Blog

ATEL's Superior Customer Care

September 29th, 2010 by ATEL

Our customer was having a terrible experience with a Hosted System from 8X8.  They had the system for a year and it never worked.  They had outages and dropped calls.  8X8 tried tied to fix it and all they did was cost our customer time and money.  They replaced the router and that did not help.  They blamed the internet Provider but finger pointing did not fix the problem.  Finally they gave up and allowed this company out of their contract. They came to ATEL desperate to have phones that worked.  They have a remote office in Florida and the owner works from home part time.  We installed an Allworx IP phone system with remote phones.  The system worked great and the customer got all the features she needed.  The cost for the system will be paid for in 10 months by the savings the customer saw in lower monthly costs.  Now she has no payments to 8X8 and she owns a system that will be up to date for the next 10 years. Here is an email from our customer: Hi Andrew, Thank you. Our telephones are working great now, even the one at my home.  We had our IT guy come and he set up the router to get the phone working. I also would like information on setting up music or a specials information commercial for the hold button. Can we get Monty to come out to the office and show me how to connect my laptop to the phone system so that I can control the system myself? Thanks again for all the work Atel did in installing our system.  It is nice to have a phone that works. ~ ~ ~ Call ATEL today 858-546-0909 and see how we can improve your services!    

Tags: 8x8, Allworx, Atel, cable, customer service, fix, home, hosted system, install, IP, phone, PRI, remote, replaced, T1, telecommunications,

Posted in: Hosted System, IP, Phone System, PRI T1, Web/Tech,

SV 8100 Solution for 2 Location Customer

September 6th, 2013 by admin

Yesterday I was out at an account presenting a two site SV8100 network solution to replace older systems. The topic of telephony lifecycle was one of the many we discussed but the concept of voice systems even having a lifecycle still seem to be misunderstood by customers. This account has two locations and each has telephone equipment well in excess of 15 years old. One site has an Executone brand key system and the other has a Tadiran key system. In the case of the Executone system the programming software and access codes are long lost so they can’t even change the phone or voice mail database. However, in both cases there are less than 2 year old PC terminals on the desks and new printers fax machines and copiers clearly in evidence. What stood out in our discussion was that the customer clearly agrees that PC equipment has about a 3 year Lifecycle, printers are maybe 2 years and copiers are maybe 4-5. Then there are the smart cell phones that are clearly used by virtually everyone that has a cell phone. This is the technology that most people are closest to and depend on the most heavily. Today it is accepted that a new smart phone every year is almost necessary. Even the thought of a fixed 2 year contract that locks you into a specific phone model or manufacturer is cautioned and even openly advertised against. Then there is the office PBX, VoIP or Communication System and sure enough the customer says oh yea I will keep this one for at least 7 to maybe 10 years! I was floored, but this is the same perception that people had five or ten, and certainly 15 years ago. I am constantly amazed that business here still demands dial tone be available always on and never in need of servicing or upgrade. I do believe this is changing especially as VoIP deployments are run and managed by the Information Systems personnel. However, it remains that in business today when the data network goes down, it's an inconvenience. However, when the phones go down, people get fired.

Tags:

Posted in: Business Phone Systems, Business Solutions, Phone System, Technology, Telecommunications, VoIP,

How To Select A Call Center Service

September 11th, 2013 by admin

In the small and medium sized business realm, outbound phone rooms and inbound call centers are not just for toner sales or mail order catalogue companies. Any business that has one or more employees that spend most of their day on the phone talking to customers or prospects has a "call" or "contact center" already without even knowing it. A call center exclusively uses telephones to communicate with customers and prospects. Contact centers use both phone and electronic media like "chat", email, instant messaging, social media, etc.) Many small businesses funnel inbound customer service and sales calls to the appropriate employees through an auto-attendant on their in-house business phone system. The same businesses task their inside sales people with outbound calling duties using their existing desk phones, voicemail and CRM (customer relationship management) software tools. These older ways of handling inbound and outbound calling with a simple office phone system can work just fine for companies with high profit margins and low call volume requirements. But when a company starts looking at lower margins and higher call volumes due to an evolving and competitive marketplace, they then need to bring in organized and integrated contact center solutions to maintain the profitability they need to stay in business.

