Thursday, 23 December 2010

Business Continuity and remote workers – Is the snow hurting your business

As the UK begins to be covered in a blanket of snow, stretching from Scotland to the South West of England many firms find that they face the prospect of having only a handful of staff (if any at all) turn into work. This state of affairs being brought about because of travel chaos reigning supreme as trains, cars, trucks and airports grind to a standstill all because of a supposed lack of planning by the local and national authorities.

The cost for all this inconvenience is estimated to be in the region of £1 billion per day depending upon which analyst you happen to be listening to at the time. What is true however is that the cost to the economy and wellbeing of people is staggering.

In these times of extreme economic hardship; with increasing business taxes, general costs and rising input prices, businesses need to be able to "Be Available" to take calls from customers or potential customers as soon as the calls come in. At the very least to be able to call them back shortly thereafter to avoid losing money and business, as once the call has been missed it is very hard to get it back.

On this point though it is believed by business experts that many staff will try to make up for the lost time by working harder and longer but this to my mind is little comfort where you are a B2B business and calls come in during the normal working day.

With improvements in internet communications and 3G technology providing high-speed data access, remote working for staff has become a viable backup when weather conditions turn inclement (or for that matter during any other crises hit i.e. pandemics, power failure, fire etc.).

Most companies today are able to offer a degree of remote access to systems such as email, CRM and other business software and with the advances being made in 'cloud computing' this is set to increase, however where most business fall short is in their telecommunications. Although they may provide for systems access, they provide little or no connection to their telecommunications systems. After all the telephone is still the main communications conduit into or out of any business.

Another article worth reading is by Eloquent Technologies

If during an emergency or other adverse set of conditions, you cannot take that call from your customers or potential customers you will be missing the possibility of potential gains and security of your future business.

Businesses today need to consider phone systems in a much broader sense such as call handling, connecting remote workers to the main offices and from a business continuity standpoint –'What if'. Choosing the right systems can go a long way to achieving all these requirements and tick all the right boxes.

For further information call 0800 877 8820 and speak to a PRO-iPBX member of staff

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

£millions of outstanding credit unclaimed by consumers

Ofcom has called on consumers to check that they aren’t owed money when they switch their communications services to a new provider.

Ofcom has gathered data that suggests that over the past two years there have been around 2 million consumers who have left their communications provider, without claiming at least £10 million owed to them.

The money owed could be for having paid for line rental in advance or for promotional credits that customers may have been given during their contract. Consumers often don’t know that they are owed money by their landline, mobile, broadband or pay TV provider.

Making it easier for consumers to be refunded

Ofcom has worked with communications providers to encourage them to make changes to their processes and to automatically refund credit to their contract customers.

Initially, of the major providers Ofcom spoke to, only BT, Orange and Post Office automatically refunded outstanding credit to their customers, no matter what amount was owed.

Following discussions:
  • T-Mobile has agreed to automatically refund all outstanding credit and Vodafone for all customers who pay by direct debit.
  • Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile automatically refunds its customers for amounts over £1 if they terminate their contracts before 28 days, and from December 2010 the process will be automated for all customers (for amounts over £1).
  • O2 will automatically credit amounts over £20.
  • Customers of Sky, Talk Talk (including AOL and Tiscali) and Three will need to contact them directly to arrange a refund, but our conversations with these providers have led to improved information being given to consumers about their outstanding credits.
Ofcom welcomes this increase in transparency which means that in all cases consumers should be informed by their provider if they have outstanding credit, and what they need to do to reclaim it.

Nevertheless, Ofcom thinks that industry best practice should mean that all providers refund customers the outstanding credit they are owed automatically, and without any further action needed by the consumer.

Consumer guide

To help consumers claim outstanding credit, Ofcom has published a guide which provides a clear overview of the credit refund processes of the main communications providers. The guide can be found here: http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/files/2010/10/how-to-claim-credit-refunds.pdf.

Ofcom’s Chief Executive, Ed Richards, said: “Consumers were telling us that they found it difficult to claim unused credit from their providers when they left their contracts. Taken together, people have been millions of pounds out of pocket as a result.

“We hope that automated refund processes, clearer signposting by providers and our new consumer guide should help consumers claim back money that is rightfully theirs.”

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Maximising your mobile coverage

Ofcom today published a new consumer guide to help people maximise their mobile coverage.
The guide covers:

Postcode checkers

Before signing up to a service, check the coverage provided by the mobile operators. All operators have online “postcode checkers” which can give an indication of 2G (voice and text) and 3G (mobile broadband) coverage.

Returns policy

Check the terms and conditions about rights to cancel before buying. If necessary, discuss any specific concerns or requirements with a sales representative before signing a contract.
Mobile operators and phone shops may, under certain circumstances, cancel a contract and let customers return a phone within a certain period if they are not getting a good signal.
For example, some operators have a network guarantee which allows customers to return a phone under certain circumstances if they are unable to get a signal. However, this varies by operator and retail outlet.

Try before you buy

Choose SIM-only monthly contracts or pay-as-you-go to try out different providers. This allows consumers to test coverage from different operators without being locked into a long-term contract.

Improve indoor coverage

Coverage inside buildings can be worse than outside because the building can act as a shield to mobile signals. There are two ways that can improve indoor coverage using a fixed broadband connection:
  • a small router-like device called a “femtocell” which boosts mobile coverage via a broadband connection; and
  • some operators allow calls and mobile data to be routed across a home Wi-Fi network.
Separately, Ofcom has today published initial research into mobile not-spots in the UK.
Ofcom is continuing research into mobile not-spots and will publish further findings next year.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Ofcom progresses plans for new wireless technology

Ofcom announced how a new form of wireless communication called “white space technology” will work in practice.

This follows an earlier consultation, exploring the potential of the technology, which could be used for a wide range of innovative applications. For example, technology manufacturers have suggested that it might wirelessly link up different devices and offer enhanced broadband access in rural areas.

The technology works by searching for unused radio waves called “white spaces” between TV channels to transmit and receive wireless signals. Compared with other forms of wireless technology, such as Bluetooth and WiFi, white-space devices are being designed to use lower frequencies that have traditionally been reserved for TV. Signals at these frequencies travel further and more easily through walls.

Today’s consultation sets out the processes needed to successfully launch the technology and how new devices will be made available to consumers without the need for a licence.

For the full article click here

Friday, 22 October 2010

B2B Email Marketing and the Law

Posted on 18 September 2010 by BDP Data

Email Marketing is covered by certain laws in the UK which comes under the Data Protection Act.  There is a difference between marketing to consumers and businesses within the UK and we have put together a summary below.

These laws restrict the sending of unsolicited marketing emails to individual subscribers. Companies can still be sent business related emails if they are relevant to their work.

Individuals v Businesses
The distinction between ‘individuals’ and ‘businesses’ is clearly crucial.

Individuals are known as consumers, and you must receive permission from the subscriber to send emails marketing your products and services.  When purchasing B2C data, always ask for details of where the consumer subscribed and opted-in to receive your communications (usually known as 3rd party marketing).

Individuals within a business, school, hospital and / or public bodies, can be sent emails, although they must be contacted about business and not individual consumer marketing.

