One of the key problems areas in business is the unwillingness to upgrade, and this is definitely true of business telephone systems. Businesses implement systems and strategies and then ‘forget’ to upgrade.
This forgetfulness is usually due to the fact that setting up a new system can be costly and incredibly time consuming. However, it is exactly what you should be doing, every two years. Here is how to tell if your business telephone system needs to be upgraded.
Your Telephone System is Technically Obsolete
If your business telephone is visibly or technically obsolete, then you need to seriously consider upgrading it. There are real dangers to operating a business telephone system that has been discontinued by the manufacturer.
Unified communications is about connectivity, convergence and integration—it is about leveraging powerful technology to improve your business in many ways. More and more, businesses are realizing that their communications systems are not living up to the functionality or flexibility of this new kind of technology infrastructure.
You need to review the compatibility and interoperability of your phone system in relation to any new tech or networking equipment that you have purchased. If it is outstandingly incompatible—then it is obsolete.
There are many business telephone systems that have been discontinued by manufacturers, which is a ticking time bomb for your company. The time is coming when your parts will run out; your service men will stop using the tech and incompatibility becomes so rife that you will be forced to buy a new system.
Of course at this point the damage has been done already. You have probably bought bits and pieces of other systems in an attempt to keep your old one going. Your staff has become used to this out-dated technology and will struggle with any changes.
The bottom line is that if you run your business on obsolete technology, eventually there will be no-one to fix it, and it will break. When that happens your company will be without a communications system, and all you’ll have left is a business full of people that have no idea how to use more progressive systems. It is a massive financial loss waiting to happen.
If, like many businesses in transition, you suffer from giving your customers ‘excessive service’ you need to sort this out before you expand. Your communications structure is key to your customer relationship management, but it can get out of hand if you do not have the right tools on your side.
Yes, we live in a highly demanding world, where customers are extremely picky, and they demand excellent service all the time. But a business that attempts to give them this high quality service telephonically without the right systems is place is foolish. You are costing yourself an enormous amount of money, time and effort.
Every time you make a phone call to a customer using an outdated system, you are wasting money you do not have to waste. Your staff are spending longer and longer on the phone in an attempt to serve your customers, but it’s taking them away from their other work.
Productivity is moving at a snail’s pace, because your staff is always on the phone. No matter where you look, there never seem to be enough telephones. You install more and more, at additional cost. Your bills skyrocket. Your productivity plummets. Customers become unsatisfied with your level of service.
Is it because you have not gone out of your way to give them a good customer experience? NO! It is because you have not updated your business telephone system. This system could organize how you communicate with your customers. It will save you money. It will save your employees time and make them more productive because they can be mobile.
There are solutions that exist for these operational problems in the communication niche; it is just that not many business owners know about them. Instead they struggle on, hiring more people, and putting in more phones. You see it a lot at restaurant level. But this ‘excessive service’ does nothing but damage your reputation and business growth.
When that is damaged your bottom line stagnates. Do not let this happen to your business. You must update your business telephone systems to empower your staff to give the correct level of service in a proactive manner that IMPROVES business. This is how you will be able to grow and open second and third branches of your company. Then you will really need a quality unified communications infrastructure! It begins with the admission that you are in need of a serious upgrade.
If you need to increase productivity desperately, but no matter how hard you try you cannot seem to get it right, then an organized, updated business telephone system can do that for you. There is no magic bullet when it comes to human productivity. You can only give people the TOOLS they need and train them to use these tools correctly.
But there’s an opposite side to this coin. If you do not give your staff the tools they need, or you give them tools that hamper their performance, productivity is going to sink. Thanks to rapid technologies like VoIP, you do not have to worry about finding ways to make your staff more productive.
With the right business telephone system in place, the communication in your business will improve and along with it —productivity. Your staff will be able to do their jobs better, faster and with more accuracy while simultaneously keeping your customers happy.
Productivity improves service offerings across all profiles. There is less maintenance needed by your staff, the new system is more reliable and flexible – plus it allows for mobility and freedom of movement. In an office environment it is crucial to promote a culture of constant improvement – which is done simply these days via your communication strategy.
Constant improvement means measurement, which is exactly what you can do with new telephone system technologies like call accounting and call recording. If you want your sales people to be better at selling, this is how to do it. No book can teach you how to optimize your business—only analytics can. Luckily, to increase productivity and make it sustainable all you need to do is upgrade your business telephone system. It sounds too easy – but that is the truth. Better communication leads to higher productivity levels from every single staff member.
They are more connected, aware and motivated to keep your customers happy. When communication is simple, productivity sorts itself out. That is the real magic behind a corporate telephone system. If yours is lacking, you will know. If it is not actively improving your business productivity, you will know. Then it is time to upgrade.
