Thursday, 23 February 2017
One of our clients, Gungho Marketing, based in deepest Dorset, are a company on a mission.
Adopting a thoughtful strategy for the business growth of companies over the last 10 years, they have worked with many prestigious global companies generating £14.3million in new business in the last twelve months alone.
Certainly very impressive.
Using a different approach to other telesales and telemarketers, Gungho have a formula that really works and the link below gives insight into their success.
Having a full call reporting capability annexed to their phone system really assists in so many ways.
Recording and monitoring calls the agents make, really helps with quality control. Consistently monitoring call recordings, ensures that training needs are met, in order to maximise every prospect called.
Collecting call data from the system and publishing this on a daily basis helps to keep everyone on track with call volumes.
We are enormously pleased to be part of Gungho Marketing's success.
The Merlin Team
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
How confusing can buying a phone system be? It's all relatively simple isn't it? The whole experience might look incredibly complex with talk of cloud v premises based systems, internet or copper wire and then there are all those acronyms to puzzle over; ISDN, ADSL, LAN, WAN, QoS, PBX just to name a few!
Doing the right research is crucial if you want the best solution to suit you and your business. So we thought it a great idea to list some of the fundamental questions you might want to ask yourself and a supplier before you step into the breach.
1. Traditional phone system or VoIP phone system?
The very first thing you need to think about is whether to opt for a traditional premises based system or for the more technologically advanced, hosted voice over internet (VoIP = Voice over Internet Protocol).
There are many advantages of choosing a hosted VoIP system over a legacy/premises based system.
The initial cost of ownership is cheaper as you don't have to purchase a (PBX) switch system or enter into a maintenance agreement that could cost up to 20% of the system value each year. With a hosted VoIP phone system there is no additional cost to you, as the servers are cloud based.
Hosted Voip based servers are monitored constantly by your service provider, so the risk to you is minimised and any updates to the system are carried out automatically instead of being manually added at each location, as with a premises based system.
Call capacity is far superior with VoIP systems as you can have multiple calls per extension whereas you are limited to a number of shared lines with a legacy system. This means that further capacity requirements could cost a lot of money, as well as the increase in monthly charges for additional line rentals.
Installation is incredibly quick and simple with hosted VoIP phone systems, simply plug and play instead of the complex and labour intensive setting up of a premises based systems.
Overall, VoIP systems really do come out on top - providing small and medium sized businesses with new and better calling features, more flexibility and functionality and best of all, far lower pricing.
2. What features will I need for my business?
Once you have made your mind up to embrace a hosted VoIP system you will need to find out exactly what calling features your company will benefit from the most. You should think about call recording and reporting features which will help you evaluate trends and employee activity as well as help with training and compliance requirements. You should think about business continuity needs as part of your disaster recovery plan. Can calls be diverted to other lines or mobiles as part of the standard service? If they can, how quickly can they be diverted and to how many users? Hosted VoIP can be set up to call multiple mobiles or additional landlines should a problem arise. Totally brilliant. Your supplier should carry out an audit or ask pertinent questions about your business so they can provide you with a bespoke system to enable your business to operate to maximum efficiency.
3. How much can I save?
Well less hardware costs to start with! A good quality I P phone can be purchased relatively cheaply starting from £70.00 upwards (Feb 2017.) Find out if your provider is selling you phones or are they happy for you to purchase your own. You will need to find out how much per month each extension will cost and whether there are any initial set up costs. Also ask if there are any other recurring monthly charges, particularly for any special features you require. Ask about international calling rates and mobile rates too. Ask about entering into a contract. Merlin certainly do not believe in tying people into lengthy contracts (we operate on 30 days only) so do take this into account and don't forget to ask about exit fees. If you are not happy with the system or support 6 months down the line, it could be incredibly expensive to swap your provider.
4. What about support?
Check the level of service on offer as this may vary wildly. Some providers will point you to self help tools on a website so you are more self sufficient, but would you prefer to be able to pick up the phone and speak to a technician? Will you have to pay separately for your support if you have any issues that cannot be resolved quickly? Checking any service level agreements carefully should be a priority.
5. What about initial stages and training?
You need to ensure that your provider will deal with the porting of your number, once you have given written permission to do so. Ask about user guides and any virtual or on site training and whether there is any additional cost for this. Is there a self management platform available so you can make certain changes to your system yourself. This will ultimately put you in control to make changes as and when you need them.
6. How long will it take to set up?
Find out how long it will take to set up your new system and establish exactly what equipment you need. Some suppliers will add on a high percentage to the cost of hardware, which is readily available to purchase on the internet. If you are able to buy the IP phones yourself, ask if the provider will make a charge to configure these or any old IP phones you may have. Find out which phones, routers and modems will offer best reliability. As always, you get what you pay for!
7. What about security?
You will want to know what protocols are in place to offer you total security. It is usual for most hosted VoIP systems to be even more secure than traditional copper wire systems.
8. How reliable will the system be?
Hosted VoIP systems beat legacy systems hands down in terms of reliability when disaster strikes, as cloud data systems operate redundant power and cooling so continue when your premises are unusable. With Merlin, our servers consistently show an uptime of 99.99%. So do ask that question.
9. What happens if my business grows?
A traditional premises based system is certainly inflexible in the sense you would need to organise and pay for a technician to upgrade the system or add additional phone lines. It may not even be possible to upgrade at all. With hosted VoIP systems, extensions and features can be added virtually and very quickly, saving time and money. A total necessity for a growing company, so ask this question too.