The rules for Businesses (B2B emails)
1. We ask that you only send emails relating to business matters
2. You must ensure that each email has an option to unsubscribe from future communication i.e. a line at the bottom of your email that states: “please reply with stop if you wish to be removed from further communication” or unsubscribe technology through an email delivery system.
3. We ask that you keep your records up-to-date and clean, and do not use any records that are more than six months old.

The rules for individuals (B2C emails)
Individuals / consumers will specifically consent (‘opt-in’) to receiving emails.

You can send direct marketing emails to individual subscribers if they have signed up to receive such communications from the data owner and have consented to 3rd party marketing (i.e. they have ‘opted in’) to receiving such emails from you.

Specific consent requires some positive action by the subscriber.  This will generally be a clear box on a website that the subscriber has to tick (not pre-ticked) that states that they wish to receive 3rd party marketing.

For more information on the subject of B2B Email Marketing contact Business Data Prospects on 08454742946 or visit their website at www.businessdataprospects.com

PRO-iPBX

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Reason to choose a hosted telephone system over a premises based telephone system

With the advances in broadband services available today such as businesses grade ADSL and SDSL the move to hosted telephone systems vs. premises based systems makes much more sense when you take the following factors into account.

  • Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) 
  • Minimum of IT support required even users can manage their own extensions via web based control panels 
  • An Operating Expense rather than a Capital Expense. 
  • Built in Business Continuity 
  • Flexibility to scale your business phone system as your business grows 
Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): 

By moving your telephone system from a premises based solution to a hosted telephone service you are able to start saving on monthly services fees from the outset. All that is required is the necessary infrastructure to be in place i.e. an ADSL or SDSL connection and IP enabled telephone handsets. With hosted telephone systems, you no longer require expensive systems to be installed into your offices. The savings that you will benefit from each month will come from the reduction of fixed lines into your business (that allows you make and receive calls). An 800Kbps upload speed with a business grade ADSL connection will allow you to make 8 concurrent calls. What this means is that for a monthly cost of around £36.00 you can have up to 8 concurrent calls at any time, to make the same number of calls with a traditional system would cost you around £106 per month an saving of £70 per month or £840 per year.

Additional savings to your business will come through by reduce call charges over traditional services. Typically local and national rate calls are charged £0.01ppm with calls to UK mobiles starting around £0.09ppm.

Minimum of IT support required even users can manage their own extensions via web based control panels:

Hosted telephony requires very little IT support for training or for system administration. The System Administrator can add new users quickly, delete existing users and enable additional features by using the simple web based control panel. This is a major benefit of a hosted telephony solution helping to reduce the overall day to day running and management costs..

An Operating Expense rather than a Capital Expense: 

When installing a traditional premises based telephone system there are considerable costs involved with the purchase of the telephony hardware. With hosted telephone solutions there is no requirement to purchase expensive hardware other than phones, therefore there are reduced capital expenditures to depreciate over time meaning that it comes off of your bottom line. As a business, all you have is one simple affordable monthly fee. You now have a system that connects your business and employees to a wealth of capabilities dramatically improving productivity.

Business Continuity: 

Access to your business is restricted due to burst pipes or a gas leak. Worse still due to fire damage your offices are inaccessible indefinitely (just a few examples of problems that could affect your business). If you have a premises based telephone system, contact with your clients will be severely restricted or impossible. If you have hosted telephone system in place your business would be able to carry on uninterrupted. This is because there is no physical system hardware situated in your offices as it is based in secure data centres. This means that customers can still contact your business because employees can work from anywhere. How is this possible? The web-based control panel allows you to quickly forward calls to mobiles or other phones in unaffected locations. It is an incredibly fast and easy way to take control of a disastrous situation and ensures that a major incident becomes easily manageable.

Flexibility to scale your business phone system as your business grows: 

By using hosted telephone systems in your company you will see that its flexibility and the ease with which it can be expanded gives your business the ability to grow without the constraints and problems that are associated with traditional premises based telephone systems. The reverse is also true as well. If trading conditions change and you need to alter your business model, you can quickly scale back your telephone system knowing that as soon as market conditions change again you can redeploy telephone extensions quickly thereby staying ahead of the game.

The ease of deployment associated with hosted telephone systems, means that if you decide to open a new office location, or need to provide communications facilities to remote staff, or just need to prepare for a spike in demand around holiday periods etc. then it is a simple task to quickly scale up operations without disruption to the remainder of your business.

With total flexibility, easy management and that it is quick to deploy means that a hosted telephone system is a decision with only an upside for your business.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Why You Should Encourage Your Salaried Workers (Especially) to Work from Home

This article posted by Mark Harbeke on http://blog.winningworkplaces.org caught our eye because in these days of cost savings and efficiency whilst at the same time making a contribution towards global warming just makes perfect sense. We have quoted the entire article below but if you want to read more please follow the links.

Quote:
I was originally going to title this post "I've Saved Over Two Barrels of Oil by Working from Home."

As longtime readers know, since August 2009 I've been telecommuting for Winning Workplaces (based in Chicago) from a home office in my new home base of Los Angeles. For the past few weeks I had been curious about how much gas I had not used by eliminating my former commute to and from work when I still lived in Evanston.

Turns out that number after 13.5 months of working remotely is 92 gallons – equivalent to 2.2 barrels of crude oil.

That's great for my wallet and for the earth, but it's not the best statistic from my story and analysis for business leaders. What I think should perk up CEOs more is the fact that, as a full-time, salaried employee, I turned the time that I would have spent driving to and from work each day these past 13.5 months into more work hours, especially at the end of my day.

The extra 20 minutes per day from my former commute translates to approximately 96 extra hours worked. That's an extra 1.2 pay periods worth, representing just under 5% of my annual salary.

The bottom line: Winning Workplaces paid nothing extra (I handled my own relocation expenses) but gained about 5% more productivity from me as a result of this arrangement. Obviously if I had been hourly, this benefit would not have come to pass.

So it definitely behooves business leaders to (re)evaluate their strategy, deliverables, and work processes to see if they should add or enhance flexible work benefits – again, especially among their salaried FTEs – to realize a similar net gain in the form of a more productive workplace culture.

If you already embrace remote work or related people practices, what results stand out to you from your efforts to engage employees around this?


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Top tier telephony for SMEs without the costs OR the benefits of a call centre for all.

With the advent of the call centre, communications with customers has changed radically. The call centre has become one of the main points of contact between customers and business; This means that the way in which a call centre operates can have a dramatic effect on a customer’s perception of the business in either a positive or a negative way.

The perception of poor customer service delivery can stem from a variety of factors:

  • Having to wait for long periods in call queues before being put through 
  • Over complicated automated interactive voices response mechanisms (IVR’s) 
  • Poor automated systems that do not allow for all the customer information to be provided to the call handler 
Some of these issues are caused partly by the centralised nature of existing call centre equipment. Premises based solutions can be expensive to roll out across a business particularly were multiple sites exist.

Staff recruitment can also become an issue, as companies may not have access to skilled employees within the local area. Staff costs may be driven upwards where there is a skill shortage and competition develops as good staff are sought.

With the development of cloud based computing, businesses can now look at the possibility of recruiting remote workers which in turn means that they are able to recruit the best customer focused staff for their business.

