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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!

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.

The Complete Guide to Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

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Need to upgrade your contact center software but don’t know where to start? Here’s an in-depth guide to Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) with everything you need to know about cloud contact center software in 2021.

What is Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)?

Contact center as a service, commonly known as CCaaS, is a cloud communication software for businesses and contact or call centers. The most attractive feature of CCaaS is that it enables multichannel communication through one platform. And so, CCaaS is generally used by businesses to help them communicate with customers and leads effectively.

How Does CCaaS Work?

In essence, CCaaS is a call center software based in the cloud; that is, it connects users with essential communication tools virtually. This is a good solution for any company that wants to be in control of its business communication and manage teams from different parts of the world.

Your CCaaS provider is in charge of the software. This means that the provider takes care of developing, updating, and maintaining the software. Your business and employees don’t have to worry about managing hardware or maintaining updates. The tools and features included in such software are designed for easy usage and setup. Additionally, you won’t need a large IT team to make these communications possible.

Since contact center solutions and features benefit sales and customer service teams, sales managers usually make CCaaS purchasing decisions. These leaders look for solutions that make it quick and easy for their teams to connect with clients and leads and move them down the sales funnel.

CCaaS Features

CCaaS solutions were created to help agents and employees quickly and accurately connect with customers. As such, each feature and service involved supports call management, call forwarding and distribution, remote team management, and enhanced caller experience. Some common features include:

By including these features and services, contact center solutions help automate and manage call volumes and call flows more efficiently. With these features and self-service options, CCaaS solutions have grown into a trusted and reliable alternative to traditional contact center solutions and phone systems.

CCaaS vs On-Premise Contact Center Solutions

When it comes to contact center software, businesses have two choices: on-premise or cloud contact center solutions. Deciding which of these solutions is most suitable for your business depends on your business communication needs and budget. Let’s look at the differences between CCaaS and on-premise contact center solutions:

CCaaS On-Premise
Works virtually; located in the cloud Located on-site
Enables remote team management May not be effective for remote team management
No set-up or installation costs Includes set-up and/or installation costs
Software is hosted, run, and maintained by the provider Software is run and maintained by the company
In-house IT team not required for maintenance and updates In-house IT team required for maintenance and updates
Additional hardware and equipment not required Additional hardware, equipment, and installation may be required
Offers contact center features and services Offers contact center features and services
High scalability, reliability, and flexibility High reliability; low scalability and flexibility
Advanced communication features and services Basic communication features and services
Enables cost-effective international communication International communication is more expensive
Cheaper Expensive

Taking note of these differences, you can make a decision for your company based on your company’s size, in-house and remote teams, call traffic, and budget. You may also want to consider what your business hopes to achieve with your contact center solution. Do you want to expand internationally in a cost-effective way or do you want to stay local? Is remote team management a key factor? Do you anticipate scaling up or down and need a solution to back you up? And so on. Answering such questions can help you make an informed decision.

CCaaS and UCaaS: A Business Communication Powerhouse

When looking for communication solutions online, you will often come across a number of viable options. UCaaS refers to Unified Communications as a Service and is growing popular as an internal communication tool.

The main differentiating factor between these two solutions is that UCaaS focuses primarily on internal communication while CCaaS aims to improve customer experience. For this reason, IT managers make purchasing decisions for UCaaS while sales managers make decisions for contact center solutions.

While these solutions work on different aspects of business communication, by bundling UCaaS and CCaaS your business gains a full-fledged communication system that manages both internal and external communication. This way, you can encourage internal collaboration as well as improve customer experience.

Maximize CCaaS with SIP Trunking

CCaaS and SIP trunking together can create a powerhouse for your business phone system. Companies can use SIP trunking to boost their business communication system through hosted cloud solutions. To make unified communications work effectively, your business will need a SIP trunking solution that bundles all necessary telephony solutions together. With SIP trunking, a business can access global coverage are various communication features, all in the same platform, inexpensively. SIP lines are cheaper compared to traditional PSTN solutions, considering the many options the solution offers.

