April 22 2014 Archives“Going green” is really just about doing what you can to help better the environment. If that means leaving less of an environmental footprint thanks to your business’ communications tools, then all the better! Because it’s Earth Day (and because we always love a good opportunity to talk about reasons to embrace business VoIP) we want to remind you of the numerous environmental benefits that come with cloud-based solutions – especially for businesses switching from traditional, wire-based phone systems. Below, we highlight some of the ways Vonage Business’s cloud-hosted service contributes to a company’s overall “green” approach: Bolsters Brand Differentiation Sixty-six percent of customers believe that companies should support the environment, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Cultivating a “green” brand allows you to cater to this growing majority of conscious consumers. At the same time, it enables you to stay one step ahead of industry trends and mandates, such as the FCC’s 2014 push for a nationwide migration from copper infrastructure to Internet protocol (IP). This seems especially appropriate after Hurricane Sandy which, after gutting copper-wire systems along the East Coast, brought an increase in the use of more-sustainable solutions such as business VoIP. As more businesses make the decision not to install (or re-install) copper landlines, they’re participating in what FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler cites as the “IP Transition.” Such a decision says a great deal about a company’s brand and its commitment to greener business practices. And those that opt for an advanced business VoIP solution also enjoy more efficiency and a technology that delivers significantly lower costs. Cuts Down on Commuting Because cloud-hosted business VoIP phone systems allow your workers to simulate the office environment – whether at home or in satellite offices – it’s easy for you to develop a quality telecommuting program. This virtual working environment requires far fewer employees to drive to the office, which dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions from burning gasoline on the road. You can also omit the need for in-house meetings altogether by relying on services such as our Conference Bridge that connects up to 30 people in one session. Saves on Utilities A business VoIP phone system works over virtually any high-speed Internet connection. Team members can plug in their office phone at home and have calls flow just as they do at the main office. Also, superior mobile apps ensure a seamless working experience on the go. And with Find-Me/Follow-Me – a VoIP feature that allows the phone system to sequentially deliver calls to various numbers – employees can be reached wherever they are. If employees don’t have a smartphone, we can integrate with regular cell phones, too. In other words, anyone on your team can receive business calls regardless of physical location and without interruption for clients and customers. These features make full-time telecommuting possible for many businesses, reducing money spent on office utilities including electricity, heating fuel, and technology-related expenses along with the cost of a lease or rent. Other Green Benefits Looking for more great green benefits? There are so many to incorporate and enjoy, for instance: Paper savings thanks to Paperless Fax, which minimizes the need to print incoming faxes Vonage Business Mobile apps provide full functionality of your business phone system from anywhere; available for iPhone and Android Business VoIP proves that making even one small upgrade can have an impact on the environment. We salute those companies doing their part to support a smarter, more sustainable working environment. You can be one of them! About Jason Wernick Jason Wernick is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Vonage Business where he focuses on driving new channels and partnership development. He has over 20 years of experience in Business Development, Sales, Product Innovation, Product Management and Product Marketing with emerging companies as well as market leaders. April 10 2014 ArchivesIf you ask business owners why they’ve made the switch to a business VoIP phone system, you’ll hear many great reasons – most often focused on savings and operational efficiency. But today’s business owners are taking a longer view of how their new phone system will support business growth and brand awareness over time. They’re asking how well the system scales as the organization grows. And they’re expressing a desire for their business phone system to reflect the capabilities of a smart, contemporary organization like theirs. It’s a useful mindset for seeking a better business phone system – one that aligns with and supports the long-term development of the company’s brand. So we decided to highlight 10 benefits that our cloud-based business VoIP solution offers companies interested in brand-building and strategic growth: Mobility Advantages: It’s understood that business owners and employees must devote time out of the office visiting clients and attending trade shows, conferences and other networking events to drive business or increase brand awareness. With free Vonage Business Mobile apps, they can easily manage their extension, make and receive calls, and even monitor call activity. It provides them the flexibility of being out of the office without the worry of missing important calls and activities. Plus, with Vonage Business Mobile, even when employees call from the road, caller ID registers it as a call from the office. Brand