Providing the Right Tools

If you are an employer, then you have an obligation to ensure that you take employee requirements seriously. Health & Safety, risk and hazard control, drinking water. The list of things to keep on top of varies according to work environment, and can be daunting. Anything which relates to employee safety must be treated as a priority, and second to this comes anything which affects productivity.

After all, you can’t have workers in an environment that isn’t safe. And if your workers can’t be productive, then you will suffer an impact on your business.

Employees need the appropriate tools to perform their tasks effectively. if you haven’t provided the right tools, then you are responsible for the employees lack of performance.

Technical staff need tools. Admin staff need calculators. Front of house staff need uniforms.

But have you considered communications? What tools do your employees need to communicate effectively with customers? Can customers reach the right person quickly and easily? Can your employees reach customers? What experience do your customers receive when interacting with your company?

All staff will require functioning communications, and all your customers will need a method of getting in touch.

This is particularly relevant to companies which offer remote working as an option for employees. Does a remote worker have the necessary tools to do their job? What do you have to supply? Are you responsible for their communications, or are they?

If someone is working remotely then you have to give them the correct tools. They will need a deskphone, a phone line, and phone number (at the very least). It would be unfair to request staff to use their own. Apart from this causing them an expense, it also carries some serious implications regarding worker security. Staff may have to reveal their own personal phone number, for instance, which brings security concerns.

So how do you tackle providing the right tools to your employees?

When it comes to communication, a VoIP system can help. You can supply your remote workers with a stand alone work phone set up. They can have a deskphone, and a direct dial phone number, just like an office-based employee. There is no reason why a remote worker should have a different set up to an office worker.

If you have music on hold, or recorded messages, then these will play as normal. The employee can transfer calls to colleagues,and have calls transferred to them. In short, you have extended your company telecoms to include the employee’s location.

You can also offer the employee a range of solutions. They can use a deskphone, or a softphone running on their PC. A softphone is essentially a piece of software running on your PC that allows you to make and receive calls over a VoIP system. You can also have a softphone to run on your smartphone, or on a tablet.

For workers or work teams using mobiles, there is also the option of a business-grade mobile SIM. The SureVoIP SIM offers a scalable solution to those managing mobile SIMs for business and enterprise.

Provide the right tools to do the job.

Get in touch to discuss any of the above
Our Hosted VoIP options
Our Softphone options
Our Mobile SIM options

Communications Across Multiple Devices

You may have read about “Cross Channel” or “Cross Device” Communications. Many Telecoms and IT companies are making some noise about this. But what is it? How will you benefit? Will it make your life easier, or is it just more jargon floating around trying to get your attention?

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that, as with most technologies, it has the potential to improve your life. You may need to adjust a little, but it should prove well worth it.

With VoIP telecoms, it is possible to deliver your communications over a range of devices. You can use a range of devices to suit your individual requirements.

For instance, many in a work environment like to have a traditional-style phone on their desk. VoIP can work with this. Within our own customer base at SureVoIP we have many companies using VoIP to service a ‘traditional’ style set up. (You can see some examples of VoIP deskphones here – https://www.surevoip.co.uk/store/voip-desk-ip-phones).

Simple isn’t a problem – your system with us can be as complicated or as simple as you like. If you just want one incoming phone number to ring through to phones on desks we can do this. Alternatively, if you want a more advanced set up, with a menu for callers to select options from, and an order of preference regarding who answers calls, then we can do this too. Advanced isn’t a problem either.

The purpose of this article is to introduce the idea of using different devices withinyour telecoms set up. The set up of a mobile separate to your desk phone, and work phones sitting in your office, isn’t compulsory any more. You have many more options when using VoIP.

Softphone Apps mean you can effectively carry your business phone with you, wherever you go. Simply by downloading an app you can use your mobile as part of an existing phone system. You can make and receive calls using your company number, transfer calls to colleagues, play pre-recorded messages, and more. Your smartphone becomes an extension of your office phone set up – you are effectively carrying a whole phone system (or access to it at least) in your pocket.