Issues like this make you think, “why would I need to develop a call centre for my business”. However, what if you could access a telephone system that would help you improve your customer service levels, improve efficiency within your business and allow you to recruit the best staff no matter where they live and at the same time not cost you the earth.

Premises Based Telephony vs Hosted Telephony

Hosted telephony is radically altering the way in which companies carryout their normal business. By using the cloud “cloud computing” hosted telephony is set to change the way call centres are set up and operated.

Cloud based technology allows both large and small businesses alike to take full advantage of sophisticated telephony solutions. It allows for:

  • the identification of callers, 
  • to prioritise and route call traffic effectively 
  • and all at a cost that is not going to break the bank. 
Cost savings and flexibility are a major benefit of hosted telephony services over the traditional premises based solution. Hosted telephony solutions do not require the purchase or maintenance of expensive hardware therefore the capital expenditure is kept to a minimum.

There is little or no software integration required so reducing the go-live times to a matter of days. All that is required is an ADSL / SDSL connection, an IP phone and a computer for each member of staff.

A hosted call centre telephone system makes it the ideal solution for a business by taking away the requirement to purchase expensive premises based call centre technology.

Remote Workers 

Customers are now more sophisticated than at any time. The advance of the internet allows them to resolve issues that previously they would have had to ring up about. What this means in general terms is that when they do make ‘the call’ it is going to be more sophisticated and demanding in nature than would have previously been the case.

Business now need to recognise the changes required to deal with this increased customer sophistication and that there may be fewer calls that come in but which potentially will have a greater impact on their business. Staff will need to have a much broader skill set so they can provide relevant information quickly, efficiently and accurately to the customer rather than passing the caller to another member of staff. Hosted telephone services make it possible for businesses to choose employees because of their expertise and skill sets rather than location and to look further afield to recruit that knowledge base.

Hosted telephone platforms now give a business the ability to direct calls to the most relevant staff member regardless of where they are. A call can now be directed to an expert thereby helping the business to generate more sales than may have been previously expected.

This means that by clever routing of inbound calls, the business could employ experts from any geographic location and that by routing the calls to the experts allow the less experienced staff to answer those calls that require a lower product knowledge making the business more efficient at handling the calls and improving the customer experience.

By hosting the call centre at a data centre, the pressure of normal working hours is reduced over that of a traditional call centre where a company would only have its lines open between nine and five.

Having the ability to route calls to designated points of contact (based remotely) in the evenings or at weekends means that a business can ensure that they do not lose potential orders by increasing the efficiency of their call handling. This approach offers increased flexibility to the business allowing them to employ call handlers as home workers, fitting in with employee’s requirements and reducing the demands on office space. This also means that staff feel more empowered. Happy staff are productive staff.

By hosting business telephony it can be seen that the potential benefits to the businesses are:

  • an increase in customer satisfaction, 
  • improved efficiency in call handling, 
  • improved staff moral and an 
  • impact on the bottom line. 
One benefit that may be overlooked is the fact that business continuity can be maintained when a central location loses connection at times of system/network failure.

PRO-iPBX

Friday, 8 October 2010

How to optimise part time working in the call centre

A recent article posted by Alex Coxon at www.callcentrehelper.com on how to optimise part time staff working within the call centre and to get the best from your employees.

How to make things better

1. Treat part-time workers the same 
The first move, says ProtoCall One’s Andy Turner, is to recognise that part-time staff are making the same contribution to the business as anyone else – albeit on a pro rata basis – and they therefore need the same support structure as any other member of staff.

Deborah Martin, site operations manager at the Nottingham call centre for insurance firm Domestic & General, concurs.

“Just because someone is working part-time or unusual hours – such as night shifts – it doesn’t mean they should be treated differently to full-time people,” she argues. “We have a 24/7 operation here, and we have to utilise part-time staff to maximise our call handling capability,

2. Make sure managers cover part-time shifts 
“To guarantee that [using part-time staff] is effective, we ensure that everyone working part-time gets the same opportunities as those working full-time. If we have an event during the day, for instance, we’ll run a smaller version of the same event in the evening for our part-time people. Also, where we have people working part-time over evenings or weekends, we’ll have a manager to match that [shift pattern],” said Deborah Martin.

“If part-time staff don’t feel they’re getting the same amount of support and training as their full-time peers, it can drive them away,” says Claire Richardson, director of workforce optimisation solutions at technology provider Verint. “If someone is working nights and doesn’t have access to a team leader, for example, they can quickly start feeling under-valued. And if those feelings persist, it can start causing anger, resentment, and perhaps even absenteeism or attrition.”

3. The same amount of training 
According to Martin, this equitable approach to full- and part-time working needs to observed from the outset; whether staff work 15 or 35 hours a week, they still need the same amount of training in order to do the job effectively.

“You’ve got to give people exactly the same skills – even if they’re only able to learn those skills over a couple of hours a day rather than over a full-time shift,” she says.

4. Don’t be afraid of negotiating “That said, you shouldn’t be afraid of negotiating with part-time recruits,” Martin continues. “We do have training teams that work evenings and weekends. But sometimes we need to reach a compromise with a new starter, and maybe get them to come in for a few hours beyond their shift while they’re training, or to work a slightly different schedule until the training has finished… This helps them get up to speed as quickly as possible.”

5. Keep the working hours consistent Outside of training and managerial backing, it is also important to give part-time staff the colleague support they require to work effectively.

“We’ve found that part-time people can end up feeling very isolated if they work too many different hours from their peer group,” says Benjamin Napier, business change manager at the charity NSPCC, which uses part-time volunteers to staff its ChildLine call centres. “Having people working regular shift patterns can help reduce that isolation and allow them to form constructive working relationships.”

6. Good communication “Obviously our situation is different to a lot of call centres’ because we operate using volunteer counsellors rather than paid staff. However, I think the principle is still the same; if you have a good communication policy – one that conveys the realities of demand patterns to part-time workers – it can help win their buy-in to work shifts in less sociable hours,” continues Benjamin Napier.

Conclusion 
There are, as we’ve seen, several ways to optimise part-time working in the call centre, ranging from offering the same quality and volume of training as full-time staff through to having a robust communication strategy in place.

The resounding factor, however, is the need for support. As ProtoCall One’s Andy Turner states: “It’s down to the call centre to look after their part-time workers as well as they do their full-time staff.

“Organisations can’t afford to be lazy,” he adds. “If they want long-term engagement from their part-time staff, they need to put the right support structure in place. They need to invest in all of their staff – whether they work full-time or part-time.”

Dos and don’ts 

David Jones, of Q-Max, offers up some salient scheduling tips for those who want to make part-time working effective in their call centre.

Do… 
  • Consult your part-timers. Discuss what shift patterns would best meet their personal needs while also meeting your schedule requirements. 
  • Consider using rotating shifts. A well-designed rota will be regarded by staff as fair. However, it will also help ensure that hard-to-cover shifts are incorporated. 
  • Remember that a full-timer working an eight-hour shift requires two 15-minute breaks and an hour at lunch. Two part-timers covering the same eight hours only require two 15-minute breaks apiece. 
  • Be creative in shift design; a good workforce management (WFM) system can pay dividends here. 