10. What happens if I work away from the office?
A great feature of hosted VoIP is the total flexibility it allows - from presenting your office number on a mobile phone via an app or plugging in a phone at home so that you can work. Another brilliant feature is voicemail to e-mail, so you can pick up any missed messages on the go.
Hopefully these questions will help you choose the best system and provider for you.
If you need any impartial guidance, please ring our friendly team on 08008778810 - we are here to help you get the most out of your business.
The Merlin Team
Monday, 16 January 2017
Just thought we would share and reiterate the musings in MoneyWeek last week - 13.1.17
If you are using one of the UK's dominant suppliers i.e. BT, Sky, Virgin etc for your business telecoms, you can undoubtedly make savings by switching to a smaller telecoms provider.
In a report almost a third of small firms surveyed complained that the large providers offer poor service and only 42% happy with their provider! By contrast, those with smaller telecom companies show 55% are happy with their service.
Smaller companies (such as Merlin) undercut the big companies and generallly, really do offer far better customer service levels.
Some words of warning and pointers for you:-
- If you are entertaining a switch over, get your itemised bills audited and compare like for like.
- Don't get tied into packages (the only winner is the telecoms company!)
- Ask the new company if they are totally independent or are selling telecom products on a telecoms platform that the big boys use.
- Also ensure that the handsets you are sold (you can of course buy your own) are not locked down by the new provider and that you can take them with you if you wish to switch again, to get a better deal.
- Don't get tied into lengthy contracts either. If you are not happy with your customer service or can get a better deal then you do need the flexibility to move when you want.
Telecoms are an important element to your business and you need great service when faults crop up, so why put up with bad service?
You don't need to be tied to the same provider for long periods of time or think there aren't better alternatives out there.
We analyse phone bills constantly and are generally horrified by the tariffs we see from the larger telecoms companies.
So, take some time to shop around and get yourself some savings and better service to boot.
The Merlin Team
Friday, 18 November 2016
You really don’t need to worry - let us explain
Are you in the process of looking at a new telephony solution for your business and are a little unsure or sceptical about VoIP? (Voice over Internet Protocol). Let us put your mind at rest.
|Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net - Stuart Miles|
We know that some people have a few misconceptions about VoIP and are pleased to say that most of these concerns are unfounded. So, we’d like to guide you through the most common myths, so that you have the knowledge and information available to make an informed decision.
- It’s expensive
In actual fact, a hosted VoIP system is very affordable and can save you money. You no longer need ISDN lines, so you don’t need to pay for any that are not in use and no costly maintenance contracts or bills for your PBX. Because of the additional flexibility and features a new hosted system brings, you will in fact have a far superior system for less money! So to summarise:-
- No PBX in your office to install or maintain
- Cheaper call costs
- No additional fees for adding or moving phone extensions
- Free support on the system
- Free upgrades as they become available
And best still, less missed calls due to the outstanding functionality of the system, giving you more flexibility and capacity to answer more calls and therefore, boost your profit margins.
- Poor quality
Many people base their opinion of VoIP on their home use of Skype. Today, business grade VoIP is crystal clear and certainly comparable to ISDN lines, if not better. Merlin’s infrastructure is monitored constantly and consistently to give the very best quality of service levels.
Over the years VoIP has been given a bad name in certain areas, due to some providers putting in cheaper contended services and not using tier one carriers. Tier one carriers (such as Merlin), pass voice traffic using an 80Kbps codec. Some providers will pass traffic as low as 16Kbps, this potentially causing inferior call quality.
The quality of VoIP calls can also suffer because of other factors, such as bandwidth availability, the number of calls in progress or your own internal network setup.
Merlin will ensure that you have sufficient bandwidth to handle the calls required and also have a good understanding of your business needs and network, so that your calls are as clear as can be.
- VoIP is not secure
Many people perceive VoIP as insecure, because it relies on an internet connection instead of copper telephone wires.
Well, the internet has been transferring secure information (which includes banking details etc) on a daily basis.
Any telephone system is hackable, yes, even analogue lines! You only have to think to the hacking scandals involving well known newspapers. Merlin limits access to their systems strictly to the devices connected.
Merlin take security very seriously and have very tight security protocols in place. We lock down connections to the fixed IP addresses (where available) and monitor live call patterns ensuring that if any client were to have their network hacked, any exposure to their phone system would be minimal.
- VoIP is only for the largest companies
VoIP is not just a sophisticated system for large enterprises. As VoIP is so versatile and scalable it makes it a very powerful option for even the tiniest of companies. Low start up costs and having the ability to add extensions and services effortlessly to your system as needed, makes this a very attractive solution for any size business.
- VoIP is hard to install
Well in reality, nothing could be easier. All you need is a broadband connection and an IP telephone, plug it in and off you go. No PBX to sorry about, no upgrades and bare minimum of training needed - it’s all very easy to use.
You can add or take off extensions as and when you need to, and this in itself,is a very quick process for your provider.
Merlin will always configure your phones and router for you beforehand and this means there is minimal disruption. It really is that easy!
One great advantage is that any future updates are free and installed instantly.
- VoIP technology is too new
VoIP technology has actually been around since the 90’s. Stop to think how far mobile phone technology has come since the “brick” you clamped to your ear, to the sleek, multi function item it has become now. Well, the same goes for VoIP.
Uptake percentages are now far outstripping sales of traditional phone systems.
VoIP systems are here to stay and we know that ISDN lines will eventually be phased out just like video tape!
In fact, investing in VoIP is the smartest thing you can do now to future proof your business and take advantage of receiving more benefits for a more cost efficient system.
If you still have concerns and wish to throw any technical questions at us, then just ring 08008778810
The Merlin Team
Always here to help you!