Recently guest host Scott Curtis sat down with IT VOICE CEO, WIll Slappey, to discuss all the ways the business phone system has changed over the years. Will began his career at IT Voice at the age of five, sweeping warehouse floors and refilling the coke machine out back. Since then, he’s held just about every position in the company. This allowed him to learn the full nature of the business, from sales to accounting to operations. He officially became the CEO in 2019, where he started a new growth campaign that has taken the company to 8 times the size it was when he started. Will loves working with clients directly to help them leverage technology to grow their business. For this reason, we were so excited to get his insightful take on how phones have changed and some best practices for picking out a new system. He’s in a unique position since he is a phone expert and the key decision maker in our company when it comes to adopting new technologies. He’s all about providing the best customer service experience and peace of mind for our customers.
A huge part of a great customer experience is communication. Your business requires a reliable phone solution to help you keep up and keep growing.
IT Voice started out as a phone service company. Can you give a brief synopsis of how the office phone has evolved over the years?
The experience has completely changed from the physical phone to the online experience. Technology has made great strides in moving from just being a physical phone to more about the software that powers modern voice solutions.
When IT Voice first began offering phone services, it was all about the physical telephone that sat on your desk. Clients would come in and we would go over the features offered with the phone and explain how all the buttons worked and the functionality they gave you. Now, the interest is far more focused on the online experience. Most clients are not even interested in the phone, so much as they are the online portal. They want to know how you can use the software to manage calls from your computer. They want to see the app on their cell phone.
If a person has had the same phone system for many years, what should a person be looking for in a new phone system?
If you are looking at purchasing a new phone system, the best advice I would give is to start from scratch. When approaching the decision throw out the checklist you used last time. Modern phone systems are incredibly different than they were even five years ago.
You used to have a physical box that would go in a closet, and all the lines in your office would connect to that system. Now, all that infrastructure is in the Cloud. Instead of thinking about the number of lines you need, you ask how many seats, or users, you need that will be utilizing the system. When thinking about the kinds of seats, there are so many options available, it’s helpful to have a vendor you trust walk you through all the options so that you can create the best customer experience for your clients.
Terms to know- UCaaS-Unified Communications as a Service. Sometimes people call this hosted PBX, hosted phones, or cloud phones.
Old school phone systems only had 2 kinds of users. Reception would have one style phone, and the ability to have an attendant console they could send calls to. Everyone else had the basic line. You mentioned users. What are some of the user options now?
There are so many options, this is a tricky question to answer. Here are some of the user types offered by IT Voice:
Limited Seat-This comes with a basic physical desk phone only. You have programming ability, with the ability to set up voicemail and auto attendant. But it does not include portal access, a web phone, or mobile app.
Standard Seat-This gives you everything included with the limited seat, as well as a portal log in, mobile app, and web phone. You can also text with clients and interoffice. And with admin access, you can manage the changes yourself (though we can manage it if you prefer).
Call Center-Everything included in the above seats. But Call Center ability allows your team to log in and out of queues and multiple people in the queue can answer the same call, letting you get to your clients faster. There is also the option to get reporting on the calls, so that you can make data driven decisions to help make the client’s experience better.
Phantom Seat- This is an extension on your system that forwards calls to a routable direct line.
So, the first thing you need to do is decide who needs to be on the system and then work from there to decide what kind of functionality they need. The whole point is to get the right fit for what your organization needs, and sometimes there are savings there when you begin to reevaluate your phone system.
Modern Phone systems use the internet to connect. How much internet do you need to power your phone system?
We’ve had clients that tried VoIP (Voice over IP) early on and felt burned by the experience. Things have changed significantly. For one, internet speed has gotten tremendously faster, and the bandwidth needed is smaller. Voice uses so little bandwidth now the real question is how you protect the bandwidth needed for the phone system. Think of it like traffic on the highway, VoIP needs a dedicated lane so that other traffic is not able to run it off the road.
What happens if the internet is cut?
The problem of service interruption is not new. Even with an old school phone system, there was the risk of the service being interrupted. The great thing about a cloud solution is that it will immediately see those calls are not being received and you can put a failover in place. Perhaps you can route the calls to a secondary location or begin to ring the app on your cell phone. You can also simply take the phone to a place where you have an internet connection like your home and plug it in at home and it will work.
Enhanced 911 is part of the service that automatically ties your telephone number to your physical address. You want to make sure your address is correct, so that the 911 operator can have accurate information should you ever need to make an emergency call.
1.) Dial 933 from your VoIP phone
2.) The recording will tell you the (e911-registered) number you are calling from, followed by the 911 address associated with your phone number.
(The number may be different than the normal caller-ID number when you make regular calls)
3.) If the address is correct, great! If it is not you will need to update the address.
The change in phones has been so monumental in the last few years. What should you look for as a business owner when seeking out a phone provider?
Pricing is always top of mind. Old school you’d pay a capital expense for every phone line connected to the system. In the new cloud-based system, you do not have to worry about lines. It is on a per-user basis and that determines what the cost will be. There can be big savings there.
Talk to your end users and managers in your company and look at the customer experience. How do we get the call to be answered by the right person in the shortest amount of time? If a client calls in and there is a long hold time, or they are transferred a lot that can lead to a bad customer experience. A VOIP (Voice over IP) company can help you accomplish your customer experience goals. A new phone system is an opportunity to rethink your process and see ways you can do it better.
Watch the full episode here: