The New MVP: Message, Video, & Phones

June 05

Creating the perfect customer experience often starts with a phone call.  Hosted phone systems give your business the features needed to craft the best first impression. In this post, we will cover  an essential part of everyday life: phones. Chances are you have one in arms reach right now, and it is hard to deny the impact they have on our everyday and professional lives. Innovative technology is changing the way we all look at the business phone system. No longer is it a device that simply sits on your desk to make a call. This new tech has led to looking at phones in a different way.   

So today we are going to look at phones as the new MVP: Message, Video, Phone.  And every office can benefit from these new methods of communication.  



Will Slappey: Welcome to Technology Simplified-Tech Talk Everyone can Understand. I am your host Will Slappey, CEO of IT Voice. On today's episode, we will be discussing an essential part of everyday life: phones. But not just the plain old telephone on your desk. We're going to look at phones as the new MVP (message, video, and phone) and every office can benefit from these new methods of communication. To learn more, I am joined by special guest Matt Rice, who is a voice engineer here at IT Voice. Matt is often our go-to person when a customer needs to craft a new voice solution.

He has the unique perspective of being on the tech side, but also communicating with clients about the new features that are most important to them. So welcome, Matt. Glad to have you on our show today.

Matthew Rice: Thank you so much for having me. Looking forward to talking about hosted phone solutions.

Will Slappey: Absolutely. Now, before you jump into hosted phone solution, I hear you guys throughout this term all the time. PBX. Tell us, what is that term PBX?

Matthew Rice: Wow. That is an ancient term. So PBX actually stands for the private branch exchange. Essentially it started back long ago when you had your call center operators sitting in front of those huge boards and would use their core connections to connect calls. That was initially a PBX. Over time it's sort of progressed onto where you have physical hardware that's either installed on site, or maybe somewhere offsite. But the primary use of a PBX is to give customers the ability to route calls internally or externally how they want, give them multiple options outside of the existing plain old telephone system, which simply sent the call to one user and that was it.

This gives them flexibility such as voicemail options auto attendants, IVRs. Gives them multiple chances to get interacted with their customers better than a plain old telephone system.

Will Slappey: Yeah, makes sense. And we use the term from time to time. A lot of people don't know where it came from. So thanks for the short history lesson.

So on these new systems that are out and you're talking about hosted as well? What do you mean when you say it's hosted? What does that mean?

Matthew Rice: It's not necessarily on your premises. So you've got two, two versions of a PBX. You've got what's called a on-prem or on-premises. It's there in your building. It's a physical piece of hardware. It could be anything such as this big. It could be a huge rack but it's on your site physically. And a hosted thing could be a similar physical piece of hardware. It's just not on your site. It's somewhere remotely. So that way if you have an issue going on locally, it can still work effectively.

And that's also changed these days up into a cloud solution, which is hosted on servers, maybe more than one. Some instances have three to four different cloud servers that they utilize for a cloud hosted service to be able to give them that high availability and redundancy they're looking for.

Will Slappey: Yeah, that makes a whole lot of sense. A as, as I've heard some of the sales guys talk about it. The brains are now in the cloud instead of that back closet. That's right. So, so what are the benefits of a system like this?

Matthew Rice: So there's three primary benefits that I like to talk about when I'm discussing a hosted PBX solution with customers: flexibility, control and cost.

Flexibility is gonna be something where the voice space is already in the process of expanding its reach and capability for users. But Covid has accelerated that exponentially with remote work. A hosted PBX makes a change from an office setting to a remote setting. Multiple times easier for your users, and as we found out, did not limit the ability of remote users to be effective in their job performance.

One great example of this, frankly, Will, is our central help desk. We've been able to recruit more talent because of our hosted phone solution. We're not tied to Birmingham anymore. We can hire from Texas, Wisconsin, Maine. Washington state because we can ship a phone out to them and they're still connected to our system, but we can increase our talent pool and get better talent in through that.

Lemme talk about control. A hosted option provides users the choices they want on how calls are routed to them. If you're out for the day hanging at the coffee shop, don't want to be in front of your phone all day, a mobile app or a web phone, solves that for you.You're able to still receive and make those calls without sacrificing your. Personal cell phone number, you can use a business number to make those calls out. It just gives you more flexibility and like we talked about earlier, to be able to handle what you need to on a day-to-day outing.

