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What is the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)?

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Here we will look at the public switched telephone network in detail. We will highlight important terminology, technology involved, costs, and alternatives to consider.

What is the Public Switched Telephone Network?

Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN is a telephone service that connects various residents and businesses through underground copper wires. This type of phone service is also called plain old telephone service (POTS), a landline, and fixed-line telephones. Furthermore, this phone service has been widely used across the world for generations. However, advancements in telecommunication have resulted in a decline in demand for PSTN lines.

PSTN Terms Explained

To understand how PSTN works, you first need to familiarize yourself with important PSTN terminology. Here are terms to know:

1. Circuit switching
For voice to move from one point to the next, it needs to be converted into voice signals. These signals are transmitted through copper wires. However, to transmit to the destination successfully, they need a dedicated switch. Circuit switching is the act of operators plugging wires into a common panel so as to establish a connection between the two parties. They do so by plugging the caller and receiver’s wires into the same wire (also called a trunk).

In simpler words, when calls are made, the switches create a circuit between two phones and maintain the connection for the duration of the call.

2. Central office
A central office (CO), local exchange, or switching exchange consists of one or more exchanges. In fact, it may have as many as 10,000 lines. A central office hooks its subscribers to a PSTN line. All phones within an area connect to a local exchange located in the area.

When a local call is made, the call is sent to the local exchange and is then routed to the supplier. Since this is a local call, the call does not leave the local exchange.

Example: Calling a business located in the next building or block from your building.

3. Tandem office
A tandem office or junction network covers a larger geographical area and hosts multiple local exchanges. When you make a local call to someone in a nearby suburb or region of the same city, the call goes to your local exchange then to the tandem office which will then route it to the local exchange of the receiver’s location.

Example: Calling a business located in the next suburb but within the same city.

4. Toll office
A toll office is responsible for national long-distance switching. All tandem offices connect to a toll office. When you call an office or resident in another city, the call is switched via the toll office. This was common before the Bell System Divestiture.

Example: Calling a business located in another city or state within the same country.

5. International Gateway
The international gateway is responsible for international switching. This makes long-distance and international calling possible.

Example: Calling internationally.

Hows Does a PSTN Line Work?

A public switched telephone network combines phone networks across the world. These include:

  • Telephone lines
  • Cellular networks
  • Fiber optic cables
  • Switching centers
  • Cable systems

All these elements together make it possible for phones to communicate with each other. In other words, on dialing a contact, the call flows through a network and reaches the appropriate destination. This is the journey your call takes when using a PSTN line:

1. When you dial a number, your phone converts sound waves into electrical signals which are then transmitted to the terminal over a cable.

2. The terminal sends these signals to the CO.

3. The CO routes the call through a fiber optic cable to the final destination.

4. The call is routed to a CO or tandem office based on the type of call.

5. When the call reaches the appropriate destination, it is changed back to an electrical signal and routed to the terminal which then routes it to the appropriate number.

6. When the call reaches the receiver, the electrical signals are transformed back into sound waves.

Now while this journey seems complicated, it all occurs only within a few minutes.

PSTN Service for Business

When setting up a PSTN system for a business, you will be required to get a line for each employee. A small business with less than 10 employees might find this phone setup suitable. However, once your business size increases, you will need more lines leading to more costs. Generally, PSTN phone services charge about $20-$30 per month. This, however, does not factor in costs for set-up, maintenance, additional lines, handsets, and communication features.

Large corporations with more than 40 employees may find a private branch exchange (PBX) system more suitable. A PBX system converts your business into a central office. It also makes features like call transfer, conferencing, IVR, voicemail, etc., accessible. External calls are routed to your local exchange. And internal calls route through your PBX.

Most businesses prefer a PBX system to manage calls efficiently. However, an in-house system can lead to further expenses such as:

  • High set-up and installation fees
  • Software and hardware costs between $2000-$4000
  • Monthly in-house maintenance (hiring of an IT team, regular updates, etc)

All of this can lead to a heavy monthly bill.

PSTN Alternative: Hosted PBX and VoIP

However, there are alternatives such as hosted PBX and VoIP phone systems. Hosted PBX is a PBX service run by a third party business. You will not be responsible for regular maintenance or need to hire an IT team. Plus installation fees are much lower without the need to install heavy software and hardware on-site.

Additionally, you may also consider a voice over IP or VoIP phone system that routes calls through your internet or DSL connection. VoIP uses the internet instead of cable wire and therefore, you do not require a local exchange to make VoIP to VoIP calls. A call to a PSTN line, on the other hand, will require an exchange.

