or more users. However, in order to obtain high call quality, these data packets need to arrive at the destination together and in the right order. And that’s where VoIP QoS comes into play as it sorts out traffic by dedicating resources where needed.

Is QoS needed for VoIP?

VoIP calls can be prone to jitter, latency, and packet loss issues which lead to bad audio quality, network congestion, missed or jumbled audio, dropped calls, etc. And for any business, this is a major issue because it interferes with your teams’ ability to offer uninterrupted service. Important business communications revolve around:

  • Sales calls and demos
  • Client and lead generation
  • Customer success and customer support
  • Technical and IT support
  • Remote team management
  • Internal business meetings
  • Meetings with clients and business contacts
  • Employee interviews

Network congestion can easily affect the quality of these calls, which in turn, leads to misunderstandings, frustration, low brand trust, low productivity, and more. Without QoS, VoIP calls are not functioning optimally. And that must be addressed.

Troubleshooting VoIP Call Quality with QoS

So, what does QoS do for VoIP phone systems? Routers generally handle data packets via a ‘first in, first out’ order. And all traffic is given the same level of priority. This means that all traffic from every device (phones, computers, mobile phones, etc) on a network get the same level of priority.

When bandwidth usage is high — too many people using the internet — these data packets can end up in long queues. Call quality competes with other applications running on the network. This is true for employees working within an office or remotely.

So, naturally, this affects voice call quality and successful VoIP deployment.

VoIP Quality of Service helps balance out how much bandwidth is needed for a certain type of traffic or certain devices. In other words, it spreads out the available bandwidth across devices and applications to ensure the right traffic gets through hassle-free.

VoIP QoS Settings & Requirements

So, what does your business need to do to ensure high call quality? Here, we will go through QoS settings and requirements to be aware of and best practices your business can implement.

VoIP Standards for High Call Quality: QoS Requirement

In order to improve VoIP call quality, you will need to set up QoS accurately. For good VoIP call quality, Cisco suggests these VoIP standards:

VoIP Quality of Service Standards

Understanding QoS Settings

Your business needs to troubleshoot VoIP issues to ensure optimal service. Let’s take a closer look at what these recommendations and settings mean.

DSCP EF
DSCP is short for Differentiated Services Code Point and EF is short for Expedited Forwarding. This model is designed to provide resources to reduce latency (delay) in traffic. In other words, this value sorts through traffic to prioritize VoIP traffic, leading to better, less interrupted call quality.

Packet Loss
Packet loss is the number of packets that get lost during transmission. More than 3% packet loss means low audio quality. Faulty routers, loose cables, and wires, low bandwidth, or poor WiFi signals can lead to packet loss.

Latency
Latency is the delay between the time the speaker speaks and the receiver hears them. Fix latency to avoid users speaking over each other or missing important pieces of audio.

Jitter
Jitter refers to a data packet arriving after the rest of the packet. Data packets may take different paths to reach the destination. This way one or two packets may reach later than the others and this can cause missed calls or jumbled audio. Fix jitter to ensure all packets arrive accurately and voice quality is maintained.

Bandwidth
Bandwidth for VoIP refers to the rate at which data is transmitted or transferred through an internet connection. Lower bandwidth leads to slow speed and low VoIP call quality.

How to Set Up QoS for VoIP?

The first step to setting up VoIP QoS for your business phone system is to reach out to your internet provider and VoIP service provider. These sources can provide exact guides on how to prioritize voice traffic.

Next, implement those suggestions and other call quality best practices. Work with your IT team to make sure everything is set in place for optimal call quality. You may even educate your employees on using other services (streaming services) while working.

VoIP Call Quality Best Practices

Here are the top VoIP call quality best practices to ensure your phone system works efficiently and calls are not interrupted:

1. Check and upgrade your internet speed: Make sure your network has enough bandwidth to handle call traffic. Regularly test your internet speed.

2. Upgrade cable connections: Use wired Ethernet connections such as a Category 6 certified cable. These cables can offer low latency and can support high levels of phone communication and data transfer.

3. Check network and equipment configuration: Network and equipment that are not appropriately configured can lead to disruptions and low call quality.

4. Test network connections regularly: Check ping, jitter, latency, and bandwidth regularly for network congestion.

5. Upgrade your VoIP provider: If your service is still affected despite troubleshooting, then it may be time to find a new phone service provider. Research providers to understand what services they offer and how they can help with VoIP call quality issues.

Get VoIP for Business With United World Telecom

United World Telecom offers VoIP phone numbers and services to businesses around the world. Whether you are a small business looking to expand or are a remote company, we can help you create a robust phone system with high voice quality and reliability. Call us today to learn more about our solutions!

What is Telecommuting and What Are the Benefits?

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Do you want to offer your employees a telecommuting option? After COVID-19, many businesses switched to telecommuting and have seen the benefits of adopting this employee-work arrangement.

What is Telecommuting?