Contact centers and businesses using CCaaS solutions will have multiple locations and customers from around the world. As such, using a single or global SIP trunking provider can prove more useful and cost-effective than working with multiple regional providers. Furthermore, CCaaS and SIP trunking providers offer scalability where a business can expand, as and when needed, without your business having to worry about accommodating compliance with various local regulations. Your provider takes care of everything.

Business guide to Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)
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5 Benefits of CCaaS

So, why should your business consider getting CCaaS? If your company is looking to upgrade its phone system while keeping costs low, consider cloud contact center solutions. Here are 5 reasons to get CCaaS for business.

1. Better Internal Collaboration

Cloud contact center solutions offer multichannel communication in one place. This means various departments and teams can communicate smoothly and share information in real-time through the same platform. Increase team collaboration between departments by choosing CCaaS.

2. Low Communication-Related Costs

When all essential features and services are available through one platform or service, you do not need additional service or equipment to support your communication needs. In fact, CCaaS is a cloud-based solution that does not require hardware and additional equipment to make it work. Your employees can use existing devices and phone systems, and can use these devices from anywhere in the world.

Furthermore, your monthly bill is more predictable since you know upfront how much your service is going to cost. Lastly, CCaaS is equipped to help businesses conduct international communication at low rates as well. With all these benefits, you can see significant savings for all communication-related processes.

3. Better Remote Team Management

By going virtual, your business can easily manage remote teams since users can communicate through the business phone system from any location and any device. Cloud contact center solutions support remote contact centers, virtual call centers, BPOs, distributed teams, and more, by providing tools that let users work efficiently.

4. Low IT Costs and Maintenance

Similar to low communication-related costs, your business can also save on employing a full IT team as well as costs related to updating and maintaining the software. This frees up costs that may otherwise be put towards marketing and sales initiatives to boost brand awareness.

5. Improved Customer Experience

Finally, all of the above reasons make way for enhanced customer experience. If customers struggle to reach your business, they won’t hesitate to look for similar solutions elsewhere. By utilizing a reliable and high-quality phone system, you make it easy for employees to connect with valuable customers and vice versa. This means that agents and reps are given the tools they need to convert more customers and increase the business’ overall sales.

Get Contact Center Solutions for Your Business!

United World Telecom offers various virtual communication solutions for businesses looking to add call center software and features to their existing communication system. We can help you upgrade your business phone system without much work! Call us today to learn more or chat with us online!

What is BYOC? How Can it Benefit Your Business?

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With the wide range of telecom terminology and phone system abbreviations swarming the internet, it is easy to get lost in new technology and systems available for business communication. BYOC is one such term and concept that has been gaining prominence with cloud telephone solutions. So, what is Bring Your Own Carrier and how can businesses benefit from this setup?

Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC): Definition, How it Works, & Benefits

BYOC provides businesses with the option to bring their own carrier or SIP trunking provider and add it as part of their communication setup. This is in place of using an all-inclusive communication platform. Let’s dive into what a Bring Your Own Carrier process looks like and why businesses should care about BYOC.

What is BYOC?

Bring Your Own Carrier or BYOC is the process of businesses bringing or choosing a carrier to plug into an existing phone system. In other words, businesses can choose what carrier to add to their existing UCaaS or CCaaS.

The main reason to consider BYOC as a telecom solution for your business is to shift from using on-premise communication solutions to cloud-based phone systems. By moving to the cloud, your business gains flexibility, mobility, scalability, and more control over your business telephone system.

Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) and SIP Trunking

Moving your telecom needs from an on-premise solution to a cloud solution may seem overwhelming. However, advancements in telecom and cloud communications have made it easier and cost-effective to make this move. Some ways you can switch from traditional phone systems to virtual systems include:

  1. Adding SIP trunks to an existing IP PBX
  2. Choosing a UCaaS that is packed with service features
  3. Switching to a cloud solution

At the core of these options is SIP trunking which provides global communications functionality. SIP trunking replaces the traditional phone system by allowing users to place business calls via their internet connection instead of copper phone lines. SIP trunks in a VoIP system can hold multiple SIP lines (up to 100) at a time, allowing for multiple calls to occur simultaneously. These lines can be spread across different devices, departments, and locations. SIP trunks can be added to your existing PBX system without needing additional equipment or hardware.