Additionally, instead of using circuit switching, business VoIP uses packet switching. When a number is dialed from the VoIP line, voice is converted into digital data or a packet which is then sent to the router. This router transmits the packet to the router closest to the recipient. This means that data is sent and received when needed and a dedicated line is not required. VoIP and packet-switching make business communication cost-effective and boosts productivity.

Choosing a Business Phone Service

Deciding on a business phone service can be overwhelming. However, it is crucial to find the ideal system for your business needs. Call us to learn more about how our outbound calling service can improve business communications or whether PSTN is the service you need.

SIP Line vs. SIP Trunk: What’s the Difference?

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Many businesses offering local and international services often wonder if there is any way to modernize and enhance communications without receiving overwhelming bills each month. Well, SIP trunking and SIP lines make a fine solution. Let’s look at the difference between a SIP trunk and line so you can get the phone system that works best for you.

SIP Line vs SIP Trunk: Understanding the Difference

Oftentimes the terms SIP line and SIP trunk are used interchangeably. However, there are two components that work together and are not the same thing. Here we explain what each term entails so you have a better understanding.

What is a SIP Line?

SIP lines are also called SIP channels or SIP sessions. A SIP line is an element of a SIP trunk through which data can be exchanged between two points. A SIP trunk holds large numbers of SIP lines or channels. During calls, a SIP channel is the unit’s capacity to support an incoming or outgoing call. In other words, each call uses one channel.

And so, companies needing SIP lines are more than satisfied by one SIP trunk. However, exactly how many lines your business needs depends on the number of concurrent or simultaneous calls you handle per day. SIP providers offer a variety of plans:

  • Unlimited channels
  • Unlimited channels with a fixed number of session minutes
  • Fixed number of channels with unlimited minutes
  • Multiple trunks for multiple offices on the same network

What is a SIP Trunk?

SIP trunks connect your business’ private branch exchange or PBX system to the internet. In other words, it converts your traditional phone system into a virtual or digital version.

As noted above, a SIP trunk holds SIP channels and makes concurrent SIP calling possible. In VoIP phone systems, a SIP trunk can hold about a hundred SIP channels. These lines can be distributed across different departments, devices, and so on.

SIP trunking enables your business to make and receive calls over the internet instead of a traditional POTS line. This way, this method of communication supports both traditional as well as VoIP phone systems. With SIP trunking, you can transmit voice, video, text, and other unified communications.

Benefits of SIP Trunking

Why should your business consider SIP trunking as part of your communication system? Here are some ways SIP trunking benefits businesses:

1. Unified Communications: With SIP trunking, you can handle voice, video, and text transmission through one platform. Additional services are not required.

2. Low Cost and Set-up: SIP trunks don’t need extensive hardware or software to function. A reliable internet connection is more than enough.

3. International Coverage: With SIP trunking, your local and international business calling bills reduce tremendously.

4. Scalability: You can always add extra SIP lines to your SIP trunk if/ when needed. Again, there is no extensive set-up or installation required.

5. Tools for Better Customer Service: By providing voice, video, and text communication, you can enhance customer support by adding video conferencing, text messaging, and file-sharing.

Does Your Business Need a SIP Line or SIP Trunk?

The decision really isn’t one or the other. This is because SIP channels work within a SIP trunk. The real question is, how many channels does your business need?

A SIP trunk can host multiple SIP lines, allowing for multiple concurrent calls to occur simultaneously. In other words, if your business has 250 SIP lines, it can handle 250 calls at the same time. Each call takes up 1 SIP line.

Similarly, SIP trunking prices or monthly fees will depend on how many lines your SIP trunk holds. To determine this, you will need to know how many incoming and outgoing calls occur during a day. Work with your sales, marketing, and customer service teams to get an approximate number.

If your business does not receive or make a large number of calls per day, then you may choose to have a few employees or small teams on each SIP line. Additional SIP lines can be added later.

Connect SIP Trunks to Your Phone System Today!

Think SIP trunking is the way to go? We at United World Telecom can help you buy SIP trunks. Add premium call management features such as call forwarding, call recording, IVR, outbound calling, and more. Call us today to sign up!

What is IP Telephony?

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Here we explain what IP telephony is and why companies should consider this type of phone system for business communications.

IP Telephony: Definition

IP telephony is any phone system that runs on the internet instead of traditional landlines. In other words, it uses the internet — internet protocol (IP) — to send and receive voice transmissions. Voice over IP (VoIP) is another term for IP telephony.