Telecommuting is an employment arrangement that enables employees to work outside of the office. This means employees can work from home, in co-working environments, near coffee shops and libraries, and so on. Telecommuting is also referred to as remote working, e-commuting, work-from-home, and teleworking.

When employees telecommute, they work outside of the office in a location they choose and communicate with the rest of their team via technology. Now, this is the dream for most employees whose work is solely confined to a laptop and a reliable internet connection. However, for the longest time, businesses have been reluctant to enable such a workplace arrangement.

What Are the Benefits of Telecommuting?

Then entered the COVID-19 crisis. With this pandemic, many businesses enforced work-from-home policies. Businesses in sales, publishing, call centers, software development, and other industries now offer remote working as an option. So, how can telecommuting benefit your employees and your business?

1. Be Prepared for Pandemic-Like Crises

Many businesses that strictly denied work-from-home didn’t plan for a situation where telecommuting would become necessary. Now, your business does not need to switch to an all-remote-work business but keeping telecommuting as an option can help you and your employees easily switch to work-from-home during pandemic-like crises.

This means investing in cloud computing and cloud communication solutions that help your teams stay connected no matter where they are located. This way, all employees are reachable via email, phone, and video interactions. At the same time, all projects and documents can be easily accessed and updated online.

Related: 5 Benefits of Unified Communications for Remote Teams

2. Adopt a BOYD Policy (Decrease Workplace Costs)

Another benefit of telecommuting is the opportunity to implement a BYOD policy. A bring your own device or BYOD policy lets employees bring and use their own devices instead of the business purchasing equipment for them to use. This lets employees use their own devices which they are comfortable and familiar with. It also helps businesses reduce their expenses as they do not need to supply devices to employees.

Similarly, since employees work outside the office, businesses can save on other office supplies and costs. From running the office to paying for utilities, your business can greatly reduce costs. On the other hand, employees can save time and money on commuting to and fro.

3. Improve EX Metrics and Employee Productivity

Telecommuting has a positive impact on employee productivity and employee experience (EX). The 2017 State of Work Productivity Report claims that about 65% of in-office workers say they would be more productive if they worked remotely. Remote workers can work from the comfort of their homes, have more flexibility, and save on commuting expenses. They can optimize their workday to the fullest without worrying about traveling or missing a day because they are sick.

4. Better Results and Lower Employee Turnover

Giving your employees more flexibility and improving their EX leads to improved wellness of your employees. And this, in turn, will increase their productivity and efficiency. Happy and productive employees are less likely to leave, lowering turnover rates.

Furthermore, happy employees lead to happy customers. Employees that are not stressed and overwhelmed are more likely to love their jobs and perform well. This will lead to desirable results that push your business towards success.

5. Provide Opportunities for Older Employees to Continue Working

Lastly, by offering work-related flexibility, you can appeal to valuable employees such as the older generation. Instead of retiring early, older employees can continue to work from home, if they so desire. Additionally, you will also be providing opportunities to parents of young children, caretakers of sick individuals, etc., to bring their expertise to your company.

Is Telecommuting Right for Your Business?

Telecommuting does not need to be the ultimate workplace arrangement for your business. However, being open to it is a must since post-COVID-19, employees know that remote working is possible and will desire opportunities to work from home. In fact, according to the 2019 State of Work Report, 38% of employees believe telecommuting will be commonplace within the next 5 years and so, businesses should start laying the foundation for such a transition. Therefore, invest in the right technology so your business will be ready and your employees will be satisfied.

Check out our Guide to Remote Team Management if you’re interested in learning more!

9 Ways to Minimize VoIP System Downtime

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One of the top benefits of using VoIP for business communication is that these systems are reliable. With proper redundancy, you can ensure that if your phone system incurs an issue in one location, calls can be routed to another location or line. This way, you can ensure business continuity and minimize VoIP system downtime.

Here we will look at the different ways you can minimize phone system downtime to ensure your business continues operating even during an internet outage or disaster.

How to Minimize VoIP Downtime During an Internet Outage?

VoIP phone systems have consistently proven to be more reliable than POTS lines. However, since VoIP systems work over the internet, they still run the risk of downtime if somehow your system loses connection to the internet.

Keeping Your VoIP Phone System Running Efficiently

With VoIP systems, you can set up backups so your business communication does not suffer during an outage. Service outages do not have to disrupt your business phone calls. You can either wait it out and hope it restores on its own, or you can prepare in advance to minimize downtime. Here are some ways to minimize and prevent phone system downtime:

To Prepare and Prevent Before an Outage

  • Choose the Right VoIP Provider
  • Set Up Automatic Call Forwarding and Routing
  • Invest in VoIP Monitoring Services
  • Route Incoming Calls to Other Locations
  • Have a Backup ISP

To Do After an Outage

  • Check and Confirm the Power Outage
  • Connect to a Backup Battery Power Supply
  • Use VoIP on Your Smartphone
  • Divert Calls to Voicemail or Other Locations

How to Prevent and Minimize Phone System Downtime

So, what can you do to minimize VoIP system downtime and keep your VoIP phone system running during an outage or disaster?