Write Out Your Call Flows

Before speaking with any independent call center consultant or vendor, a business owner or manager needs to inventory their contact center needs on paper. Details that need to be written out in a narrative and/or flow chart format will show all different kinds or call flows (how calls enter or leave your current systems) and call touch points (which people, software or databases do the calls interact with?) Include the following: Who's Talking to Whom - In either outbound or inbound calling a business will generally have three different groups of people that will need to interface with the customer or prospect. Level 1 phone employees are generally paid to either handle simple, transactional calls or screen potential outbound called prospects. Level 2 phone are the "managers" that angry inbound callers always insist on speaking with or the "closers" on outbound sales calls. Other SMEs (subject matter experts) are often needed to be connected to customers and prospects with very unique needs. Having a SME immediately available for a call increases overall efficiency by making "single call resolution" a very real possibility. In addition to having different groups of employees available to speak with any customer or prospect it's also important to have mapped out what different "groups" of customers or prospects your employees might find themselves talking to. Finally, in addition to understanding "who's talking to whom" it's important to map out "how" they are "talking". Does the conversation start out as a "chat" session on your company website? Is some other conversation taking place via Twitter, Facebook or email? Can a conversation initiated in the electronic realm provide for easy escalation to a direct phone call - and can all the details of the "chat session" be passed to the live operator? Many consultants and vendors label all this "who's talking to whom (and how)?" business "Unified Communications" or simply "UC". Whether you call it all unified communications or simply "this is what I need to be able to do better & cheaper", having it all penciled out before you get on the phone with a call center consultant or vendor will save you both time, money, headaches and "buyer's remorse" down the road.
  • Support Assets - Every business generally has three groups of employees: salespeople that sell the businesses widgets, widget makers that make the widgets sold and owners that spend the profit from the widgets sold. Some businesses have a fourth group, systems support employees that specifically support the systems that the widget sellers and widget makers use while creating and selling widgets. Many other businesses do not have systems support employees because they were too expensive to keep through the last business downturn. If your business does or does not have extra employees around that can support the different call center systems that you have available to you - you'll definitely want to note that prior to getting on the phone with a call center consultant or vendor.
  • Profit Margins & Marginal Revenue Opportunity - Most serious call center consultants and vendors will not spend much time talking to non-business owners because the non-business owners are not in touch with the businesses profit margins ("PM") and marginal revenue opportunities ("MRO"). Understanding PM & MRO is important before learning about call center options because the options you'll consider are not free and you can't try them all at once. You'll obviously want to try the option that generates the greatest marginal revenue (profit from selling one more widget minus the cost of selling one more widget) or enhances the overall profit margin the best (the overall profit of continuing what I'm doing versus doing it a new way). Call center consultants and vendors can quickly help a business owner or decision maker understand which options make economic sense only when the PMs & MROs are shared.
  • Lists & Advertising - Who are your people calling? You can have the world's best call center but if you don't have hot prospects to call you'll still go out of business. Conversely, if your business lives off of driving inbound calls through some sort of advertising and then capturing the contact information of inbound "non-buyers" for your outbound follow-up sales efforts, you'll want to make sure that your call center systems work well with your unique list and/or advertising efforts. Some call center consultants and vendors also specialize in lists and/or driving inbound calls. If you do not have your own list generation or advertising efforts fully mastered you may wish to tap a contact center consultant or vendor that can "bundle" both call center solutions and list/advertising solutions into a more comprehensive solution offering.
  • CRM - Where is all the information about your customers and prospects that you're on the phone with? Do you have a proprietary in-house contact relationship management ("CRM") package on a network server right next to your phone system or do you use a "cloud CRM" like SalesForce.com, SugarCRM or Microsoft Dynamics®? Since your call center technology solution will be interfacing heavily with your CRM solution you'll need to know that the two systems have the ability to "play nice" with one another by know ing what the capabilities of each are and whether either offer APIs that allow each system to interface with the other.
  • Special Application Software - Your CRM is likely not the only software package that your call center system solution will need to interact with during the course of a live call center session between your employee and a customer or prospect. If you sell mortgages you may need to access a financial database. If you invoice your customers your accounting call center will need to interface with your accounting software. Make a list of all the other "special apps" that your call center solution has to successfully interact with. ATEL is the Hosted Call Center Expert. Call 858-646-4605 for a free consultation.
Special Rules - Many online sales organizations have a requirement for "3rd party verification" of sales that require your sales employee to transfer a customer or prospect to another outside party and then hangup. If you have any special requirements like this due to the nature of the way you conduct business then you'll certainly want to make that known to the call center consultants or vendors you work with and/or try to do business with call center consultants and vendors that have experience in your direct industry. A "hosted" call center solution is one where all the expensive equipment to make the call center solution work (the predictive dialer, etc.) is both owned by another company that specializes in creating and maintaining call center solution equipment AND the equipment itself is hosted somewhere other than on your business property. A "premises based" solution, as the name suggests, is a solution that your buy, own and maintain on your physical premises or business property - usually your phone closet. Businesses that are venturing into upgraded call center solution functionality like predictive dialers, etc., ALMOST ALWAYS start with hosted call center solution (AKA "renting" a solution) so they can "try before they buy". At the same time most businesses start with hosted call center solutions they also almost always want to know about and maybe even experiment with premises based call center solutions. The main reason most businesses start with a hosted solution is quick and easy economics. Most call center/predictive dialer vendors, both hosted and premises based, claim efficiency increases of up to 400% soon after implementing the solution. A four-fold efficiency increase is a big number and most business owners are going to want to see that figure proven before making a capital investment by purchasing an in-house, premises based call center solution. And why not? If a business owner gets about the same 400% productivity increase no matter whether he or she rents or buys, renting makes sense. Of course there must be a good reason that businesses make the capital investment in buying premises based call center solutions - and there is. For many businesses that have both stable and predictable call center system requirements, buying a premises based call center solution can be significantly cheaper in the long run - so long as no unexpected business events occur. Andrew Cohen Vice President