Related: SIP Trunking: Everything You Need to Know

The Problem with The All-in-One Approach

For over 10 years, telecom companies have been offering an all-in-one communication solution that offers PBX, SIP trunking, and other business communication services. Not all of these providers own every aspect of their offering. For example, many of these providers have their own PBX functionality but they may get their phone and voice coverage from other SIP providers. This can pose a few issues, such as:

1. Higher bundled costs — Since these providers are getting services from elsewhere, the bundled costs may prove higher than if you were to get an unbundled solution.
2. Uneven quality — Since these providers don’t own all parts of their service, they cannot guarantee voice quality which may lead to coverage and quality issues.
3. Compliance issues — There are many regulations that telephony providers must follow and if the provider fails to comply, your business can face coverage issues such as dropped calls.

So, how can your business combat this issue? Enter: Bring Your Own Carrier!

How Can BYOC Benefit Your Business?

The concerns and issues mentioned above have led to the rise of the Bring Your Own Carrier alternative. You can opt for an unbundled solution where you choose your own carrier. What are the benefits of bringing your own carrier?

  1. Maintain control over call routing and forwarding.
  2. Secure, consistent, and high VoIP quality.
  3. Lower service interruptions that may be compliance-related.
  4. Save money on communication-related costs with low SIP trunk pricing.
  5. Scale up and down as necessary.
  6. Keep existing phone numbers through number porting.
  7. Increase global coverage.

Not having a choice or being stuck with a carrier that doesn’t match your needs can become a liability. Being able to choose a SIP provider or carrier that fits right in with your phone system is a great boon in ensuring uninterrupted, high-quality service.

Choose the Right Carrier for Your Business

Having a solid business communication system in place can determine how well your business performs and how customers interact with it. United World Telecom offers SIP trunks in more than 160 countries around the world with international SIP termination and dynamic local caller ID. As your SIP trunk provider, we are here to offer a customizable solution to help you expand globally. Call us today to buy SIP trunks or to learn more about how this service can help your business improve its communication system and global coverage!

What is Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)?

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When researching business phone service or VoIP providers, you will come across the term CTI or computer telephony integration. Here we explain what computer telephony integration or CTI software is and how businesses can use this technology to streamline business communication and increase agent productivity.

Computer Telephony Integration: What is CTI Software?

In simple terms, CTI is a technology that connects computers and telephony. Computer telephony integration or CTI technology enables computers to interact with telephones or perform telephone functions like placing and routing calls.

A CTI software is designed to streamline contact center operations and improve agent performance and productivity. Mostly used in call centers, CTI software can also be used in businesses of various sizes that have a steady stream of call traffic.

CTI Functions

So, what can your business use computer telephony integration for? There are many functions for CTI technology — here are some ways to use this technology:

  1. Make phone calls from your computer at the click of a button.
  2. Identify callers by matching the incoming phone number to a database of customer records.
  3. Route and transfer calls through advanced routing and self-service options such as IVR.
  4. Display customer information on agents’ screens before they take the call, also known as screen popping.
  5. Access to call logs, reporting, and recording functions.
  6. Access to manual and automatic dialing options such as click-to-call, autodialers, and softphones.
  7. Conduct basic phone controls such as answer, transfer, conference, hold, etc.

Computer Telephony Integration Applications

What are some common applications of computer telephony integration technology and what businesses can take advantage of this software? Some computer telephony integration applications include:

  • Call and contact centers
  • Business with distributed teams and remote employees
  • Business process outsourcing (BPO)
  • Small-to-large businesses with high call traffic (fluctuating and consistent)
  • Businesses with multiple offices and customer service locations spread geographically
  • Companies with global coverage and international clientele
A photo of a man using CTI (Computer Telephony Integration)
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5 Benefits of Using CTI Software for Business Communication

How can your business use CTI and benefit from this type of VoIP integration?

1. Place Calls With Any Device

The main attraction and benefit of using CTI software is that users do not need telephones or desk phones to make and receive business calls. Instead, they can simply click to call through their computers or laptops using headsets. This helps cut down costs on additional equipment needed.