I am gonna talk about cost now. Transparent cost via what we call a seat system. Instead of the old licensing system that you had with some of your old on-prem PBXs. This lets you know exactly what your cost is going to be upfront with no extra funny business, like the phone company likes to provide none of those secret fees that you see at the bottom of your bill each month.

$3 here, $4 here. It's all upfront. You know what you're paying each month with your seat. Less hardware means your cost is gonna be less, which is big savings for your company. And because your phone calls are sent out over the internet. No more long distance, junk, no more silly charges. With that, you make the calls even if you're out of country.

But cause you're using a hosted system over the internet, you're able to save on cost by calling back international or calling back home if needed.

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Will Slappey: Yeah. Now that that, that's a lot of reasons to consider. So, so let's get beyond the hosted, for example, or maybe a dive a little bit deeper into the client perspective, right?

I know that you work with a lot of our clients all the time. So what are the features that you see the clients get the most excited about? And how does that make their lives, their businesses better?

Matthew Rice: Customers, for the most part, they love the reliability of a hosted solution. When you tell them that you no longer have to manage a piece of hardware, that a lightning strikes, they're out. They actually get excited about that. The fact that redundancy can be built in and high availability have become such key terms, not only for data. But voice is a part of your data now, right?

That's how it travels over the internet. It's data. So considering your voice option that has that high availability, flexibility, elasticity gives these days, they get excited about it when we're talking. There's no more worrying about if a piece of equipment goes down, does the whole system go down?

Because you may have some phones if your power goes out, for sure. Your desk phone's there maybe go out. That's where the mobile app comes in. That's where the web phone comes in. Your auto attendants, your IVRs, they still process because all that information's in the cloud and it doesn't get sent to the user until a connection is made.

So if no connection's made, it can route elsewhere. So your clients or your customers calling in don't feel like there's an interruption of service. They're just leaving a voicemail.

Will Slappey: It makes a lot of sense. Some people out there may be thinking like am I big enough for this or am I too big for this?

Right? So, you know, if you've got five or 10 phones, is hosted still a good fit? If you've got a thousand phones, you know, is there a place where it fits or doesn't fit? Are there any size questions?

Matthew Rice: There's always size questions because people are looking for the right phone system for them. The simple answer in a hosted solution is there's no wrong answer. We've got multiple users and multiple companies who have three or four users. We even have some that don't really use a desk phone, they just use the mobile app, and a hosted solution works perfect for them. We've got other clients who have 600, 700, 1,000 users on the phone system, because again, with that cloud-based system, there's no tie up of phone lines or phone numbers, all your calls can still process through and be able to handle that call load even at a larger scale.

Will Slappey: That's great. So let's talk about call center functionality. And I would love to talk about this in two contexts. You know, one context of the bigger companies who have a true call center of people, like you mentioned, our central help desk that calls flow into that answer our customers calls. And so we have more of a true call center type of function, but some businesses, maybe they don't have a true call center, but they certainly have people that are performing those functions of answering customer calls.

Talk about the call center functionality that's available in the hosted solutions and how that applies to both the customers with a traditional sort of group of people as a call center and maybe those people who need some of that functionality but may not have a true call center.

Matthew Rice: You know, the hosted system is not necessarily like any different than any other PBX. Your call center solution is always a little bit more expensive, but you pay for those additional features. So if you're a customer that just wants basic call reporting. I want to know how many calls I'm taking in a day. I want to know who's answering my calls. A hosted solution can simply provide you that through something like a call history or an export of a CSV file. You can filter that information to the parameters that you need and be able to get that information quickly. If you're a larger company and you have a true call center that needs metrics, how many calls is this agent handling? Are they putting a customer on hold for a long-extended period of time? A true call center reporting feature is able to be built in the hosted system to give you that more granular, specific information that a bigger call center will require.

Will Slappey: Gotcha. Now one of the things that you talked earlier about, you know, covid, people going home and you know, going to the coffee shop and all that. And some people may okay, that sounds great and wonderful and functionality, but what about security? Like how do you manage security? With everybody spread out like that. So are these hosted solutions they're out in the cloud, are they more likely to get hacked or, you know, run into security issues, compared to maybe traditional systems?

Matthew Rice: So this is a really good question. Will, a lot of people have always asked, you know, is VoIP secure? The answer is it's as secure as your cybersecurity training or your employees take it. If they are trained well in cybersecurity policies. Don't be giving out credit card information over the phone.

Your regular, basic, everyday measures your VoIP system is very secure. I mean, it's transported over secure, layered information. Individual users, when they log into a hosted account, their information is private. Nobody else has access to them except for them. So, yes to answer your question, it is absolutely secure.

