Hosted Phone Comparison: Figuring Out Which Features You Really Need

HOSTED PHONE COMPARISON: FIGURING OUT WHICH FEATURES YOU REALLY NEED

You know it’s time. Your phone system is a mishmash of hardware and software. Your staff is making business calls on their personal phones. And the third-party service you use for conference calls is clunky and unreliable.

You also know if you’re going to grow your business, you’ve got to improve how your team communicates and collaborates. Buying new hardware isn’t in the budget and, besides, you’re worried it would have to be upgraded by the time it was installed.

Why Hosted VoIP Phone Service?

With the bandwidth and reliability of internet service today, more small- and medium-sized businesses are turning to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services like MiCloud Connect. This unified communications solution is hosted in the cloud, giving SMBs the power and functionality that in the past only large companies could afford.

But as with any major change – especially ones involving technology – things can get confusing. Because many communications providers offer an à la carte approach to features and pricing, not spending time researching up front can waste time and cost you more in the long run.

Hosted Phone Comparison — Where To Begin?

It’s a little like buying a new car. You know the features you like most, the “must haves” that you’ve come to love in your present car, things like heated seats or hands-free phone. But slide into the driver’s seat of a late model vehicle and you can be overwhelmed. Lots of new bells and whistles. How do you decide which are important, which are distracting and which just aren’t worth the money?

To start, think about where your company is now. Answer these questions and you’ll begin to zero in on the features most important to your business.

  • Which features of your current system are most useful?
    For instance, speed dial or call forwarding?
  • Who are your users?
    Do you have team members on the road, in the warehouse, in conference rooms, at their desks or in a contact center?
  • What are the communications needs of each of these user groups?
    Do they need better collaboration tools? Mobile solutions?
  • What are the pain points for these user groups?
    Or put another way, what’s the current system not providing? If employees are using their own mobile devices or third-party apps, find out why. What do they offer that your current communications system doesn’t?
  • What part of your current system do you want to keep?
    Most hosted phone service providers can customize solutions to sit on top of your present infrastructure. Why reinvent the wheel, or buy a new one, if you’ve got pieces that still work?

With this information in hand, you’re ready to consider all the features available with a hosted phone service. Which is good, because there are a lot of features. And like that new car, some you need and some you don’t.

Example #1: Law Firm

Barbara is the managing partner of a law firm with over 70 lawyers in three locations. Their telecommunications system has been creaky for some time. Consequently, they’re not as customer responsive as they need to be in a very competitive marketplace. Barbara chose these features when the firm moved to a hosted phone service.

Mobility.

Attorneys and staff are on the move all the time – at client’s offices, in court or at offsite meetings. With VoIP they can communicate seamlessly with any device that has an internet connection – smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. Users access the firm’s communications system via a secure, proprietary web portal. The interface is also consistent across all devices.

Conference calls.

Whether they’re on audio or video, staff can easily manage conference calls with the click of a button. All participants can share screens and files. And with a quick text, they can even pull another colleague into the call.

Call recording.

Another useful feature is the ability to record both individual calls and conference calls. Now staffers can easily go back over the details of any phone conversation.

Visual voicemail and email. When attorneys are running between meetings, catching up on voicemail is challenging. Now voicemails are transcribed and sent to the email box of the receiver. It’s easy to listen again to a long voicemail, forward it to another staff member or file it for future reference.

Presence management. 

Ever tried to hunt down a colleague when you needed a quick answer? Leaving voicemails just doesn’t do it. To really close the loop, you need to know where they are and if they’re even available. With presence technology, a receiver can notify others of their availability. Maybe they can’t answer the phone but can reply to a text or email. It all helps get an answer to the client that much faster.

Example #2: Software Start-Up

Nicolas started his software business five years ago with three friends from college. Now, with almost 200 employees across three continents, it’s time to choose a telecommunications system to meet the needs of the growing company. You don’t want bumpy conference calls when that venture capitalist calls.