In a private exchange or IP PBX system, messages and data are transmitted digitally on a local area network. Voice messages are converted to analog voice signals and delivered to the recipient. However, an on-premise PBX system can lead to high hardware, installation, and maintenance costs. A hosted PBX or cloud phone system is preferable where digital data is sent to the provider and the provider routes to the appropriate destination.

Over time and with advancements in telecommunications, IP telephony can now offer high quality international calling along with advanced phone features. Plus, running an IP phone is much cheaper than plain old telephone service. No extra hardware is required. You can make and answer calls from virtually any device and any location.

Top 6 Benefits of VoIP and IP Telephony

So, why are more businesses using voice over IP? Here are the top six benefits of IP telephony

1. Low Running Costs
A hosted VoIP service or virtual phone system is run by your VoIP provider. This means that they take care of the hardware and maintenance required. And your business does not need to worry about purchasing additional hardware or installation fees. The provider handles call routing, call queues, etc. All you need is the right equipment (computers, desk phones, headsets) and a reliable internet connection.

2. High-Quality Service
Advancements in internet and communication technology have led to the transfer of high-quality voice and video over the internet. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about dropped or interrupted phone calls. This can greatly help improve and maintain your business’ professional image.

3. Scalability
With Voice over IP, your business can scale and grow as needed. If you need new phone numbers, they can be added to your existing plan. Direct inward dialing makes it easy to add more lines for new employees. Need to change how or where calls are being routed? Just change the rules in your online account. With virtual phone numbers, you can expand to new areas and markets as/ when needed.

4. Tools for Global Expansion
Lastly, you can expand your business globally with local and international toll free numbers for different countries. If you want to offer sales and customer support service to a new city, state, region, or country, virtual numbers and an IP telephony service can help you create a local presence. And you can do this without having to relocate or open a field office in different areas.

5. Access to SIP Trunking
SIP trunking is a telephony service that enables outbound voice from a PBX or SIP server. You can, therefore, provide international communication with customers anywhere in the world. All through one communication platform instead of using separate services and subscriptions.

6. Advances Features
phone system comes with a variety of advanced communication features for better call management. Popular features include:

    • Advanced call forwarding
    • Auto attendants
    • Interactive voice response
    • Outbound calling with a web dialer and custom caller ID capabilities
    • SMS/MMS forwarding
    • Video conferencing
    • Call recording (inbound and outbound), and more

Get Lower Bills and Higher Call Quality with IP Telephony

IP telephony can not only improve your call quality but also the way your business handles calls and customer service. If you are looking for an upgrade, speak with one of our experts to see how VoIP can enhance your business phone system.

POTS: Plain Old Telephone Service Explained

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Wondering what POTS or plain old telephone service entails and whether that is the best  phone service for your business? Look no further. Here we explain how plain old telephone service works and the key terms to understand.

What is Plain Old Telephone Service?

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) refers to a phone line or traditional phone service which works through physical wires. This type of phone service enables analog voice transmission over copper pair wires. A POTS line is able to transmit voice messages across different countries and continents. Because of these abilities, POTS has been the standard phone service for individuals and businesses since its inception in the 1880s.

However, the creation of voice over IP or VoIP phone systems has seen a gradual shift to cloud communications, especially for business communication.

How Does a POTS Line Work?

Originally, transmission and communication between two points relied on an operator to connect them to the right place. With this technology, long-distance calling was more expensive than short-distance calling.

However, POTS automated the switching ability so that operators were unnecessary to the process. A POTS line works through copper wires connecting various points together. The phone service establishes a dedicated circuit between two points for the time of the transmission.

With a plain old telephone service, businesses are connected to central offices located nearby. And the central office, in turn, connects to long-distance offices or residents. This made communication transmission more digital and less manual. And it reduced the cost of long-distance communication. To connect parties, a call routes over one or more switches operating on local, national, or international levels.

Plain Old Telephone Service Technology

Some common terminology associated with POTS phone system technology are:

1. Circuit Switching
Now voice by itself cannot move through a POTS line. Sound waves need to be converted into electric signals to pass through the network. Copper wires are able to transmit analog signals, however, they need a dedicated switch to travel through. While dedicated circuits are reliable, the line is reserved for only one call.

Circuit switching required operators to plug wires into a common patch panel to connect two parties. Connections that required two exchanges would need two operators to plug the caller and receiver’s wires at the same time into the same wire called a trunk.

Then came automated switching which worked by responding to signals from a calling device. This type of switching eliminated the need for operators.