Will Slappey: What about questions of just kinda like practical questions? You know, some people are like, “Hey, you know, I'm concerned about bandwidth”. Or other questions of you know, “how is this gonna work”? Especially somebody who's in a traditional system that's had a traditional mindset.

Are there any concerns about bandwidth or other things that? That they need to take into consideration.

Matthew Rice: Bandwidth is always important no matter what. If you're talking about regular data or especially with voice, while it doesn't take up as much bandwidth, it's very low bandwidth usage actually. But so while it doesn't take up that amount as your regular data transfers, your uploads downloads, it does need to be in its own environment in order to perform optimally. If it becomes integrated with all the rest of your data information and you have issues with internet, if it's not given its proper treatment, such as something like a setting up quality of service on the firewall. Setting up some kind of traffic shaping or giving bandwidth priority to your voice, it can definitely suffer. So it's always important to keep things like bandwidth usage in mind when you're setting these up. But a good solid network that has good architects and a good design, 99% of the time will v work very effectively with a voice system.

Will Slappey: So when should the company consider you know, making the switch over to a hosted phone solution?

Matthew Rice: Now there's no reason to wait. Remote work is here to stay. The flexibility of a hosted system actually provides all of your employees a chance to reach their clients when needed and keep business moving.

Your primary targets though, for a migration of some sort would be businesses that are looking to scale quickly. If they're looking to save money without sacrificing quality or productivity. Going back to scaling quickly, we actually have a customer who consistently adds new users. They're out of state.

They're, you know, I'm based outta Birmingham, so they're based in another state. So, I can't set them up a desk phone immediately get that shipped. But what a hosted solution allows us to do is to create the user, send them a welcome packet. They sign in with some credentials that they can create, talk, going back to the security, and then they're able to actually go ahead and download the mobile app and install the web phone and start taking calls immediately.

So they're already in the queue. As soon as they're logged in. They're working. There's no downtime waiting two or three days for a phone to ship and then get everything set up. We have two-thirds of the pie already cooked. We just have to send you the final piece and then make the changes there.

So it's able to be escalated quickly, built quickly, and users can get going on the fly effectively.

Will Slappey: Yeah. Yeah. And one of the things I've heard, you know, some business owners or managers and that kinda, maybe a hesitation they might have of doing is ah, you know, I spent a hundred thousand dollars on this system 10, 15 years ago, and I want to get more life out of it or something.

And a lot of times they don't understand that there's a monthly cost that's also associated with that, whether it be on the maintenance side and the changes there. Also the lines that make all of that run and function that now can be replaced with a hosted solution. Sometimes I'll tell customers the analogy of if you had an old car that got two miles per gallon, you know, and you were to upgrade it, to say a leased a vehicle you could pay for the cost of the leased vehicle. And save money because of the amount of gas that you would save on a monthly basis. And so a lot of times we even see customers who actually save money on their monthly cost as a part of switching. And so sometimes they kinda get hung up. I spent a bunch of money at some point in the past, I wanna get value from. If your current cost is more than that, may not pan out for you as well as you’d like you think. Yeah. So last question before we gotta go.

Will Slappey: So Matthew, last question. What do you see as the future for phones? What are things gonna look like in the coming years?

Matthew Rice: So, phones, or what I'm gonna call desk phones in the traditional sense, they've sort of become engulfed in the larger voice solutions. Simply talking on your desk phone. That's not relevant anymore. That's not the only way that people communicate. You need something like a multi-layer solution to provide messaging services both through hard phones soft phone solutions, but you also need something like messaging.

You need video options as well. All that together in a hosted system brings about something like a UCAS, which is Unified Communications as a service. You know, we're no longer talking about voice and phone. Being one-to-one voice can be a plethora of options Now for our customers, most of them like the flexibility to have everything put together and be able to have one bundle to for all their needs.

Will Slappey: That's great. That's all the time we have today for today's episode of Technology Simplified. Thank you, Matt, for coming and joining us. We hope that all of you out there enjoyed our deep dive into the world of hosted PBX phone systems, and maybe even gotten some ideas about how this tech can improve your business processes. If you have any questions or topics you'd like us to cover in future episodes, feel free to reach out to us on social media or through our website. We're always excited to hear from our listeners. Don't forget to subscribe to technology simplified wherever you get your podcast, so you will never miss an episode.

Have a great week everyone.


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