Messaging: Training is key to instilling employee best practices that directly reflect on your brand. Call Recording and Call Monitoring are two outstanding tools that help the business train employees to deliver a consistent message. By listening to calls or monitoring existing calls, you can also determine how your product and brand is perceived, allowing your business to adapt your positioning appropriately. Faster Business Expansion: It couldn’t be easier to add new employees to our business VoIP phone system and have them up and running quickly. Adding a new location in a different city? It’s as easy as ordering phones and adding extensions immediately. The system was built to support the growth and expansion of your business, both quickly and with minimal costs. Best Face Forward: Our business phone system provides features right out of the box that can often make businesses appear more capable, successful and even larger at a fraction of the cost. For example, if your five-employee company utilizes our Virtual Receptionist feature and splits call volume between customer service, sales, etc., then the business takes on the structured appearance that you dictate – potentially creating new demands or opportunities for services. Toll Free Numbers: We have found that businesses are able to increase their user base just by adding a toll free phone number to their website. Some businesses report that the addition of a toll-free number has also improved their conversions. Toll-free numbers reinforce the brand and assure that customers have an easy point of contact. Vonage Business’s Toll Free Numbers come with no usage fees, so businesses can provide toll-free access for a low monthly fee. Integration with Major Business Applications: To increase efficiencies with best-in-class business tools, Vonage Business has developed a suite of Desktop Plugins for major applications such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar CRM, QuickBooks, LinkedIn, Outlook and more. These plugins provide integration between the Vonage business phone system and the applications – accessible on the user’s computer desktop – to provide more intelligence, visibility and productivity for employees. Establishing Your “Green” Brand: A growing priority with businesses today is developing and maintaining sustainable “green” business practices. In many ways, our system is an eco-friendly countermeasure to the environmental harm done by copper landline production. Consider just a couple of ways our solution contributes to a business “going green.” For example, Vonage Business Mobile apps allow work-from-home programs that cut down on commuting and in-office electricity usage. And think how much paper can be saved by utilizing features like Paperless Fax. Expanding Reach and Awareness: With unlimited long distance in the U.S. and Canada, and International Long Distance rates that are 75% lower* on average than traditional carriers, a company can influence a wider radius of consumers and increase brand awareness without the concern of being sideswiped by an enormous monthly communications bill. Reporting and Streamlining: By taking advantage of the reporting capabilities built into the Vonage business phone system, companies can track and determine peaks and valleys in their call traffic. This provides the visibility to properly align strategies and resources to effectively handle their busiest points of a day. Brand Promotion Opportunity: The Virtual Receptionist and Music on Hold features provide great opportunities to include brand and product information that your callers should know about prior to deciding which branch of the company they wish to be forwarded to or to answer their call. When considering a business VoIP phone system, savings and efficiency may lead the conversation. But business owners are wise to consider how the system will grow with the company and help develop the brand. The Vonage business phone system is designed to do just that, helping businesses compete, succeed and grow. *75% lower rates claim is based on comparison of the per-minute rates to the top 50 markets of the top three leading wireline carriers. Rates and savings vary by country. See rate locator for current rates to numbers called About Jason Wernick Jason Wernick is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Vonage Business where he focuses on driving new channels and partnership development. He has over 20 years of experience in Business Development, Sales, Product Innovation, Product Management and Product Marketing with emerging companies as well as market leaders. April 3 2014 ArchivesThis week’s article in The Street recounts one small business owner’s decision to finally switch from his landline business phone system to a business VoIP system. We enjoyed his depiction of the “annoying” Vonage TV ads, which in the end, prompted him to seriously consider a business VoIP phone solution. “Yesterday, my small business officially left the safety and security of the land line for the brave new world of VOIP. So far so good,” reports Jonathan Heller in his article, “Vonage Small Business Phones Challenge Verizon’s Dominance.” Heller’s story certainly reflects the larger groundswell of small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) moving to reliable business VoIP solutions. It’s understandable that business owners have reservations about switching from a technology – in this case, copper-wire landline systems – that has been the standard for a century. But they’re also acutely interested in driving business efficiency and maintaining competitive advantages, priorities that top