2. Caller Authentication Through Integrations

Computer telephony integration technology easily integrates with most CRMs, further simplifying and streamlining agent processes. The CTI preemptively identifies the caller by screening the phone number or email address through the customer database and then displaying the information on the agent’s computer screen. This is also known as screen popping or screen pop. By automatically authenticating the customer, the agent is prepared to offer fast service.

Additionally, depending on the type of CRM used, call records may be automatically added to the customer’s record for data analysis in your call center. Think: call history, call detail records, transcripts, metrics, and other important caller information.

3. Advanced Call Routing Options

Another key feature of CTI software is providing call routing and transfer. With computer telephony integration technology, your business can route and manage calls more effectively. You can use an interactive voice response system or automatic call distributor to route calls automatically based on predetermined rules.

To do this, design and create an easy-to-use and informative IVR system. When callers call your business, they will be presented with menu options and prompted to speak or push buttons for further options or to be transferred to the right department. Based on their input, they will be assisted or transferred to the appropriate department. Some ways to route calls include:

  • Caller input — Callers indicate what they need through the IVR menu
  • Caller history — Based on the caller’s previous interactions with the business
  • Agent availability — Routes to the next available agent or employee
  • Location-based routing — Based on the location of the caller
  • Time-based routing — Based on the time of day of the call
  • Skill-based routing — Based on the skill or expertise needed (for example, language preferences)
  • Department needed — Callers indicate what department they need

These call routing options help with call management so your callers get to the right agent and receive assistance as quickly as possible. You can reduce wait times and frustration related to being routed to the wrong person or department.

4. Collaboration Tools

Besides making it easy for customers to connect with your business, CTI technology also supports in-house collaboration through:

  • Voice and video conferencing
  • Call whisper and call barging
  • Warm call transfer
  • Call monitoring
  • Call recording

With these training and collaboration tools, teams can work together and managers or supervisors can listen in on calls and provide coaching.

5. Unified Communication Tools

Finally, along with phone calls, CTI software can also be used to receive faxes and emails. This makes it a UCaaS trend that lets you access all you need about a customer and their history with your company.

Want to Learn More About Advanced Telephony?

Our telecom experts can help you find the right business communication set-up for your company. Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online to learn more!

Virtual Phone System: What Is It and How Does It Work?

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With more dependence on cloud communications, it’s time for businesses to upgrade their phone systems to ones that can be accessed virtually. Cloud phone systems make it possible for companies to manage remote teams as well as expand their global coverage. Learn how a virtual phone system can improve the way your business communicates with customers locally and globally. In this post, we discuss virtual phone communication systems and their benefits.

Virtual Phone System: Definition

Virtual phone systems or cloud phone systems are becoming the new normal as businesses prepare for remote working possibilities. A virtual phone communication system or cloud-based phone system is a communications platform that allows users to make and receive business calls from anywhere through an internet connection.

How Do Virtual Telephone Systems Work?

More specifically, a virtual phone system uses virtual phone numbers and voice over IP (VoIP) to transmit calls over the internet. Because of this, users can make and receive calls from any location and any device (deskphone, softphone, app, smartphone, etc), as long as they are connected to the internet. VoIP phone systems convert voice signals into digital packets and move them from one user to the next. By doing so, VoIP calls use internet bandwidth to maintain high quality and speed.

While traditional phone systems work from one location, virtual phone communication systems can work from any location and can connect people from multiple locations. Companies that have multiple office locations or remote offices and teams can use a cloud phone system to stay connected and take advantage of virtual communication features for call management.

Benefits of a Virtual Communication System

There are many advantages of using a virtual phone communication system over a traditional phone system. These systems are cost-effective and can assist your business expansion plans. Furthermore, they can support your business’ call volumes by providing call management tools and features that can make the customer experience better.

1. Scalability
Need to add or remove certain users, locations, and lines? No problem! With virtual communication systems, you can control how big or small you want to go. Add new lines and users as needed, and make necessary adjustments without needing to change or update your entire system. You can scale up and down as needed — and pay only for what you use — nothing or less.

