Sales and marketing director, Ohio.net
INTERVIEWED BY HEATHER TUNSTALL
Many companies have more than one office, or find they are growing to the point of needing additional locations. With traditional phone systems, companies may experience internal issues, or they may not provide the best customer service when operating across multiple office sites. However, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems can solve many of those problems. “Many growing pains are based on updates and portability. Satellite offices experience these issues the most,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “There’s no limit to the expansibility of a VoIP system. If a franchise wants to open an office in Nashville, Tennessee, a VoIP provider can provision a couple of Nashville numbers for them and they can start making their business cards. Next week, it might be Arizona, and the provider can just keep adding to their system.” Smart Business spoke with Desberg to find out how to streamline communication across multiple office locations using VoIP technology.
What problems do companies experience when communicating across satellite offices using traditional phones?
Often when you have satellite offices and a headquarters, all of the attention for the technology goes to the headquarters. It’s only later that they realize, ‘Oh yeah, we need something for the guys out in Kentucky.’ Then they look at a system that might integrate into the headquarters’ telecom system. Making that interaction work properly with a premise-based phone system requires a lot of technology and capital, as in Internet or Wide Area Network connectivity, or a lot of long-distance calling so that systems can interact with each other.
How does VoIP help in these situations?
Even if the headquarters has something different for its phone system, a VoIP provider can bring a remote location online and give it multiple local calling areas and integration to existing phone systems. A satellite location can appear to be a part of the original phone system with the ability to four-digit dial to the headquarters. In the best of all worlds, the VoIP system would be installed in both locations. That way, the four-digit dial, voice mail systems and all the addons are intrinsically linked.
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How does this help with internal communication?
Ideally, all phones are native on the system, so a transfer or an internal call doesn’t use additional telephone line resources, and it is not just a call forward. Traditionally, if you transfer a call from one phone system to the next, that phone call isn’t linked back to the original system. And if you need to send it back, you’re sending it back long distance. But if your main system and your remote office are networked, that transfer from extension to extension or location to location is really just a four digit dial transfer and doesn’t use any other resources than what has been put in place for that phone system.
Does VoIP have an effect on external incoming calls?
There are a couple of advantages. One is that you can use ‘follow-the-sun’ technology. If you have multiple offices across the country, when your New York office closes at 5 p.m., you still have a good three hours of work time for those out in California, and they answer calls for the company until the sun goes down there. If they’re on the same VoIP network, then time of day situations can be set up where, after 5 p.m., all calls go to the next office in the next time zone and cascades across so that you can staff accordingly. As far as basic calling, you can frontend your phone system as well so that people who are calling a main number or an 800 number can choose the office that they want to talk to. It’s seamless to callers because all they have to do is choose who they want to talk to and it’s not a transfer, it’s a direct connection to the location that callers want to reach.