So, we have now touched on deskphones and smartphones, and found they can be brought together in the context of your business telecoms.

We can also add a Desktop PC into this mix. Most people have to use a computer when at work. Let’s face it, they are essential for even simple tasks. Emailing, invoicing, creating documents and spreadsheets. These are all essential tasks, and all require a computer. You are sitting in front of one right now! (Unless you are reading this on your smartphone or tablet). Now we have reconciled ourselves to having them sitting on our desks, we can explore how to use them most effectively. An app running on a desktop PC gives the same functionality as the smartphone app discussed previously.

Many people who make and receive a lot of calls as part of their role find a Desktop PC app handy. It cuts down on the hardware on their desk, and means calling someone is no more than a few mouse clicks away.

So we now have more integration between your office deskphone, your own smartphone and your work PC. Of course, you don’t have to integrate all devices if you don’t want to. We are not trying to force your work life into your personal life. But, if you want to integrate the two, the options are there. Many small business owners and Sole Traders are using a more integrated framework, and through this add value to their business via maximising their telecoms. Missed calls are minimised. Answered calls are treated to business-grade phone services, with Music on Hold and call routing mirroring a larger scale set up*.

So, to summarise. The equipment, knowledge and support are all in place to allow a business-grade telecoms experience across your devices. How far you want to integrate your comms is entirely up to you. In the case of smaller companies in particular, it can prove extremely beneficial.

Get in touch to find out how we can help

See here for softphone apps

* Features of SureVoIP’s Hosted services

How Conference Calls Can Change The World

We are all becoming more aware of environmental concerns, and rightly so. Few who watched the natural wonders shown on David Attenborough’s recent nature documentaries, for instance, can fail to have been moved. Seeing the plight of marine wildlife really puts progress into perspective.

A new concern crops up with alarming regularity, as our knowledge increases. As an increasing burden falls upon us, we are more and more obliged to act. Few can disagree that it a topic worthy of prioritisation.

Reducing the ‘Carbon Footprint’ is a driving motivation behind many business processes and changes, and this can only be a good thing. After all, if we can drive change from all angles then we surely have a better chance of effecting the desired outcome.

One of the major contributors to carbon emissions is travel, and companies with large travel budgets must now be analysing how best they can change to keep up with the times.

If a better way to achieve the end goal is available, then it is surely worthy of consideration.

One way travel can be reduced is by more effectively using Conference Calling.

Conference Calling allows a meeting to take place without participants having to travel. No car. No bus, train or plane tickets. No fuel used. Not a minimising or reduction. Just none. No travelling required, so no waits at airports, no buying super saver train tickets, and no petrol or diesel used.

A Conference Call means several people can meet in conversation. All can have an input, the discussion can go back and forth. Just as if you were all in the same room. One of the main benefits is that people in multiple roles can have an input. You can throw a topic open for comments on a Conference Call, just as you would in a physical meeting round a table, and hear a valid or unexpected point from a surprising contributor.

It opens up a telephone call with more opportunities. You could say, it gives as many opportunities as there are participants.

Along with soft phone apps and cloud-based business functions, the world of running a business is becoming more responsive, less oppressive and more forward-thinking.

If we all change what we can, we might change what we have to.

More about our Conference Calling

More about our Hosted VoIP Services

More about soft phones

The Benefits of Regulations

A lot of the time, regulations get a very bad press. We moan about paperwork. We panic at the mention of audits. Sweat breaks out on foreheads when we are faced with our paperwork being scrutinised. Even the mention of a tax audit has been known to reduce a company accountant to tears.

But sometimes regulations can work in our favour.

A gas fitter with the appropriate certification, for instance, is far preferable to one without. Or your dentist. Would you be happy to discover that the dentist you had been going to for years was not actually qualified in dentistry?

So, despite our reservations at the start, we have to admit that regulations can occasionally be acceptable. Sometimes, they may even be desirable!

In the world of internet telephony, we have our fair share of guidelines and legislation. The arena of telecoms is just as regulated as any other industry, perhaps more so.