2. Cost-Effective
By switching to a virtual phone system, your business can cut down on costs when it comes to purchasing multiple phone lines, hardware, and equipment, and even long-distance and international calling rates. Your cloud phone system is equipped to add or remove phone lines as and when needed. Even your virtual phone numbers can be adjusted depending on need and usage. Calling internationally or enabling global customers to call your business becomes easier with virtual phone numbers. You can bypass international boundaries and cut down on international communication costs. Lastly, you won’t need to worry about purchasing and maintaining hardware for a virtual telephone system.

3. Access to Features
Virtual communication systems come packed with a variety of features and services to enhance connectivity, smoothen call management processes, and improve customer experience when they call your business. Top features that come with a virtual phone system are international call forwarding, call recording, customizable caller IDs, automated response systems (IVR), and more.

Why You Need a New Virtual Phone Communication System

So, why would your business need a new phone system? Evaluate your phone system and watch how it has been performing. Can you connect all necessary users (agents and employees) effectively? Are calls being forwarded seamlessly to the right department or location? Are you paying too much for minimum or basic services? These are some questions to consider when thinking about switching to a new system. Here are some important factors to include in your evaluation.

1. High Pricing, Low Reliability

Check what other providers are offering and what their plans include and cost. Are there providers offering more for lesser or similar rates? If your virtual phone system provider is not offering all the necessary features and charging you high rates, you may want to look for a new phone system. Similarly, if your provider is not reliable and the service quality is low, this can exponentially impact your customer service efforts.

2. Commitments Needed

Another thing to consider is being locked in long-term contracts or worrying about high cancellation fees. A reputable provider who knows their business’ worth won’t ask you to enter long-term contracts or charge high service and cancellation fees. Their service and its quality will speak for itself.

Related: 5 Signs You Need a New Business Phone System

3. Less Variety of Necessary Features

Are you missing specific features that can boost your communication system? Review what other providers offer, both their basic and advanced features and services. Additionally, if you need to expand or grow your service, can your current provider offer you what you need? Are these additional services reasonably priced?

4. Fewer Customer Service Options

Lastly, evaluate your provider’s customer service. Your cloud phone system connects you to your valuable customers. When your phone system fails or the quality drops, can you quickly reach out and connect with their customer service teams? For example, United World Telecom offers various customer support options such as phone, live chat, email, and trouble tickets. This way, we can cater to customers through their preferred mode of contact and resolve more issues and concerns.

Looking for a Change?

You can upgrade your virtual phone system when you get a virtual phone number from United World Telecom. We offer an array of features and services to give you the tools your need to build strong customer relationships. Speak with our representatives to find out how we can support your business needs today!

What Is SIP ALG and Why VoIP Users Should Disable It

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In this post, we discuss what SIP ALG is and how it can affect the quality of your VoIP phone calls. Disable SIP ALG to improve VoIP call quality and ensure there are fewer interruptions.

What is SIP ALG?

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an internet protocol with voice data packets that initiates, maintains, and terminates voice communication between two users. SIP is used for voice calling over LTE and VoIP phone systems.

Routers used to connect to the internet also segment the provider and your internal network through Network Address Translation (NAT). This is to add an additional layer of security through a firewall allowing only authorized systems access as they connect with a network’s computers and devices.

The main purpose of SIP ALG — Application Layer Gateway — is to prevent problems caused by a router’s firewall. ALG prevents these issues by keeping an eye on the VoIP traffic (voice data packets mentioned earlier) and modifying them, when necessary. ALG works as a proxy to rewrite the destination for these packets. By doing this, ALG can improve connectivity.

Why VoIP Users Should Disable SIP ALG

Many routers have the SIP ALG feature turned on by default. With this feature on, VoIP traffic (voice data packets) can get lost due to router firewalls when transferred between the phone and the VoIP provider.

And because of this, it can lead to multiple VoIP problems, including:

  • One-way audio
  • Phones not ringing on incoming calls
  • Calls sent directly to voicemail, especially when not set to do so
  • Dropped calls, even after connecting

This is why one of the best ways to improve VoIP call quality, among others, is to disable the SIP ALG feature.

