Monday, November 29, 2010

Answering Calls with the Real-Time Call Control

Due to budget constraints some small businesses may employ a limited number of staff which can result on everyone being consumed on their tasks including answering and attending to phone calls. Without a receptionist, there will be times when no one is available to answer an incoming call since some of the employees are out of the office for an appointment.

This situation can hinder good customer service and may put the business in peril particularly when important calls are always neglected. What the business needs to avoid this hindrance without compromising the tasks of each staff is a small business phone system solution equipped with a real-time call control feature.

This call controller is business telephone system call management tool that allow each user to have the ability to manage and control their own extensions. It is actually an application that provides the user with a desktop interface for controlling and managing calls using the computer. With this tool, other features such as answering rules, automated attendant, call forwarding, call routing, etc., can be easily configured to meet the preference of each users. Utilizing this desktop application can also provide the business with effortless inbound and outbound call management.

This feature works by allowing each call to be answered by an auto-attendant. The caller is presented with a categorized menu of extensions to easily reach the appropriate person. If the selected extension is not answered, busy or simply unattended, the call is either rerouted to another number or sent to the user’s voicemail to allow the caller to leave a message. If the user is in front of the computer, the desktop call controller displays the caller ID and other caller information with a pop-up window with other options to answer, reject or redirect the call.

With this tool, the company can work efficiently without having to worry of missing any calls.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where Phone System Hackers Hide

Some phone systems are utilizing a feature, called the dial-by-name directory, which hackers can take advantage of by obtaining valuable information in it. This telephony feature usually works in conjunction with a voicemail system by providing callers a categorized menu when connecting to the proper contact or department.

Callers can easily access this directory feature by pressing “0” on their telephone keypad. Most companies’ assign this number by default and it is usually configured to be accessed after dialing the main phone number or after the voice mail box has activated. Phone hackers carry out their attack after office hours to be sure no one answers the call they will make.
Hackers are not hackers if they are not capable of protecting their identities. To conceal their location or identity a phone system hacker usually hides behind the following:
  • Business Phones – with the use of the phone system’s manual or user guide an attacker can easily spoof the system by entering the default administrator password which is usually not changed. Once in, the hacker can easily use the system as a platform for attacking other system.
  • Residential Phones – a caller ID can easily reveal who the calling party is. Phone attackers can trick the phone system by entering the code *67 before dialing the number they will call. It is a code for hiding the phone number they used for calling. Unfortunately, this technique does not work when calling toll free phone numbers or N-1-1 codes like 911.
  • VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) Servers – open-source PBX software, like Asterisk, can be utilized and configured to hide any attackers’ identity by using any number they want.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Collaboration Tools for Virtual Law Firms

Today’s virtual law firms are relying on the benefits of modern technology to work together with fellow lawyers and coordinate with clients effectively in order to get the job done. Some of these collaboration tools that are now being enjoyed by law firms are:
  • Conference Calling - a simple but effective tool that provides lawyers with an instantaneous communication using a telephone. An ordinary telephone will work and serve well the communication requirement of two persons. But, if it involves more than two parties then a call conference is the suitable tool to employ. Modern communication devices like home telephones, mobile phones, virtual PBX and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems now includes this as an added feature.
  • IM (Instant Messaging) - it has been the communication tool of choice for teens and young adults. Today, IM has found its way on world of business such as law firms and some users are starting to abandon some of their communication tools like e-mail or voicemail for it. With IM, users can communicate in real-time with the ability to share different files. Among the popular IM applications are: AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), Google Talk, Skype, Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger.
  • Remote or Screen Sharing - it is a technology that allows a user to virtually share the computer desktop with another user for the purpose of sharing images, documents, presentations or troubleshooting. Some enterprises are utilizing this tool to hold online meetings. Other functions that can be achieved with it are: annotations, chatting, downloading, installation and recording.
  • Web Conferencing - a tool that most enterprises are now using since it allows them to share almost anything like audio, desktop screen, documents, images, software applications, videos, etc. Unfortunately, it is one of the most difficult tools to implement and may require a company to provide this service.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Technologies for Business Use

Almost everything involved in operating the business these days are being streamlined by technology. From accounting, administrative, customer support, list management, production to marketing modern technology is used to increase productivity and profit.

