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Migrating from ISDN to SIP

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Has your business considered upgrading its legacy ISDN phone system to gain new features and capabilities? Then, you must consider an ISDN to SIP migration.

SIP trunking is cost-effective and highly scalable. And this makes it an excellent choice when upgrading your phone system.

Here is a brief guide to replacing ISDN with SIP trunking, including the benefits of an ISDN to SIP migration and the different steps involved to make this transition smooth and cost-effective.

Why Switch to SIP?

SIP phone systems are often considered a modern alternative to traditional business phone systems. By replacing ISDN with SIP systems, you can add more flexibility and scalability to your phone system.

It is a good practice to upgrade legacy phone systems to take advantage of updated and advanced technologies. Here we will look at how you can migrate to SIP and what an ISDN to SIP plan looks like.

How Can SIP Trunking Benefit Your Business?

There are many benefits of switching to SIP trunking, from making your phone system cloud-friendly to aiding in global expansion to bringing more flexibility.

SIP trunking uses session initiation protocol (SIP) to send voice, video, text, and other unified data through the internet instead of traditional POTS lines. With this ability, you can run your business communications from any location and connect with your team wherever they are located.

And the best part? You don’t need additional hardware or new equipment to get your SIP system running. Global SIP trunks can easily integrate within your existing PBX. So, you do not need to install a new system. Simply bring SIP trunking into your current system. Additionally, your business can even expand to new markets and regions without increasing overhead costs.

So, with SIP trunking, you get a more advanced and scalable phone system while keeping your communication-related costs low.

What to Keep in Mind When Migrating to SIP Trunking

When doing an ISDN to SIP migration, note that:

  • You will need to conduct an audit of your current phone system to gauge the scope of the migration.
  • Since SIP can work alongside ISDN, switching won’t cause any downtime or interruptions.
  • Tests that ensure the system runs smoothly can be conducted around your business’ schedule and activity.
  • Research different SIP trunking providers to get a sense of what they offer and what their rates are.

Debunking SIP Trunking Myths

When it comes to new (and complex) technology, it is easy to get sucked up in misinformation and doubts. And so, before we discuss how to migrate from ISDN to SIP, let’s go over some common SIP trunking myths and discuss them:

  • SIP call quality is poor — When it comes to digital communication, there is a tendency to believe that communicating over the internet can cause packet loss, latency, and network jitter. But SIP trunking uses dedicated IP connections designed and optimized for high call quality. Because of this, they offer the same, if not better, call quality than ISDN calls.
  • SIP trunking comes with hidden costs — SIP trunking is a cost-effective alternative with two primary costs: monthly fees and call costs. You choose the plan at the beginning of your contract. With the plan, you can make and receive local and international calls for low costs. And there are no installation or set-up fees involved. In fact, with some providers, you won’t even pay a cancellation fee, if you choose to find another provider. One additional fee might be to upgrade your PBX system and internet bandwidth if you have low internet capacity. But even with these costs, you will find the service ROI-friendly.
  • SIP trunks are not secure — Another common misconception is that cloud communications (like other internet services) come with cybersecurity risks and can be easily hacked into. However, with advanced technology, cloud communication, and SIP trunking providers offer a great deal of security. Additionally, you will need to work with your internet service provider to ensure firewalls and security measures are in place.
  • Migrating to SIP will result in downtime — As we mentioned before, many are afraid that switching services or communication systems can lead to interruption and downtime. However, with SIP trunking and a quality service provider, you can minimize VoIP downtime and migrate without pausing your service.

ISDN to SIP trunking migration.

ISDN to SIP Migration in 7 Steps

So, what does an ISDN to SIP plan entail and how can you prepare for such a migration? Here is a 5-step plan to replace ISDN with SIP trunking:

1. Identify and Document Your Requirements

Before you get started, you need to identify what you need from this migration:

  • Do you need new business phone numbers? If so, how many numbers do you need?
  • What types of numbers do you need: local or toll-free?
  • Do you need call management features such as cloud IVR, auto-attendant, call queues, call monitoring, and so on?
  • What locations do you need calls forwarded to?
  • Do you need extensions or dedicated numbers (also known as direct inward dialing numbers) for specific employees or departments?
  • Do you need a softphone to support remote workers?

It is also a good practice to document what you currently have and want to keep, such as phone numbers, extensions, voicemail inbox, etc.