Don’t… 
  • Abuse part-timers by giving them all the unpopular, difficult or unsociable shifts. 
  • Treat part-timers as second-class employees; they are a hugely valuable asset and need to be treated as such. 
  • Think you can get away with not giving part-time staff a break during their shift hours; a 15-minute break for four hours work is sensible and practical. 
PRO-iPBX


http://www.callcentrehelper.com/how-to-optimise-part-time-working-in-the-call-centre-13100.htm

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The UK Finally Embracing VoIP Online

16.08.2010 | Author: Michael Mclaren | Posted in VOIP

VoIP in the UK has started to take off just as it has all over the world. It is an amazing break through technology and is changing the face of telephone communications. According to a study conducted by research firm Harris Interactive, during the last nine months, the percentage of British adults who have heard of VoIP or already use it has increased from just a little over one-third (37 percent) to nearly half (46 percent.) A similar shift in awareness and use in the United States has been shown from 36 to 51 percent. The firm surveyed 1,089 U.S. adults aged 18 and over and 1,117 British adults aged 18 and over.


VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol” and many times it is referred to as “Internet Phone Service”. It is a way for British consumers to make and receive telephone calls using a high-speed Internet connection. The main reason why VoIP is becoming popular in the UK is cost; as VoIP is significantly less expensive than typical local and long distance telephone service offered by the phone companies. Most UK VoIP providers charge about £6.99 per month. Some providers also have an annual rate of £79.99; not bad for those consumers who are looking to save a pretty penny.


Early efforts at employing VoIP in the UK involved having to use a computer in order to use the service, known as PC to PC calling. While this is still popular today, VoIP services can now be used with regular telephone equipment so less technical people can enjoy the cost savings of VoIP. It works just like traditional phone service, so all that is needed is a phone jack; a phone adapter (provided by the VoIP Company) an existing phone (with the exception of a rotary phone), high-speed Internet and a monthly or annual subscription to a VoIP service provider.


Once connected and installed, VoIP works just like any other phone: all consumers have to do is pick up the phone and wait for the dial tone – dial a phone number – wait for the person to answer – and start a conversation. In most cases the person on the other end won’t even know that you are using VoIP; the quality is that excellent.


Some of the tangible benefits of using VoIP include: unlimited UK local & national calls, a UK phone number with your choice of area dialing code, a free second phone line; as well as free features like voicemail, caller ID, distinctive ringing, three-way calling, call forwarding, do not disturb and many more.


Another advantage of using VoIP is that it is portable. For example, let’s assume that you have to go on a business trip to China. Simply pack up your phone adapter, (power supply & cables) and your touch tone phone. When you arrive at your hotel in Beijing, set up your phone adaptor and phone just as you had installed it at home. You can then make and receive telephone calls as if you were sitting down in your living room back in the UK. It’s that easy.


Cost savings, free features, portability – VoIP is the emerging technology at the root of all these trends, and British consumers should expect to see a lot more news about VoIP in the UK in the coming months and years.

PRO-iPBX

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

CounterPath Brings Multitasking, Multi-Account VoIP Softphone to the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

Enterprise-Grade Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 Enhances Productivity By Freeing Users to Access and Edit Documents While They Talk

Vancouver, BC, Canada — August 17, 2010 – CounterPath Corporation (TSX-V: CCV; OTCBB: CPAH), an award-winning provider of desktop and mobile VoIP software solutions, today announced the worldwide availability of Bria iPhone Edition Version 1.1 for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Compatible with Apple’s new iOS 4 operating system, Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 is a highly secure, standards-based VoIP softphone that works over both 3G and Wi-Fi networks.

Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 leverages iOS 4 to deliver to Bria users’ their most requested feature: multitasking on the iPhone, freeing them to stay productive while waiting for calls. This freedom is particularly valuable for iPhone users that need to reference other applications while on a call, enhancing the device’s value as a business tool. When Apple releases iOS 4 for the iPad, Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 will immediately and automatically extend its multitasking features to that device.

Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 also features support for up to eight accounts, so users can create a separate account – including a separate number – for each aspect of their life, such as work, home or on the move. Bria users now simply log in once to stay connected to all of their accounts throughout their day. Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 also lets users create a separate dialing plan for each account to ensure that each call is placed correctly.
Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 also fully supports older devices running iPhone 3.0 and is ideal for the growing number of SMEs, large enterprises and governments that are deploying iPhones, the iPod touch and iPads for mobile workers, many of whom require full access to their communications services while away from their desk or office. Bria iPhone Edition leverages the iPhone’s native address book and its embedded Bluetooth technology to provide a seamless calling experience while on the move.

“Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 takes Mobile VoIP to the next level by enabling iPhone users to take one or more of their VoIP accounts mobile.” said Todd Carothers, VP Product Management CounterPath. “Now with full multitasking and multi-account support, Bria liberates iOS 4 users by truly un-tethering them from the desktop. Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 is the latest example of CounterPath’s commitment to the burgeoning Mobile VoIP market.”

Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 integrates seamlessly with other CounterPath desktop and convergence solutions, as well as with enterprise and carrier infrastructure equipment from major vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, BroadSoft, Metaswitch, Avaya, Cisco and NEC. Bria iPhone Edition also supports Asterisk-based telephony systems.

Bria iPhone Edition 1.1's other key features include:
  • Full SIP compliance, enabling use with any SIP-compliant server and hundreds of ITSPs that currently offer CounterPath-based services.
    • Bria iPhone Edition appears as another endpoint to service providers or PBX equipment, enabling fast, cost-effective deployments.
  • Call quality that's superior to circuit-switched wireline and wireless voice, and based on the G.711, G.729 and GSM codecs.
  • An intuitive user interface that provides one-touch access to voicemail, call history, speakerphone and other frequently used telephony features such as 4-digit dialing.
  • Support for DTMF, which lets users enter numbers to access an auto attendant.
  • Bluetooth support, enabling hands-free calling for convenience, as well as safety while driving. (iPhone and iPod touch only).
  • Multi-call management options, including the ability to switch between, merge and split calls, all in ways that are already familiar to iPhone users so they can start using these features immediately.
  • Signaling and call encryption via TLS and SRTP, enabling enterprise-class security.
  • Optional customized branding available for enterprises and telephony providers.

Bria iPhone Edition is the latest CounterPath solution for mobile platforms and its first standalone mobile SIP application. Earlier this year, CounterPath launched Linux, Mac and Windows versions of Bria, all of which received strong approval and endorsement from Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs) and telecom infrastructure vendors. In addition to the Bria-branded version, CounterPath will also be developing customized white-label versions of Bria iPhone Edition for carriers, OEMs and enterprise customers worldwide through its professional services team.

Current Bria iPhone Edition users will be automatically updated to Version 1.1 when the update is available. Bria iPhone Edition 1.1 is sold exclusively through the following link on the iTunes Store for $7.99. Customers have the ability to upgrade the client to include G.729 support.
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About CounterPath

CounterPath Corporation is an award-winning provider of innovative desktop and mobile VoIP software products and solutions. The company's product suite includes SIP-based softphones, server applications and Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) solutions that enable service providers, enterprises and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) to cost-effectively integrate voice, video, presence and Instant Messaging (IM) applications into their VoIP offerings and extend functionality across both fixed and mobile networks.
CounterPath's customers include some of the world's largest telecommunications service providers and network equipment providers including AT&T, Verizon, BT (British Telecommunications PLC), Deutsche Telekom, Cisco Systems and Mitel.
For more information please visit www.counterpath.com.