Ofcom is the overseeing body tasked with regulating our phone and broadband, TV and radio. They regularly issue guidelines and briefing notes.

ITSPA (The Internet Telephony Providers Association) oversees telephony over the internet. As a VoIP Provider, it is particularly relevant to how we operate. Along with Ofcom, this is our main source of industry updates, legislative changes and technology notifications.

ITSPA also serves as a database of VoIP Providers. Any reputable Provider will be listed on the ITSPA website.

In addition, it serves a number of important industry functions. ITSPA allocates awards every year for those which it feels have made an outstanding contribution in their field. This is a great guide for ascertaining the best or most innovative VoIP Providers, those with great customer service or those dedicated to technological innovation.

At SureVoIP, we have been lucky enough to be Finalists in ITSPA’s awards 13 times, in a variety of categories. We were very pleased to win the ‘Best Business ITSP for Medium Enterprises in 2016. We regularly feature in the Finalist list for our innovative VoIP developments. This year we were a Finalist for our Customer Portal in the ‘Best VoIP Infrastructure’ category.

How ITSPA contributes to the VoIP industry

More on their Awards

More on Ofcom and telecoms

More on our 2016 Award win

MVNO Versus IoT

Telecoms is changing fast. Not only is the game changing, but the playing field the game is played on is changing as well.

Lumbering onto this playing field, like two rubber-suit monsters from a 1950’s Japanese horror film, comes MVNO, followed by IoT.

These two monsters could be in an uneasy stand-off, warily eyeing each other’s rubber tentacles as surrounding cardboard buildings are crushed under outsized costume reptile boots. Or they could be forming an alliance, spewing forth destruction to all comers while screaming badly dubbed monster noises.

It depends on your viewpoint. To allow you to make up your own mind, let’s look at these two in more depth.

Meet MVNO

MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. It is a way to introduce smaller Mobile Operators to the market, bringing their own niche products and services. Rather than having the large Providers stifle competition, MVNOs allow smaller companies to gain market-share. Using available infrastructure means less cash investment, and this in turn means launching new services becomes a much more viable option.

And Introducing – IoT

IoT, or the Internet of Things, has been widely hailed as the next ‘big thing’. Rather than internet connectivity being just for people browsing, buying or interacting with others, it is now a method of connecting devices to other devices, or central processing systems. A good example could be a smart fridge. This knows what cycles you buy groceries in, when you last bought, and when you should buy more. This functions by being connected to the internet. Without an internet connection a smart fridge becomes a dumb fridge.

The IoT is heading towards a completely connected world. Being able to unlock your car with a smartphone app. Feeding your cat from thousands of miles away. Turning the kettle on when you are walking home from work. All are made possible by connecting devices to the internet.

The Playing Field

As we said at the start, the telecoms game is changing fast. Even the playing field the game is played on is changing. Along with technology advances pushing connectivity further into our lives on a personal level, it is also causing change on a national level. Persistent rumours that BT is switching off the traditional phone system, for instance. Or the linking of traffic cameras to central management systems via a 4G connection.

The changes mean potential disruption, but also opens the door for plenty of opportunities.

An MVNO can now set up, buying an allocation of network capacity from a larger Operator, and passing this allocation along to their direct customers. The MVNO can add value to this, supplying niche services and innovative products.

We can now tie together the two stars of this article in their showdown – IoT meets MVNO!

A SIM card set up to only supply data is the magic ingredient which powers a lot of the IoT. After all, the devices don’t operate by magic. They must have a communication capability, which talks to the internet. This capability is supplied by a SIM card, just the same as in the mobile phone you carry.

The difference is that the SIM card in an IoT device is set to only allow data. It can’t send or receive calls or texts. This data transfer is what allows the device to talk to other devices, or a central processing system. Your smart fridge, when it alerts you that you need milk, does this by sending a data message over the internet to an app on your mobile.

Obviously there has to be a link between the two things, and this is provided by an internet connection. If the internet were to fail, then smart devices would lose all ability to respond to requests or send information.

