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
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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

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Changing Needs Of Enterprise Telecoms

The face of the telecoms industry in the UK is changing fast. You would be forgiven for being lost at just what functionality can be offered, the different devices which are available, and the possibilities now available for corporate communications.

Larger companies can face some unique challenges when it comes to managing their approach to telecoms.

1) How should the company approach these problems at a policy level?

2) How will this policy be implemented?

3) How will the organisation control telecoms on an ongoing basis?

4) What challenges need to be faced?

The evolution of VoIP has opened a number of new avenues which can make life easier. There are now more ways than ever that a company can utilise technology to add to its communications set up.

Do you support remote workers effectively? Does your company telecoms set up work for customers and your brand in the case of remote workers?

Remote workers can now be added to your overall company phone system using VoIP. As long as the worker has an internet connection then they will be able to communicate as if they were in your main office. Your company IVR Menu, music on hold, and recorded messages will all play as if your customer had called your main switchboard. There is no need to have people using their own phone and explaining to people why their number is showing as different. The remote worker will be able to transfer calls to colleagues, pick up unanswered calls, and receive company voicemails.

As well as consolidating your company branding it also protects staff. Privacy and safety is protected as customers don’t phone worker’s home phone or mobile.

This is an important point as companies have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment.

You should also consider if you have an obligation to support remote workers – is it fair to ask them to pay bills, and incur expenses as part of their official duties?

Do you have to manage large numbers of staff overseas using company mobile phones? If so, does your telecoms set up give you the control and level of service you require?

Another aspect comes into play when you have teams in other countries. If they are using their own mobiles then you can have a situation reminiscent of the one above. Workers phones don’t represent your company. The workers own mobile is being used for official company business. Your company has limited control over the whole set up.

Managing telecoms for a whole department can be a nightmare, never mind a department which is working overseas. Larger organisations are now seeking a way in which they can efficiently manage and implement a solution over mobiles which works at an organisation and an end-user level.

The company needs to control aspects of this service, for instance whether employees will be able to use the phone over the internet, or make and receive certain calls.

Billing and payment must be considered, as must the company’s response if an employee leaves.

Even considering only these factors, it is easy to see how the situation could become unmanageable.

Exactly how does a corporation enforce a policy over remote devices, especially when those devices are located in another country?

The company must be able to implement whatever policy is put in place. This requires a flexible, technically advanced Provider, who is capable of understanding and fully utilising the advantages offered by new technology.

Just as VoIP changed the face of telecoms, so the mobile phone market is being revolutionised by MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).

An MVNO can offer a technically advanced, more cost effective communications alternative to one of the ‘Big 3’ Providers.

Corporations switching to use an MVNO can then benefit from different, more bespoke services, set up by a smaller, more responsive Operator.

More on our MVNO offering

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Three Ways To Make BYOD Work For You

Is BYOD a real thing? If so, what is it?

We have been reading more and more articles which mention BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). So we thought now would be a good time to examine this topic in more detail. What is it, what does it all mean, and what difference will it make to your decision-making process when considering VoIP?

Some hardware choices can be very restrictive for users. Not everyone wants a phone on their desk. Not everyone has a desk.

At a time when most employees attend their workplace with their own communication device already on them, is there a case to be made for companies ‘outsourcing’ employee communications to the employees themselves?

This raises a number of questions. Firstly, will the employees like this idea? Second, does it allow the functionality and flexibility the company requires in order to operate as usual? And lastly, are there any employee safety issues regarding customers now knowing employee’s personal phone numbers?

There are two options SureVoIP® can offer as a better solution to the problem. One is to use Hosted VoIP with softphone apps running on smartphones. The other is a dedicated company SIM card.

A ‘soft phone‘ is an app which runs on your smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. This effectively means that the app has become a virtual device, operating in the same way as a standard phone attached to your larger phone system.

When hooked to a company-wide VoIP set up, employee’s phones behave just as if they were a standard device running from a company-wide telecoms set up. Users can pick up and transfer calls. Customers calling you get the same experience as they do phoning you on a traditional phone system. Your company Music on Hold, for instance, will play as normal. The customer will experience a phone call to your company, with no indication that the staff member in question is not using an ordinary desk phone sitting in one of your offices.