This switching was later replaced by the crossbar switch which is an assembly of switches among a set of inputs and outputs. This is a switch as each crosspoint. When this switch is closed, it enables the connection between one of the inputs and one of the outputs. This technology used common control networks that enable the switching network to conduct tasks such as call processing, monitoring, operation, etc. However, these devices were complicated and costly, as well, leading to the creation of the transistor.

2. Transistor
The transistor gave rise to digital networks enabling phone lines to carry digital signals in “packets.” Packets do not need the transmission channel to be an open and dedicated circuit. Instead, it transmits voice and other messages independently through the switches.

3. Modems
Modems were created to support the transmission of digital signals without overwhelming the system. Types of modems include:
DSL or Digital Subscriber Line enables data transmission over POTS lines. To do so, a transceiver connects to your PC and uses the local phone network to connect to an ISP network. This enables your use of the internet. This type of modem is useful to small businesses.
ISDN or Integrated Services Digital Network allows voice and data transmission over a regular phone line. To enable a connection, users dial in. And the fees for such service rely on the duration of the transmission. Large companies or businesses looking to expand in the future may find this modem more suited.

Plain Old Telephone Service for Business

Compared to VoIP or cloud phone systems, POTS may seem like the more expensive option. However, in areas where cellular or internet coverage is slow or inaccessible, copper lines are more reliable. When all else fails, you’ll find a POTS phone system to rescue you.

A basic plain old telephone service costs between $15-30 a month for unlimited local calls. One must keep in mind that other elements factor in as well, such as:

  • Setting up infrastructure — The larger the business, the more set-up costs, plus the technician and maintenance cost.
  • Additional features cost more — Intercom, call transfer, directories, etc.
  • International calling — If your business conducts international business on a regular basis, then this bill can grow quite a bit.

POTS vs VoIP

Most businesses in the modern era are switching from POTS to IP telephony such as a VoIP phone system or cloud PBX. Voice over IP uses your existing internet connection to transmit voice and data from one party to the next. VoIP makes it possible to connect remote offices and keep communications stable. It also comes equipped with features such as IVR, call forwarding, dynamic caller ID, softphones, etc. Plus, it reduces international calling costs as costs are not based on distance and time but on a monthly subscription.

Which is Right for Your Business?

Does your business need a POTS or VoIP phone system? This depends on what your business communications entail, the size and budget of your business, as well as future expansion plans. Speak with one of our experts to identify the right outbound calling service for your company. Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 to learn more!

5 Most Effective Ways to Record VoIP Calls

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Need to record, store, and analyze your business phone calls? In this article we evaluate five different ways to record VoIP calls.

How to Record Your Business VoIP Calls

Call recording is a requirement for companies for a myriad of industries worldwide, including healthcare and financial services. New regulations like HIPAA and MiFID II now require certain companies to record all customer interactions, including phone calls.

Most businesses choose to record their VoIP calls for a variety of reasons. Some of these include using recordings:

  • To make and store a copy of transactions
  • As evidence against false claims
  • For training and educational material
  • As protection against liabilities
  • To conduct performance reviews and improve quality assurance, and more

5 Ways to Record VoIP Calls

There are a few different ways to record VoIP calls. Here we list the top 5 ways to effectively record calls, highlighting advantages and disadvantages

1. Port Mirroring

Port mirroring is a traditional recording solution, used on a network switch. Port mirroring works by sending copies of network packets seen on one switch port to another. Network applications that require constant monitoring can make use of this type of recording. Common uses are intrusion detection, real user monitoring, or recording VoIP calls. You can use port mirroring to copy inbound and outbound traffic on multiple platforms.

One of the top disadvantages associated with port mirroring is the fact that it is on-premise hardware. This means it requires installation, maintenance, and configuration. If not operated and managed appropriately, it can result in loss of data and calls.

2. Call Recording Devices

This refers to using a recording device attached to the phone such as a stand-alone recorder. You can purchase a good recording device from as little as $100, connect it to your calling device (computer, desk phone, smartphone, etc.) and click the record button every time you want to record a call.

A disadvantage of getting standalone recording devices is the need for multiple devices if you want to record all calls made by employees. Each employee will need a device and all recordings will be made available separately. Additionally, there is a certain degree of manual use involved. That is, the employee will need to ensure they are recording their VoIP calls and then transfer the recording to the desired folder without fail. Plus, there may be limited storage available with such devices.

3. Local Recording Clients

Local recording allows users to record voice and video calls locally to their computer or laptop. Services such as Skype, Zoom, etc., enable local recording. The recordings can then be uploaded to Google Drive, Dropbox, YouTube, etc. Whether or not you can record VoIP calls this way depends on service.