Disclaimer: Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.


PRO-iPBX

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Ofcom Update: Ofcom makes two new 116 helpline numbers available

Ofcom today confirmed that it will make two new pan-European 116 numbers available in the UK.

The two numbers are:

· 116 006 which will be used as a helpline for victims of crime. This will be a freephone service where calls to this number will be free unless a pre-call announcement tells the caller that a charge applies. This is often the case with calls made from a mobile; and

· 116 117 for a non-emergency medical on-call service which will always be free of charge in the UK, whether made from a fixed line, mobile or public phone box.

The next stage is for potential relevant service providers to express their interest in using these numbers by 1st October 2010.

Ofcom’s statement can be found here:

Friday, 23 July 2010

Ofcom update: New help for consumers to resolve complaints

Ofcom today confirmed plans to make it easier for consumers to exercise their right to take unresolved complaints to a free independent resolution service.

From next year, communications providers will have to include information of the relevant dispute resolution service on all paper bills. They will also have to write to consumers whose complaints have not been resolved within eight weeks to inform them of their right to take their complaint to a dispute resolution service.

Ofcom is also establishing a single mandatory Code of Practice with minimum standards for how providers must handle complaints from consumers. The Code of Practice will provide consistency in standards and will give Ofcom powers to take enforcement action against those providers who do not treat complainants fairly.

The full news release can be found here: Full release

The statement can be found here: Statement 

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Do you use these secret marketing tools?

Sales and Marketing Activity

If you use the telephone as a tool to take orders and field enquiries from your marketing activity how do you know how successful you are?

It was Viscount Leverhulme who said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is I don’t know which half.” 

The trouble with traditional marketing is that you know that you have to do it and with an eager air of anticipation and expectation you spend money on using Yellow Pages, weekly free press, monthly gazettes, web sites, email marketing, letters, leaflet drops, radio, TV, street adverts, brochures, 4N, BNI etc. Generally as businesses, we usually only ever have one main telephone number that is used, and if you only publish the one number on all of the above options you will hopefully capture the sale but unless you are rigorous in asking the question – How did you hear of us? you will never know what is the source of your sale and if what you are marketing in is actually working.

What is important is how to capture the hard data and to understand how effective each marketing activity you do is and so help you to justify expanding some areas of advertising and cutting back others therefore increasing the effectiveness of your lead generation.

Yellow pages have for years monitored the usage patterns of its users and have identified that the readers will call telephone numbers in the following order of priority:
  • Freephone (0800, 0808) numbers 
  • Local Geographic Numbers (01392 Exeter, 01904 York etc.) 
  • And the rest 0845, 0870 are avoided because of the perception of the company benefiting from the call 
Therefore it is recommend that you use 0800 and 0808 numbers for a number of reasons
  1. because the research data backs this up, and
  2. that prospects prefer to make a call that they know that they are not paying for. 
    So you need to measure your advertising using evidence based reporting.  The simplest and most effective way to measure the response is by using telephony platforms to collate the call data. This means that once you decide that you need to measure your marketing campaigns you will need to look for a supplier that will provide the right telephone numbers to publish on your individual marketing pieces and then a solution that provides you with the detailed information on inbound calls to maximise your lead generation activity.

    Converting Sales to Leads

    Not only is accurate and live data on your marketing performance necessary, you also ought to record each inbound call so that you can ensure that all staff responsible for making the sale are fully trained and following your sales procedures/scripts to maximise each opportunity. If one person, including yourself is off track then potential orders can be lost.

    Results are what business are all about, so the system you choose to employ needs to allow you to measure how many leads your marketing is generating and how your business is handling these sales calls. You need to obtain all the information you can possibly get to help drive your business forward.

    Accurate and Instant Marketing Data

    You have spent hours getting your creative right, wording, font type and size, the message, the call to action everything else you have learned from the Marketing AIDA, Attention Interest Desire Action.

    1. So what was your response?
    2. How many people bought from you?
    3. How many people contacted you?
    4. How well did you do at converting those who called into those who bought?

     The first step in this process is knowing who reacted to your marketing, this is the measure of your marketing effectiveness. All your individual telephone numbers can provide you with detailed information about who called and when, all you have to provide is the – 'what marketing item each number refers to'.

    Cost Benefit Analysis

    As you have collected so much more data than before you can now begin to collate the financial data for each marketing activity carried out and begin to understand what works and what does not.

    Using the call data you can determine the value of each activity and the most cost effective way to attract customers and clients to your business, ensuring that you get better value out of each pound spent on marketing your business services and products.

    Knowledge is Power

    When you have the information available to make decisions based on fact and you then act on this information you have the power to make a massive impact upon your bottom line.

    What has been outlined here is not rocket science, although it can and does to many look like a dark art, the reality is that by simple use of telephone platforms you now have the ability to capture the data with which to measure your marketing. You can then use it to make significantly more money than you currently are because you are focussing on what works rather than like Viscount Leverhulme all those years ago knowing that half worked but not knowing which half!

    For a full PDF version of this article click here to download it.

    PRO-iPBX

    Why call BT?

    A question that I’ve always wanted to know the answer to ever since I got into the telecommunications industry 14 years ago was why do most people tend to call BT first if they want a phone line or broadband service.

    BT has always been the name on most people’s mind when it comes to any services run over the telecommunications network, usually because of the masses of advertising they do.

    I’d like to tell you a couple of reasons why BT do so much friendly, touchy feely advertising...!

    Several years ago the telecommunications industry was de-monopolised meaning that BT had to open their networks to allow competition into the market place meaning that they were no longer allowed a monopoly within the industry. This allowed for an influx of smaller telecoms companies giving them the ability to buy into the networks and give users more of a free choice. With more companies coming into play, BT had to split it’s organisation up into two ‘BT Retail’ and ‘BT Openreach’.

    BT Openreach are the company that are responsible for looking after and maintaining all of the fibre and cabling over which most communications are carried. BT Openreach are regulated by Ofcom (Ofcom is the communications regulator that regulate TV and radio, fixed line telecoms and mobiles, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate). This regulation means that all registered telecommunications providers have the same rights and are able to utilise ‘BT Openreach’ to install, maintain and repair faults within the communications network, no matter how small or large they are. All of these providers pay ‘BT Openreach’ every month for their services and support.

    So who is ‘BT Retail’? BT Retail are a telecommunications billing company, these are the people that we all see advertise on the TV, radio, internet all of the time, which takes me back to my original point.

    Advertising costs a lot of money! BT Retail recoup all this money back from us, the end users by charging us for the services that run on the communications networks.

    Did you know that BT Retail can charge up to £30 or more to have a single phone line installed into your premises.

    BT Retail can charge hundreds of pounds more than their rivals to install ISDN line services into businesses premises.

    Their monthly charges are generally higher than their competitors are and in some cases the charges can be as much as 20% more than their competitors.

    Their call charges are generally higher than their competitors are and can be as much as 80% more expensive than the competition.

    All of these extra charges are for what? The exact same service you can find elsewhere, yet without having overseas call centres, or having to sign up for 2, 3, 4 or even 5 year contracts.