Tags:

Posted in: Business Phone Systems, Business Solutions, Communications, Hosted System, Phone System, Telecommunications,

Hosted Cloud Phones vs. Premise Based Phone System

September 16th, 2013 by admin

Hosted Cloud Phones vs. Premise Based Phone System I met with a medical design and development company that is relocating and wishing to upgrade their phone system. During the discovery phase we learned that the new office only has one Cat5e cable to each location and due to the environment they will not be adding any additional cable. For this reason they were strongly considering moving forward with a hosted solution using cable internet. I met with their IT personnel and principle partners coming in at the 11th hour. I explained that using cable internet for voice is risky as it does not provide QOS (Quality of Service) and while it does sometimes work without issue, there is no way to know this until service is installed. Due to only one data cable at each work station I proposed an IP solution using NEC hardware and Cox Communications SIP trunks. This will enable them to daisy chain their computers and handsets together using the one available cable. In addition they were wishing to implement DID (Direct Inward Dial) phone numbers. By moving forward with SIP trunks they can choose how many voice lines they require and it keeps the price point down unlike a PRI. Features they were wishing to have voicemail to email and conference calling both of which the NEC SV8100 provides. We broke down the monthly cash output of owning verses hosting (renting) as keeping monthly cost to a minimum is mandatory to the client. We determined by financing the NEC IP phone solution they will pay less each month then hosting a phone system. In addition in a few years time, they will own the system outright, eliminating the monthly charge completely.

What is a Hosted Solution?

As the name itself suggests, Hosted, Cloud or VoIP phone systems use a third party to provide 'hosting' capabilities. You need not worry about the space and cost of installing the PBX system in your office. The greatest advantage of hosted solutions is that they have minimal setup and activation costs. Hosted phone services are considered as the perfect business solution for small companies but that can scale up to 200 phones depending on the cost analysis.

What do we mean by Premise Based PBX?

Premise Based PBX can either be traditional phone system or one that incorporates VoIP technology. As a business, you have to purchase the hardware and the PBX hardware resides in your premise. Since a third party does not host it, an premise based PBX has implications related to cost and space and you are responsible for the maintenance of the PBX system as well.