1. Choose the Right VoIP Provider

It is crucial that you choose a VoIP phone provider that meets your needs but also promises reliability. Research a provider’s record for reliability and the options they offer in case of an outage. Ask your provider what steps they have in place to prevent and minimize phone system downtime, especially during an outage or disaster. Ask about their security policies. You also want to check where your provider hosts your VoIP systems in safe locations.

2. Set Up Automatic Call Forwarding and Failover Routing

A popular way to minimize VoIP system downtime is to forward incoming calls to different locations or devices when your main VoIP phone system is unavailable. This way, during an outage or disaster, incoming calls automatically route to offices and employees in other locations or mobile devices.

With United World Telecom’s VoIP service, you can set up call forwarding with various failover rules for each number or line you have.

3. Invest in VoIP Monitoring Services

It is also a good idea to use a third-party VoIP monitoring service. This service keeps tabs on the status of your VoIP phone system. It will look for and identify potential network problems that may cause disruption. By monitoring your system and alerting users of issues, you can quickly troubleshoot any issues and get back to work.

How to minimize VoIP downtime.

4. Route Incoming Calls to Other Locations

When you use simultaneous ringing or sequential call forwarding features, you can forward calls to different locations when needed. With simultaneous ringing, you can ring multiple phones with one number. And with sequential forwarding, you can ring calls down a predetermined list of numbers — when the first line is busy, the call automatically moves to the next person in line. This way, when your main office or service center is not available, calls are routed and rung on other lines in different locations. This is another good technique to reduce VoIP system downtime.

5. Have a Backup ISP

To protect from internet outages, it is also recommended to have a backup WAN provider. Since VoIP services only need a low-latency connection, any broadband connection should work. You can find a high-speed wireless provider as a backup, or use 4G LTE technology from a cellular provider.

How to Minimize VoIP System Downtime After an Outage

While there are ways to prepare for an outage, and even prevent one, certain situations may be out of your control. So, what can you do to recover from an outage and get your communications up and running?

6. Check and Confirm the Power Outage

First, check to make sure you have a power or internet outage in all rooms and among all devices. Check the electric service panel, if you have a circuit trip, flip the circuit breaker to ON and everything should be working again. You may even check what the electric and internet situation is with neighbors and look for updates on local outages.

7. Connect to a Backup Battery Power Supply

Connecting to a backup battery source is a temporary solution but gives you enough time to identify the issue and resolve it. You can use an uninterruptible power supply (USP) and connect your WiFi system and phone system to it to restore connectivity and power. Note that this solution only works if your ISP is not affected by the power outage.

8. Divert Calls to Voicemail or Other Locations

Using your smartphone, access your VoIP provider’s control panel, and adjust call forwarding settings. You might choose to route calls to your voicemail box or to employees in other locations. You can add in multiple numbers and SIP devices that these calls will forward to. This way, callers trying to reach your business can still get the assistance they need. You may even choose to add a new greeting or pre-recorded message letting customers know that your phone system is down but they can leave a voicemail message, and your reps will get in touch with them as soon as possible.

9. Use VoIP on Your Smartphone

Lastly, if your power or internet outage does not affect the use of your smartphone, you can use your VoIP phone service through the smartphone as a temporary solution. For example, you can download our softphone app on your smartphone and make and receive business calls with your business phone number(s). With our softphone, you can:

  • Update customer and contact information
  • Transfer calls to other users
  • Make outbound calls with dynamic caller IDs
  • Access voicemails, and more

Do You Have a Backup Plan in Place?

The best way to minimize VoIP system downtime is to prepare for it. The above are some ways you prevent loss of data and usage by setting up backups in place. Want to learn more about how our VoIP phone service is a reliable solution? Call us today and chat with our representatives!

How to Go Green with Cloud Communications

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More and more businesses are looking for efficient and cost-effective ways to cut down negative environmental impacts and make their businesses more green. One way your business can become more eco-friendly is by replacing your traditional phone system with a cloud phone system. Cloud communications can help you cut down on unnecessary costs, space, and material waste while improving business connectivity. But how can you achieve this?

Why Invest in an Environment-Friendly Business Communication System

As climate change awareness grows, individuals and businesses are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and have a more positive impact on the planet.

Businesses are taking action to combat environmental issues in a variety of ways; from including sustainable packaging to following ethical practices to sourcing products produced in sustainable ways.

Another avenue for change is a business’s communication or phone system. With advancements in technology and the development of smarter and cleaner products, you can easily upgrade your business phone system to one that is more environmentally conscious. Here’s how:

Green Communications and Green IT Solutions

Green communications is the practice and process of creating a communication system with energy-efficient technologies and products. By doing this, your business can reduce and minimize resource use in different aspects of communication, and move towards making your business environment-friendly. Green communication practices include:

  • Updating old technology or legacy systems for newer, energy-efficient products.
  • Implementing virtualization where one physical server runs multiple programs and systems.
  • Choosing cloud communications solutions instead of traditional phone lines.
  • Substituting remote work and telecommuting for travel.
  • Investing in Green IT solutions.