A company SIM card uses an existing mobile (or a newly bought one) and replaces the standard SIM with a company issued one. As an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) our SIM Card Only Plans work with all available networks to ensure you always receive a signal. You no longer need to be tied to one of the big players. No matter where you are in the world, your SureVoIP® SIM will keep you in touch. When in the UK, it uses EE, O2 and Vodafone.

Businesses can then use mobile phones as part of an overall telecoms set up. The advantages are a vastly increased capability to stay in contact with staff in an easy, cost-effective way.

Companies with a lot of staff working overseas will find this a particularly attractive option.

We can also help with a third way to interpret ‘Bring Your Own Device’.

Many companies will have been through setting up a VoIP service before. After all, considering the cost savings and added features, it has to be an interesting option for most companies.

If you have existing VoIP-ready hardware, then this can be ‘adopted’ by any capable Provider. When done by SureVoIP®, this process involves automatically pushing end user configurations and settings to the phone, so there is no need to prepare the device to work as it should when integrating into the overall company-wide phone system.

Users do not have to spend hours fiddling with menus and buttons to set the phone up. IT departments are not flooded with calls which they don’t have the training or experience to help with. And the company benefits from an improved implementation time-frame, with less hassle and staff time lost.

So – to run through the whole Bring Your Own Device scenario:
1) There are many ways to utilise a BYOD approach to work for your company

2) Most VoIP Providers will be able to offer at least one option to facilitate this

3) The three most common ways are listed here.

If you are considering a ‘BYOD’ transition to a VoIP Provider, and wish to discuss which of the three options might work best for you, or to discuss your options in more detail, just get in touch.

Working Safely In The Big Freeze

We are all seeing the stories of snow covered roads, stranded motorists and people braving snow storms to get to the office.

These are all ordinary risks associated with living in the UK, where we get bad weather, freezing winds from the Arctic, and icy cold fronts blowing over from Siberia.

Or are they? Is it possible to run your business without taking these risks?

What would the knock-on effects be if you could guarantee your employee safety, make sure no-one is late to their desk, and that people don’t have to be sent home early due to blizzards?

If this sounds like an ideal solution, then you should consider a Hosted VoIP solution.

Due to the technical abilities of such a system, workers can be geographically located anywhere, and still work as if they were at their desk. As long as the employee in question has a good, stable internet connection, they can work for you from literally anywhere.

At times like this, many workers repeat the golden phrase – ‘working from home’. If you don’t have a VoIP system, then this is just a warming daydream, taunting you as you trudge through slush with shoes filling with ice water.

But if you do have a VoIP system, then suddenly other possibilities open up for you.

Not only do you have the ability to allow your workforce to work from anywhere, but you can allow this to become policy. You can hire remote workers, avoiding the need to supply desk, chair, utilities, security etc. Indeed, some companies now work entirely from disparate locations, without a physical office housing them all.

They transfer calls just as if they were in the office, phone out using the company number, and have the same company Music on Hold and auto-attendant menu for callers as the standard phone system.

Another factor to bear in mind is the company’s Duty of Care. No-one wants a staff member injured due to travelling to work, or travelling home at the end of the day. Allowing working from home removes that risk.

Working from home can increase productivity in general, increase your company’s growth potential, and increase staff safety.

It can also give you the edge over the competition. Remember, if a VoIP system puts you ahead of the curve, so you are also ahead of all your competitors. As they struggle with staff not attending, or taking time off to look after kids on snow days, or staff slipping on the ice and heading to hospital, so you are up and fully functional, answering customer phone calls without a ‘slip up’.

Contact us to put a VoIP service in place, for a competitive advantage and to increase staff safety.

How To Connect Remote Workers In Different Locations

As Providers of VoIP, we manage communications for many different styles of office set-up.

One of the most challenging set-ups to tackle and manage, is one for a larger company operating from many disparate locations.

There are a few challenges with such a set-up, including keeping everyone in the team connected, and ensuring calls coming in are handled correctly.