Cost Comparison

Hosted, Cloud Phone Systems have much lower setup and operational costs as compared to the one that takes up space in your office. ATEL and CloudConnect Hosted VoIP services can be extremely affordable with a low up front cost. In contrast, there's a major up-front cost involved with a Premise Based PBX, often in the tens of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, you will likely need to incur additional maintenance expenses on a periodic basis as well.v Premise Based PBX can be more expensive in the short run compared to hosted system.

Scalability

Most Hosted VoIP providers can scale your VoIP system in a matter of seconds. User administrators are often given access to easy-to-use web interfaces that allow them to add additional users and extensions. Contrary to this, PBXes can be a nightmare in terms of scalability, depending on what type of hardware you have. You may need to buy additional lines, get them configured to work with your VoIP PBX and even test them before you can use them. This means that you will likely need someone to come in to do all this work for you, meaning you will fork over more money every time you add/subtract users. Hosted VoIP solutions can be scaled in hassle-free manner by contacting your hosting provider. Scaling an on-premise PBX can sometimes be a daunting task.

Maintainability

Since there is no on-premise equipment for a Hosted VoIP solution, it has minimal (often zero) maintenance costs. You not only save on money but also on space and time as well. Maintainability is a challenge for regular PBX solutions. You need to hire a dedicated PBX Administrator to manage the PBX solution if you don't already have an IT person. Furthermore, you need to ensure that there are no downtimes and outages/ issues must be fixed quickly.

Tags:

Posted in: Business Phone Systems, Business Solutions, Cloud Computing (Hosting & Colocation), Communications, Hosted System, Phone System, Technology, Telecommunications, VoIP,

Mobile Office Workers

September 19th, 2013 by admin

mobile office workers

Does your company need office desks, office computers and office phones for some outside sales employees?

When they're on their office phone they're talking to someone in another location so are they better off out in the field on a cell phone remote or at a desk stuck in one place? This is a tough call for many small business owners as many believe that their employees will only be productive under a watchful eye of a manager and that can only be accomplished inside the confines of a physical office. But some sales and support employees must be out meeting customers, clients or networking. How can you integrate the desk phone with the cell phone and have what is called Unified Communications? ATEL has the answer.

Mobility & Productivity Lessons from the "Great Recession"

Several recent articles relating to remote workers seem to suggest that workers with repetitive tasks to perform are most productive in an office while workers in a sales role or who are required to generate more creative work product are more productive outside the office. This also includes workers who need to work from home due to child care or other personal reasons. One sure lesson that the Great Recession has taught us is that businesses can continue to increase worker productivity and profits with fewer employees. What's making this possible? Largely business communication technology advances that allow one employee to do the work that two employees used to do – many workers are more efficient away from the office desk!

Can Your Office Take Advantage of Productivity Through Mobility? Call Us to Find Out!

Give ATEL a call at 858-646-4600 ask for a sales assistant to see which of your employees can be "made mobile" and more productive. As experienced telecom agents and independent carrier sales partners we've worked with hundreds of business clients grappling with some of the same communications problems you're facing now. We can help you learn how your productivity problems can be overcome by mobilizing key employees utilizing recent business communication technology advances.

Tags: Atel, ATEL Communications, business phone service, telecommunications,

Posted in: Business Phone Systems, Mobile Phones & Wireless Data, Phone System, Technology, Telecommunications,

How Does a Cloud-Based Phone System Work?

October 9th, 2013 by admin

Cloud Based Phone System From its humble beginnings in the 1870’s, the wire-line communications system is credited to Alexander Graham Bell’s conversion of the telegraph to a telephone. Since that time, virtually all telephone systems in place have utilized wire-lines, microwave, satellite and more recently, cell-sites. With the increased possibilities through Internet and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), the cloud has taken over many business phone systems. In this meaning, the term “cloud” means the Internet and is synonymous with Internet Phone Systems.

Benefits of a Cloud-Based Phone System

The primary benefits of a cloud based phone system are its ability to:
  • Deliver calls over the Internet
  • Route and reroute calls within a business
  • Provide exceptional telephony applications like voicemail and call recording
  • Be in a location that is safely distanced from the source of information
  • Deliver higher voice quality and carrier-grade reliability
Seemingly endless possibilities exist within cloud-based phone systems. This takes the intelligence and ability of the phone service to a “cloud,” while the familiarity of the physical phone maintains its place in the home or office. This allows even the largest organizations to integrate cloud phone systems across all of its locations, uniting offices even from a distance.  