Once you determine what you need from your new system, you can start planning for the SIP migration.

2. Communicate with Your Employees

Before making the switch, bring your employees into the migration process. Get their input and feedback to identify additional areas of conflict and improvement. Some questions to ask employees include:

  • What do you think of our current business phone system?
  • Have you encountered any issues using this phone system? If so, provide details.
  • What would you like from a new phone system? Explain why.
  • Can you think of anything that will improve internal and external communication?

3. Make a Plan and Scope the Job

The next step to replacing ISDN with SIP is to make a plan. This will help you determine what your business should expect in terms of scope, transition, and cost. Depending on the state of your current system, you may have to transition in parts (floor by floor or branch by branch) or migrate the entire system in one go.

Work with your communications or SIP trunking provider to get an idea of what the transition will look like, and how your business can prepare. When preparing your plan, consider the following:

  • Employees — List down all staff members and collect their contact information.
  • Vendors and suppliers — List down contact information for essential vendors, suppliers, and service providers.
  • List all communication equipment — Create an inventory of all business-related phones, laptops, computers, desk phones, fax machines, smartphones, etc.
  • Call routing — Identify what numbers will route calls to which numbers and locations and when.
  • Backup data — Make sure information and data are backed up and that backup processes are working properly.
  • Setup safekeeping for critical data — Keep critical data extra safe as you may need this to enact disaster recovery and business continuity. Think logins and passwords, alternative numbers and phone and lines, etc.
  • Include remote working capabilities — Here’s an opportunity to explore remote working options for your employees. Review how your new system can support this flexibility.
  • Create and test a business continuity plan — This plan will help your business continue working and offer services if something goes wrong.

4. Conduct an Audit: Evaluate Existing Systems

Next, evaluate your current system and anticipate possible problems and changes required. Look at the infrastructure and bandwidth capacity. What is your current system lacking that a SIP phone system can solve?

Check with your SIP provider how much bandwidth and network capacity you will need for your business’ call volume. This information will help you decide if additional connections are required to prioritize voice traffic over other internet usages. Similarly, communicate your call volume expectations with your provider. They will help you understand what infrastructure will work best for your business needs.

Lastly, you may even want to let your provider on future expansion plans. This will help you determine if this provider’s service is scalable and can assist your business in growing when it is ready.

5. Get and Install a SIP Trunking Service

Once you’ve completed the audit, the next step is to find a reliable SIP trunking provider and subscribe to the service. Research different providers to get a sense of what they offer and how much they charge.

You should also look for additional features and tools they offer that can further enhance your business communication system; for example, call management features like call routing or softphones, and so on. Another important factor in choosing a SIP trunking provider is their support team. Is their support team easily accessible? Do they offer 24/7 customer support, in case your business needs help off-hours?

Once you’ve settled on a SIP provider, it’s time to set up and get your SIP system up and running. One significant benefit of replacing ISDN with SIP is that SIP trunking requires less equipment and hardware. And since most SIP services are hosted and maintained by your SIP provider, you have little to no installation. You might need to tweak and adjust minor things, and you might choose to install the service section by section. This ensures no downtime or interruption.

Finally, prepare for the ISDN to SIP migration by getting the right equipment ready.

6. Test Your New SIP System

As you set up your SIP phone system, you must test it and its different components to ensure everything is working smoothly. Most SIP systems can integrate with other business applications such as CRMs, video conferencing tools, APIs, and so on. Test your system with core business applications to identify any issues or hiccups. Similarly, your provider should test the service and phone numbers before the system goes live. Keep your business continuity plan ready, in case there are any issues and you need a backup.

7. Go Live and Make Business Calls

Finally, once your SIP system has been tested and any issues have been resolved, you can fully switch over to SIP. The installation and activation of the system is relatively quick; it is the preparation that can take some time. However, with the right SIP provider and the right tools, this transition will occur smoothly, and your business communication system will work effortlessly.

Ready to Switch Over to SIP?

If you are looking for ways to upgrade your existing business phone system without increasing expenses, then SIP trunking is the way to go. Want to learn more? Our experts at United World Telecom can help you understand how SIP trunking works and how it can help your business specifically. Call us today at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online!

What Equipment is Needed for VoIP?

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To get the most out of your VoIP phone system, you need the right VoIP equipment to support your business communication needs.

While most newcomers consider VoIP to be expensive and complicated, the truth is that the technology is fairly simple and inexpensive. There is not a lot of hardware or expensive technology required.