Green IT refers to computer and IT systems, applications, and practices that have a positive environmental impact and enhance sustainability. The three facets of green IT include:

  • Greening of IT — focuses on efficiency design, manufacture, use, and disposal of computers, communication systems, and applications.
  • Greening by IT — focuses on using IT systems to reduce energy and resource consumption.
  • Using IT to increase green awareness — using technology to promote awareness of green practices and the importance of sustainability.

You can learn more about Green IT in this handy fact sheet about green IT created by the University of Michigan.

Environmental Impact of Cloud Communications

Can upgrading our business phone systems and business communication services actually help the environment? And, what is the environmental impact of switching to cloud communication solutions?

According to a report by Accenture, “Migrations to the public cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year which equates to taking 22 million cars off the road.” This goes to show that moving to the cloud can help your business not only cut down on operational costs but also support your social responsibility efforts.

But why do we need to reduce our carbon emissions? To reduce pollution-related death, to make the air cleaner, and the planet healthier. Want to put into perspective how much CO2 is produced? Check out this illustrious guide to CO2 by the Bank of the West.

Reasons to Switch to Cloud Communications

There are many reasons to take your business communications to the cloud: cost savings, gaining a wider reach, access to advanced features and integrations, using a reliable network, and so on.

But if social responsibility and sustainability are core to your business, then the environmental impact of green communications will mean much more. Here are the benefits of switching to cloud communications:

Sidebar: Now this is going to get technical, but bear with us, we will break down these technical terms.

  1. Clean energy transitions — shifting energy production away from ones that release high levels of greenhouse gases.
  2. Material waste reduction — reducing the amount of material wastage to improve resource efficiency and reduce pollution.
  3. Less use of hardware and equipment — gradual dependency on cloud computing and software.
  4. Reduced dependency on paper — paperless alternatives.
  5. Greater flexibility — ability to work and connect from any location; telecommuting.
  6. Adoption of resource virtualization — enabling one physical server to run multiple independent programs or operating systems.
  7. Development of robust data centers — improved data centers with combined heat and power systems.
  8. Multi-function communication systems — eliminate the need for deskphones with computer telephony integration.
  9. Storage efficiencies — storing data in a way that consumes the least amount of space without affecting performance and operational efficiency.
An image showing green cloud communications.
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6 Ways to Go Green with Cloud Communications

How can a cloud-first approach boost business communication and benefit the planet? And how can your business take the necessary steps in the right direction? Here are some ways to make your business more environment-friendly:

1. Switch to a Cloud Phone System

First, if you are still using a traditional phone system, you may want to consider switching to a cloud phone system instead. A virtual or cloud phone system comes with VoIP capabilities and cloud phone numbers.

Such a system uses voice over IP or VoIP to transmit voice signals from one user to the next via an internet connection. Therefore, it does not need traditional phone lines or physical hardware to make and receive calls to function effectively.

Cloud phone numbers or virtual numbers use VoIP to connect users from one location to another. These numbers are not attached to any one physical location or address and can transmit calls virtually.

You can buy local phone numbers from countries around the world. And you can use them from any location. Additionally, you even gain access to various advanced call routing and call management features to create an efficient business communication system.

But the main benefit of switching to the cloud is to reduce environmental impact with lower hardware and equipment use, telecommuting, and virtualization. More on this below!

2. Reduce Use of Hardware and Equipment

A cloud phone system or VoIP phone system only needs a business SIP trunk provider and a stable internet connection. You can then convert any device into a business phone. You don’t need heavy-duty computers or high-end deskphones. And no additional equipment or cables are needed.

This means you can run your cloud phone system through smart or energy-efficient devices instead of bulky setups over-consuming energy. And if you get multi-function devices, you can further cut down on the need for extra devices and machinery.

For example, when you purchase SIP trunks, you can get a softphone to make and receive calls. The softphone is a web dialer that lets you make business calls from any device like a laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc. You simply download a softphone to your device. Log in with your VoIP/SIP credentials and start making calls.

With this feature, you can convert your existing computer or laptop into a phone, instead of getting a deskphone. And you can use advanced call management and collaboration features such as call transfer, conferencing, outbound calling, managing caller IDs, updating contact info, and so on. This way, you have a multi-function and energy-saving device.

Related: How Much Does a SIP Trunk Cost in 2021?

3. Reduce Paper Usage

Unified communications include voice, video, email, messages, chat transcripts, contact/customer information, ticket tracking, voicemail, fax, and file-sharing. So, it’s only natural that you end up with a lot of confidential and important documents and transcripts. And a lot of paper.

