Posts Tagged ‘customer retention’

best of bwVoice over IP (VoIP) phone systems are here to stay. At least until the next breakthrough technology arrives on the scene. Most crystal balls do not have that happening any time soon. Maybe that is a good thing. For those wishing to use premise based equipment, the question comes down whether to choose pure IP or converged IP, sometimes referred to as blended IP. With Toshiba you have the IPedge which is a software-centric unified communications platform for those who want to deploy an all IP network. The benefits of this pure IP solution are:

  • You have a single network to manage. Voice is but an application running on your LAN.
  • Advanced applications are either included in the software package or licensed. Typically, there is no additional hardware to purchase.

The Strata CIX, on the other hand, is a converged IP system. Benefits being:

  • You can mix IP, analog and digital devices. This is important if you are migrating digital sets from an existing Toshiba phone system.
  • It uses Cat3 (twisted pair) or dedicated Cat5e cabling . If you have older wiring in your building, converting to Cat5e or higher may not be cost effective.

The good news is that either solution provides a myriad of applications such as:

  • IP wireless sets which work off your wireless LAN access points
  • SoftIPT soft phones which transform your PC into a telephone providing global access anywhere you can get an internet connection
  • Call control from your PC; CRM integration with screen pops
  • Presence, Instant Messaging/Chat between extensions
  • Meet-me audio conferencing with web collaboration and video
  • Browser-based system administration
  • uMobilty Fixed Mobile Convergence turning your dual-mode smart phone into your phone extension
  • Contact Center capabilities

It really comes down to the premise wiring and the need for either digital or analog sets. Either solution will offer you a portfolio of applications which can be tailored to your company’s specific needs. From a few users to thousands, Toshiba has the right solution for you.

For more information, contact us at sales@selectteltech.com or give us a call at 815-282-5151.

ekt2With the snow falling, congress stuck in neutral and the improving economy started to rear its lovely head, many companies are considering capital investment with the updating of their telephone platforms to Voice over IP high on their list. There are some business owners who have weathered this recession by lowering both profits and expectations. They tell me that they will be interested in talking about upgrading but not until their phone system dies. While this may be the best strategy to maximize your 20+ year investment, there are downfalls. They are:

Your phone system will choose to die at a very inopportune time. There is never a good time to have a major component of your business fail. Lost calls mean lost revenue and more importantly, lost customers.

The cost to maintain and old phone system is greater than the cost to replace it. Just like that 2002 Oldsmobile, there becomes a time when monthly repair bills exceed the price of a new car payment. Phone system pricing has dropped considerably over the years. It’s a safe bet to say that the price of today’s new system will be lower than what you paid back  in 1998. 

Lack of current features means lost productivity.

  • Not having an IP phone system means no off-site employees, no networking with other systems, no advanced features and no using technology to drive new business.
  • Not having unified messaging means your voice mail messages will never be sent to your smart phone. Your customers don’t know you are out of the office. They think that you just don’t care.
  • Not having fax to the desktop means looking for faxes in piles of papers and manila folders instead of a folder on your computer.
  • Not having find me-follow me means that if you do have a customer call transferred off-site to your mobile device, they may be answered by your cellular voice mail and will have to call your company again to get their problem solved.
  • Not having CRM integration means that you can endlessly annoy your customer by asking them their account number, phone number, alternate phone number or address just for the privilege of selling them something. If you’d like a demonstration of how annoying this is, call your cable provider.

As you can see this ticking time bomb approach is not a proactive way to run your business. By giving your customers the best technology available, you make it easy for them to contact you, to deal with you and to buy from you. Make them want to die to do business with you instead of you dying from the lack of their business.

successThe good news is that productivity in the American workforce is near an all time high. The bad news is that we are busier than we have ever been without much hope for seeing things slow down in the short term. Now is the time to use technology to streamline a process, increase customer retention and make it easier for your customers to give you their money. Let’s take your telecommunication system as an example.

Let’s make some basic assumptions and see if we can find a resolution.

  • Customers who call in want a question answered or problem solved. Unfortunately, voice mail is not the answer. Voice mail will document their concern but can never address it. Ignoring and being unresponsive to voice mails will only aggravate your customers. The answer is to leverage the mobility solutions inherent in the more advanced VoIP systems. Find Me-Follow Me and IP Mobility come to mind.  Find Me-Follow Me allows your extension to ring initially but if unanswered, will ring your mobile device. If you are busy or can not answer on your mobile, the caller returns to your company’s voicemail (not your cell phone provider) where they can leave a message or zero out to the operator. IP Mobility works in conjunction such that when you are talking to your customer on your mobile device, you have all the features inherent to your desk set such as, transfer to another extension, record the call, send it back to your desk phone and more. You may even initiate business calls from your mobile device in which the call is routed though your VoIP phone system. The caller receives the Caller ID of your business, thus keeping your mobile number private.
  • If a customer wants to buy something or pay for something, let them. This may seem obvious but so many telecommunications systems are not programmed to provide this level of client interaction. Customers willing to spend money with you are sent to your employee’s voice mailbox. When the call is eventually returned, the customer may be unavailable or unwilling to part with their money. Programming options available to remedy this situation are:
    • Group Ringing with Overflow. Callers to certain departments; sales, billing and the like, ring at all phones associated with that department. If unanswered, calls will ring at overflow positions where the call can be handled in an “as needed” fashion.
    • Linear Hunt Groups. Callers to a department will be sent initially to those in the department best suited to assist them. If there are more callers than department personal, additional callers will be sent to stations who can help out as needed.
    • Uniform Call Distribution. Callers to a certain department are sent to a pilot number. Personell taking the calls are logged in as agents. Calls are distributed evenly among the agents. Callers not answered are put in a queue and answered in the order received while occasionally reminded that their call is important. 