    We are all game for companies and individuals making money and profits and contributing to keeping the economy going, but I am baffled why people opt for BT when there are offerings in the market place that would suit the smaller/medium sized business giving them greater flexibility.

    Before you think of calling BT next time, why not see what other providers can do for you, you’ll save money, have a better level of service, and you’ll be dealt with by people based in the UK and you will be helping to keep costs down.

    Wednesday, 14 July 2010

    VoiP Set to Change Face of Communication

    An interesting article about the future of VoIP communications by Mini Swamy TMCNet Contributor.

    The era of telecommunications is evolving so rapidly that newer technologies are displacing the old, transforming the way businesses and enterprises operate. As they grow and expand globally, voice communication over long distances becomes a costly affair. VoiP was developed in order to facilitate cost-effective voice communication to anywhere in the world. With everyone slowly veering towards this technology, it is bound to become the primary form of communications in the near future........... click here for the complete article.

    Wednesday, 7 July 2010

    The ICO launches an online guide to data protection

    The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has launched an online guide aimed at helping business, charities and public bodies ensure that they manage data securely. The personal information online code of practice has been launched following an extensive consultation process. The code explains to organisations how the Data Protection Act applies to the collection and use of personal data online.

    The Personal Information Online Code of Practice also aims to provide tips allowing consumers to make an informed choice about whether they sign up for a particular online service.


    Mobile VoIP set to hit half a trillion minutes

    An article posted in ITPRO by Stephen Pritchard says that within 5 years, mobile users will make a staggering 470 billion minutes of VoIP (Voice over IP) calls from mobile devices.

    The number of voice over IP (VoIP) calls carried over mobile networks is set to grow a massive 30 times over in the next five years.

    Analysts Juniper Research calculate that users of mobile 3G and 4G networks currently make 15 billion minutes of calls using VoIP. But as faster networks become more common, Juniper believes this total will rise, to 470.6 billion minutes.
    Mobile VoIP traffic is also growing, as more handsets support Internet calling over Wi-Fi, including services such as Skype, and Apple’s new FaceTime video calling service on the iPhone 4.

    The competition from Wi-Fi-based voice calls – which typically earn no revenues for the mobile operators – is forcing mobile networks to look again at their policies for carrying VoIP traffic.

    If they do not, they risk significant financial losses, as users switch their calls from their cellular minutes, to lower-cost Wi-Fi alternatives.

    “We forecast that mobile VoIP over Wi-Fi will cost operators $5 billion globally by 2015,” said Anthony Cox, senior analyst at Juniper Research. “Wi-Fi mobile VoIP is potentially the most damaging of all VoIP traffic as it bypasses the mobile networks altogether.” 

    Juniper expects to see more deals between operators and VoIP services, as the mobile companies seek to defend their revenues from voice calls. 

    Arrangements such as those between Three and Skype in the UK, and with Verizon Wireless in the US will become more common, Juniper believes, as operators’ incomes from conventional, circuit-switched calls continue to fall.

    Mobile companies will try to “bury the hatchet” with VoIP providers and set up partnerships that will allow them to least capture at least some mobile VoIP traffic.

    The trend growth in mobile VoIP calls is expected to grow quickly among business users, who are more likely to use unlocked handsets with VoIP support, such as the Nokia E Series, or devices such as Cisco’s upcoming Cius tablet device.

    To view the full article click here

    Monday, 28 June 2010

    Skype Problem with your Payment Scam

    Interesting article from TMCnet Bloggers about a scam involving payment to skype.

    TMC has been getting inundated with emails lately about problems with Skype accounts we don't own. We checked into the malicious script embedded in the emails and they appear to send you to servers in Estonia where your computer is likely to be infected with malware. Not that I need to tell you but - stay away - and be sure others who may fall for this scam know not to click.

    Visit TMC for details.

    PRO-iPBX

    Tuesday, 22 June 2010

    Ofcom update: Cheaper charges for UK consumers to end phone contracts

    Charges that consumers face for leaving their landline phone contracts early will be cut by as much as 85 per cent, Ofcom announced today.

    Over the past 18 months, Ofcom has been working with the three biggest UK landline providers, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, to ensure that the charges they levy when customers end their contracts early (“early termination charges”), reflect the costs that the providers save by no longer providing the service. Cheaper early termination charges will also apply to landline customers who receive broadband in the same package.

    The full news release can be found here: Ofcom

    Monday, 21 June 2010

    Them and Us

    Read an article today about the Them and Us mindset. When I first read the title I thought that it was another article about the Employer / Employee relationship, and in a way it was. However reading the first paragraph I soon realised that it was not. Here is the article taken from Keeping HR Simple Blog posted by Katherine Connolly:

    Employers are toughening up on tardiness it seems. This is according to a survey by CareerBuilder UK. The reason given for the extra attention to arrival times at work is the current difficult economic climate. I never thought I’d say this but hurrah for the recession! Anything that causes employers to sit up and pay attention to employees who consistently flout the rules can only be a good thing.

    Note that I said consistently. I’m not talking about the one off occasion where you drive a single track country road to work and get stuck behind a tractor, or the time when your alarm clock decides not to go off at the appointed hour, or the time when your cat gets stuck in the cat flap (you might think I’m making that one up but it’s a real-life excuse for arriving late at work. Apparently).

    Perhaps paying attention to their employees’ arrival times will make employers realise that there are always two kinds of employee – “us” and “them”. “Us”, well, we are conscientious. We care about our jobs, about the company and we toe the line. We feel bad on the odd occasion when we arrive late or we have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day. We make up the time by working through lunch. We are the ones who are likely to come in when we’re sick because we know the team is short staffed and our customers and colleagues will suffer because of our absence. We know who we are and we recognise our kindred spirits in the workplace.

    “Them”. They are a different breed. They don’t care so much about their jobs, about the company and about toeing the line. It’s just a job to them and it really doesn’t matter if they arrive late or take a long lunch break. They will happily take advantage of the boss being out to make a personal call. Or two. Lasting over 30 minutes each. But hey, at least the plumber’s visit has been arranged and they now know exactly what the plans are for Saturday night. As do the rest of the office. The other “thems” don’t really care – they’re too busy on the phone to their mates. Or getting in a quick supermarket shop online. For “us”, it’s a different story. We quietly seethe while trying to get on with our work. Or we get together with our kindred spirits and moan about “them”.

    What really winds “us” up is the fact that our employers do nothing to stop it. “They” get away with it. No one takes them aside and has a word. No one tells them that they need to abide by the company rules, start turning up on time and stop taking the proverbial. What’s worse, “we” get no recognition for being the ones who do abide by the rules. It’s enough to turn “us” into “them”. If only we didn’t have a conscience.

    Employers need to know this. They need to know that ignoring those who break the rules does not endear them to those who don’t. All employees need to feel that they are being treated fairly and consistently. A situation of “one rule for them and one rule for us” does not make for a happy workforce. So, if the recession is making employers realise who “they” are, those consistent unapologetic late arrivers, that’s great. Now all employers need to do is act on it.