But by taking your business communication system to the cloud and using cloud communication and storage features, you can easily cut down on the use of paper. You can:

Share files and documents via your email, control panel, or CRM. Go paperless with an eFax or Fax-to-Email feature that forwards incoming faxes to your email address instead. Automate customer tickets to end up in your CRM. Integrate your phone system with the right CRM and file storage services such as Google Drive or Dropbox to keep all important documents in one place securely.

4. Encourage Telecommuting and Remote Working

Advancements in technology have made it easier than ever for people to communicate and collaborate over the internet. And a cloud phone system helps with just that. It lets you make business calls from any device and location as long as it is connected to the internet. Plus, when you integrate your phone system with other services such as your project management system or CRM, you then have a full-fledged digital workspace.

This means a lesser need for physical office space and running an in-house office. Cut down on commute times and travel costs by telecommuting and letting your employees work remotely. All without losing productivity or connectivity!

Related: 5 Benefits of Unified Communications for Remote Teams

5. Conduct Video Meetings

If the pandemic taught us anything it was the effectiveness of a good Zoom meeting. Zoom and other video conferencing and streaming apps became commonplace for meetings, webinars, tutorials, and even weddings!

We know that video meetings work. So, when possible, conduct video meetings instead of in-person meetings. This reduces time and money spent traveling only for such meetings. And with a VoIP provider that has a video conferencing integration, you can do this cost-effectively.

6. Scale Globally Without Physical Offices

Finally, when it is time to expand your business globally, you will be glad to have an easily scalable phone system. You can set up direct inward dialing from target countries to your existing phone system, and establish a virtual, local presence without opening a physical office immediately.

Scope new markets, test and conduct market research, and gradually grow your business. All without increasing your carbon footprint or burning a hole in your pocket.

Go Green with a Cloud Phone System

So, are you ready to take the next step? Making changes can be overwhelming but we can help you switch to a cloud phone system with minimal interruption and downtime. Call us today or chat with our experts to learn more! We are here to help you create a business phone system that works best for your business.

15 Critical IT Security Policies to Be Aware of

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IT security policies are the backbone of all procedures within an organization. Without the right policies laid out ahead of time, your business may be left open to security attacks with no disaster plan in sight. Let’s look at some critical IT security policies companies should consider having in place.

Why are IT Security Policies Important?

These policies align with the company mission and ensure the security of the company, employees, and customer information. An IT security policy defines what information needs to be protected and how it will be protected. These policies also determine how an organization prepares and handles security incidents. As such, an IT policy is crucial to the efficient and safe running of any business.

What is in an IT Security Policy?

In general, IT security policies outline the purpose, scope, policy, and procedures to be followed. The IT company policy will also highlight who must follow these rules and regulations. For example, certain rules apply only to an IT team while others may apply to other users (employees).

IT policies should include risks and consequences of not following the guidelines listed within the policy. They should also provide information about who to report to when a breach or issue occurs. When implemented and followed diligently, these policies protect your business’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems and data.

15 IT Security Policies for Business

So, what IT security policies does your business need? There are a multitude of policies out there meant to protect company information and data. In fact, TechRepublic has a list of over 100 IT policies. However, not all apply to every business type and size. Here we list the most important IT security policies you should consider for your business:

1. Acceptable Use Policy

The Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) defines the acceptable use of computer and laptop equipment within the office. The AUP outlines what constitutes inappropriate use of computers and laptops and educates users on the potential risks. This IT policy also determines how employees should handle proprietary or sensitive information about the company, employees, and customers.

2. Security Awareness and Training Policy

This policy highlights how all workplace members and users must protect company information. Employees may sign a confidentiality agreement. They may also complete training as required by the business to educate employees on the business’s security policy and how the policy protects the business, employees, and customers. Key aspects of the training include safeguarding business and customer information, reducing downtime, etc. Employees may be asked to provide proof of completion of the training.

3. Access Authorization, Modification, and Identity Access Management

This IT policy operates on the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) which states that users, systems, and devices are given access only to the information they need to do their jobs. To effectively implement this policy, businesses must create a process for documenting, reviewing, and modifying access. The policy also outlines who will have what kind of access and when access will be terminated. Access can be granted based on valid access authorization, intended use, and other necessary factors.

4. Password Creation and Management Policy

This IT company policy, as the name suggests, focuses on best practices when it comes to creating, changing, sharing, and safeguarding strong passwords. Passwords and two-factor authentication ensure that your information and accounts are kept secure and don’t fall into the wrong hands. This policy should include training and awareness that educates users on how to create strong passwords, what parameters to follow when creating passwords, and why it is important to avoid reusing the same passwords. This policy may also include password log-outs and maximum retry attempts to safeguard from unsuccessful login attempts.

5. Network Security Policy

This policy focuses on best practices when conducting network and information system activity reviews. The core purpose of a network security policy is to ensure your systems and data remain secure. This involves making sure systems have the right hardware and software and that these are up to date. It also includes procedural auditing mechanisms to keep track of usage and changes.