If we look at the situation without using a VoIP system, then we have a bunch of remote workers, working in different offices, answering their own phones. they will need to use their own home phone, or their own mobile. They will be displaying these numbers when calling customers. Customers will be calling them on their own numbers. And remember, all this is happening whilst these workers represent your company.

Now let’s look at the situation with a VoIP system.

In this scenario, we have an over-arching phone system, serving the needs of all the remote workers. Workers will receive calls to your official company number, and can call out displaying the same.

Workers can transfer calls between themselves and call each other internally. They can also see if colleagues are on a call or are currently available*.

Using a SureVoIP® Hosted VoIP service, a company can set up a phone service where their advertised numbers rings to any or all employees specified, no matter where they are working. Sally could be working from a satelite office in another city. Allan could be based on a remote island off the coast of Scotland, and Jim could be travelling to meet an important client, only able to use his smart phone to communicate. They will all be included in the company phone set up. They will all receive calls to the company number, and they can all transfer calls from one to the other. They can also call each other as an internal call, which provides another benefit – all calls between SureVoIP® users are free, so employees will save on their bills!

Employees can also call out and display the official company number, giving a far better impression than calling customers with their own mobile or home phone number showing. This presents a far better image, giving the customer a sense of dealing with a more cohesive organisation. It also acts as an aid to employee security (as it removes the possibility of revealing personal info to customers).

An additional advantage is how the incoming calls are handled. You can have all employee phones ring, or have them ring in sequence if some workers are prioritised. With our Fully Managed service, you can even have a virtual receptionist. Using this, you can then have calls routed to the most appropriate person. For instance, a customer calls in, and wishes to talk about a recent invoice. Your virtual receptionist (or IVR menu Auto-attendant, to give it its proper title) listed the option ‘Press 2 for invoicing queries’. When they press 2, the customer will be directed to Allan (the invoicing person), who is on his island off the Scottish coast.

Not only that, but if the customer wants to discuss a quote with Sally, the sales executive, then Allan simply transfers them through.

And if the customer wants to talk to Jim, then Sally just transfers him on. Not only does the call transfer seamlessly, but it will also reach Jim anywhere he has a 3 or 4G connection. A Soft phone app joined with a Hosted VoIP service means your office is in your pocket.

So, as you can see, an office of three people has been transferring, collaborating and taking part in the customer journey. And one was in a different office, in a different city. One was miles away on an island. And one person was using an app whilst travelling.

The list of available functions and features doesn’t end there. Our Fully Managed Hosted service gives conferencing, so you can set up calls with multiple people. It gives Time of day Routing, so you can divert all your calls at certain times to a specific destination (for instance an on-call engineer). It also gives call recording, so you can rest easy that you have the facts at hand should there ever be a dispute with a customer.

So not only a telecoms solution like a traditional office, but a lot more besides!

Get in touch to find out just what a Hosted VoIP service can do for you.

See more about our Fully Managed Hosted service.

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* Requires BLF function on hardware

Never Miss A Message

Traditionally, a person who tried to call you when you were busy left a message on the device they phoned you on. This is the way things have worked up to now, and the way most of us have become used to working.

 

But – is there a better way?

 

Using a VoIP service, there is.

 

Our two tiers of Hosted VoIP (both Basic and Fully Managed), and our Single User services include a better solution. We call it Voicemail to Email, and is an extremely handy feature included as standard with our business-grade VoIP services.

 

It allows callers to get their message to you in a more efficient way than the traditional message left on a device. As the message is left, the system automatically emails you to tell you a message has been left.

 

Not only that, but the email will also include an audio file which contains the message. No need to keep checking your various phones and devices, your notification will be automatic.

 

This is especially handy as some recent studies suggest most of us check our work emails on an almost continual basis. One US study cites the incredible figure of 4 hours per day spent checking emails! If you are anything like me, you will check every 10 minutes or so, just to keep up to date with ongoing issues and catch correspondence.

 

So, assuming I am roughly average (which may or may not be the case) then email is one of the best ways of getting a message to you.