In fact, with VoIP, you can convert existing technology into business powerhouses. How?

Let’s have a look at the equipment needed for VoIP.

Must-Have VoIP Equipment in 2021

What equipment is needed for your VoIP system needs depends on the type of VoIP user you are—residential user or business user.

A residential user will need only a PC / laptop, softphone, and a headset. A small business, on the other hand, might need more. Business users will need a web phone or softphone, a computer, a headset, high-speed internet or data, and a business VoIP subscription.

Without the right VoIP equipment, you will struggle with poor VoIP call quality, leading to frustration and miscommunication. To combat this proactively, make sure you get the right equipment and VoIP setup.

Here is a checklist of equipment needed for VoIP to use your service successfully:

1. VoIP Phones: Hard Phones or Softphones

The main VoIP equipment you need is a phone to make and receive calls. Many VoIP and virtual phone service providers offer global call forwarding to route calls internationally to specific locations and numbers. This way, you can divert calls to your VoIP phones or locations as needed.

A VoIP phone uses IP technology (the internet) to transmit calls between two or more parties. There are two types of VoIP phones:

    • Hard phones — are like traditional phones but come with specialized digital hardware.
    • Softphones — are web-based applications or software that can be downloaded on different devices.

You can even use a combination of both types of VoIP phones to support in-office and remote users. Since softphones can be used from any location and device, you can

2. Headsets

Next, you will need VoIP headsets for your users. VoIP hard phones come with a microphone and receivers. However, if your users use a softphone, then they will need a headset with a microphone. While the tendency is to purchase inexpensive VoIP headsets, these headsets can lead to VoIP issues such as latency and network jitter.

Take time to find good quality headsets that are hands-free, remain connected, have noise-canceling technology, and, overall, improve call quality.

equipment for voip

3. Computers or Laptops

Next, you will need personal computers to complement your service. You can use computers and laptops to not only get work done but also make and receive your VoIP calls through a softphone. This way, users can manage calls and update their CRM or task managers as they work without interruption. And, users working remotely can also use their laptops to connect through cloud-based and virtual software and continue working.

4. High-Speed and Reliable Data

Next, if you’re using VoIP for business, then you need a robust internet setup. This includes a reliable and stable internet connection with a modem and router. VoIP does not demand much but needs enough bandwidth to handle your call volume.

While setting up your internet, work with your internet service provider and IT team to set up VoIP QoS for your VoIP service. VoIP Quality of Service (QoS) can help troubleshoot voice over IP issues. When QoS is set up, you can prioritize network traffic to make business calls a high priority. This way, even with everyone using the internet for multiple reasons, the quality of your business calls remains untouched.

5. VoIP Phone Service

Finally, you will need a VoIP phone service, and you can get this from any virtual phone service provider. However, you want a provider who offers quality service for a reasonable price and has easy-to-access, responsive customer service. When settling on a VoIP provider, ask about the installation and set-up processes and the different features that come included with the service. Look for customer reviews and case studies to get an idea of how the product works in action. Then, choose a provider that meets your needs and budget.

Get Your VoIP Phone Service with United World Telecom

Now that you know what equipment is needed for VoIP, you can get VoIP phone service for your business. United World Telecom can get you set up with high-quality VoIP phone service for your business. We have been offering cloud communication solutions to businesses around the world for the past 25 years. Learn more about our VoIP service by speaking with our experts. Call us today at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online!

What is Click-to-Call? Definition, Benefits, and How to Set It Up

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A click-to-call feature can help increase productivity and efficiency in your office by speeding up calling processes with accuracy. Here is an in-depth post detailing the different types of click-to-call features and the benefits of using them.

Click-to-Call: Explained

A click-to-call service is a business communication tool that enables phone calls through a VoIP connection. Other names include click-to-dial, one-click calling, and click-calling. There are a few types of click-to-call features in the industry. Among these are:

  1. Dialer extensions or CTI enabling agents to call contacts by clicking on their computers instead of manually inputting phone numbers.
  2. Wrapping website phone numbers in hyperlinks with the tel: schema so website visitors can easily click to call.
  3. ‘Click to call me’ lets interested prospects input their contact information through a web form, which instantly triggers a callback from your business.