Like Barbara’s law firm, mobility was near the top of Nicolas’s “need to have” list of features. For too long, the company had relied on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), but inconsistency and poor responsiveness became major issues. Here are the features Nicolas’s IT manager chose when they set up their hosted phone service.

Collaboration and teamwork. 

Central to the business’s success is the ability of employees to work together easily, no matter their location. As part of the new hosted phone configuration, collaboration and teamwork software helps engineers in Bangalore, San Jose and Riga work on projects across time zones. This feature provides a shared workspace where team members can communicate, share files, chat, set up conference calls, track progress and assign tasks.

Call center.

Before implementing hosted phone service, the company was losing almost 40 percent of customer calls. Now calls are routed to the right person the first time. Agents can communicate with customers via live chat, phone or email. The new system also enables supervisors to monitor calls in real time and coach agents on how to improve.

Remote workers.

Employees working outside the company’s main offices can now connect easily and reliably via a dedicated web portal. Using VoIP, they can respond to colleagues and customers anywhere in the world. That also means the company can recruit talent from all over the globe.

Integration with third-party software.

A key feature for Nicolas’s growing company is the ability to integrate third-party applications into its communications tools, like customer relationship management (CRM) software. Call center agents can respond to customers more effectively and sales can see real-time metrics. By integrating other applications like browsers and Microsoft Outlook, employees can make calls with one-click.

Choose the right vendor.

After you’ve decided which features are most important to your business, be sure to choose a vendor that can make things happen easily and within your budget. Look for these capabilities in a hosted phone provider.

Support from beginning to end.

Many vendors talk a good game when the sale is on the line. Many even do a good job during installation and training. But ask around. Is their customer support available 24/7? Via phone, live chat and email? They need to be there when your customers and employees need them most.

Industry leader.

Has the vendor led the way in innovation and product development? Or has it only recently jumped on the wagon? Look into how stable the company is and how long it’s been in the communications business.

Flexible and responsive.

Choosing a hosted phone service is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Quite the opposite. You want a vendor who will create a solution unique to your company.

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Making sure your communications investment will lead to a stronger and more successful business. Mitel offers a suite of hosted phone service products that will make your business the best it can be.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Healthcare Health Check: How To Stabilise Your Business Vitals With UC

Healthcare Health Check: How To Stabilise Your Business Vitals With UC

To do more with less, the NHS and many private clinics delay upgrading their communications technology if their legacy system continues to function. And limited budgets and staffing shortages provide easy excuses for large hospitals and small clinics alike to continue putting off upgrades year after year.

But the emergence of innovative technology – robust cloud solutions, next-gen apps and more – provides incredible new opportunities. When leveraged strategically and cost-effectively, these technologies can help the NHS and private healthcare providers tackle challenges like the growing elderly population and the upcoming ISDN shutdown, among many others.

How Unified Communications Can Help

Investing in different solutions that don’t work together or with your existing infrastructure can be costly. For better patient care and overall performance, deploy a Unified Communications (UC) solution at your own pace that addresses multiple staff and patient needs and fully integrates with your existing system.

Ensure the solution delivers in all key areas including:

Increased staff responsiveness

Mobile collaboration apps integrated with your organisation’s telephony make staff easier to reach and collaborate with. By reducing wasted time and miscommunication, the apps enable staff to focus more on personalised patient care. In addition, you can mobilise staff and other experts in an instant if there’s an emergency with a patient.

Improved resiliency and security

A modern UC solution on a resilient network minimises system downtime and disruption, saving IT staff valuable time and effort while also keeping patient medical records more secure. This provides peace of mind and ensures your organisation complies with regulations.

Greater cost control

Maintaining obsolete equipment, finding replacement parts and staffing a large IT department to handle everything – including resolving frequent issues – is extremely expensive. The right UC solution for your unique needs, whether that’s on-site, in the cloud or a hybrid, requires much less maintenance and effort.