Whatever method best suits your company’s needs is not important. What is important is that all callers are given a chance to talk and interact with your employees. Problems are addressed, questions are answered and money is spent. Take a fresh look and see if your telecommunications platform is part of the problem or part of the solution.

mentorA mentor can be defined as someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague. In my 20+ years in telecommunications sales and sales management I’ve had the privilege of many fine mentors.

In my first telecom sales job, my product training consisted of reading a double sided product handout. If I had questions, I was told just to read it again. I found a mentor early and with his technical background he taught me how and why things work. It was my job to figure out why someone would pay good money for that product.

Later as a manager I had the opportunity to be mentored by many who taught me what I consider to be my core principles. They are:

  • Even though you are paid by your employer, your goal is to serve the customer. Unless they buy, nobody makes money.
  • Don’t ask those who you support why their performance can’t be better. Instead ask what you can do to help them achieve your shared goals.
  • Any complaint is a valid complaint. Don’t think that logic will trump emotion. 
  • Under promise and over deliver

With January as National Mentoring Month, remember those who have helped make you who you are today. More importantly think of those you can help to be who you think they could be. Enjoy the rest of the month.

Santa w_childrenWhile wandering through the mall drinking my gingerbread latte, I happened upon Santa’s Workshop where four small children were visiting with Santa. While waiting for the caffeine to kick in, my curiosity was piqued when I heard a topic not traditionally discussed on the lap of that jolly old elf. It went something like this. “So, tell me children, what can Santa get you for Christmas this year?”

“An X-Box,” blurted Timmy.

“A dolly,” whispered Baby Louise.

“Another Christmas!” shouted Billy.

“Well, well, well,” chuckled Santa. “Little girl, what do you want for Christmas?” he said looking directly at Sally; the only one who had not answered.

“Can you tell me a secret?” asked Sally.

“I’ll try my best.” replied Santa.

“What’s VoIP?” asked Sally.

“That’s easy,” answered Santa. “It’s Voice over Internet Protocol.”

“But what does that mean, Santa?” asked Sally.

“Well, little girl, it’s actually a communications protocol.” conjectured Santa.

“Isn’t it more of a transmission technique via the internet in lieu of PSTN,  Santa?” asked Timmy?

“It’s free phone calls!” shouted Billy.

“What about the absence of QoS on the internet?” retorted Timmy.

“It’s Google Voice!” yelled Billy

“What about latency, jitter, 911 considerations.” stated Timmy calmly.

“It’s free faxes!” yelled Billy after a momentary pause.

“Not without T.38 stupid head!” shouted Timmy to Santa’s amazement.

“Children children this is no way to talk to each other.  Don’t be naughty or I’ll have to put you on the list!” said Santa in a non-threatening way.

“Santa, I’m not trying to be naughty but you can’t discount the lack of redundancy and weak security!” pleaded Timmy.

“Santa?” whispered Baby Louise.

“Yes, sweetie,” answered Santa.

“You’re just like VoIP.” answered Baby Louise speaking a little louder.

“How so?” asked Santa.

“Well, everyone’s heard of you but you mean different things to different people. If we worry too much on who or what you are, we miss your true meaning.” stated Baby Louise.

“Go on,” encouraged Santa.

“It’s not important who or what we are but what good can we bring to one another. That’s the true meaning of Christmas, Santa.” smiled Baby Louise.

“Yes, sweetie,” said Santa smiling, “That is the true meaning of Christmas!”

If you’ve spent anytime on the internet, you’ve certainly been solicited by vendors based on your search history. Being in the telephone industry I regularly receive e-mails for “white papers” comparing and contrasting different telephone systems. Is this a viable technique when you’re considering upgrading your phone equipment? I have three thoughts I’d like to share.

  1. The content is not as impartial as they imply. The easiest way to guess who is sponsoring this survey is to find the vendor of whom you have never heard. They are typically the vendor wishing to be considered with the major players.
  2. Expect to be contacted. In order to download this information you are required to register with your name, phone, e-mail, number employees, sense of buying urgency etc. Regardless of what you enter, you will be called, and soon; usually within 15 minutes.
  3. The information sent can not address your specific business issues.  These white papers can list a systems’ capabilities, features, capacity and relative cost. They can not be tailored to focus on the important things; increasing customer retention, adding to your bottom line or improving an internal process. You need a sales professional to accomplish this.

If you are in need of upgrading your telecommunications system and you would like it designed to address your company’s specific issues, we know where you can find that sales professional. Contact us at sales@selectteltech.com or call us at 815-282-5151. Internet access not required.

Ever since I’ve been in the Telecommunication Industry, sales people have always pushed their product’s features. They would provide a laundry list; some of which you could decipher but much of which meant absolutely nothing. Astute sales people would ask pointed questions to their prospects in which they would try to convince them that their exclusive feature would be to the prospect’s benefit. To me that seems a bit backwards.

My recommendation is to take the “tool box” of features, define their applications and address business issues specific to those of the prospect. A simple way is to ask yourself, “What does this feature mean to me?” If you can not answer that question move on. A wiser way to proceed is to ask, “Will this feature solve a problem? Will this feature make me more profitable? Will it streamline a process? Will it make it easier for my customers to buy from me or to pay me? Will it add to customer satisfaction and eventually customer retention?” When you focus on what’s important to your business that laundry  list now becomes a note pad.

Polls are closed and the votes are in. It’s Applications by a landslide! Like in any election, focus on what’s important to you and tune out the hype. It’s the patriotic thing to do!