 

The frequency at which we check for new messages, and the importance of email as a tool for business communications, means we perhaps prioritise this media above others.

 

Having messages sent to your email account also means you have them stored. You can easily create a folder for messages, and keep them as long as you wish.

 

Alternatively, you can create a folder on your PC, tablet, or smartphone, and store the records there. Find all your messages quickly and easily. Refer back if there is ever an issue or dispute, and find out exactly what was said.

 

An additional advantage of having messages sent to you is an improved reply time. As you are more aware of your messages, and they are sent to you in a more convenient way, your ability to respond is naturally improved. Take less time to respond, and have fewer people waiting for you to get back to them.

 

As your messages are stored away from the device, it means you can access these messages wherever you are. A bonus for those who work from home.

 

See more on our Hosted solutions. Contact us to discuss VoIP in depth.

Make The Best Use Of Your Internet Connection – Use VoIP

There can be very few companies who could operate without an internet connection.

 

Accountancy platforms, CRM systems and file-sharing websites have all become essential for modern businesses, and they all have one thing in common. They all rely on an internet connection.

 

As we are so reliant on our connection in order to work, it does lead onto one obvious conclusion.

 

Why not use it for your phone calls as well?

 

VoIP has progressed from a low cost substitute for 'ordinary' phone calls. It offers a cost effective alternative with increased functionality over a traditional phone system.

There is nothing to lose, and a lot to gain, from your company switching over to using VoIP.

 

And one of the biggest gains is to use one of your resources to its fullest.

 

If you are one of the forward-thinking people who have invested in a future-proof internet connection, why not use this resource to its maximum capacity?Along with maximising the ROI on your internet provision, VoIP allows a variety of other positives.

 

Your workers don't need to be based in one central office. In fact, your workers don't need to be based in an office at all.

 

As the phone system now lives 'in the cloud', it doesn't matter where users are physically located. As long as people have an internet connection, they can connect to their business phone system. Rather than using other means or methods to get in touch (calling from their home phone, calling from personal mobiles, putting messages in bottles), employees simply log in from wherever they are, and use the company's VoIP service.

 

This in turn leads to an interesting question – do you need an office at all? This is the ultimate extension of the remote working idea. If you don't actually need an office, why pay for an unnecessary expense? There are more and more companies who are working from a 'virtual' office. Workers are based in different physical locations, but using the same phone system. They can transfer calls seamlessly between each other, dial out displaying the company number, and receive calls to the company number. Calls will route in exactly the same way. Menu Auto-attendants and Music on Hold will all function as normal.

 

Callers will have no idea that their call has not gone through to an ordinary office. Their call will be transferred to the most appropriate person. The company's official audio greeting messages and Music will play as normal. The only difference is that your 'office' exists virtually, using the internet.

 

As just about everyone needs the internet (at home or on the move), why not use it to its best advantage? Get in touch to discuss the possibility of revolutionising the way you work.

 

More on our VoIP solutions

More on how we can help with your internet connection

 

Today I’ve forgotten my mobile, what are my options using SureVoIP?

Hi all,

Gavin here (owner of SureVoIP). Today I’ve made the classic mistake of leaving home with out my mobile (I use an Android smartphone). I feel totally naked! What are my options then?

  1. Turn around and get it, but be late for a meeting with our PR company
  2. Buy a new Pay As You Go one for the day
  3. Use my SureVoIP Hosted VoIP account via my mobile broadband tongle, softphone and laptop
  4. Use my VPN connection to connect to the office via a softphone on my laptop to our office VoIP system as a remote worker

 

So I opted to go the day without it and I am sitting in a Hotel reception using the SureVoIP Hosted VoIP account. I can make and receive calls to my staff, use Instant Messaging on our Hosted E-mail and generally relax a little bit until my next meeting at 2pm (plus write this on the SureVoIP Blog).

All is not lost and this really does work, which allows me to work from anywhere as long as I can get either Wi-Fi or mobile broadband. I love technology!

If you’d like to learn more about how SureVoIP can work for your business, please do contact us.

Do you already do this? I’d love to learn how you’ve made technology work for your business.

Thanks,

Gavin.