No matter if you’re a small private clinic or a public hospital with hundreds of scattered sites, a modern and robust UC solution enables you to provide better patient care, ensure resiliency and stay within budget. Look for a communications vendor with a long history of experience in healthcare that can help you digitally transform at pace that’s right for you.

Upgrade At Your Own Pace

Most importantly, find a provider like Mitel that lets you move at your own pace, upgrading and adding functionality gradually and cost-effectively. No need to rip and replace—and face an enormous price tag. Plus, this method is easier on your IT staff because it enables them to do their due diligence and get trained on each new technology without being overwhelmed and over-worked.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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AI Is Revolutionising The Customer Experience

AI Is Revolutionising The Customer Experience

Like it or not, artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. Sometimes it’s obvious—like when a chatbot pops up on a website and offers help. But AI is being used in ways we may not even realize. The question isn’t when AI will begin to play a role in our everyday lives; it already is. Rather, we should be asking whether or not we are using it to its full capacity.

Everyone Wants It: Consumers, CIOs, CMOs

Consumers are increasingly aware of AI-powered tools and say they’ll use them if they save time and money, reports Gartner. In a recent study, 58 percent of respondents said they’ll use AI if it makes tasks more efficient. Over half (53 percent) said they’ll use AI if it will save them money, and 47 percent are on-board if it gives them easier access to information.

This willingness to engage with AI-driven services has caught the attention of IT leaders and marketing executives alike. Forty-one percent of IT professionals believe AI and machine learning (ML) will help their organizations improve the customer experience (CX), according to a study by Adobe. Respondents also cited other technologies that will have an impact, including the Internet of Things (22 percent), voice (14 percent), virtual and augmented realities (12 percent) and chatbot technology (11 percent).

Companies already using AI in digital commerce are rather pleased, reports another Gartner study. About 70 percent of digital commerce businesses say their AI programs are “very or extremely successful.” In fact, respondents reported a 19 percent increase in customer satisfaction and a 15 percent improvement in both revenue and cost.

Personalizing The Customer Experience

Most of us are familiar with targeted advertising that tells marketers what shoppers are looking for. But AI is now used to aggregate a wide range of data to personalize interactions with customers. AI programs collect information about location, search history, time (days, dates, time of day) and product to then suggest items to consumers. Catering to each person is the next frontier—and not only in advertising.

Within the context of a self-service customer experience, AI is capable of handling the type of personalized interactions that humans have usually handled, such as sales, service or support. When a customer visits a business website, they are greeted with customized options powered by the company’s AI analytics.

Faster Customer Service

Chatbots are also an example of AI-powered tools that are speeding up human-machine interaction. As they continue to grow in sophistication and effectiveness, these bots have the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize and learn from past experiences.

For example, tapping into customer data, an intelligent chat or speech bot is capable of holding a personalized – and human-like – conversation with the customer.

With machine learning, chatbots recognize common words and phrases related to specific issues, and then recommend help articles that are most useful to the customer or agent. They are also able to route the user toward the human most qualified to answer their query.

Even when the virtual agent seamlessly hands off the customer to a human agent, it does so with all information intact. The human agent picks up where the virtual agent ends, and the customer doesn’t need to repeat themselves.

Crunching The Data

Probably the most obvious and powerful use of AI is to analyze the enormous amount of data captured through technology today. Businesses are using AI to improve CX by evaluating interactions and integrating data from numerous sources. Predictive AI-driven analytics helps track and analyze customer trends and behaviors faster.

One example is reinforcement learning, an AI/ML tool that “rewards” the algorithm when it achieves the best behavior or action, enabling it to learn quickly on its own. It continuously tries different actions to figure out which delivers the best outcome in the long term, explains Tiffany Carpenter, head of customer intelligence for SAS UK & Ireland. It even performs random actions intermittently to test the model and be sure it is up-to-date.