Those who need small scale recording will find this type of call recording useful. However, if you have a large inbound and outbound call volume and wish to record all calls, using local recording can be a bit tedious as recording must be repeated for each call or user. Furthermore, some services require a subscription to enable recording while others provide it for free.

4. Online Recording Applications and Tools

You may also choose to download a recording application, use your desktop recorder, or get an online tool such as a web extension. However, these tools while easy to access, may not produce high-quality recordings and differ in terms of storage capacity and sharing abilities.

5. Hosted Recording

Finally, you may consider hosted call recording from your VoIP service provider that records all inbound and outbound calls automatically. For example, United World Telecom offers call recording as a premium feature that can be added to your VoIP plan.

Hosted call recording enables you to set the percent of calls to be recorded as well as how long you wish to store the recordings (up to 6 years). Since this works along with your service provider, all business voice over IP or VoIP calls are automatically recorded within the business’ control panel, which is easily accessible on any device.

Choosing the Right Way to Record VoIP Calls

The most effective way to record VoIP calls depends on your recording needs and budget. If you have small scale needs where you only record select calls, then using a local recording client or an online app may seem more suitable. However, if you need to record all calls, then subscribing to your business VoIP provider’s call recording software may seem like a more cost-effective and scalable solution. To learn more about hosted call recording, speak to one of our experts today!

4 Benefits of Using a Web Phone

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Web phones are becoming an increasingly popular outbound calling tool to support sales and customer success teams. If your company strives on improving customer relations by being proactive and engaging with customers, then a web dialer may be a good fit for you.

Web Phone: Definition and Benefits

A web phone or web dialer is an application that enables users to make and answer calls from a web browser via the internet. Such dialers are mostly compatible with Windows PC, macOS, Linux, and Android devices. Similar to a softphone, a web dialer presents users with a dial pad and allows users to:

  • Store contact information and history
  • Access voicemail
  • Record calls or customize the outgoing caller ID, and more

You can place calls locally and internationally through high-speed internet and an easy-to-use interface. All you need is a good internet connection, a headset, and a few virtual phone numbers.

So, what are the top benefits of using a web phone?

1. Generate New Sales

A web phone can speed up your sales team’s outbound calling efforts by making it easy to place calls from anywhere. You can use this dialer within your office’s sales team or with remote agents. Save customers’ contact information, past interactions, and other important call notes. This way, the next time you or another agent needs to contact the customer, all relevant information is readily available and the customer can be dialed quickly.

2. Save International Calling Costs

Virtual phone service providers like United World Telecom offer web dialers along with their outbound calling service. An outbound calling service enables inexpensive local and international calling. Plus, you can even customize the outgoing caller ID to display that area’s toll free or local number. Together, the combination of these tools makes it cheaper and easier to connect with international customers and drive up global sales.

3. Implement Customer Retention Strategies

Customer retention is important for any business as customers are what drives a company to success. And so, you must do everything you can to satisfy your current customers such as:

  • Welcoming new customers
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Reminding them of upcoming payments, appointments, etc
  • Following up on recent purchases or inquiries
  • Reaching out to customers who abandoned their carts
  • Collecting feedback to improve your services and products

A web phone can help you quickly reach out to customers within your list. You can add notes about the interaction, feedback, and more.

4. Offer Excellent Customer Success and Support

Lastly, a web dialer can help you carry out excellent customer success and support services. Customer success includes taking a proactive approach to creating strong customer relations and assisting them in achieving their goals. Support, on the other hand, is a reactive approach where you provide assistance after customers reach out to you. Customer success and support both positively impact customer satisfaction and retention rates. And therefore, both need to be given equal importance, if applicable to your business.

Where Can You Get a Web Phone?

United World Telecom provides virtual business phone numbers for more than 160 countries across the world. This includes toll free, international, and local numbers. You can set up your web dialer by adding our outbound calling service to your virtual number plan and use any of your purchased numbers as outgoing caller IDs when placing calls. To learn more, contact us today!

What is Lead Tracking?

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In this post, we will define lead tracking and demonstrate why it is important for every business to track where their leads are coming from. Learn how and where to gain leads and the essential role call tracking plays.

Lead Tracking: Definition

Lead tracking is the process of tracking, documenting, and organizing prospects based on certain factors. These factors may include individual actions, the number of times a sales rep has connected with a prospect, the number of times a lead interacts with your brand, and so on. In other words, you are tracking leads from initial contact to close, whether it was successful or not.

