EarthLink Hosted Voice: Profitability through Productivity

The EarthLink Hosted Voice product can help businesses of all shapes and sizes. We have helped the “mom and pop” store change the way they conduct their day-to-day, and we have improved the functionality of huge corporate entities with hundreds of locations. Every situation the EarthLink team comes across is different, but the result is always the same: increased communication productivity.

We have seen some of our customers have a huge increase in revenue because of the way our hosted voice product is applied to their day to day life. Sure it is important to always get your incoming phone calls, but what about the other pieces… Before we can fill in the gaps, we first have to identify where in the problems lie. Is there a certain time of day that we don’t have enough coverage? Are there certain employees that have a need for extended communication capabilities? How much business are we losing because of these (previously unnoticed) problems??

The EarthLink Hosted Voice product includes detailed call accountability at no additional cost. A network admin can pull the call statistics for an individual employee or the entire company, at any time. This information can then be sorted and displayed in charts and graphs which can be a powerful tool to give your executives an insight into their business performance.

We came across a pizza company that realized that they were missing out on business during Fridays and Saturdays because their antiquated phone system couldn’t handle the amount of incoming call flow during these high volume periods. After our solution engineers were able to evaluate their business we were able to come up with a solution that increased their profitability by 20% in the first month! We suggested that the owner higher a few people to take orders during those busy times. Those extra people received a  phone at their personal homes and they were able to handle the extra call flow by entering the additional orders on the website. Since the employees were remote and only needed to work limited hours this turned out to be a great solution which lead to increased profitability with only a minimal investment.

This is only one of the many customer integrations that our solutions engineers have created for our customers. Typically our suggestions don’t require any additional investment. Simply the correct programming of our feature rich solution will revolutionize your business. Our solution engineers would love the opportunity to evaluate your business in order to see if we can do the same for you. Visit EarthLink’s Hosted Voice customer resources page and contact us for a site evaluation today!

EarthLink Nationwide Hosted Voice Services: Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

This particular article strikes me close at home. It has now been three days since Hurricane Sandy ripped through my local area and we are all still feeling the effects of it. Half of Manhattan is still without power or public transportation and the highly populated town of Hoboken, NJ in still underwater. I was lucky enough to have bought a generator before the masses of people stormed the local hardware stores but many residents of the tri-state area are still without electricity and hot water. In the midst of recovery, we have to ask ourselves, “How will this impact local businesses?” I mentioned a statistic in a previous article which states that 50% of businesses that go without a telephone system for more than two weeks, simply don’t recover. By law everyone is required to have insurance for their cars. As a corporate leader that is responsible for providing regular income for a staff of employees, should similar precautions not be taken to ensure the survival of the business? EarthLink’s Hosted Voice Services are here to help!

Since the heart of the phone system exists in the cloud (our secure, weatherproof, collocated data centers strategically located throughout the country) they are protected.  In the event that inclement weather has a negative impact on a company’s physical building, they will still not miss a single phone call. If the building has no power, the calls will still be able to reach an auto attendant or voicemail box (since they are protected in the cloud). Most users will have FindMe/FollowMe set up so that they will still receive the calls on their mobile device regardless of the state of their desk phone. Many of the companies’ offices in Hoboken are now under six feet of water…but those that have EarthLink Hosted Voice Services, they are still getting their calls and are able to keep their business moving forward. Let’s not forget, that if any of those companies asked their employees to take their office phones home with them, they would all be able to work from home with the same features and capabilities and not skip a beat.

I have been without power for four days now, and I expect to be for another four days, but I have been able to keep up with all of my work thanks to features like FindMe/FollowMe, IPCommunicator (EarthLink’s softphone client), and my Commportal (my hosted admin portal with which I can granular-ly handle all of my calls). After you experience the advantages of our hosted products you will think back and wonder how people ever kept such important hardware just sitting in an office IT closet.

EarthLink Courts Customer Creativity with “Put an Old Phone to Rest” Video Contest

Humor and cash are both great ways to capture attention, and EarthLink’s recently launched “Put an Old Phone to Rest” customer video contest, running now through the end of 2012, capitalizes on both! Grabbed your interest? This fun, innovative contest with a $4,000 cash prize is open to any EarthLink customer that purchased a new NEC phone system or Hosted Voice service in 2012. Customers are asked to create and submit a short video that depicts how they disposed of their old phone system and state that they upgraded to EarthLink Business Hosted Voice service or purchased a new NEC phone system.