business VoIP systems are absolutely equipped to deliver. The rapid movement to cloud-based business VoIP systems also aligns with SMBs’ increased comfort and confidence in cloud-based systems – particularly as many companies are moving all their business systems to the cloud. Top business VoIP providers have proven their systems’ reliability and are releasing advanced features that the marketplace has never seen. It’s also hard to find a customer who doesn’t acknowledge the instant savings of upgrading to business VoIP, as Heller speaks to in the article: “By my calculation, this will cut my monthly phone bill by more than 56%. The service also includes a plethora of features that were either not available at Verizon or were not worth adding due to the additional cost. That includes features such as a ‘virtual receptionist,’ voicemail sent to email, and the ability to ring several phones (including cell phones) at once. I also took my old phone number with me, which was quickly and easily done.” While we applaud the can-do spirit of business owners making the informed decision to switch to a business VoIP phone system, the Jonathan Heller article truly reflects a milestone shift in how businesses owners are thinking about their business phone solutions. The continued decline of wire-based business phone service seems as inevitable as the increased adoption of reliable business VoIP solutions. After all, choosing the right business phone system should not be based on better TV ads or sticking with “the way we’ve always done things.” It should be about performance on behalf of your business. About Dave MorrisDave is a content strategist and writer at Vonage Business Solutions, working with teams across the company to build communication programs that enable our customers and assist our prospects. He enjoys living in Atlanta and is an avid gardener, restaurant enthusiast and live music fan. March 25 2014 Archives As Director of Strategic Partnerships at Vonage Business, I work closely with smart sales organizations that do a fantastic job reselling our cloud-based business VoIP phone solutions. And just like my team here at Vonage, these professionals are in the field every day speaking to business owners and learning firsthand what motivates their business decisions. Right now, an unprecedented number of companies are discovering the business-enabling benefits of VoIP – and many are switching from their traditional, wire-based phone providers. This list outlines the top 10 reasons behind their decisions to switch: 1) A Less-expensive Phone Service By dropping traditional phone service and switching to business VoIP, companies typically save 30% or more on their monthly phone service.* According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, people who have purchased VoIP service are reportedly saving around $50 each month on their phone bill. 2) Affordable Local and Long Distance With local and long distance built into Unlimited Extension phone extensions, companies save substantial money on long distance calls. Savings are also significant with Vonage Business’s International Long Distance service, with rates that are 75% lower on average than traditional carriers.** 3) Free Calling Features with Optional Advanced Features Our business VoIP users enjoy a variety of free calling features for which they were charged extra with their traditional phone service. These features include voicemail, caller ID, call conferencing, call waiting, call forwarding and many others. With VoIP voicemail, users get the improved functionality of voicemail (for instance, the ability to call someone back directly and easily), plus they can get each voicemail emailed to them as an audio file attachment. Email can even be used to track missed calls or to call the person back – directly from the email. In short, business VoIP enables people to communicate in more ways and with more choices, while remaining cost effective and gaining efficiencies. 4) Convenience What many users enjoy most about their business VoIP phone service is the overall convenience. They place and receive phone calls in much the same way they did with traditional phone service. In most cases, they place calls exactly as they did with traditional phone service. Even better, companies can track their call activity, manage voicemail, view billing information, and change account information online and at their convenience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 5) Mobility Most business VoIP providers allow users to take their VoIP service with them anywhere in the world. With high-speed Internet and a VoIP phone adapter, callers can place and accept VoIP calls from any location, at any time, at no additional charge. They can take their phone and plug it into any network in the world and it appears they are calling from their office. Vonage Business’s mobile apps for iPhone and Android also give users the flexibility to make and receive calls as if they are sitting in their office. 6) 24/7 Monitoring of Your Phone System by IT Professionals A great advantage of using a cloud-based PBX is the constant monitoring of the phone system by professional engineers. This monitoring means that customers always have the latest features and updates uploaded to the cloud, and that any issues receive immediate attention and resolve quickly. 7) Save Money by Combining Your Phone and Data Networks A misconception of VoIP is that it slows down Internet service by running on the same cable, which is not true. A company’s broadband Internet and ISP (Internet Service Provider) can certainly handle the slight increase in traffic. In fact, VoIP makes it easy to add extra phone lines and allows sending multiple phone calls across the IP network with no interruptions or connectivity issues. 