All posts by SystemsNet Administrator

How Is Your Relationship With Your Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Business woman at her desk, on speaker phone with her managed service provider

Having a trusted relationship with your MSP is key in having a solid relationship with your MSP Provider

Challenges in relationships can happen to any couple, and sometimes they can happen when you least expect it. Challenges in relationships can also happen between businesses. It can certainly be frustrating when a provider makes promises to solve your problems, but you eventually discover that the provider is not able to fulfill those promises.

As the owner or manager of a business, you will seek the services of a Managed Services Provider(MSP). You may not have enough time to tend the technology that is used to help you operate your business. IT has become the foundation of businesses all across the globe. If you do not have IT, then your business does not have a reliable foundation. Your business is basically operating on shaky ground.

A business that experiences consecutive periods of downtime will discover that the business will lose revenue as the days go by. Like the revenue you will lose when your business is down, you can drain your business’s resources each time you are waiting for your equipment and other technology resources to meet the expectations you have set.

You need a Managed Services Provider(MSP) that works hard to work with you, but if you are partnering with an MSP that is not helping you elevate your business, it will leave you wondering if it is worth it to continue with the relationship. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to help you determine if your MSP is providing any benefits in the relationship.

Can You Trust Your MSP?

If you do not have reliable IT services, you will find yourself on the outside looking in it comes to your competition. If your business uses programs and hardware on a daily basis, it is important that your programs and hardware are functioning at all times. Regardless of the type of system you are operating under, you will need to have reliable IT services.

If you begin to discover that recommendations are being made that do not fit your business system or if your services and other functions are being cut, you will discover that your situation will become worse. If your MSP is making decisions that you do not trust, this is not a good sign in your relationship.

Does Your MSP Communicate With You?

When you first partnered with your MSP, you believed that the MSP would be effective communicators. However, if your MSP is making mistakes and not acknowledging those mistakes, this could be another sign that there is trouble in the relationship. If you have problems that your MSP is not resolving because it is difficult to reach them at any point in the day, your MSP is not an effective or reliable communicator.

If you find yourself demanding that the provider come to your location and repair the services, it may be time to leave this relationship and enter a new one.

Is Your MSP Reliable?

If you are facing one or more technical difficulties, how long can you wait for your system to be repaired? If your MSP is not reliable, you will find out really quickly. A Managed Service Provider(MSP) can be seen as reliable if it offers quick delivery of services and if it provides you with high-quality system performance.

An MSP can also be seen as reliable if it is available around the clock. An MSP that offers around the clock services will ensure that your business sees as little downtime as possible. A reliable MSP also is responsive and effective when it comes to communication. If your MSP is not excelling in any of these areas, your relationship and your business can go downhill in a hurry.

We understand how challenging it can be to choose a Managed Service Provider that can fulfill your needs. There are so many things that you will need to consider, and this can make it a very frustrating process. It does not matter what route you device to take when you are searching for an MSP, but we encourage you to be aware of what you should look for in an MSP.

Is it time to leave your relationship with your current MSP? Contact us today for more information on how to reevaluate your relationship with your MSP.

The Four VOIP Features Most Used in the Office

Close up focus on call center headset device at VOIP system on telephone with virtual interface of communication at office desk

How much more efficient would you be if you had all these features?

Internet phones go by many names. Cloud phone, VOIP, and Unified Communications (UC) just to name a few. But no matter how you say it, phones that work over the internet instead of through the old phone system are undeniably useful. Numbers follow you over multiple devices and calls can be managed through advanced software features.

In the business world, VOIP is even more useful because of the flexibility and control over communications that internet calling has to offer. After all, everything else is on the internet. But how does a switch to VOIP influence your every-day office experience? A good way to measure that is in the top four VOIP features most used around the office.

Voicemail to Email

Checking voicemail is a time-honored hassle. This usually involves calling the voicemail service and listening through every single message. Then, if you want information from the voicemail, you have to listen closely and sometimes play the message several times to take notes.

VOIP makes this easy with the message being saved as a file attachment in your email.   In other words, you can finally check your voicemail by skimming your email. You can catch names, numbers, and details without having to be in the office. So it’s no surprise this is the most popular VOIP feature used every day in the office.

Find-Me Call Forwarding

The next most popular feature is based on device flexibility. A VOIP number can call to and be answered on any device with internet access and the right software installed. This means you can answer a work number from your cellphone, your home office, or multiple business locations as you travel.