The first type of click-to-dial feature lets you place calls without having to dial or type a number in. You simply click on the lead or customer’s name or a call icon and instantly place the call. Originally a call center feature meant to support outbound calls without human error or misdialing, now businesses everywhere can use click-to-call to make outgoing calls swift, easy, and accurate.

The second type of click-calling feature lets you insert a linkable phone number on your website. This way, when customers visit your website and need to call you, they simply click the link. They are then sent to their phone app and upon confirmation, the call is placed.

The third type is a call page. This is a widget or webpage that can be placed on your website and lets web visitors provide their name and phone number to receive an immediate callback. This way, you can connect with these interested prospects while they are still learning about your product.

clikc to call process

Benefits of Click-to-Call

Call centers have used click-to-dial to measure and improve workforce efficiency. The benefits are not just limited to fast dialing. You can use this feature to better execute inside sales efforts. Here are the main advantages of getting a click-to-dial feature:

  1. Speed up workflow — call leads and clients quickly, speed up callbacks, and reduce human error.
  2. Encourage web visitors to call your business — allow website visitors to easily connect with your company.
  3. Implement call tracking — learn more about where your calls are being sourced.
  4. Improve conversion rates — finally, give your team the right tool to engage customers over the phone.

How to Set up Click-to-Call

You can get click-to-call to make calls through your control panel when you sign up for an account with us. Within the panel, you can add and manage contacts and then use the click-to-dial feature to quickly and efficiently place calls without having to type the number in each time.

Additionally, you can also get a ‘call now’ button for your website easily by embedding a snippet of HTML code to the website. Once the code is in, the button will appear on your website and visitors can use it to receive a free callback from your business.

Get the Right Communication Tools for Your Business Today!

The click-to-dial feature can come in very handy for businesses dealing with large call volumes. By taking out the ‘dial the right number’ process, more time is spent having conversations. To learn more, call us today!

Toll Versus Toll Free: What’s the Difference?

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When purchasing a new phone number for your business, you will be able to choose between different number types.

In this post, we will explain the differences between toll numbers and toll free numbers.

Understanding the Difference Between Toll and Toll Free Numbers

A phone number is either toll or toll free. The difference between the two number types is the concept of a “toll,” which refers to a fee or tariff. Calls to a toll number incur a charge, while calls are free to a toll free number.

What are Toll Numbers?

Toll numbers are your regular telephone numbers where the caller is charged per minute for calling. This is not an official number type. It is referred to as a toll number because it charges a toll for calling. Therefore, if you are charged a local calling rate when calling a number, then it would be considered a toll number. Toll numbers usually consist of home phone numbers, local numbers, and so on.

Premium Rate Numbers

Premium rate numbers are a type of toll number, specifically 1-900 numbers, that use a pay-per-call model to provide services via calls and charge higher than normal rates. Unlike a regular call, part of the charges for these calls is paid to the business using the number. This way, businesses could be funded via these calls. For example, a caller would call a business (e.g, psychic services) and pay for the minutes and time spent on the call as part of the service itself. These numbers were commonly used for tech support, chat services, directory questions, weather forecasts, televoting, consulting, and so on.

Toll Free Numbers

Toll free numbers are the opposite of toll numbers in that these numbers are toll-free. In other words, callers do not incur a charge for calling these numbers. The format for these numbers is very distinct and different from regular phone numbers. They usually begin with a special prefix such as 1-800, 888, 877, 833, and so on, followed by a subscriber number.

However, there are certain rules. For example, calls to a country’s toll free number are free only when called from within the country. A US toll free number is free to call by locals and businesses within the US.

Benefits of a Toll Free Number

TFNs are generally used by well-established businesses as a way of making it easier for customers to receive support. A local customer does not have to worry about calling fees when dialing a toll free number. This, therefore, encourages them to place calls to inquire about a product or speak with customer service.

Additionally, since TFNs have been traditionally used by large corporations, getting such a number for your business can build trust. Customers will appreciate your efforts to make your business accessible and easily reachable.

Reasons to Consider an International TFN

Furthermore, you can even use an international toll free number to extend operations to different countries around the world. How this works is you get an ITFS number for a country and callers within the country can call your number for free. These incoming calls get forwarded to a destination number of your choice in your specified country. For example, your UK business can get Singapore and Australia toll free numbers through a service provider like United World Telecom. Then, callers in Singapore and Australia can call their respective numbers for free, and you can have those calls routed to your UK office. ITFS numbers help businesses expand globally without moving physically.