8) Increase in Employee Productivity With a cloud-based VoIP solution, employees now have more efficient business phone features, apps and plugins than ever. And they’re so easy to use. As a result, employees spend less time focusing on technology and more time focusing on what matters – their business. 9) Cloud-based PBX Easily Scales An IP PBX is well equipped to face complex communication management than traditional PBXs. Particularly as a business grows and requirements change, it’s extremely easy to add services, extensions and customizations. Also, with workers getting more mobile and with physical and geographical barriers removed, innovation imposes itself. If employees are shifting to a more sophisticated way of doing business and are using smart weapons like the iPhone and Android phones, then companies should definitely be looking beyond the old wireline phone system. 10) Integration with Online Applications The Vonage Business Desktop application provides a number of plugins and functionality that allow the phone service to integrate with online applications – right on the users’ computer desktop. As a result, employees have more visibility and intelligence associated with every call. In summary: There is a wealth of empowering features that business VoIP solutions are providing growth-minded businesses, many of which are simply not available from legacy phone services. With call routing, virtual receptionists, find me/follow me, caller ID, conference calling, call forwarding and more – business owners are quickly learning the great benefits that business VoIP provides. It’s no wonder so many are making the switch. *30% savings claim is based on the average monthly recurring charge for unlimited nationwide business calling plans from leading wireline service providers. Comparison excludes promotional pricing, fees, surcharges or taxes and assumes a customer already has broadband internet service. Check your phone bill to determine the savings that would apply to you. **75% lower rates claim is based on comparison of the per-minute rates to the top 50 markets of the top three leading wireline carriers. Rates and savings vary by country. See rate locator for current rates to numbers called. About Jason Wernick Jason Wernick is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Vonage Business where he focuses on driving new channels and partnership development. He has over 20 years of experience in Business Development, Sales, Product Innovation, Product Management and Product Marketing with emerging companies as well as market leaders. March 6 2014 ArchivesVital Business VoIP Phone Feature Allows Automatic Call Rerouting through Emergencies. It’s only March, and the nation has already seen more than its share of weather emergencies. The consequences for so many hard-working businesses have been extended downtime and lost productivity. Fortunately, Vonage Business customers have an edge when it comes to maintaining a link to their all-important customers, suppliers and employees. Included with every Vonage Business account is a built-in feature that allows them to stay connected during emergencies such as power outages or loss of Internet. It’s called Call Continuity and it automatically triggers call rerouting during any such emergency. The Call Continuity service presently boasts three pending patents and can be invaluable for maintaining business continuity through tough conditions. IMPORTANT: While Call Continuity can be a vital resource in the event of an emergency, it must be configured by the user administrator in advance to take effect. Therefore, we strongly recommend customers take the easy steps to configure and activate the service immediately. Call Continuity: Business as Usual in the Event of an Emergency The fact is that power outages do happen from time to time, and your Internet can go down due to an Internet service provider issue. The Call Continuity service automatically detects if your phone loses its connection – and immediately reroutes calls to a pre-specified backup number. And once connectivity is restored, routing through your normal extensions is automatically reinstated. Configuring Call Continuity With the Vonage business phone system, customers can simply log into their Admin Portal and configure their settings to activate the Call Continuity service. Complete instructions for configuring the service can be found on our Support Website. Vonage recommends backing up the company’s main number and any published numbers, and customers may choose to designate backup numbers for every number on the account. Call Continuity is designed to keep your business up and running no matter what obstacles come your way. But it must be configured in advance to benefit your business. So an important question for all Vonage Business customers: Have you configured your free Call Continuity service? If not, why not do it today? To learn how this service can benefit your business, call 1-844-324-0340. About Aaron CharlesworthAaron oversees all marketing and product management activities for the company and is an accomplished executive with deep technology marketing experience. He has a proven track record in lead generation, planning and product management, qualitative and quantitative research, search engine optimization, and creative collateral development. February 18 2014 ArchivesRed Cross Associate Juliana Manero presents a special recognition for Vonage Business to VP Chris Rabbu. Vonage