Humans + Machines

Thought leaders agree that the human element is essential when working with AI. It’s not an either/or proposition. Humans are needed to create the core marketing messages, draw insights from data and make decisions. “The future lies not in a battle between people and machines, but in a synthesis of their capabilities, of humans and AI working together,” notes Helen Poitevin, research senior director at Gartner.

For many technologies, the future seems far in the distance. Yet, AI is already enhancing customer interactions today. The most competitive organizations are pushing the boundaries of the technology. That means the revolution is well underway—and stellar customer experiences are closer than you might think.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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5 Best Practices For Digital Transformation Success And Speed

5 BEST PRACTICES FOR DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION SUCCESS AND SPEED

Originally published by Information Management.

Digital transformation, or DX, is everywhere—from hospitality to retail to the enterprise. But because technology implementation moves quickly, it’s no secret that speed is the currency for companies undergoing digital transformation.

In actuality, moving business operations to more digital and user-savvy functionality is much easier said than done. So, without getting lost in the process, how exactly can companies execute this transformation swiftly and successfully?

Companies should consider the following best practices when looking to implement a successful and speedy organization-wide strategy:

1. Engage People From The Beginning

Digital transformation is about people, data and technology. The people factor, if overlooked, can be dooming for a DX strategy. Businesses need to excite and inform their employees about these objectives by including them from the start.

As a natural driver of cultural change, digital transformation stands to impact not only the way a business operates, but also the way the business thinks about operations. It requires a culture that is open to change and continuous improvement.

First and foremost, companies must work with employees to connect them with tools that foster productivity and a collaboration platform that enables efficient communications. This keeps projects on pace by enabling employees to leverage the power of their combined knowledge to increase productivity.

Another way to improve productivity is by automating processes where possible to relieve some of employees’ workloads. This will give them more bandwidth to spend time doing meaningful work, such as collaborating with colleagues and interfacing with customers.

Organizations enacting these kinds of changes will have higher chances of success if they make the effort to involve employees from the get-go and clearly communicate how the changes stand to improve day-to-day work.

2. Align On Objectives And Establish Clear Goals

This is a consideration not talked about in the industry nearly enough. It’s easy for this step to slip through the cracks, but it’s essential for teams to establish a baseline and determine what they’re hoping to accomplish with their DX initiatives.

Companies that have an agreed upon answer to the question, “what is the end goal?” will have a strong foundation for determining focused next steps. Identifying the end goal helps companies prioritize their projects and next steps, which subsequently informs the roadmap they will use to track their projects.

It is also helpful for keeping individual teams on track throughout their projects by serving as a reference point to remind them of what their project should ultimately achieve. Is it about customer success, or partner enablement? By doing this up-front, companies will have less internal friction, which in turn will give them room to act on multiple parallel initiatives within the program that all map back to the same goal.

Once an initiative is complete, this also provides a clear benchmark that will serve to prove whether the initiative was a success and help to identify any outstanding needs.

3. Think Business-First

CIOs and IT departments are best-equipped to lead technology transformation as a trusted arm of the business; however, it is extremely important for them to approach this with a business-first mindset.

Companies should create a balanced IT department that includes both technology experts and business-minded professionals. By combining business with IT, the team will have both the technical skills required for the project and the necessary business context to keep the team focused on the end-goal (i.e. customer needs and organizational goals). This enables more efficient processes, which is something we at Mitel discovered very early on when undergoing the beginning stages of our own digital transformation.

To combat this, we created the IT Business Technology group to combine the strengths of IT experts and business-minded professionals to move our digital transformation forward.

4. Synchronize Efforts

With speed as the currency for a successful digital transformation, business leaders should expect to have many projects happening at once. They are tasked with managing multiple projects in parallel streams to further increase speed and ensure teams are staying on track to meet deadlines.

Understanding this is extremely important, particularly for global companies that need to be cautious not to discount added synchronization challenges that come with working across regions and addressing customer needs that vary accordingly.

At any organization, there are also bound to be times when projects compete for the same resources from both the IT and business sides. Additionally, teams need to work together to proactively address potential availability issues with key systems and platforms that need to be operational for the project’s go live date. This is a smart way to avoid issues both as multiple teams are completing projects and when they reach the Go Live date.