Most businesses are using basic business technologies like a PC (personal computer), phone system and mobile phones. But, depending on the business type and size, some may utilize additional and specialized devices to meet the growing necessities of the company. With continuing research and development, there is always a technology to answer the needs of every business:
  • Cellphone/Handheld Device – enable users to become mobile and provides them with features like contact management, internet connection, MMS/SMS (Multimedia Messaging Service/Short Message Service), etc.
    • Computer - gives the business with the ability to handle basic and sophisticated tasks such as internet access, graphic design, word processing, etc. 
    • Office Phone System - it is one of the most important communication equipment a company should have. Telephone systems can provide complete control and management of calls, extensions, faxes and voicemails. Affordable PBX services are now being offered by various providers. These modern telephony systems are packed with useful call management features like answering rules, call controller, times of day routing,office phone system extensions, virtual PBX voicemail, and many more.
    • Printer - allows documents and reports to be printed. It comes in basic types: dot matrix, inkjet and laser.
    • Toll Free Phone Number - it provides a way for customers to call the business, for inquiries or orders, free of charge. Telephone companies are now offering this service but, if the company already have a virtual PBX phone system then it is likely to be included as an added feature.
    • VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) - provides cheaper calls than ordinary telephone lines since it make use of the internet for transmitting voice and other data. Unfortunately, its quality depends on the speed of the internet connection.
    Other technologies that are valuable to any businesses are: fax machine, software application and photocopier.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    A Guide in Choosing and Measuring the Effectiveness of Advertising

    Advertising and marketing involve s numerous errors, guess works and trials. It takes a bit of experiment to mix and match the media that should be use in carrying a simple advertising campaign. But, before choosing which media to utilize it is important to know that efforts are required in determining their effectiveness.
    Luckily, there are various ways in measuring the usefulness of a chosen media before putting it into use. Below is a method in deciding which media to use:
    1. Select the type of media to employ:
      • Classified Ads
      • Coupon Mailers
      • Direct Mail
      • Internet
      • Magazines
      • Newspapers
      • Outdoor Marketing/Advertising
      • Radio
      • Telemarketing
      • TV
      • Specialty Items
    2. Contact the company offering this type of service.
    3. Get to know, by talking to an appropriate company or sales representative, which competitors are making use of it and for how long.
    4. Gather the competitors’ ads, if obtainable or available, and make a thorough review. Evaluate the contents that are used such as context, offers, toll free numbers, tracking numbers, etc.
    Most advertisers are contented after putting the media to use. Most of them do not realize the significance of tracking and knowing the outcome of an advertisement. Those who do not recognize this will end up spending a lot of money to unproductive campaigns. Here are few ways in knowing the results:
    • Ask different customers of how and where they know about the advertisement, company, products or services.
    • Keep a documentation of advertising or marketing response for analysis and review.
    • Make use of 800 phone numbers where consumers can freely call.
    • Place a key number or contact information along with the ad.
    • Provide demonstration, free trial, samples or special offers.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Significance of Virtual Phone Systems

    A growing business tends to expand its workforce in order to cater efficiently the business’ growing needs. That means additional employees are hired to fill-up the gap for external or internal positions. Not only does it require additional employees but it also needs to re-adjust its phone system in order to accommodate the growing volume of calls on a day to day basis.

    The early phone system can handle the growing business needs through the additional telephone lines. However, this solution may be adequate to counteract telecommunication problems but, unfortunately it can lead to inefficiency and substantial cost. In addition, adapting such systems will also result to bigger problems when it comes to improvements or upgrades. These systems may not work well with the modern technology. These days, the virtual PBX has been preferred by most of the business proprietors to respond to their growing business communication needs. A virtual phone system is already designed to elevate the business communication and that it can be easily integrated with the trending computer, internet and mobile technology.

    Most of the virtual PBX phone systems features were designed to provide the business with reliable call management in order to get instant connection with customers, staffs and other business contacts.

    Most telecommunication providers pack their phone system service with rich features like toll free or local number, call forwarding, internet fax, voicemail, online account management, virtual extensions, call whisper and many more.

    How important are these features? Let us take a look at followme call forwarding. FollowMe is a useful feature that prevents calls from being neglected. It presents the caller with a list of available contact numbers for the intended person to reach wherever he or she may be located.