The main reason why lead tracking is important is that it can give you a better understanding of your campaigns, your prospects, funnel, and sales and marketing efforts. This way, you can improve lead generation and increase sales.

Lead Tracking for Sales and Marketing Teams

Tracking leads in sales and marketing is a collaborative effort. These teams work together to identify qualified leads and close more sales. By studying your leads, you can create better user and caller experiences for your target audience.

By tracking leads, your marketing department can understand where leads come from, what advertising platforms are they engaging on, how they are interacting with your brand, and more. This information can help marketing teams create better campaigns and marketing strategies that will appeal more to your target audience.

Once good and promising leads are gathered, marketing departments can share these with the sales team. They can also provide all the necessary information that can help close these deals. Now the sales department works their magic and uses this information to approach each client and individualize the sale. All of this greatly increases the chance of making a sale or conversion.

Where and How to Gain Leads

In order to track leads effectively, your team needs to know where and how they can best get leads. A few different ways to capture leads are:

  • Trade shows and exhibitions
  • Email sign-ups and online subscribers
  • Social media
  • Market research
  • Call tracking where incoming calls inquiring about services and products are tracked, etc.

Next, your team may need an organized system to input, consolidate, and store lead information. Customer relations management systems (CRMs) such as HubSpot, Salesforce, Zoho, etc., can help you store and track information effectively.

So, what information should you collect from leads? Name, contact information, and how they came across your business, expectations, and so on.

How to Qualify Leads?

Determining whether your leads qualify or not means evaluating the value of a lead and how they can be useful to your business. You want to find leads that are promising and ideal for your brand.

Sales departments qualify their leads through different sales models. Some businesses use the BANT model. This model qualifies leads based on:

  • Budget: can the lead afford your product?
  • Authority: can they make a purchasing decision?
  • Need: do they have a need for your product/service?
  • Timeline: is there a specific timeline when they desire or plan to make the purchase?

Generally accepted types of lead qualification include:

  • Inquiry: the user who demonstrates interest
  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): a user who interacted with marketing materials and has the potential to become a closed opportunity
  • Sales Accepted Lead (SAL): an MQL that is converted and accepted as a potential lead
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): teams would use a sales model such as BANT to determine qualification
  • Closed: the user or lead made a purchase.

Call Tracking and Virtual Phone Numbers: A Dream Team

About 90% of customer interactions happen over the phone. This is when interested prospects learn about your business and its products, calling to inquire or get more information. Therefore, call tracking is essential to collect data on these leads, specifically:

  • Where they come from
  • Where they interacted with your product
  • What campaigns or ads encouraged them to call
  • How are they connecting with your business
  • How they are searching for services like yours (keywords, etc.)
  • Where are they calling from, and so on

You can use virtual phone numbers to track where incoming calls are coming from. For instance, you can purchase a toll free number and various local numbers and advertise them on different platforms. When calls come in, you can easily identify where customers are interacting with your brand or which locations are more responsive to your advertising campaigns. You can then use this information to improve lead tracking and lead generation efforts.

Start Tracking Leads Today!

You can create an in-house tracking software, enter data manually, purchase an online application, or use virtual phone numbers. Whichever way you choose, lead tracking is important to create effective marketing and sales processes. Use this marketing technique to find better ways to serve your customers and improve your business’ sales rate!

What is a Dynamic Caller ID for VoIP?

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Is it possible to change an outgoing caller ID? Yes, with the VoIP feature, dynamic caller ID, your business can display a local or toll free number instead of a long-distance or international number. But how do customizable caller IDs work and how can they benefit your business? Here we discuss dynamic caller IDs and their benefits.

What is a Caller ID?

Voice over IP or VoIP phone systems use the internet to place and receive calls. With a VoIP system, you can make calls from any location and through any device as long as it is connected to a reliable internet source. Such systems are also referred to as cloud phone systems. Because of their flexibility and use of the internet, these systems provide users with virtual communication features such as call forwarding, call recording, video conferencing, and more.

One of these features is a customizable and dynamic caller ID. The caller ID was first introduced in the 1980s. This allowed users to screen calls by being able to see who was calling. It provided an opportunity to miss calls from unknown numbers or numbers that were from different area codes.

However, this became a problem for sales and telemarketing businesses. Customers could now reject calls before answering them. Furthermore, it inhibited the activity of scammers and hackers as well. But in the middle of all of that, it negatively impacted legitimate businesses that were reaching out.

What is a Dynamic Caller ID for VoIP?