Business Proud of Its Red Cross Partnership The American Red Cross this week recognized Vonage Business for its continuing support including a donation of over $39,000 to Red Cross Disaster Relief. The donation comes on the heels of winter storms that debilitated the Southeast and much of the nation, prompting a coordinated, multi-state Red Cross relief effort that exemplifies the dedicated work of the organization. “We’re honored to be an active charitable partner with the American Red Cross,” says Vonage Business VP Chris Rabbu. “Their work in disaster relief is inspiring and well known, but as we’ve worked closer with the American Red Cross, we also see how they are involved day-in and day-out within our local communities – and that’s important to all of us.” For Vonage Business, the Red Cross instinct for emergency preparedness complements its own services and mission. In fact, many of Vonage’s business VoIP phone features are specifically designed to assure business continuity through power outages, downed phone lines or even loss of internet. The recent winter storm also serves as a reminder of the sobering financial impact that can result from business downtime. Vonage’s latest Red Cross donation was assisted by a structured program that designated a percentage of new customers’ first-month service charges for Disaster Relief. “There’s been something special and rewarding about this program, particularly because our new customers are involved in supporting the cause and our employees have been conscious of the donation growing over time,” Rabbu continues. “We have also been approached by other businesses interested in learning more about our program. They seem to like the active, ongoing participation involved, which ultimately leads to a meaningful donation.” Vonage Business employees are also exploring other activities with the American Red Cross, such as the “Red Cross Ready” program, CPR training and an upcoming blood drive. The “Red Cross Ready” program is particularly interesting to the Vonage team and others after the recent weather emergency. It’s a practical program that teaches employees the basics of being prepared for unforeseen events, with practical and actionable tips. “We think about business continuity quite a bit – for our customers and for our own company – and emergency preparedness is fundamental to this,” says Rabbu. “The Red Cross realizes that by educating and preparing our employees, we are then empowered to teach our own families. We like that, and it’s just another reason we’re passionate about our support of the Red Cross.” About Dave MorrisDave is a content strategist and writer at Vonage Business Solutions, working with teams across the company to build communication programs that enable our customers and assist our prospects. He enjoys living in Atlanta and is an avid gardener, restaurant enthusiast and live music fan. February 13 2014 ArchivesBusinesses Improving Processes with Array of Incredibly Flexible Features Top-performing companies develop a “never stop learning” culture that brings new hires along rapidly and promotes ongoing professional growth among more seasoned employees. And as business leaders will tell you, this often requires more-advanced and capable tools to keep their employees enabled, prepared and successful. Whether you’re a customer service team manager, an attorney needing high-quality call recording for legal purposes, or a journalist conducting a crucial interview – today’s best-in-class VoIP business phone services provide powerful and extremely flexible tools to assist with training, compliance requirements and more. These services are typically easy to add within your business VoIP system and are quite affordable. The Tools in Action Let’s say you manage a contact center and are responsible for the training and performance of 30 agents. When you hire new agents, you’ll want them to listen to some of your top agents to see how they handle various kinds of calls. But just putting the trainees on the line won’t guarantee they’ll immediately hear the kind of calls that enable the training experience. It could be while. With a Company Call Recording feature, you record only the extensions you want and these recordings never expire. The feature allows you to record your top agents, choose the specific calls suitable for training, and let your new hires listen on the timetable you prefer. Additionally, Company Call Recording can be used to help with periodic evaluations of your experienced agents – to review performance and department protocols, and to help set professional development goals. Recordings can also be used to protect agents against false claims of unprofessional behavior or questionable phone etiquette. Legitimate or not, customer accusations or complaints can cause major headaches. With a permanent record of the conversation, however, you can deal with the situation knowledgeably and work quickly to resolve it fairly. More Hands-On Control Call Monitoring is another handy feature for contact center managers, allowing them to take a more hands-on, quality-control approach to important or difficult calls. It also makes it easy to monitor and support new employees toward the end of their training period. The service is password protected, providing authorized users the real-time ability to listen in and “monitor” calls, “whisper” to the user being monitored, and “barge” into the call if needed to help facilitate a discussion. Users can also access the service remotely, and a detailed log is provided every time the system is used. More Utility Now let’s say you are a journalist conducting a