6. VoIP Security Policy

A VoIP security policy looks after your business’s VoIP phone system. This policy identifies common VoIP vulnerabilities and potential risks. It is important to ensure that your VoIP system is secure by educating users on how to identify VoIP attacks as well as keep their devices and phone systems secure.

7. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

BYOD policies let employees bring and use their own devices to conduct business. While this policy has helped businesses cut down on equipment-related costs, it may lead to security breaches if not monitored. A BYOD policy outlines what steps employees must take to keep their devices safe, especially when connecting these devices to your business’s networks. Businesses with remote and distributed teams can use a BYOD policy to ensure information is kept secure.

it security policy
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8. Remote Access Policy

With the popularity of remote working and telecommuting, this policy is more important than ever to keep remote teams connected securely. A remote access policy outlines how users will achieve remote access. This is when working from outside the office and connecting to the company’s network. A remote access policy ensures users know how to keep information and devices safe. This IT company policy should include VPN access and disk encryption instructions. Additionally, employees should be educated on the appropriate usage of authorized devices such as not engaging in illegal activity or mandating the use of strong passwords.

Related: 5 Benefits of Unified Communications for Remote Teams

9. Incident Response Policy

An incident response policy outlines the business’s response to an information security incident. Although similarly categorized, this policy should be documented separately from a disaster recovery plan or policy. This policy must include information about the incident response team so users know who to report to in the case of a security or data breach. It should also outline actions and resources implemented to identify compromised data and a plan to recover this data.

10. Encryption and Decryption Policy

This IT security policy outlines encryption requirements for all office- and business-related devices such as computers, laptops, networks, servers, storage areas, and so on. All employees, users, and IT members should follow recommendations made in this policy. The purpose of this is to protect information and communication channels while deterring unauthorized access.

11. Vulnerability Management Policy

A vulnerability management policy defines rules for reviewing, evaluating, applying, and verifying system updates. The purpose of this is to reduce or mitigate vulnerabilities and risks within your business’s IT infrastructure. As such, the policy will also include ways to identify, classify, and remediate these vulnerabilities.

12. Change Management Policy

A change management policy discusses how changes are made to information systems. This policy ensures that changes made to computers and laptops are managed, approved, and tracked in a thoughtful manner that reduces negative impact on the business. Timely and accurate documentation is at the core of this policy.

13. Vendor Management Policy

This IT security policy validates a vendor’s compliance and information security capabilities. And by doing so, it evaluates which vendors may put your business at risk and how to avoid those risks. In other words, it evaluates whether a third-party vendor should have access to sensitive data. In order to conduct this evaluation, your business must assess the vendor’s ability to create, receive, and transmit confidential information. Your business should also maintain a list of vendors to keep track of risks and be prepared for a data breach. Additionally, prepare an internal response plan, in case a vendor fails and a data breach occurs.

14. Data Retention Policy

A data retention policy defines what type of data must be retained, for how long, and how it will be stored and destroyed. Your business may want to store company documents, transactions and contracts, customer records, emails, call center data, and so on. This policy will help your business store and retain data effectively while determining processes to take care of outdated and duplicated data.

15. Scheduled Downtime Policy

This IT policy defines how to conduct regular maintenance, updates, and upgrades of company systems, servers, and networks. It should also outline how the business will communicate the scheduled downtime to its users, vendors, contacts, and customers to ensure smooth operations.

Does Your Business Have the Right Policies in Place?

Depending on how you run your business and what systems you have in place, you may need some or all of these policies. Conduct a review of different departments, brainstorm with your IT team, and identify areas that need new policies. It’s better to get started now than have to remedy issues later when they may be too late to fix. Bring your business up to date and protect it with the right IT policies.

Top Business VoIP Trends to Know in 2021

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Technology continues to advance over time with new and improved options available to users of all kinds. And for businesses, this is always exciting because there are new ways to improve customer experience (CX) and scale vertically. One of these technologies that impact businesses the most is business VoIP.

Future of Cloud Communications: 2021 VoIP Trends

VoIP, a type of cloud communications, makes it easy for users to communicate through the internet securely and reliably. And VoIP providers are developing new ways to increase their offerings and provide businesses with a well-rounded phone system.

So, what’s new in VoIP? Quite a lot: from leveraging AI to UCaaS and CCaaS to 5G networks. If your business is trying to catch up, you may want to consider an upgrade to your phone system to help improve CX and customer satisfaction.

Here are the top 9 business VoIP trends in 2021.

1. Unified Communications as a Service

One of the top business VoIP trends in 2021 includes bringing all communication and collaboration needs into one platform. This becomes crucial for businesses with multiple offices and locations around the world and for those with remote workers. Unified communications (UC) and cloud communication tools improve a business’ ability to be flexible and mobile and scale as needed. With collaborative features and real-time updates, your teams can stay organized and productive, no matter the location.