As a solution to this problem, the dynamic caller ID was invented. With the old, traditional caller ID systems, users were unable to change their outgoing caller ID. That is, the number that was displayed on the recipient’s device.

A dynamic caller ID, however, allows users to customize the number that is displayed. This way, you can show different numbers for different calls based on the purpose of the call. VoIP phone service providers can help you get and use this feature in different ways. Some providers will let you switch between different numbers that you purchase from them. You can purchase toll free, international, and local numbers. While others will give you a list of numbers to use with this feature.

The most common way is to get an outbound calling service with customizable caller ID capabilities from your provider. This way, you can use the outbound web dialer to place calls and display different virtual numbers. For example, even if your business is located in Texas, you can display a Florida area code number or a US toll free number as your outgoing caller ID. You can even get international toll free numbers and display them when calling international customers.

Why Does Your Business Need a Dynamic Caller ID?

The main reason why businesses use or should consider using a dynamic caller ID is so they can increase the chances of calls being answered. Individuals are less likely to answer calls from “unknown” numbers or numbers they do not recognize as toll free or local.

With a customizable caller ID, you can choose which number to display. When calling specific local areas, you can display that area’s local number or toll free number. In fact, this even increases the chances of receiving a call back because callers will be dialing a local or toll free number which does not incur high calling rates.

Contact centers, customer service teams, as well as sales and marketing teams can use this feature to reach more customers locally and internationally. The logic here is the customer will assume your business is local and will feel more comfortable doing business with you due to your location.

How to Get a Dynamic Caller ID?

United World Telecom offers a customizable caller ID with our outbound calling service. You can purchase outbound calling by adding it to your virtual phone number plan. Then, choose additional virtual numbers you would like to have. These are numbers for markets and areas where you want to expand your business or customer service. Then, start calling locally and internationally and give your team greater opportunities to make sales!

What is Automatic Call Distribution (ACD)?

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Automation is being used by businesses all over the world in some capacity or the other. The main reason for this is because it can help simplify and take care of mundane processes, giving employees more room to be productive. In this post, we will discuss automatic call distribution (ACD), a type of phone system. We will also look at different routing strategies and the overall benefit of such a system.

Automatic Call Distribution: Definition

Automatic call distribution or ACD is a telephony system that receives calls and transfers them to the appropriate agent based on predetermined rules. These rules can be based on the area code of the incoming call or the time the call is being made, and so on.

Why Use an Automatic Call Distribution System?

An automatic call distributor system helps companies handle call traffic by effectively distributing calls. Common uses of an ACD system include:

  1. Managing calls during high traffic periods.
  2. Providing service after-hours or when agents/employees are unavailable.
  3. Automating basic information about the company and its services, troubleshooting solutions, FAQs for common queries, etc.
  4. Routing calls to specific departments, teams, agents based on rules and conditions that work best for your business.
  5. Optimizing agent and employee productivity.
  6. Connecting remote agents or employees in different offices across the globe through virtual phone systems.
  7. Reducing wait times yet at the same time increasing the rate of first-call resolution.

How Does an Automatic Call Distributor Work?

An automatic call distribution system is designed to distribute calls effectively and not just randomly. To do so, it uses predetermined rules and conditions. ACD routing is determined by several factors such as call traffic, time of day, location of the incoming call, skills required, and so on. Here are a few common ACD routing options:

1. Round-robin distribution
This routing strategy ensures that calls are distributed equally among your team so no agents are overburdened or remain idle for too long. Calls go down a list of agents and after the last agent answers the call, the loop starts with the first agent again.

2. Least-occupied agent
In this ACD routing option, calls are sent to agents who have been least occupied; in other words, agents who have been serving less call handling time. This ensures that every agent is putting in the necessary hours of work.

3. Programmed distribution
Here, the account or call center manager determines beforehand how calls will be spread across agents. These rules are based on factors such as agent experience, language skills, location, and so on.

4. Simultaneous ringing
With simultaneous ringing, incoming calls ring on multiple devices and phones at the same time. This way, an available agent or employee can quickly answer the phone and assist the caller.

Difference Between ACD and IVR

Most often, the terms ACD and IVR are used interchangeably. However, these two systems are slightly different. In fact, IVR is considered a part of ACD.

An interactive voice response or IVR system is an automated voice response system. It answers calls — like an automatic call distribution system — and provides callers with menu options. Unlike ACD, IVR requires caller input such as pressing a key or number on the dial pad or saying the number of the option they want. For example, “Press 1 for [], Press 2 for [].” Based on what the caller needs, they are transferred to an employee or to the next set of menu options. IVR systems can also provide self-serving options such as “Press 1 to activate your account. Press 2 to make a payment. Press 3 to learn about our services,” and so on.