    Keeping HR Simple
    PRO-iPBX

    Why 2010 is the year of the virtual data center

    In 2009, many government agencies were focused on realizing the benefits of using virtualized servers. Perhaps chief among those benefits was the opportunity to make better use of existing budgets by consolidating physical infrastructure and commoditizing server hardware. Software and hardware vendors, meanwhile, have been equally focused on selling the benefits of server virtualization. That’s reflected by the success of VMware and the moves by major operating system vendors (Microsoft Hyper-V), database vendors (Oracle VM), server vendors (Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Dell) and even network vendors such as Cisco with network convergence. Follow the link for the rest of the article....... Virtualizing servers is only half the game -- agencies should look to storage, too

    Friday, 4 June 2010

    Hosted/Managed Unified Communications to Outstrip Traditional Solutions by 2014: Wainhouse Research

    Hosted and managed services in Information and Communications Technology or “ICT” sector have grown significantly over the past few years. Unified communications is one the fastest growing managed services area. Market analysts predict that hosted and managed unified communications services will outstrip the traditional conferencing services market in revenue within the next few years. Read on.......


    By Rajani Baburajan 


    PRO-iPBX

    Thursday, 3 June 2010

    14 ways you could use a virtual switchboard without paying a fortune

    14 ways you could use a virtual switchboard
    • Make your business appear larger than it is. When a caller calls say you have a sales, finance and customer service department using IVR (interactive voice response) 
    • Use intelligent routing to direct calls to the relevant departments, saving on the costs of a receptionist 
    • Measure and test against advertising campaigns. Use different numbers non geographic and geographic in different adverting campaignsyour number is re-rerouted at the click of a mouse
    • Prevent future hassles if moving office, your number is re-pointed at the click of a mouse 
    • Make use of remote workers but let your customer think you are all in the same place 
    • Had a bright idea – leave yourself a voice-mail from your mobile when on the road 
    • Have a consistent voice message which is on brand for all your customers 
    • If you have a restaurant, save staff time by recording your the menus to the switchboard 
    • Stop customer ‘on hold’ frustration while the receptionist speaks to someone else. Play them a meaage that keeps them engaged. 
    • Automate appointment bookings, for example doctor surgeries or trade quotation requests 
    • Dictate a voicemail to your secretary and have it ready and typed when you arrive in the office 
    • Provide a ’secret option’ for priority customers to reach you 
    • Never miss an order or booking
    • Keep it simple 
    Visit White Rose Network solutions

    Or

    PRO-iPBX

    Wednesday, 2 June 2010

    Ofcom Update: Ofcom sets out proposals to tackle repeat silent calls

    Ofcom has today set out proposals to help prevent consumers being harassed by repeated silent calls.

    Seventy per cent of the complaints Ofcom receives about silent calls are from consumers receiving two or more silent calls a day from the same company, often over a period of days or weeks.

    The vast majority of these calls are caused by automated calling systems used by call centres to contact large numbers of people in one go. These systems can be beneficial to both companies and consumers, for example when a bank needs to quickly alert thousands of customers about a potential fraud. But sometimes technology used by call centres to detect answer machines will mistake a live consumer for an answering machine and cut off the call without the person hearing anything, resulting in a silent call.

    Ofcom is proposing a new rule to prevent a company calling an answer phone more than once in any 24 hour period, unless a call centre agent is on hand to answer the call. This would mean that consumers currently worst affected would no longer receive repeat silent calls over the course of a day.

    The consultation can be found here

    Tuesday, 1 June 2010

    How to make the best crackling ever!

    This recipe has been handed down through the mists of time - well at least since Christmas of 2008.

    To make the best crackling ever follow these simple steps.

    • Cut the skin off the joint or belly pork trying to keep it in one piece.
    • Lay the skin on a tray, cover and ideally leave overnight so that it dries out a bit.
    • When you are ready to cook the crackling put the skin onto a wire oven tray and place in the oven at a temperature of 200 - 220 C. Season to taste.
    • Ensure that you have a tray underneath to catch the excess fat as it drips off and so avoid an unholy mess.
    • Check the crackling as it cooks and remove it from the oven when it is to your liking.
    • Cut it up and put on a plate and hopefully there will be some left by the time it reaches the table.
    Works every time for us. 

    Draft code of practice to reduce online copyright infringement

    A proposed code of practice which implements legislative measures aimed at reducing online copyright infringement has been published by Ofcom, as part of its new duties under the Digital Economy Act 2010.

    The Act requires that the code of practice is implemented no later than eight months from Royal Assent, including approval from the European Commission.

    Subject to consultation and approval, Ofcom expects the code to come into force in early 2011.

    Read more about it here.

    Thursday, 27 May 2010

    Why Businesses Can’t Afford To Ignore SMS Text Message Marketing


    Why you cant afford to ignore SMS Text Message Marketing
    People all over the world at the moment are saying SMS Text Message Advertising is a new kid on the block, however, a little unknown fact is that SMS Text Message Marketing first came on the scene ten years ago in the year 2000, when a free daily newspaper headline service in Finland sent by SMS text messaging and was sponsored by advertising.

    Until the past few years SMS Text based advertising was low on the marketers agenda, however with recent research showing SMS/MMS ads spending up 26% percent from 2008 to 2009 is showing that this ‘relatively new’ channel is finally coming into its own.

    So why should businesses look at SMS Text Message Marketing?
    Following on from my previous article, 67% of Brits want more SMS reminders, I went into the forum and asked what the members of 4N thought. Do you want to be text by your supplier / business contact?

    All said they would love to receive more reminders and alert from suppliers and business contacts.

    More Responsive
    Bulk SMS text messaging is a new channel at our finger tips, but even more importantly, according to the Mobile Marketing Association, this channel is 5 times more responsive than direct mail, which the Internet Advertising Bureau UK with PwC says is due to its exceptional targeting, immediacy and return on investment.

    Immediacy
    That brings us nicely onto our second reason, Time efficiency. You could write, send, and have your target market receive an SMS in the fraction of the time it would take you to write and send a direct mail piece, and more importantly it takes less time for them to respond and frees up yours or an employee’s time to spend on more productive activities!

    Affordability, Cost Effective and ROI
    Affordability is a clear reason SMS Text Message Marketing is getting used more and more. Sending an SMS text message will cost businesses as little as 8p per text, a lot cheaper than printing packaging and postage costs of direct mail, and with response rates far better than email you’ll get a great return on your marketing investment.

    Increase Attendance at Events and Create last minute appointments
    A simple, yet very effective way of ensuring people attend events or appointments are through text message reminders.

    If you work with appointments it can also help you refill last minute cancelations as you can easily and very quickly can send out a quick text saying “Late Deals at (company name), first person to book a treatment at 4pm will receive a 25% discount”. This will help you re-fill the time slot and make money where it could have been lost.

    Increase Positive Customer Perception & Loyalty
    Using a text message personalised to the contact can do wonders for your business. Sending out promotional material, vouchers and discounts or simply keeping them up to date with the latest news can be good for businesses but it’s the added touch that helps you achieve that perception and loyalty. Sending SMS Text Message Birthday messages for example, this could also include a time related offer. They will love you for remembering their birthday!

    Vast Reach of a Text Message
    A major benefit of a Text Messages is the vast reach as it can reach the contact no matter where they are. Latest stats show our mobile phones are with us over 80% of every day. By sending a text message to direct to their phone means that they can receive your message where ever they are, they don’t have to be listening to the radio, reading a newspaper, watching TV, near a computer or even in the country!

