Thursday, 23 August 2018

This is why you will fall in love with VoIP telephony

Image by Stuart Miles at
Are you in the process of sourcing a new phone system for your business?

You may decide to stick with what you know. Possibly a traditional PBX system, or move to cloud based technology and embrace a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system.

Here are some compelling points you should consider before signing up to any provider and will help with the decision making process!


With a traditional premises based telephone system, you initially purchase the hardware and software upfront. This means you have to gauge how much capacity is necessary, now and for the future. 

This means, if you are going through a quiet patch or your business is seasonal, you can’t scale down.  You are therefore paying for lines and services that are not in use.

With a VoIP system, it's simply a case of adding or taking away extensions and services when demand dictates. This is especially important if your business is growing, as you can add to the system incredibly quickly and easily. 


Generally a premises based telephone system costs more than a cloud based system and  delivers less in terms of functionality.  Once your premises based system is live, you then need to pay for bolt-on modules, which can be expensive.

We’d say this is probably one of the main reasons that business communications are moving rapidly over to cloud based telephone systems. 

You will enjoy standard features such as:-

Easy to access call reporting
Voicemail to e-mail
Compatibility with CRM software using TAPI or API integration, for click to dial and screen popping

Auto attendant i.e. Press 1 for sales, Press 2 for marketing.
Call queues and cascading
Call recording
Free inter-site calls

All these features can be implemented easily to create a bespoke system for your exact business needs.

Every small or medium business can now benefit from sophisticated features that once only larger companies could enjoy. The system can be tailored EXACTLY to your needs and changed with very short notice.

Business continuity

If business continuity is important to you, (and why wouldn’t it be!) then VoIP is for you!

You can easily divert calls to other phones and locations, if disaster strikes.

Divert to a mobile(s) or another landline(s) or both.  This means your business keeps moving along without loss of important calls.

With a traditional system, it can take several hours to install a divert and take the divert off once everything is back to normal.

And, with a traditional telephone system, you can only divert the lines to one number.  Conversely, with a cloud based phone system, you can divert to any number of devices. 

Infact, you can set up an automatic divert so that calls instantly fall over to another phone if your data connection goes down, or there is a fault on the line.


If you have several sites or offices or occasionally work from home then a VoIP solution gives you the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere, providing you have a data connection.

This data connection can be broadband, 3G or 4G. You simply plug your own extension in, and the phone acts exactly as it would on your own office desk! This particular feature is practically non-existent with a traditional system.


The major advantage of VoIP over a traditional system, is that you can make numerous concurrent calls.

A broadband connection with a 1 Mbps upload speed is equivalent to 10 lines. You can immediately see the potential of being able to take and receive more calls at any given time!

With a traditional system, you can only make and take calls over the lines you have. One line - one call.

Future proofing

Having a system that is instantly upgraded with the current release of software is really important. And, this is exactly what you get (free of charge) with a cloud based system.

Why would you want to wait for an engineer to call and sort an upgrade out and then charge you for doing so?

Before you decide, take your time to talk to a telephony expert to establish what is best for your business now.

Cloud based telephony is THE way forward - what's not to love? 

If you need impartial advice, give Merlin a call now.

The Merlin Team

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Is live chat the remarkable tool you think it is?

How naive can you be?

It wasn't until I read a very interesting article by Call Centre Helper, that the penny dropped and I realised that when I enter into online "live chat" I probably wasn't getting one to one assistance!

So if you are thinking about installing live chat into your business, have a read of the below article to weigh up whether it will really work for you.

The premise that having a live chat function works out cheaper is challenged and customer satisfaction will quite obviously dip if the advisor is working on more than two concurrent calls.  The other interesting point is that some customers will use live chat instead of picking up the phone, because they probably can't be bothered to query a minor issue.  This means that the amount of contact and possibly, number of complaints rise. Not what you hand in mind.

Carolyn Blunt of Real Results, has a more positive view on Live Chat, providing you follow some basic rules.

Extending your opening hours for a short period after the business is closed, with live chat,  can be beneficial for both staff and customer and if staff are trained well, they can be far more effective.

Massive growth in customer use of live chat has been recorded, with a rise of 58% in 2014 and I imagine this percentage has grown further to date. 

Before installing live chat you should consider the uptake and who your demographic audience will be.  You need to pre-empt volume and the type of questions your team will be asked.  Customers want information and results quickly. 

Staff will need to have impeccable spelling and grammar and get the right tone.  Not too formal, not too cheeky.  Being able to deal with complaints and angry clients is a must.  Ongoing evaluation of chat logs should be processed to ensure continuous quality. 

From my point of view, I love being able to log onto live chat.  I find it quick, responsive and gets results without having to pay for a call.  When done well, it's an effective customer care strategy and that can't be bad. 

As more and more companies include this as a customer tool, more and more will expect to see live chat.  So, maybe it's time to expand your customer care repertoire!

Tina Bricknell for
The Merlin Team

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Ofcom plans to protect consumer from "bill shock"

Latest Ofcom update regarding premium rate numbers.

People can end up using costly premium-rate ICSS, sometimes inadvertently, after going online to find the contact details of a particular company. But in most cases, organisations offer free, or cheaper, local call-rate numbers through which to contact them directly.
At present, most ICSS which use ‘087’ and ‘09’ numbers are regulated by the Phone-paid Service Authority (PSA). Over the last year, however, we have become concerned about consumer harm arising from ICSS operating on the ‘084’ number range. These do not currently fall under the PSA’s remit.
To address this, we are proposing to place regulatory responsibility for all ICSS with the PSA, irrespective of their number range or price.
We are inviting views on our findings and our proposal by 21 September 2018."

A move in the right direction we feel.

The Merlin Team


Monday, 2 July 2018

4 Things to think about before choosing your telephone headset

Ok, so the big decision has been made to buy a telephone headset. 

So just a few considerations before you get going:-

1.  Do you need monaural or binaural? 

If you are working in a noisy environment, it may be far better to have both of your ears in tune with the call, so choose a binaural headset.  However, if you also need to be aware of what is going on around you and possibly interact with your colleagues whilst wearing the headset, then go for a monaural set.

2.  Do you need a wireless or wired headset?

In our previous blog, we spoke about the massive benefits a wireless headset provides.  You obviously have greater mobility and you can move away from your desk to get access to files and papers and speak to colleagues if necessary, whilst on the call.  You can also pick up calls whilst you are away from your handset, which will cut down on missed calls.  Also you can stretch your legs whilst chatting to avoid sitting down for hours at a time.  Wireless headsets have a good battery life and ranges of up to 60 - 80 feet. 

However if you are predominantly desk bound and taking call after call and need to have access to your computer for making up notes then a wired headset is probably the better and cheaper option.

3.  What sort of style do I like?

You can chose from a headband over the head, over your ear or a band behind the head, the choice is yours!  Most headsets come with a headband and earpiece so you can try them out to see what is the most comfortable.

4.  Do you work in a noisy workplace?

I'm sure we've all made that call where you can hardly hear the person you are speaking too because the background noise is so high!  Call centres are notorious and often you can distinguish what the background  voices are saying!  Not great for data protection.  So a "noise cancelling" headset may be your best bet.

Well, just a few pointers to help you decide what type and style to go for.  

The Merlin Team