Improve Customer Service
Customers are at the heart of everything you do as a business. You want your customers to love you, and come back to buy more of what you are selling—again and again. If you can figure out how to do this, you have yourself a winning business model.
But customer service improvement is impossible if you can’t even talk to your customers in an efficient and measurable manner. That is where a quality business telephone system comes in handy. It allows you to reach out to customers, and for them to reach out to you.
If your business telephone system is not improving your level of customer service, then it is not doing its job. A customer should be able to call you anytime, from anywhere and get through to the person they want to talk to. The experience should be informative and pleasant. It should not take longer than a few minutes.
There are several things happening in this sequence all at once— you are keeping your call durations down which saves you money. You are enhancing the customer’s experience by using an auto-attendant that routes them to the correct person via a reliable IP network connection.
By the time the customer gets to the client service agent, they are greeted by name and given a superb quality of service. That customer buys from you again. They all do. That should be your goal for a dedicated business telephone system. It needs to get your customers from A to Z in the least inconvenient manner.
For your staff, it is a simple matter of answering the call— wherever they are. If they cannot do this, then you have an outdated business telephone system. Instead of what was just described here, your customer calls, gets put on hold, gets transferred, gets asked the same information four times, gets their call dropped and on the fiasco goes.
It is well into the twenty-first century now, and that kind of 90’s behavior is not an asset to your company. Even though the old schools of thought support the ‘low cost’ system models, there are newer models that can help your small or medium-sized business afford a better quality business telephone system.
New “Must Have” Features Required
Another sign that your business telephone systems need to be upgraded, is the increasing need for ‘must-have’ requirements and features. There is no denying that we are currently living in a technology boom period, where newer models are coming out faster than the older ones can even be used properly first.
As technology evolves several things happen—it finds a way to make operations more affordable, more effective and less cumbersome for the people working alongside it. This is true of business phone systems.
New must-have features like automated attendant for example are becoming the new ‘standard.’ This is because auto-attendant replaces the out-dated switchboard operator, an employee position that used to cost businesses a fair amount of money.
But technology has found a way to route calls automatically, in a user-friendly manner that does not require this physical position in the company. As a result, the company saves money, rapidly boosts productivity (the auto-attendant is faster than operators are) and ensures that all customers find their way to a call agent in a few short minutes.
This leads to increased customer service, and as a result customer loyalty. The bottom line is always affected by the subtle changes. An unwillingness to upgrade means that you have out-dated system components that are COSTING you money, and keeping your business from blasting off into a whole new league of service and sales.
Features like call accounting and call recording are two more examples. The technology exists, but if you do not have it you cannot consistently improve your telephonic sales based on the analytics data that you get from these programs. If you do not have ‘must-have’ features like the ones discussed in this book, then that is a clear sign that your business telephone system needs an upgrade. With progress in technology comes improvement—not for the technology itself, but for the businesses that use this technology to better manage their communication strategies.
Take a closer look at your current business telephone system. Are you lacking features like commercial on hold, find me/follow me, auto-attendant, client pop up profiles and a web portal for call review? If you are then your system is hopelessly out-dated and in serious need of a total revamp or upgrade. Your competitors have already done it.
Connecting Mobile Workers
If your business telephone system does not support multiple businesses or mobile users, then it needs to be upgraded. There is only one reason why you are in business, and that’s to make money. Everything else is secondary to that goal.
Having a business telephone system that connects your employees with each other, and makes it easy for them to stay in touch when they are away from their desks, or out of the office, is CRUCIAL to enhanced productivity and increased sales.
Your work force needs to be highly mobile so that your frontend sales staff who are always out at meetings, seeing clients or working off-site, know what is going on at the office. They need to stay permanently connected to your other staff members, to ensure that everyone is doing their job. This is especially true for executives and managers.
What happens if you have several branches of your brand, but no unified communications infrastructure? It is a total nightmare keeping everyone in touch and informed when there is not a central network that everyone can use.
A great business telephone system should be able to accept all calls to all branches, and then route them to the appropriate people as needed. Every individual employee should have a phone number, and an extension that makes it easy for customers to find them.
There is nothing more frustrating in this modern day and age to phone a company, only to be put on hold, bounced around to 3 other people, and 20 minutes later still not have reached the person you need to talk to? That should not be happening to businesses that have the correct infrastructure in place.
Connecting mobile workers is pivotal to the future growth of your company. If you do not think it is important, just think about the dozens of competitors that are getting it right—and how they are taking your customers from you. Communication is a powerful tool, but if your system is not working properly it can be very damaging to people in your company.