Speak with an Expert About Toll Versus Toll Free Numbers

If toll or toll free numbers are what your business needs, then we can help! You can buy global phone numbers for more than 160 countries around the globe. And so, whether you want to offer free calling within your country or for other countries, we’ve got you covered. Sign up on our homepage today or call us to learn more!

What is a SIP Proxy and How Does a SIP Server Work?

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We write a lot about SIP. That’s because we have been a leading SIP trunk provider for over twenty years. Read on to learn more about SIP servers and how they work.

What is a SIP Server?

A SIP server or SIP proxy processes session initiation protocol (SIP) requests. This server is the main element of an IP private branch exchange. SIP is an internet protocol used to initiate and receive voice and video communication by transmitting data packets across an internet connection. This enables the quick and easy transmission of SIP calling between 2 or more parties.

How Does a SIP Server Work?

A SIP server works alongside a voice over IP or VoIP phone system. Both systems together make cloud communications possible. A SIP proxy can:

  • Set up a session between 2 or more endpoints; such as audio or video conferencing between 2 or more parties
  • Replace one endpoint for another; during call transfer or routing
  • Negotiate and adjust media parameters and specs during a session; such as putting a call on hold
  • Terminating a session

It is important to note that the SIP server does not actually transmit media. Media transmission is performed by a media server using the RTP protocol. Within an IP-PBX, the SIP server and media server are present on the same machine. However, a high-volume SIP server like a VoIP provider may separate the two servers on different machines and balance the load.

Additionally, there is no fee or charge to get a SIP address for your server. These addresses connect to unique phone numbers. This enables each user on a SIP network to have a direct inward dialing number to place calls. Furthermore, companies can use these systems in a package such as a hosted PBX.

SIP Proxies: Modes of Operation

A SIP server generally operates in one of two modes: Stateless or Stateful.

1. Stateless SIP Proxy: This type of SIP proxy receives and transmits messages but does not keep any record of the transmission. A stateless SIP proxy works this way: Send > Receive > Delete. This server works at a faster speed because of its limited functionality. Additionally, this simplicity in functioning makes it desirable to small businesses as they can easily scale and upgrade their SIP system.

2. Stateful SIP Proxy: This type of SIP server transmits as well as stores messages and information to access later. Because of this functionality, it can pick up a request message and try again. Or, it can reroute the message through another aspect of the network. A stateful SIP proxy works this way: Send > Receive > Save. An example of this is Time of Day Routing that routes incoming calls based on the time of day and predetermined rules. For example, calls made to a business after hours can be forwarded to a different office location or remote agent.

What Does SIP Trunking Do?

SIP trunking is a service that enables your PBX system to send VoIP and SIP calls over the internet. This service works with virtual telephone lines and sends and receives messages through bandwidth data. You can get multiple SIP trunks and cover various geographic areas. SIP trunking makes it possible for your business to expand operations beyond your immediate location.

An image of a SIP proxy and server.

Benefits of a SIP Proxy and SIP Trunking

SIP servers and SIP trunking have become increasingly popular with businesses of every size. Here are the top benefits of switching to SIP:

1) Enable Unified Communications
SIP trunking enables voice, video, and text messaging from one platform. There’s no need to invest in different services to keep your communications stable. You can make and receive high-quality calls, audio and video conferencing, and texting from SIP trunking.

2) Forward Calls
With a SIP server, you can quickly and easily forward or direct incoming calls to several SIP and VoIP devices. This is helpful for any office with a busy call volume. Plus, with a stateful SIP proxy, you can save and access calls or messages that didn’t go through the first time and try again later.

3) Cut Communication Costs
VoIP and SIP are in demand because it not only offers high-quality communication but also a comfortable price. Sending and receiving voice, video, and text over a SIP server costs almost nothing to users.

4) Network Security
Secure VoIP is a necessity within any business. A SIP server protects your communication system from hackers by disconnecting calls and users without credit or authorization.

5) Access to VoIP Features
With SIP trunking, you can gain access to useful voice over IP features that can help organize calls and provide a professional image to your business. Features include, but are not limited to;

  • Call forwarding and routing options
  • Automated greetings
  • Analytics and reports
  • Unlimited extension, and so many more

Where Can I Get SIP Trunking?

United World Telecom can help! You can buy SIP trunks directly from our website or contact one of our experts to learn more.

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!