A big factor to success with synchronized efforts is enabling employees to work together throughout the process of managing multiple projects at one time (another reason communication and collaboration are crucial for success). It will be key for business leaders managing a number of DX projects to keep these factors in mind.

5. Make It Easy For Customers And Partners

With many DX initiatives – including ours at Mitel – the end goal is customer success. While a company’s product or solution is traditionally considered the most important factor in customer satisfaction, the customer’s experience reaching out to support during or after the purchasing process is just as important.

Companies need to ask themselves, “What kind of tools can we give our customers/partners to improve their experience doing business with our organization?” Whether it’s a customer or partner portal or an online store or ticketing system, companies need to assess whether they are effectively providing customers and partners with an efficient way of doing business with them. What is their experience on the platform? What kinds of automation tools would improve their experience?

Companies should provide customers and partners with an easy, automated way to interact with them if they want to buy a service or need support.

Organizations need to consider all of the above best practices for a successful, speedy digital transformation. As with any technology implementation, a full organization-wide DX effort requires that business leaders establish goals, give employees the tools they need, and always keep customers and partners top of mind.

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Why Businesses Are Migrating To The Cloud More Than Ever

WHY BUSINESSES ARE MIGRATING TO THE CLOUD MORE THAN EVER

Across industries and time zones, businesses are increasingly leveraging the cloud to meet customer expectations, with cloud communications growing roughly 25 percent year over year. With quicker updates and the latest applications, the cloud offers businesses unprecedented ability to improve flexibility, scalability and efficiency while saving on costs. And yet each journey to the cloud is as unique as the business―and is dependent on the unique patchwork of technology investments and acquisitions it has in place.

The fastest-moving businesses are spending time, money and energy to assess their current infrastructure and plan the best way to proceed. They are looking to gain the benefits of cloud without having to start all over, become burdened with expensive deployment models or get locked in for years with a specific vendor.

Mitel understands this well. Its next-gen cloud offering uniquely provides choice: public, private or hybrid. And this is an approach that businesses across the globe have responded to. According to Synergy Research Group, Mitel is #1 in total cloud seats worldwide for the seventh consecutive year. With nearly 4.7 million users globally, Mitel is over 1.5 million seats ahead of the next closest competitor.

Since Synergy Research Group’s Cloud Market Growth Report began in 2012, Mitel has dominated the top spot as the communications and collaboration vendor of choice for organizations worldwide.

“As we have been saying for a number of years now, Mitel has a compelling value proposition in the UC industry by being able to offer multiple cloud migrations for its customers,” said Jeremy Duke, Synergy Research Group’s founder and Chief Analyst. “This strategy has been successful, as evidenced by Mitel’s continued leadership in the combined market of private and public cloud for nearly a decade.”

Built on the Google Cloud Platform for optimum security and reliability, Mitel’s cloud solutions provide advanced AI, machine learning and analytics. With robust public, private and hybrid cloud options, Mitel is uniquely positioned to help each customer deliver the cloud communications and collaboration they need to achieve their business goals.

“Organizations are increasingly moving applications to the cloud and looking for ways to harness the benefits of the cloud to collaborate more seamlessly and compete more effectively,” said Mitel CEO Rich McBee. “With Mitel’s solutions, businesses can choose the deployment model that’s right for them, whether that is a public, private or hybrid environment. We’re honored that so many businesses continue to trust us to guide them along their journey to the cloud.”

This article was first published by Mitel.

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Collaborate Seamlessly Anywhere

Collaborate Seamlessly Anywhere

The team you have today looks a lot different than it did ten years ago: it’s mobile, global and increasingly millennial. Team collaboration tools have changed a lot too. They leverage the power of unified communications, work seamlessly across different devices (smartphones, tablets, desktops) and support real-time interaction in less time than ever before. With the right team collaboration solutions, you can achieve amazing levels of teamwork, right from the palm of your hands.