“We want this contest to be a truly unique way for our customers to showcase their creativity and really have fun expressing their excitement about how Hosted Voice or their new NEC phone system have changed their workday for the better,” said Mike Walczak, EarthLink Product Marketing Manager. “It’s also a terrific team-building opportunity for businesses, as it stresses collaboration and innovation without requiring much time or special expertise. We’re hoping to receive some quirky, original entries that really make us laugh.”

To get the creative juices flowing, EarthLink’s marketing team created a sample video to show how easy it is to take an idea from concept to reality. The team shot the footage using an iPhone® and edited it using iMovie®, but other phones or editing software can work just as well. No sophisticated equipment or expertise is needed, just a willingness to throw caution to the wind and have some fun with your colleagues.

On January 15, 2012, a panel of 5 EarthLink judges will view all submissions and select a winner based on creativity and humor. The customer that submits the winning video will receive a $4,000 prize. The winning video and other submissions will be featured on the EarthLink Business website and via social media.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll take home the cash, bragging rights, and provide your company with extra publicity to boot!

For the latest EarthLink updates, visit our press release page, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Things to Consider when Switching to Hosted VoIP

Many businesses these days are evaluating the switch from their traditional telephony environment to VoIP (or “Voice-over I.P.”).  There are many compelling reasons to do so that are too numerous to cover in this article but a recent independent research study by Metaswitch  lists them as:

  • More features—and better features that enhance productivity
  • Easier system management—service and features can be self-provisioned, whereas with legacy telephony these options are limited as well as more difficult to deploy
  • Customer service—VoIP operators understand how their new service can be utilized, and support it accordingly
  • Business grade—VoIP quality and reliability is now on par with legacy telephony

So with all the great benefits it is easy to see why so many customers are flocking in that direction.  However, it is important to understand how your business will need to adapt to this new environment and what it takes to get there.  Here are the top 5 things to consider:

1. Incoming Call Management – In most legacy systems, calls come into a main phone number and light up the keys on every phone in an office, then hunt down a group of lines until all lines are full.  With a hosted VoIP solution the options are virtually unlimited…which is good…but can be challenging when it comes to making decisions on how to most efficiently handle calls.   Each phone is assigned its own unique telephone number or “DID.”  The main phone number can be routed to a network-based auto attendant, an individual user, or a group of users in what is referred to as a MADN group.  There are also often call routing options that allow you to reroute calls to mobile phones, answering services, or multiple locations. Before you make a change, evaluate which options providers offer and make sure they meet the needs of your business.

2. Wiring – Most legacy phone systems used based copper wiring to deliver the phone signal to the phone set from the wiring closet.  With hosted voice you will most likely need Ethernet cabling to the user desktop or the area where the phone is located, such as a lobby or break room, where Ethernet has not previously been required.   Most VoIP providers will advise you to contract a third party wiring vendor to get this completed prior to the cut over of your services but some providers also provide structured cabling options as part of their service like EarthLink Business.

3. System Management – When moving to a hosted solution, end users and business administrators have much more power and control than they ever had with legacy systems.  This is a wonderful thing when users learn the features and are empowered to make changes from web based controls “on the fly”.  However, these admins need to learn the ropes of the new system (including what they are expected to control and what the provider has to control on their end).  Some VoIP providers offer the option of either self-managed or carrier managed business group administration services, which is a big benefit if you are a small business with no office administrator.

4. Quality of Service – Saving money is a key driver when considering a switch, but don’t forgo the quality and reliability of your telephony services just for a lower price point.   For example, there are plenty of options to get VoIP over the public internet, and user experiences can be good with this option.  However, if you experience quality issues with these voice calls, there is not much recourse for determining where the problem is and how to resolve it.  By using this method of delivery you are also voiding any service level agreements offered by the provider on quality of calls.  Many carriers offer options for secured, private network connectivity that also provides for quality of service guarantees.   EarthLink Business provides multiple SLAs (Service Level Agreements) based on the types of services provided

5. Consultative Design – With all the options and things to consider when making a transition, it is important to have a subject matter expert (or better yet a team of experts) who can review your current environment, understand your future requirements and make recommendations on how you should design the VoIP services.   Most VoIP providers consider this a commoditized product and do not adequately address this area.  At EarthLink Business we provide a dedicated account team with subject matter experts on everything from VoIP to data networks to IT services that can address your complete environment when making a recommendation.  To find out more contact EarthLink Business!