2. Mobile Unified Communications

Besides working within your business phone system, UC services are also being extended to mobile. The rise of mobile UC means you can transform your mobile or smartphone into a business powerhouse. You can use this device then to conduct both personal and business interactions and give your business more mobility. Mobile VoIP systems give you access to smartphone and PC apps, which increase productivity on the go.

Related: UC Trends You Need to Know in 2021

3. Advanced Video Conferencing Services

Since the COVID-19 pandemic led to many businesses switching to work-from-home or remote work capabilities, video conferencing became crucial for the proper functioning of many businesses. Video conferencing tools were in high demand and that competition was troublesome for VoIP service providers. This led to one of the newest VoIP trends: video conferencing. VoIP providers are upping their game and now offering multi-channel communication services, including video conferencing. They do this through integrations and partnerships with video conferencing services. And while this is the current solution, evolving technology will open doors for advanced VoIP software with more conferencing and collaborative capabilities to make doing business over the cloud easier and more user-friendly.

4. Customizable Features

Each business is unique and follows specific processes and guidelines that work best for the business and its employees. The same goes for your business phone system. Cloud communication is known greatly for its customization capabilities. Need to upgrade your system, add new lines without interrupting service, or integrate with other services? Cloud communications and VoIP systems can help you create a business phone system that works best for your business needs. Customize your system for the number and type of users you have, where they are located, different departments, and so on.

VoIP trends to watch in 2021.

5. Seamless Integrations

VoIP integrations can help you expand your VoIP phone system’s capabilities. You can connect your office calendar, CRM, content management systems, lead generation platforms, video conferencing services, chatbot automation, and more. Most popular integrations that work well with cloud communication platforms include:

  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot
  • Azure
  • OneLogin
  • Zapier
  • Clio

6. Leveraging AI

As seen in recent years, the use of AI within business has increased. This goes for the business VoIP world too. From handling customers to automating responses and ticketing systems, AI has been used to improve customer experience and satisfaction. Most companies are using AI to automate their websites and communication platforms to streamline services and improve engagement. This VoIP trend will continue in the coming years as AI has exceptional potential. Common uses of AI for VoIP include:

7. Security Issues

For the longest time, users considering VoIP were concerned about internet security and cyberattacks. But VoIP and internet services have come a long way and can provide secure avenues for their services. Business communication involves customer and company data and privacy which needs to be kept safe from intruders and hackers. VoIP security ensures that your business can communicate safely with its customers and employees. Learn more about how VoIP tackles security concerns in our guide to VoIP security.

8. 5G

In our fast-paced world, we expect quick response times and processes. And businesses need to meet these expectations when dealing with customers. 5G networks — one of the most anticipated VoIP trends — are here to solve this very issue and to improve VoIP call quality. With 5G, your business can:

5G networks are built to improve customer satisfaction and CX by making your business more available and responsive.

9. VoIP in More Places

More and more businesses are switching to VoIP to improve their communication and customer outreach. From schools to small businesses to large enterprises, every type of business can benefit from VoIP services. This makes business VoIP more present in more places around the world.

Need a VoIP Upgrade?

Want to learn about United World Telecom’s VoIP number solutions and how we can help your business improve internal and external communication? Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with our experts today!

Top 7 Benefits of Business VoIP

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At this point in time, most businesses are using business VoIP to create strong, reliable, and efficient business phone systems. Voice over IP technology has made it possible to make and answer calls via the internet instead of depending on physical phone lines. And by doing so, users can stay connected from any location and any device. So, why should you get business VoIP for your company?

Top 7 Advantages of Getting Business VoIP

From encouraging global expansion to providing easy scalability, VoIP technology gives businesses an opportunity to expand and grow with ease. If you are on the fence and are not sure about how VoIP can be useful to your company, here are 7 benefits to consider.

1. Variety of Business Numbers

VoIP phone systems work alongside voice over IP numbers. VoIP providers like United World Telecom aim to offer companies a variety of business phone number types. For instance, United World Telecom offers numbers for more than 160 countries around the world. Additionally, we offer toll free, local, international toll free, universal toll free, national, and vanity numbers.

Want to enter local markets and encourage locals to connect with your business? Buy a local phone number. Want to offer free calling to customers within your target country? Get a toll free number. Want to attract public attention with a memorable and creative number? Get a vanity number. You can get a business number that suits your purposes in a target country and lets you expand your customer base.

2. International Call Forwarding

International call forwarding is a popular service of VoIP phone systems. With this service, you can have calls forwarded internationally from one country to another without paying high international calling fees. For example, your customers in Mexico can call your Mexico number for free or at local calling rates. And these calls are routed via international call forwarding to your main office in the US, the UK, Australia, or wherever you desire. You can even have calls forwarded to a satellite office or remote workers.

With call forwarding, you can manage your incoming calls better and make your business accessible no matter where you or your team is located.