This content was first published by Mitel.


We offer a range of Cloud Communications Solutions all of which deliver enterprise-level features and functionality regardless of the size of your business. Whether you are looking to implement Cloud Storage or Cloud Telephony, our solutions are designed around your company’s individual needs.

At 4Sight we have the tools and the expertise to help you with your Cloud needs, with a full range of cloud deployment methods to fit your goals and your budget. To find out more, please contact your 4Sight Account Manager, or alternatively give us a call us on + 44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com.

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Giving Machines a Voice with UCC

Giving Machines a Voice with UCC

The Internet of Things (IoT) is everywhere, from smart homes to connected cars, on manufacturing floors and in airplanes above the clouds. With the right IoT communications, businesses can connect IoT systems to their communications workflow for real-time, actionable information about the world around them. The right IoT communications platform uses simple APIs that connect IoT applications to unified communications, giving machines a voice in how you improve your business.

This content was first published by Mitel.


We offer a range of Cloud Communications Solutions all of which deliver enterprise-level features and functionality regardless of the size of your business. Whether you are looking to implement Cloud Storage or Cloud Telephony, our solutions are designed around your company’s individual needs.

At 4Sight we have the tools and the expertise to help you with your Cloud needs, with a full range of cloud deployment methods to fit your goals and your budget. To find out more, please contact your 4Sight Account Manager, or alternatively give us a call us on + 44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com.

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ISDN Is Dead. Long Live SIP.

ISDN IS DEAD. LONG LIVE SIP.

Discover why it’s important to get acquainted with SIP trunk providers and make sure you don’t get stuck with outdated technology. ISDN is quickly getting overtaken by nextgeneration SIP telephony.

This content was first published by Gamma.


As a Gamma Gold Reseller Partner, we are, for a limited period, offering exclusive promotions for 4Sight customers that migrate their voice services to us.

For more information, please contact your 4Sight Account Manager alternatively you can call us on +44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com

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Measure the Moments: A Guide to Maximising Metrics In the Modern Contact Centre

Measure the Moments: A Guide to Maximising Metrics In the Modern Contact Centre

Take a look at the guide to maximizing metrics in the modern contact center. This infographic addresses the metrics call centers and contact centers should use to evolve and stay competitive in today’s customer experience landscape.

This content was first published by Mitel.


See how 4Sight can help you provide a great customer experience.

A seamless, omni-channel experience drives revenue by improving customer loyalty.

We offer a range of Contact Centre Solutions all of which deliver enterprise-level features and functionality regardless of the size of your business. Our solutions are designed around your company’s individual needs.

At 4Sight we have the tools and the expertise to help you with your Cloud needs, with a full range of cloud deployment methods to fit your goals and your budget. To find out more, please contact your 4Sight Account Manager, or alternatively give us a call us on + 44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com.

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Checklist: Seeking Mobility

eGuide: Move to the Cloud In Five Easy Steps

Is your company ready for a mobile communications solution?

Mobility can change the way you do business. Is your business ready to leverage all mobility has to offer?

With this checklist, your business can discover how to boost productivity and improve workflows with the right mobility solutions.

Key questions to consider:

  • Are your staff and tasks spread across a facility or housed in different departments?
  • Do many of your employees work away from the office?
  • Are you managing millennial workers?
  • Do you have limited IT resources?

Answer these questions and more with this free checklist to discover whether your business is ready for mobility.

This content was first published by Mitel.


We offer a range of Cloud Communications Solutions all of which deliver enterprise-level features and functionality regardless of the size of your business. Whether you are looking to implement Cloud Storage or Cloud Telephony, our solutions are designed around your company’s individual needs.

At 4Sight we have the tools and the expertise to help you with your Cloud needs, with a full range of cloud deployment methods to fit your goals and your budget. To find out more, please all us on + 44 (0)20 3668 0444 or email info@4sightcomms.com.

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