Any companies out there who are developing or releasing an ‘IoT’ device should contact us regarding how we can help with a data-only SIM. We can develop SIM cards for projects and devices, set up to meet your requirements.

Any companies who use mobiles as part of their day to day operations, for instance keeping staff members in touch with one another, or giving emergency services access to lone workers on site, should consider one of our Mobile SIM cards.

We can customise SIM cards on a company-by-company, or project-by-project basis, giving you the best solution for your requirements.

Read more on the SureVoIP® Mobile SIM
Or Contact us to discuss how we can help.

The Problem With Mobile Phones In Unified Communications

Mobile Phones – Cultural Impact

Our mobile phones have become an integrated part of how we live. Just take a passing glance at any group of teenagers to confirm this. Heads bowed with faces lit up by the small screen, eyes fixed downwards, thumbs tapping out messages to friends. Even if they are standing a few yards away.

But it’s not just teenagers who are mobile phone-obsessed. Most of us have at least one phone, some have more. The work phone. The home phone. The old one which you hang on to because it works in places where your new one doesn’t.

We rely on them for internet on the go, or for our personal and business communications. We text, call and use messaging apps. Play games, check the weather forecast, even pick potential dates!

Business owners will often use a mobile almost continually. It provides flexible and portable communications, allowing people to be constantly in contact, no matter where they are or what they are doing.

Those working in remote areas, those in offices without a fixed phone line, or those who work without an office at all can all benefit from that handy device in their pocket.

Obligations for Employers

If you have employees who need to communicate to work, and they fall into any of these categories, then your company has an obligation. The onus is on you to provide employees with the correct resources to do their jobs effectively.

You also have an obligation to ensure employee safety. Are your employees using their own mobile phone for work purposes? If so, can you ensure their safety and privacy? After all, they have now given some of their own personal data away to someone they know only in a work context.

Anyone in business can not possibly have missed the changes to the GDPR legislation. This can have a double impact. Firstly, are any personal details being released about the employee which shouldn’t be? Secondly, are any customer details now insecure due to their being stored on an employee mobile? You must check if the legislation applies to your company. If it does, you must put in place a response plan for potential breaches. You must also put together a robust business case for having the data in the first place, and why it was used in the way it was. Contact details of a customer, released accidentally due to the information being on an employee’s personal mobile, would almost certainly constitute a breach of legislation. The onus is on you to ensure what risks your data handling procedures potentially pose, and what risks you could pass on to customers and employees.

There are other issues around mobile phone use – how do you manage usage, functionality, costs and contracts on an ongoing basis? If an employee were to leave with a company mobile, how would you react? Do you have the resources in place to manage the situation effectively?

Unified Communications

Many organisations, particularly the larger ones, are looking at an overall approach to their IT and telecoms requirements. In jargon terms, this is often referred to as “Unified Communications”. If your company is looking at this, then you will be faced with the task of evaluating and then implementing a company-wide integrated approach.

With the advent of cloud-based VoIP telecoms, and browser-based management systems, a unified approach to communications is now possible for smaller companies. However, no matter what size your company, specifying and implementing a Unified Communications approach can be a daunting task.

Any company-wide change will always prove challenging, and rolling out an integrated approach to IT and telecoms is no different.
Using a VoIP Provider, as opposed to on-site systems, means less capital expense, and should prove less of a drain on staff time. Handing this side of your requirements to a specialist means you have access to expertise and resources you don’t have yourself. On-site telecoms systems are a bit of a specialist area, and require a deal of expertise and experience to install and manage effectively. You should consider not just the cost of equipment and installation, but also the potential cost of setting the system up incorrectly. How much money would your company lose if you stopped receiving customer phone calls, even for one day? What would the impact be, not just for direct sales, but also loss of reputation? How many customers would be driven to contact your competitors?

A cloud-based VoIP service, supplied by a business-grade Provider, is an ideal alternative. You receive a telecoms service which fits your needs, without the capital expense or headache of management.

Moving to look at integrating your staff mobile phone requirements, how do you manage users? How do you allocate the correct amount of data, or the correct split of national and international calling? Is part of your overseas staff provision an allowance to call family at home, or is this considered a personal expense?