3. VoIP for Remote Team Management

Voice over IP phone systems are ideal for remote teams or distributed teams. Business VoIP gives your team the tools they need to stay connected and accountable even with distance involved. Benefits for remote team management include:

  • All users are connected from any location or device through a stable internet connection.
  • Voice, SMS, and more can be transmitted through the system.
  • Users can use softphones or web phones on their devices to make and receive business-related calls.
  • Access to a variety of features such as call recording, DID numbers, call transfer, outbound calling, and more.
  • Call monitoring and analytics tools that help managers keep track of employee KPIs and performance.

By presenting voice over IP for remote team management, your business can stay active and accessible at all times.

4. Global Expansion Possibility

Businesses using VoIP services or phone systems have a chance of going beyond their immediate location and entering new markets. More importantly, they can do this without increasing their expenses.

For instance, when a business tries to target a new city or country, the general idea is to open a field office and create a local presence. However, with international toll free numbers available for multiple countries, your business can create a virtual presence without needing to be physically present.

You can use international call forwarding and routing options to stay connected overseas. You can have calls ring on multiple devices across the board. Or, you can have calls routed based on the time of day or the location of the caller. The bottom line is you have access to multiple tools for effective call management, making it easier to manage international business.

5. Higher Scalability

Need to scale up or down instantly? No worries. VoIP accounts need little to no work when it comes to adding or removing users and employees. As such, you can quickly expand your business when needed, especially during high traffic periods, and cut down as necessary without changing your phone system.

6. Low Costs and Better Voice Quality

Another reason why business VoIP is so popular among all types of businesses (start-ups to large enterprises) is that it is a cost-effective solution. You only pay what you subscribe to and have a fairly predictable bill every month. And with that plan, you can target new countries and regions, utilize call tracking, forward calls to as many devices you want, use an effective IVR system, and more. And so, you get a high-quality business phone system for exceptionally reasonable rates.

Related: How to Measure and Improve VoIP Call Quality

7. Mobility and Flexibility

Lastly, with business VoIP, you can take your business with you wherever you go. Need to move or travel for work? Want to employ remote customer service teams to provide better international coverage? Need to switch to remote work due to a global pandemic? Whatever the hurdle, your business can continue to work and remain reachable with a reliable VoIP service.

So, is Business VoIP Right for You?

The answer to this depends on what you want to achieve with your company’s communication system. Do you want to expand in a cost-effective manner? Would you like to offer remote work options? Do you want a unified platform for all communication? Then, VoIP is your answer. However, how exactly VoIP can benefit your business depends on what you need. Speak to our experts today to learn about custom solutions to see if business VoIP is a fit for you!

Cloud PBX vs On-Premises PBX: Which is Right for Your Business?

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When evaluating your options for a private branch exchange, you will often come across the terms: cloud PBX and on-premise PBX. What is the difference between the two services and how do you decide which one you need?

Getting the Right PBX System for Your Business

A PBX, or private branch exchange, is a private telephone network. A PBX system makes internal call management easy and ensures smooth collaboration between different teams and departments within a business.

There are two common types of private branch exchange systems: Cloud-Hosted and On-Premise. And choosing between these two systems depends on a few factors:

  • What do you need from your phone system?
  • Do you want to connect multiple office locations through the system?
  • What communication features do you need?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you have or need to hire an IT team?
  • The answers to these questions can help you determine which phone system is right for you.

What is a Cloud Hosted PBX?

A cloud PBX is what it sounds like: a private phone exchange that works over the cloud. This means that it does not need a physical space in your office. The host will take care of the maintenance of the system and all you need to do is use it.

You will not have to worry about installing any hardware, saving office space for the system, or high maintenance costs. You won’t even need an on-premise IT team to handle all of it. However, you might not have as much control as with an on-premise system.

How Does an On-Premises PBX Work?

An on-premise PBX system is installed on company premises. This type of phone system is installed, run, and maintained by your company. You might need an experienced IT team to handle such a system.

Choosing Between Cloud PBX vs On-Premises PBX

The bottom line is that if you want a system that is wholly controlled and managed by your in-house IT team, then an on-premises PBX is the choice for you. However, if you don’t want to worry about the hassle of running and maintaining your phone system, then go with the system that’s hosted in the cloud.

Here are the other main differences between the two:

 

Cloud Hosted PBX On-Premises
Hosted by your provider Operated on-site by you
Little to no control over how it operates Controlled and managed fully by you
No physical space needed Physical space needed
No installation or maintenance needed Needs to be installed and maintained regularly
No professional IT experience needed Needs an experienced IT team to operate the system
Uses VoIP tech; Needs a broadband connection May use VoIP tech
Low monthly costs; No installation costs Low monthly costs; High installation costs
Variety of virtual calling features Limited calling features
Scalable as needed Limited scalability
Recommended for small to medium-sized businesses Recommended for large corporations

United World Telecom Knows About PBX Systems

United World Telecom has the PBX solutions you need for your business. You can also choose to set up your own IP-PBX system. This way you can take full advantage of SIP to place calls over the internet. Doing so results in better international calling rates at higher scale.