SIP ALG phones
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How to Disable SIP ALG in your VoIP System

Disabling SIP ALG is quick and easy, and depends on the type of modem your business uses. For most routers, you will need to:

  • Log into your router’s control panel.
  • Navigate to Advanced or Security settings.
  • Locate SIP, ALG, or Firewall settings (depends on your router’s set-up).
  • Uncheck the SIP or ALG box.
  • Save and reboot/restart your router.

If your router’s settings are not as clear, you can always reach out to your provider and ask for specific instructions.

Protect and Maintain VoIP Call Quality

Disabling SIP ALG is a common way of troubleshooting VoIP issues. However, there are other VoIP call quality issues such as jitter, packet loss, and latency that can affect the way your business communicates with its customers. Most of these issues stem from low-quality internet or insufficient bandwidth. Speak with our representatives today to learn how your internet bandwidth can affect your VoIP phone system. Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online today.

What is an Auto-Attendant and 3 Benefits of Using One

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Need an automated telephony service to help you manage business calls? Learn how an auto-attendant works and how your business can use one effectively.

What is an Auto-Attendant?

Auto-attendant refers to a telephony service wherein a voice menu system answers incoming calls and transfers callers to the appropriate extension without the help of an operator or receptionist. Other terms for auto-attendant include automated attendant, digital receptionist, and interactive voice response (IVR).

How Does an Auto-Attendant Work?

The automated attendant can be understood as an automated call answering system that helps transfer incoming calls while providing callers with general information about the company and its services. But the main point of an auto-attendant is to manage incoming calls effectively so callers are not left confused or arrive at the wrong agent or department. An auto-attendant may have the following features to ensure better call management:

  • Greeting messages
  • Business information (office hours, location, list of services, etc.)
  • Automated company directory (with extensions for users and employees)
  • Call transfer and routing options
  • Menu prompts such as Repeat, Exit, Speak to Representative, Operator

Auto-Attendant vs IVR: What is the Difference?

The terms auto-attendant and IVR are often used interchangeably. However, there are a few differences between these services. The main difference is that the interactive voice response system is a more advanced system with additional features.

Auto-attendants route and transfer incoming calls so customers don’t wait in queue for long. And if waiting is required, then hold music is played. IVR systems include more smart features. For instance, IVR systems have voice recognition that enables callers to speak or say what they need instead of pressing a button on their keypad. This way, callers are not limited to the set menu available and can explain the reason for their call better.

Additionally, the IVR system can collect information about the customer and route calls accordingly or inform the agent beforehand. This includes account numbers, customer IDs, and so on. As such, the IVR can prepare the appropriate agent before they proceed to assist the customer. Furthermore, the IVR’s self-help menu allows for callers to complete certain actions and tasks without needing an agent. For example, the IVR can assist callers in paying bills, checking one’s account balance information, scheduling appointments, and so on.

3 Benefits of Using an Auto-Attendant

So, what does an auto-attendant do and how can your business benefit from such a service? Automated attendants or IVR systems have countless benefits that support call management and improve caller experience. Here are some of the top benefits of using an auto-attendant:

1. Effective Call Management

Since calls can be automatically distributed based on set rules, callers reach the appropriate department or agent quickly and accurately. This is especially useful for businesses that have large call volumes and struggle with answering calls effectively.

2. Increased Productivity and Efficiency

You can study your customers’ needs and preferences and customize your auto-attendant to provide them with more useful options and reduce wait times. Additionally, you will also reduce the number of times agents receive calls that are not related to their department, increasing efficiency and productivity.

3. Cost Savings

With smart call routing, you will not need a secretary or receptionist working to manage your calls. Your company can save on hiring extra staff and place more emphasis on improving customer experience.

Where Can I Get an Auto-Attendant?

You can get an auto-attendant from virtual phone number providers like United World Telecom. Speak with our experts to learn more; call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 to get started today!

PRI Explained: What is a Primary Rate Interface?

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Choosing a business phone system for your company is a necessary part of creating the perfect communication system. With advancements in technology, there are many different systems available for businesses to choose from. Here we will discuss primary rate interface (PRI) and the advantages and disadvantages of this phone system.

What is PRI?