How Does the System Work?

A cloud or Internet-based phone system usually indicates a business phone system. Phones within a cloud based phone “system” are usually a group of phones that work together, but the word “system” can also describe the connections that make a single phone work over the Internet. Use of an IP Phone System offers the ability to transmit voice, fax and other data packets over a private IP network or securely over the public Internet. Behind the scenes, you may find a fully redundant network that is based on a fiber-optic services.  

How Can You Tell if it’s a Smart Cloud-Based System?

Providers of these services should answer questions and provide details regarding a “Cloud Phone System,” including the following:
  • Advanced Voicemail
  • Provision of high quality phones
  • Continued maintenance
  • What features included
  • What amount of capital is required
  • Flexible Auto Attendant
  • Coaching Solutions
  • Time Specific Call Routing
  • Personal Call Management
  • Ease of startup
 

Moving Forward with Cloud-Based Systems

Prior to the beginning of VoIP, phone systems were all based on the public switched telephone network (PSTN) - the copper wires that completed the old-school global phone network. It was possible to have a cloud-based system within the PSTN cloud, but the real use of the term developed toward the end of the first decade of this century, as the continual trend toward cloud computing and cloud services dominated business needs to improve and increase communication. There’s never been a better time to purchase a new phone system for businesses due to the unlimited possibilities and advantages of cloud-based technology. A cloud-based phone system allows businesses to have lower expenses while eliminating the need for multiple communication providers. For businesses looking for a better way to connect, cloud-based phone systems are a valuable option to consider.

Tags:

Posted in: Business Phone Systems, Business Solutions, Cloud Computing (Hosting & Colocation), Communications, Phone System, Technology, Telecommunications,

AT&T Small Business Solutions

October 14th, 2013 by admin

Atel Communications is proud to announce the addition of AT&T Small Business Solutions to its corporate telecommunications portfolio. AT&T Small Business Solutions offer cloud computing services, which allow employees more access to company servers and databases. Further, Atel customers taking advantage of AT&T Small Business Solutions will experience increased mobility, allowing small business to operate on the go while connecting employees around the country. Atel customers will also experience an enhanced peace of mind knowing that AT&T Small Business Solutions include online data backup, preventing would-be nightmare scenarios for small business owners. To find out more about these offerings, contact Andrew Cohen at Atel Communications by phone (858.646.4600) or email (acohen@atelcommunications.com).

Tags:

Posted in: Broadband, Business Phone Systems, Business Solutions, Cloud Computing (Hosting & Colocation), Communications, Home Office Solutions, IT Solutions, Mobile Phones & Wireless Data, Phone System, Technology, Telecommunications,

The Many Benefits of Hosted Phones

May 19th, 2017 by admin

With so many features available through hosted phone systems, we understand that some people are torn. On the one hand, additional features provide more tools for improving productivity, while on the other hand they require more training and can lead to more complicated processes. Still, we believe that the benefits more than make up for the short time it'll take you to adjust.

Call features that will make phone calls easier include:

  • call recording using standard MP3 format
  • push to call for a modern-day intercom
  • call swap between devices
  • simultaneous ringing connects to all of your set up devices
  • 14 way conferencing replaces frustrating conference bridges

In addition, you can easily set up a back-up plan for emergencies. This way, customers and vendors can still reach you even if the office is closed for snow, hurricanes, tornadoes - you name it! Your callers see you as reliable and you can keep business going even during a disaster. Work from home or while on a business trip with easy mobility solutions. Receive voicemail messages through your email, so they're simple to access, save, and share. You can even take advantage of cutting-edge voice to text software!

But enough about the benefits. ATEL Communications can advise you on the best solutions and applications to suit your business needs. Take a look at our catalog of hosted phones and be sure to let us know if you have any questions.

Tags: cloud phone systems, cloud solutions, phone system, cloud hosting, hosted systems,

Posted in: Cloud Computing (Hosting & Colocation), Phone System, Products,