ACD, on the other hand, identifies callers based on the number they are calling from and connects them to the most appropriate agent instantly. This routing can be based on a variety of factors such as time of the call, location of the call, agent skills, etc.

Is ACD Right for You?

If you want to streamline your incoming calls and create a system that is effective and efficient, then an ACD or IVR system can help. These systems use automation to make simple processes move faster, thereby giving your team more time to provide better customer service. To learn more about these systems, reach out to one of our experts today!

Fixed versus Non-Fixed VoIP Numbers: What’s the Difference?

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When switching to a VoIP phone system, there are a lot of terminologies to understand. Fixed VoIP numbers and non-fixed VoIP numbers are two of them. In this post, we will discuss the differences between these voice over IP phone numbers so you can choose the right one for your needs.

VoIP Numbers: Definition & Types

Before going through the differences between fixed and non-fixed VoIP numbers, it is important to first understand what VoIP numbers are. Voice over internet protocol or VoIP is a telephony solution that uses the internet to make and receive calls. It does so by converting voice into data packets and transmitting them over an IP network.

When you call someone using your VoIP line, they will see your VoIP number which is a part of your caller ID. But what information is present within your caller ID depends on what type of VoIP number and service you have. This can be a fixed VoIP number or a non-fixed VoIP number.

What are Fixed VoIP Numbers?

A fixed VoIP number is an internet phone line offered by your VoIP provider and attached to a physical location. In other words, it has an account manager and a residential or company address associated with it. Like office phone systems, these numbers require an address to activate the service. If the account manager wants to move this number, they can do so through number porting.

It is almost impossible to steal or mask the identity of a fixed VoIP number as they are connected to a physical address. Because of this, these numbers are more reliable and preferred since they keep fraudulent activity at bay. This connection to physical addresses is also the reason why VoIP providers support 911 and emergency calling services on fixed VoIP lines.

Fixed VoIP lines are not only connected through an internet connection. They also function through SIP trunks providing more reliable service.

What is a Non-Fixed VoIP Phone Number?

Non-fixed VoIP numbers are not associated with physical addresses. On the contrary, they function more like virtual phone numbers. Since they work through the internet (“virtually”) and do not require a physical address, they can function from any geographic location. Small businesses that want to offer a local presence can use this to their advantage.

Virtual numbers allow you to make and answer calls over an internet connection. And this makes it possible to connect with international clients or customers without incurring long-distance calling fees. You can get various local phone numbers and toll free numbers with specific area codes that can be used through your non-fixed line. This way, your customers will be calling local or toll free numbers instead of paying international dialing fees. And incoming calls are forwarded to whichever line or number you desire.

Who can use non-fixed VoIP numbers? Businesses and companies preparing or wanting to:

  • Expand their reach
  • Enter new markets
  • Connect with international customers
  • Operate remote or virtual teams (examples: virtual call centers, work-from-home teams, etc.)

Non-fixed VoIP numbers are inexpensive, easy to set-up, and use. But due to these reasons, they may be prone to fraudulent activity. Also note that compared to fixed VoIP lines, non-fixed lines should be a last resort for 911 calls because these calls are not traceable.

Fixed vs Non-Fixed VoIP Numbers: What’s the Difference

How do you decide which is better for your business? This decision largely depends on the needs of your business and its future plans. For a small business starting out, a fixed VoIP number may seem like the better bet. However, if you have international offices and cater to international customers, then a non-fixed VoIP phone number is more appropriate. With advancements in technology, VoIP and ISP providers have been trying to offer more secure services. Here is a more visual comparison:

Fixed VoIP Phone Numbers Non-Fixed VoIP Phone Numbers
Can work through SIP trunking or an internet connection Need only an internet connection to work
Need to be assigned to a physical address Does not need to be assigned to a physical address
More authentic and secure Less secure; However, providers are continuously trying to provide more secure internet services
Come with advanced call management features Come with advanced call management features
More expensive international calling Less expensive international calling;
Good for businesses with global communications
Generally more expensive;
Additional features cost extra
Comparatively inexpensive;
Easy to obtain and quick to set-up;
Additional features may cost extra
Able to make 911 and emergency calls Unable to make 911 and emergency calls

Choose What’s Best for Your Company

Depending on your company’s present needs and future goals, it is important to select a service that is reliable, scalable, and offers great customer support. To learn more about VoIP numbers, speak with one of our experts at 1 (877) 898 8646.