    Viral Potential
    One of the biggest things we want is our message to reach as many people as possible, hence the large amount of money spent on viral market each and every year. However, with the ease of which SMS Text Messages can be shared also increases the chances of your message being shown or forwarded to additional people at no extra cost to you or your business.

    Green Credentials that saves you money!
    Usually going green costs you money somewhere, but this actually saves you money from the start. SMS Text message marketing is a green way of communicating with your contacts. For every 10,000 pieces of A4 paper that your company uses, you consume 2.5 mature trees.

    We all know we can not stop sending mail altogether, but using SMS in certain cases can save us large amounts of money. Think of it as sending a piece of information to 1000 contacts.

    Through Mail
    Cost to send 50p each (printing, postage and packaging)- Total £500
    Average response of 2%
    Cost per response = £25

    Through SMS
    Cost to send 8p each - Total £80
    Average response = 10%
    Cost per response = £0.80

    Thats a great saving of £420 plus, a far better response rate bringing you cheaper response costs!

    Even applying Mail Response at 2% you still get the £420 saving with a cost per response of £4

    Wow factor whilst having a Competitive Edge
    The SMS Text message marketing channel still relatively new in the UK and vast amounts of potential customers not yet seen it firsthand, which is great news for businesses likes yours!

    Read More
    So there are some great reasons why you cant afford to ignore SMS Text Message Marketing.

    1 - Do my contacts want me to text them?
    2 - What are the benefits of Business SMS texting?
    3 - How to write effective business marketing text messages?

    This article was first posted on PPD Computing website 9 Reasons Why Businesses Can’t Afford To Ignore SMS Text Message Marketing


    Also visit: PRO-iPBX for additional products

    Wednesday, 26 May 2010

    How Voice over IP (VoIP) works


    The concept of Voice over IP can be a complete mystery to many business owners and employees alike but once understood, then the technology becomes more easy to use. Furthermore its use can be implemented in such away so as to enhance your company’s presence and therefore used to your company’s advantage.

    Visit the 4N networking site for an article on how Voice over IP (VoIP) works and how it can benefit your business.


    PRO-iPBX

    Friday, 21 May 2010

    Disabled customers and call centres

    Ofcom has today published a good practice guide for call centres containing practical tips for communicating with disabled customers. The tips are based on advice we have received from disabled people and organisations representing them following issues they have experienced with call centres.

    Ofcom has written to major telecoms providers, financial institutions, insurance and utility companies to encourage them to consider using the good practice guide. 

    How Voice over IP (VoIP) works

    The concept of Voice over IP can be a complete mystery to many business owners and employees alike but once understood, then the technology becomes more easy to use. Furthermore its use can be implemented in such away so as to enhance your company’s presence and therefore used to your company’s advantage.

    Voice over IP and how it works: at a glance

    With a Voice over IP (VoIP) solution, analogue voice calls are converted into data packets. These packets are then transmitted like any other type of data packets, over the Internet or any other private Internet Protocol (IP) network.

    When using a Voice over IP (VIP) service, calls can be made to landlines or cell phones. Calls can be made computer-to-computer using headphones and microphone. These can be wired, wireless or even Bluetooth

    During the evaluation of how Voice over IP works, it is worth noting that you can make or receive calls using existing landline telephones. To do this all you need to install is an analogue telephone adapter (ATA) that is connected to your network or to connect the phones to a router that has VoIP capability such as some of the Draytek range of routers. To ensure the very best voice quality and answer possible security issues, you should consider using your VoIP or other communications system on a private IP network.

    How can Voice over IP (VoIP) Work for Your Business

    By adding a Voice over IP service to a data network, costs will be reduced, improvements to productivity will occur, and collaboration amongst staff and between customers will improve..

    You will be able to save money by consolidating networks i.e. having one network to manage instead of two. New extensions can be easily added, moved around, or changed. Extensions can be moved to locations or remote workers deployed all of which saves you money and gives your business more flexibility.

    Due to the plug and play nature of Voice over IP phones and applications that can run on smart phones, staff can be connected to the telephone system and use it from home or whilst travelling. This allows for improved staff flexibility and means that you are able to make better use of your resources. It also allows for an element of disaster recovery to be built into the business. If you experience a major loss of power, or other problem in the office, staff can be moved to other locations quickly and communications with customers resume.

    Conferencing facilities built into the PBX means that you can have team meetings with remote workers and customers alike .This translate into savings made on travel, a contribution made to the reduction in carbon emissions and staff are more productive due to the reduces wasted time incurred during travel.

    Tuesday, 18 May 2010

    Powerful Features and Capabilities with a Hosted VoIP PBX Telephone System




    A hosted VoIP PBX With Powerful Features and Capabilities 

    A hosted VoIP (voice over internet protocol) PBX phone system is a product rich integrated solution with built in powerful features and capabilities. This means that the business communications requirement of SME’s is easily catered for with the help of a hosted VoIP PBX telephone solution.

    System Features for Efficient Call Management 

    Moving your business communications to a Hosted VoIP PBX telephone system allows you to 
    effectively communicate with your customers, business associates and suppliers throughout 
    the working day. A hosted VoIP PBX phone system should be designed with powerful call management features and capabilities. These should include:


    • Call forwarding with find me, follow me options 
    • Auto attendant
    • Voicemail
    • ACD (automatic call distribution)
    • Call waiting
    • Call queuing
    • Voice to email
    • Fax to email
    • Caller ID (CLI, CLP)
    • Call conferencing services
    • Call recording
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)

    One feature, such as the auto attendant service manages inbound calls to the business. All inbound are answered by the system with recorded welcome messages that can either be recorded by you or professionally. You can have different queues for different numbers/services and your callers can even be presented with a menu of options to put them through to the right people or departments in your business. A hosted VoIP PBX telephone system can manage numerous inbound calls and perform call routing without sending out busy signals. Queue positions can be announced, product marketing recordings can be played; even information about the business to keep callers engaged while waiting to be put through.

    Business Management Support for Remote Sites 
    By using a hosted VoIP PBX, remote workers can be catered for in a number of ways:
    • Simply plug in a VoIP desktop phone
    • Use a VoIP enabled Smartphone (iPhone, Android etc) and connect to the system as if it were your extension.
    • Use find / follow me call forwarding options and have calls diverted to home or mobile numbers. This allows for the easy management of your business calls from other locations. Unanswered calls can be routed to voicemail where they can then be sent on via email as an alert or the message attached so that it can be listened to. The rich feature set of the VoIP hosted PBX phone system means that you can concentrate on your business without being concerned about missed and unanswered calls during business hours. 
    Minimal investment costs 
    A hosted VoIP PBX business telephone system that gives your business all the phone features that FTSE 100 companies take for granted, but at a fraction of the cost. Savings are massive compared to the cost of a traditional telephone system (70% plus saving), and when you look at the features and benefits delivered you will understand why business users are choosing hosted VoIP PBX solutions. Not only do you get a feature rich system at a fraction of the cost compared to other systems but you will get a solution that is always the right size for your business, allowing you to scale up or down to suit your business needs.


    At the very minimum all that is required is a broadband connection, a QoS enabled router and IP telephones.

    Visit the PRO-iPBX website for more information.