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Telephony – lots to consider

In my previous blogs I’ve written a lot about VoIP and specifically the features and benefits of a hosted telephony system, but that is not the only option available. At Timico we can provide a number of different systems to suit our customers’ requirements, but in getting to the stage of being able to recommend a suitable solution, there are lots of factors to consider. Telephony is a vital part of the day to day running of any business; therefore a new system isn’t something that can just be implemented overnight, some of the things that will need to be discussed include…

1. Should the system be onsite or hosted? There are various different solutions on the market, some which rely on making a capital investment in a piece of hardware, or others which are based on renting part of a shared platform. Even when deciding to go down the ‘owned hardware’ route, it could then be an option as to whether the phone system should be kept on your own site, or co-located in a data centre for added resiliency. There are both pros and cons for each method in terms of costs, flexibility and also from a disaster recovery view, which we can cover later.

2. Should the system use VoIP technology or traditional ISDN? As we’ve discussed before, there are lots of benefits to using VoIP, but as we also know, that is reliant on having strong connectivity in place to support it. There are systems available that are capable of handling both SIP and ISDN, allowing either the ISDN to be used as a back-up for added assurance, or as the main route for Voice calls until better connectivity is available.

 3. Does the system need to work across multiple sites? If your business has offices in other locations, how do they need to communicate with each other? Using IP based telephony solutions all of these sites could be linked together to provide a single system to all, ensuring that every user can benefit from the same features no matter which office they are at. In the past, offices may have all had different systems at each site meaning that every time they call another office, they have to dial the full area code and telephone number – wouldn’t it be so much easier if they were all on the same system and could just dial an extension code? The other possibility is that you could benefit from free calls between all of these sites too!

4. What functionality is required? Different solutions provide different levels of features and functionality. It’s important to think about what functions the system needs to perform in order for your users to work most efficiently. For example, call recording may be needed for legal reasons or for training purposes depending on the type of business.  Some areas of the business may operate a call centre or help desk service in which they may need to be able to monitor the number of callers waiting in a queue, or view statistics on how long their agents take to deal with customers. Different types of businesses and even different users within a business may all need something different from the phone system; therefore it’s important to understand exactly how it needs to work for everyone.

5. How does the system affect caller experience? Following on from the features that a system can provide for internal users, we’d also need to look at how calls are delivered in, out and around the business. Do you have a main incoming number or do all of your users have their own direct telephone number? Then what happens when a call comes into the business - is it handled by a receptionist, delivered to a group of users or does it go to an automated messaging system? Choosing how calls are routed doesn’t just affect how internal users work, but it also affects the customer service experience.

6. What the businesses future plans? It’s important to think about how long you expect any new system to last. Going down a hosted option often gives the flexibility of being able to rent a service on a monthly basis, easily adding and removing users and services, whereas investing a substantial amount in your own system may mean you would expect to use it for a number of years. Therefore the system you choose should be capable of fulfilling not only your requirements now, but also how they might change in the future – both in terms of the numbers of users it needs to support, the number of calls that you are likely to be making/receiving and in terms of the functionality it needs to deliver.

As you can see there is lots to consider when deciding to implement a new telephony system, and above is just an overview! In my next blogs I’ll aim to look into some of these considerations in more detail.

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