Once the decisions have been made, another question arises. How do you actually implement the results of your analysis?

Project Implementation

A lot of this can be cleared up by simply choosing a Provider which supplies a complete solution. You need a Provider which can give you a Mobile phone solution, a company telecoms solution, and a solution for internet connectivity.

As you know, SureVoIP can supply internet and telecoms. Our VoIP services cover a suite of functions as required by our varied customer base. After all, we provide services for all sizes of company in a variety of sectors. We provide our award-winning, business-grade VoIP service to a wide variety of companies, from national charities to multi-national oil majors. From individual tradesmen working on the road, to artisan boutiques.

Our broad range of experience and expertise puts us in an excellent position to assist, and our Technical Team can offer expert, impartial advice.

We offer a range of connectivity solutions, from FTTC to Leased Lines. If you are a single worker in a home office, we can help. If you are a national corporation, seeking to link different sites together over your own dedicated connection network, we can help.

And now, thanks to our new Mobile SIM offering, we can help with the mobile phone aspect of your telecoms as well.

Our SIM plans are built with the needs of business and industry in mind. We offer a scalable and easy-to-implement solution addressing the problem of using mobile phones within a suitable company framework. You can handout employee SIM cards tailored to company requirements. If you wish employees to have limited data per month, or to have national-only calls, we can deliver this for you. Rather than having to monitor employee usage, just leave it to your preconfigured SIM card. Anything you want disallowed is disallowed, anything you want allowed is allowed. It’s as simple as that.

More on our Mobile SIM product
More on our VoIP services
More on our internet connectivity services

On The Road

Life as a company representative is never easy.

Constant travelling. Hotel stays. Hotel breakfasts. Cold toast and over-priced cornflakes.

If you have become overly familiar with any of the above then you are probably also familiar with the problems of staying in contact.

After all, you are not travelling for fun. You are working to represent a company in an area which is not their core geographical area. Therefore, there you are. The single point of contact for the company, located overseas, and with limited ways of staying in touch.

The only communications method you have is the life-line in your pocket. Your mobile phone. This gives your customers a way of making contact and your company a way of updating you and gathering feedback.

As an internet-connected device, it is your way of finding information, and researching clients or potential clients.

It is also potentially your source of entertainment. Your contact with your family and loved ones. Your news source.

The motivation behind keeping this vital asset fit-for-purpose is considerable.

If any of the above points have hit home, then you should be considering a SureVoIP® Mobile SIM.

Our SIM will automatically find the best Provider for you, wherever you are. If a signal is available, then your SureVoIP® SIM will find it.

For those for whom staying in contact is vital, then you need a robust solution which is working for you, not against you. With one of our SIMS, you know that you have the most reliable communications and internet capable device you can have. Wherever you are, conveniently in your pocket.

For those who are tasked with managing and equipping company Representatives, or Teams of Representatives, then our SIM plans and packages are ideal. They offer a convenient and scalable solution which can be tailored to any environment and specification you wish. Want to limit data usage and international calling? No problem. Want to allow calls in country only, or restrict calls to mobiles? Again, no problem. Let us know the problem, and we’ll find the solution for you.

Whether you are a Company Representative yourself, or are tasked with managing Representatives, get in touch now to find out just how we can help.

See more on SureVoIP® Mobile SIM

Get in touch to discuss how we can help

Always In Contact With The SureVoIP® Mobile SIM

The SureVoIP® Mobile SIM provides the perfect solution for those who work in areas with poor signal or only one Provider. Rather than being tied to a single Provider, no matter what deal they offer, you can roam freely between all the Providers available in the area. In the UK, this means EE, 02 and Vodafone.

If you work abroad it will roam between the Providers it can find to keep you in touch. With the SureVoIP® Mobile SIM you will always be in contact.

This gives a great solution for those who work in remote areas, areas with poor coverage or for those for whom a mobile signal is a necessity.

Great news if:
• You have to work in remote areas
• You regularly encounter areas with poor or no signal from your current Provider
• Your line of work requires you to stay in constant contact
• You absolutely have to have a file emailed in to a deadline, no matter where you are
• Your work is considered vital and lives may be at risk if you are not in contact
• You have a hobby or interest which takes you to poor coverage areas and your phone is your safety line.

From an organisation point of view, teams of employees or contractors working remotely can be a time-consuming headache.

Many larger organisations face the problem of managing large teams working outside the office. They may work outwith your standard office hours. They may work in a completely different country. Or they could be out on the road, with little support from head office.

Support personnel, service engineers, sales people. All are a potential headache for a Purchasing or Personnel manager to keep track of.

Staff in these roles can pose a major problem when it comes to management and accountability. All can be time-consuming to manage effectively.

Organising their telecoms can be the worst part of the whole situation.

Do you tell staff just to use their own mobiles? If so, who pays their bills? If they use it for personal and business use, how do you split the bill in two? Who spends the time to check all the calls?

Do you give staff a work mobile? If so, how do you manage usage? Do you really want staff to be able to call anywhere in the world, uncontrolled?

The problem is ultimately how you align this business function with your overall framework. If you have prescribed business processes, then you need a service which offers an appropriate feature set combined with adaptability.

The SureVoIP® Mobile SIM gives a truly business-grade solution to the problem.

Designed from the outset with flexibility and usability in mind, our Mobile SIM provides an adaptable and feature-rich solution to the problem of managing employee communications.

You can control calls, texts and data. So you can implement a communications structure which suits the way your company wishes to operate.

Get in touch to find out how The SureVoIP® Mobile SIM can lift some of your workload and make your life as a manager easier.

Get in touch now if remaining within mobile signal is vital for you to perform your required tasks.

Read more about our Mobile SIM

Phone Numbers – Do We Still Need Them?

Phone Numbers – Do We Still Need Them?

In an era of smart phones, social media and instant messaging apps, is there still a place for the traditional phone number?

It sounds like a daft question, but it is actually very relevant to today’s communications.

The way people are phoning has changed since the Post Office set up the phone system in the UK in 1912. The system for area codes was set up in the 50’s.

Quite a lot has changed since then! Trilby hats are no longer fashionable, and neither are Teddy Boys.

It’s no wonder that the way we use our phones has changed.

In 1969, the mobile was undreamed of. Neil Armstrong had famously landed on the Moon using less powerful computers than we now have in a watch. Now we have watches that synch automatically with your smartphone. You can speak to a small box and have it order your shopping, or play music.

The traditional phone number has fallen a bit behind. Set up in the fifties, it is designed to identify the geographic location of the number, and reach an individual or company.

You may not realise that your area code for your landline may contain a location identifier. The second and third digits often match the first and second letters of the town or city (for instance, for Aberdeen, the area code 01224 contains ‘2’ and ‘2’ as the second and third digits, corresponding to ‘A’ and ‘B’ on the alphanumeric phone keypad).

But changes in technology mean that such geographic identifiers are unnecessary.

In fact, many younger people no longer what an area code or what it is for. It is becoming unnecessary to even dial numbers, as our smart phones now serve as a contact directory, storing numbers we need and dialling with a single click.

The changes are set to continue. BT is discussing moving the whole phone system in the UK from wires to the internet. This will effectively change the requirements for the UK numbering system.

As you will probably know (as you are reading our blog), it is becoming increasingly common for calls to be made and received using the internet just now, as more and more people adopt VoIP.

Get in touch to discuss your options or find out more

See more on this topic on the Ofcom website

SureVoIP Christmas Closing Times

Much as we love VoIP, even we need a break from time to time!

The SureVoIP office will be closed on the 24th, 25th and 26th December 2018 and 31st December 2018, 1st and 2nd January 2019.

The SureVoIP office will be open on 27th and 28th December 2018 and reopen for business as usual on 3rd January 2019.

During our closed periods our sales, support and billing teams will not be able to assist with any queries.

If you require urgent technical support during our closed days please see https://www.surevoip.co.uk/help-support

Thank you,

The SureVoIP® Team.