A primary rate interface or PRI is a communication system that is provider-free. This system allows businesses (users) to send and receive voice, data, and video files through a copper wire network. PRI systems or lines constitute two pairs of copper wires. This feature of primary rate interface networks provides secure data transmission. You can get two types of PRI systems:

  • Basic rate interface solutions (BRI) for personal and small business use
  • PRI for large enterprises and corporations.

Features of Primary Rate Interface

To understand how these communication systems work, it is first crucial to be aware of their features. Key features of a PRI system include:

  1. Lines are made of two pairs of copper wires connecting the provider and the user.
  2. You can have 23 B-channels on a single telephone line. And by doing so, it enables businesses to have multiple extensions and telephone numbers via one connection.
  3. Each channel has 64 kbps for data transmission.
  4. Can connect two private branch exchange or PBX systems together and can also work with an IP PBX system.

Advantages of a PRI Phone System

There are different ways a primary rate interface phone system benefits businesses. However, whether or not your business needs this system depends on what you hope to achieve through your business communication system. Let’s look at how PRI systems boost business communication:

1. Extensions and DID numbers:

Direct inward dialing refers to direct numbers assigned to individuals within a business. This means that callers from outside can dial this number and reach a contact directly. Extensions work in a similar way with an additional code attached to a number to let callers reach an individual or department directly.

With PRI, SIP trunking, or virtual phone systems, you do not need additional lines for each number or extension. For PRI, specifically, you can have up to 23 conversations happening simultaneously on one line. That means you can have up to 23 users using the system. And that is considering everyone uses it at the same time. If you need simultaneous communication, you can add more users to these existing lines and they can use it as and when needed.

2. Scalability and expansion:

As your business traffic grows and communication needs increase, you will want to scale and expand. And a primary rate interface will allow you to do that. If more users are needed, you can simply get another PRI line and add it to your existing system, giving 23 more users the ability to communicate.

PRI vs hosted voip

PRI Drawbacks

While a primary rate interface system changed the way businesses communicated over the years, phones have come a long way since. Advancements in telecom technology have given rise to more modern and user-friendly systems.

The biggest drawback that PRI systems have is the ability to expand in bundles of 23. This means that if you have just one or two extra employees and all channels are used constantly, then you will need to buy 23 more channels for those extra employees. You will end up paying more than you need.

On the other hand, if you run a large corporation with 100-150+ employees, then you will need multiple PRI lines to work efficiently. Additionally, it gets more complicated if you need to add multiple locations or remote workers.

To combat these issues, you have a few alternatives to consider: Hosted VoIP and SIP trunking.

PRI vs Hosted VoIP vs SIP Trunking

Most businesses today have adopted a cloud VoIP or hosted VoIP solution. Hosted VoIP means that your service provider hosts your phone solution and takes care of all your software needs and maintenance. All you do is use the service. You do not have to worry about purchasing hardware and software, maintaining it with a professional IT team, and so on. This helps your business save on communication and IT-related costs.

SIP trunking is a session initiation protocol (SIP) feature that enables transmission of voice communication over a data network. SIP trunking works similarly to POTS except that the phone lines are virtual instead of standard copper lines. And your phone system connects to your provider via your internet connection. SIP trunking has often been used as an alternative to POTS and PRI systems.

PRI, unlike VoIP and SIP trunking, does not rely on internet bandwidth for transmission, and therefore does not suffer from jitter or packet loss. However, there are limitations in terms of scaling upwards, mobility, and features available.

Here’s a table to demonstrate the differences between these business phone systems:

PRI SIP trunking Hosted VoIP
1. Upfront costs Medium-High High Low
2. Maintenance costs Medium-High Medium-High Low-High
3. Connectivity Physical Virtual Virtual
4. Service quality Low; calls may experience muffled or distant quality, frequency range is limited High; good bandwidth required, low bandwidth can lead to jitter, packet loss High; good bandwidth required for VoIP, low bandwidth can lead to jitter, packet loss
5. Scalability Low High; very scalable High; scalable
6. Mobility None; no routing ability Medium; calls can be transferred to predetermined locations Very high; can be used anywhere and through any device

Choosing the Right Phone System for Your Business

The phone system that is ideal for your business purposes depends on what you want to accomplish with it and what your budget can include. Speak with our experts today to see if VoIP or SIP trunking is a good fit for you!