phone interview for a fairly predictable news feature. You’re taking notes on your laptop as usual – but suddenly the interview takes an unexpected turn, and you’re getting explosive information you didn’t anticipate. It’s the perfect time to access your On-Demand Call Recording feature to immediately begin recording the accurate details and key quotes you’ll need to develop the story before your deadline. These On-Demand recordings don’t expire, and they can be downloaded to your computer easily. They are saved to a password protected account, so the sensitive information you record is secure. More Business VoIP Feature Options The catalog of business VoIP phone features available is now more diverse and more powerful than ever. No matter what your business, there are VoIP business tools that can empower your company in ways that legacy phone systems cannot. In fact, some companies actually build business processes around the latest business VoIP features. As a result, they are more capable and more productive. Isn’t that what you should expect from your business phone provider? About Aaron CharlesworthAaron oversees all marketing and product management activities for the company and is an accomplished executive with deep technology marketing experience. He has a proven track record in lead generation, planning and product management, qualitative and quantitative research, search engine optimization, and creative collateral development. January 23 2014 ArchivesWith 2014 in full swing and the holidays now a memory, businesses continue seeking ways to maximize their business systems and, wherever possible, cut costs. For this reason, 2014 will be the year that numerous businesses make the easy move from their traditional phone system to a business VoIP phone system. Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology – the conversion of voice signals to digital data – has been so thoroughly proven and enhanced in recent years that it’s no wonder more businesses are opting for VoIP phone systems. In fact, Infonetics projects global business VoIP revenue to increase at a continued rate of seven percent from 2012-2017. VoIP phone service is now used across most industry sectors, with leading providers offering features that are simply not available or feasible with legacy phone systems. As we watch the VoIP boom continue throughout the year, here are a few top trends to keep an eye on: Mobile VoIP Gathers Momentum These days, if your business doesn’t have mobile capability, it’s likely at a disadvantage. Between supporting the work at home movement and enabling employees on the road, without mobile capability you risk a less-than-content workforce and missed business opportunities. Mobile VoIP allows employees to enjoy all the features they need on a phone at a lower cost than a traditional provider can offer. And with the seamless nature of quality mobile applications, no one should be able to distinguish between an employee working from home and one in the office. The leading VoIP providers have also bundled services together to increase access to mobile features and deliver further savings. Hosted VoIP: Not Just for SMBs Anymore Hosted VoIP business solutions remain ideal for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) that lack the resources to manage an on-premise VoIP system. And because of the efficiencies – such as no requirements for hardware or ongoing staff IT involvement – even some larger organizations are choosing “the hosted model” as their preferred solution for business VoIP. As a result, they’re reducing up-front expenses and eliminating the hassle and cost of maintenance and upgrades. With a hosted solution, for instance, businesses no longer have to deal with paying bills to multiple vendors for multiple systems – one vendor does everything. Unlike traditional phone systems, VoIP systems are scalable, allowing companies to pay for only the services they are using; as the business grows it can add features as needed. As more companies weigh the advantages, hosted business VoIP will live up to projections and continue to grow, even among some larger companies. Seamless Integration with Best-in-class Business Tools Increasingly, businesses are fully committing to technology that provides their employees new competitive advantages. With the advent of powerful desktop applications, for example, VoIP business phone systems are now providing features such as desktop plugins that help companies leverage in new ways the business-class tools they already use (think Salesforce.com, LinkedIn and Outlook). With these desktop plugins, workers can review relevant customer information and communication history; instantly access business contacts; and evaluate important data right from their own desks during a call. This advanced business phone integration helps streamline customer relationship management, billing operations and more – while increasing overall productivity. These are just a few of the many exciting developments in the world of VoIP. Whether your business is looking to do a full rip and replace of a legacy system or simply increase the value of your existing VoIP system, staying abreast of the new opportunities available could make a big difference to your bottom line this year. About Aaron CharlesworthAaron oversees all marketing and product management activities for the company and is an accomplished executive with deep technology marketing experience. He has a proven track record in lead generation, planning and product management, qualitative and quantitative research, search engine optimization, and creative collateral development.