The only way to remedy this issue is to upgrade your system. Then your employees can have the mobile communication they need to stay effective in a highly demanding work arena. Half the battle is giving them the tools they need to do their jobs properly. You will immediately see a difference in productivity once you’ve upgraded!
Office Relocation or Expansion
You will know if your business telephone system needs to be upgraded because office relocation or expansion will be impossible without significant financial investment. If your business cannot expand and handle the number of incoming and outgoing calls – then you have hit a fork in the road. Your system is out-dated.
Even though network congestion is quite common, the same thing is happening with data transfer in older telephone systems. What happens is that packet latency occurs which makes delivering data a huge frustration. Then voice latency happens, and you can barely hear the person on the other side of the call.
Your business needs to be able to expand and add as many phones as it needs in a simple and affordable manner. If it can’t do that, then you need to upgrade or soon you’ll suffer the increasing costs of adding lines, phones and staff to try to balance out demand.
Office relocation can always be a mission – which is why VoIP technologies were created and the physical lines and hardware required for a good business telephone system has been greatly reduced. Now it is incredibly easy to relocate to a new office, without the hassle of having to have hundreds of new lines installed, not to mention the thousands of dollars you will be paying for the phones themselves.
If you cannot pick up your office and relocate it without a significant telephone system debacle, then you need to upgrade your systems now. If you do not, you limit how large your business can grow, and perhaps even inadvertently prevent it from growing.
A modern day office should be able to function at any location. The people need to be connected, the customers need to be connected. But just because this is a prerequisite to success doesn’t mean that you need hundreds of wires and phones to make it work. There are simpler solutions that have been invented, that you need to integrate into your business model.
An accomplished business telephone system is no trouble to relocate to a new office. It is also the easiest and most scalable thing in the world. Add as many phones or headsets as you like without technicians or expensive hardware costs.
Connecting Multiple Sites
When you own several businesses and they all need to communicate with each other, not having an updated system can be a serious problem. If your business telephone system does not effectively connect all of your branches, then it is not doing its job.
There is a reason why businesses run all of their calls through a centralized network – it saves them money. It reduces costly phone bills because many of these systems run on VoIP networks that charge significantly less for local and cell phone calls.
When you transport your voice calls through an IP network— which also allows you to send and receive data—you can save thousands of dollars per branch, per month! Multiple site connection is a nightmare with out-dated business telephone systems. The costs alone on connection and expansion are enough to force an owner to upgrade.
With a unified communications infrastructure all calls will be run through your PBX or IP network that then automatically distributes the call to the appropriate extension and person. VoIP telephony is especially effective for multiple site connections.
Above and beyond the cost savings are the incredible correction of common inefficiencies associated with owning and running multiple sites. You do not need to have a receptionist answering the phones for you, the auto-attendant does it automatically.
You can also route the calls to one receptionist instead of say 5, from all five locations. From there this core receptionist can assist your customer in solving their problem. Call traffic is also managed far better in these upgraded systems. You do not want to have to deal with a loss of productivity and income because of call congestion.
If your sites are not connected by a unified communications infrastructure or a modern IP PBX system, then you are trailing behind. There is no excuse for a poor communications system in these modern times—they are affordable and available to everyone.
Whether you decide to lease the technology to keep it permanently updated, or buy the latest system so that you can guarantee the successful growth of your business – you can bet that in a year your customers will flock to businesses that have had the foresight to do this.
How much does your business telephone system cost you right now? Does it constantly need repair, or new parts or expansion? Then you are not taking advantage of the new business telephone systems out there, that allow you to do these things at no cost.
There are cost savings everywhere you turn when you implement a new business telephone system. The basic savings come from several areas, namely the fact that you are able to repair them, change them or improve them on your own.
Many of these systems are so easy to use that you do not need to hire a technician to maintain them for you – it is as easy as logging in and clicking a button. Then there is the cost savings that you get from eliminating unnecessary employees and high expense technology.
No more switchboard operators or new lines, and no more visits by costly phone company technicians to train, fix, replace and expand your system. The great thing about new business telephone systems is that they also make your staff more productive, which leads to even more cost savings and income increases.
When a sales person can get up and walk around, while still taking calls—they are being more productive for your business. Every call that they take is a satisfied customer that will buy your products or services.
New business telephone systems result in a cycle of improvement, which leads to consistent and sustainable growth. This growth means that they help trim the fat and enhance the great services that you do provide to your customers.
Of course, these are just some areas where you save money. There is no real calculation for the amount that you save in the long term. How do you calculate happy customers? The cost savings will give you the power to grow your business faster, by investing the money in areas that matter.
Your communication strategy needs to save you money, and make you money. That is why we communicate with our clients, as a business. If your business telephone system does not do this then it is COSTING you money. And you can’t afford a system that weighs you down.