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

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.

VoIP Phones – What To Consider And What Are Your Options

As more and more people are moving to consider VoIP, we decided to discuss another aspect of your telecoms. The phone itself.

Some people are used to technology and like to explore hardware, pressing all the buttons and playing with the functions. Others are completely lost, staring at the flashing LED lights like a rabbit staring into headlights.

Don’t worry – there is a VoIP phone to suit all levels of IT literacy, budget and requirements.

A key point to consider is this – what will you actually need your phone to do? There is a big difference between the needs of a receptionist, and an average user, for instance. The Receptionist will be handling a large volume of calls, will possibly need her hands free, and will almost definitely need a additional phone module to increase her phone display and functionality.

Obviously, there is no need for all your users to have this range of equipment. Not all will benefit from a headset, or automatic call answering/ ending module. But some may benefit from some features built in to desk phones.

Let’s take this as an opportunity to clarify some points. A VoIP phone is also known as a SIP phone. SIP is the protocol which underpins VoIP phone hardware, and means that all devices from various manufacturers will work together.

Things like Call Recording, Call Forwarding and Conference Calling are all part of a Hosted VoIP system, so are not performed by your handset. Functions like this are set up by your VoIP Provider, either as part of your package or as an additional cost.

Things like Call Transferring, Busy Light Field (coloured LED on phone indicating whether a colleague is available or on a call) or your personal Phonebook/ Directory are all functions of the handset itself. Your VoIP provider should be able to offer advice or assistance with things like this, but the actual phone itself is where any changes will have to be made.

The next thing to bear in mind is configuration. Configuring your phones for end users is an important and often over-looked point. In a multiple user system, typical for any business, call routing and other functions will need to be configured to match the overall business requirements. It is important to bear in mind that, if your VoIP Provider can not provide this function, then you will need to enter these settings yourself.

Another over-looked point are updates. As you are probably aware, pretty much all software and devices these days require updating when manufacturers roll out security updates and issue fixes. Bear in mind that, if your Provider isn’t going to perform this for you, then you will have to do this yourself.

So – we’ve touched on the phone basics, and some things to bear in mind. The next point to consider is which device will suit your needs best.

There are a range of phones and phone types available. If you spend your time having to move from place to place, for instance checking stock or working at different desks, then a DECT phone could suit you best. Just like a ‘walk about’ home phone, a VoIP DECT phone consists of a handset which links wirelessly to a base station. There are no cables to connect you, so you are free to walk, move, stretch, or do anything else you have to.

Next on our list are Conference Phones. For those with meeting rooms, or who spend a lot of time on organised conference calls with colleagues, a dedicated Conference phone will be your best option. These phones are fantastic for picking up voices at a distance, making conversations clear and meaning you don’t need to make do with an ordinary phone on the hands free setting.

A Deskphone for VoIP will operate as the same as a traditional deskphone. A key pad, handset and connecting cable will be familiar to all, as will the ability to transfer, adjust the volume, and pick up calls for another extension.

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

You 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 you are not in an office.

So – as you can see, there are a number of ways to connect to your phone system. You can have a traditional desk phone, a walkabout DECT phone, or a softphone app on your mobile, desktop or tablet!

The choice is yours.

To find out more about your options, just get in touch.

See more info on the deskphone options you have

See more on the DECT phone options

See more on the softphone options

The Importance Of Correct Equipment

As the internet becomes increasingly important in all aspects of our lives, so we find ourselves having to think ahead regarding hardware provision. It seems as if no sooner have you caught up than the game has moved on! There is no point now in providing for your requirements today – you need to be thinking further ahead.

This is particularly relevant when running a business. Your connectivity hardware is no longer safe to be left in the hands of free, proprietary equipment. The routers sent out as part of a home-based set up are not appropriate to a business environment. In fact, they could be potentially damaging.

There could be security issues, which aren’t being addressed. The hardware firmware could be lagging behind, leaving it unable to work with other equipment or settings. It might be impossible to alter any of these things. After all, the company aren’t making any money from supplying the equipment. Think of it this way – if you had given someone something for free and they came back to complain, would you be inclined to help?

At SureVoIP®, we are understandably focussed on VoIP. The issues experienced regarding a VoIP system range from Router settings blocking traffic altogether, to voice quality being detrimentally affected by hardware configuration which can’t be over-written.

Another problem we frequently encounter is handsets being exposed to the general internet, allowing hackers to exploit this equipment for fraudulent use. This is directly due to the Router being inadequately secure. Consumer-grade equipment is not designed to combat these threats.

This is one of the main differences between business-grade and consumer-grade equipment.

Internal settings can be set by the equipment supplier (eg a broadband provider). It is often the case that these settings are harmful in a business environment, particularly when using a VoIP system.

This is why we supply Draytek Routers from our online store, and advise all customers taking connectivity products from us to invest in a good quality, business-grade router. Drayetk are our first choice, as they are well made and designed with business use in mind.

As a supplier of true business-grade connectivity, we feel that Draytek support our offering well, and work with us to achieve a common goal. It can sometimes feel as is consumer-grade equipment is actively working against you!

In an environment where success or failure now relies on your internet connection, it isn’t an exageration to say that good quality internet Router is a valuable asset which you won’t regret buying, and a bad quality one is something you will regret on a daily basis!

For more info on internet, connectivity hardware, or any related questions, just get in touch. We’ll be happy to help.