Find-me, follow-me is the name of the feature that rings all of your devices to “find you” when a call has come through your VOIP number. This feature often prioritizes whichever device you are most likely to be using to ring first. In daily office life, this kind of smart call forwarding gives professionals the ability to leave the office without missing calls and to have one work number instead of multiple location-based numbers.

Availability Scheduling

One of the best features of VOIP for the modern professional is the ability to build a schedule. With availability scheduling, you can indicate which device to ring based on the weekday and hour. You can also block out times where you are not available at your work number so that your cell doesn’t try to “find you” for work calls during the night or on weekends.

This kind of scheduling can also be used for dynamic call management. You can change which voicemail plays based on a schedule and multiple people can even share a work number based on there availability.

Call Routing

While the previous features are useful for individuals, call routing is the most used feature for business infrastructure. Thousands of businesses distribute customer service and inter-office calls using VOIP’s inherent call routing capabilities. Not only can internet phones be used for call pools and cues, but the software nature of VOIP allows businesses to write custom call routing protocols for every communication model.

Call routing provides for everything from cloud-based office switchboards to virtual call-centers of remote technicians.

For a modern business looking to the future of business communication, VOIP is an essential technology. Voice communication should be handled through the cloud. The possibilities are endless when every device and business location keeps you equally connected to your network, both internal and external.

If your business is ready to choose a new communication infrastructure, consider the power and potential of internet phones. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

How Many Channels Should Your IT Help Desk Have?

IT help desk customer support agents using email, phone, screen sharing, and live chat

What is your preferred method for working with your managed service provider?

Running the IT help desk for your business is about more than just churning tickets and resolving problems. Communication is one of the biggest concerns of a help desk because each person who needs help will seek it in a different way. From the people you’re dealing with to the nature of the problems you’re solving, it’s important to include a variety of communication channels in your IT help desk infrastructure.

The more channels through which employees or customers can reach out for IT help when they need it and benefit from your assistance. More problems will be solved and the reputation of your IT help desk will skyrocket as users are delighted to find that you will connect in the ways that work best for them.

But which channels should you incorporate? Where should you start? Let’s take a look at the four leading channels that your IT help desk should incorporate.

Email

Email is the leading channel for IT help desks. Even if you connect over the phone, email is an essential element because so much more can be done through email than most other channels. Email is asynchronous communication, meaning that you and your users don’t have to be online at the same time to exchange information and work toward a solution. Email also allows for the trading of files and to carefully put together your responses with all the information, even if that takes some time per message.

In the business world, many people are most comfortable communicating through email. If your IT help desk makes email outreach available and responds promptly, this is essential for many of your users.

Phone

Phone is the other half of classic help desk communication. There are still people who are most comfortable getting in touch over the phone and will have the easiest time solving their problems by explaining over voice. The phone allows users to reach out with 100% certainty that they are dealing with a real human being ready to help with their problem. Those who don’t type confidently or who don’t know how to explain their situation will have an easier time over the phone, as well as older generation’s habitual preference for phone calls over text conversations.

Live Chat

The latest in help desk communication is live chat. Live chat comes in many forms and can be extremely versatile when implemented correctly. Live chat works through web browsers, mobile apps, and any other interface with a keyboard and internet access. The most appealing thing about live chat is that it is right in the middle between email and phone support.

Like phone support, live chat is real-time which means users get the answers they need immediately instead of waiting for a return email. But at the same time, it’s text communication where each message can be carefully put together and files can be shared as part of the problem-solving process. Live chat is quick, convenient, and you can easily send a transcript of your conversation over to a client so they can refer back to your help in the future.

Screen Sharing

Finally, no matter what conversational communication you choose, make sure that screen sharing is possible for your IT help desk. Screen sharing is most often paired with live chat or video calls. Most importantly, screen sharing allows technicians to take a look at user desktops to more deeply understand what is going wrong.

Often, clients don’t actually know how to explain what’s wrong with their computers or programs. They don’t have the industry vocabulary or understanding to accurately describe the problem. Screen sharing makes it possible for your team to get the info they need from the primary source without having to guess based on the words chosen from a customer. Reverse screen sharing can also give your technicians the ability to show clients exactly what to do by sharing their own desktops and demonstrating the fix step-by-step.

Does your IT help desk need an upgrade? Contact us today to find out more about how to improve the performance and versatility of your IT help desk.

How to Set Up VOIP In a New Location

A business owner sits amongst her moving in boxes setting up VOIP, waiting for new desks. She is using a digital tablet. In the background her assistant is checking the files

Having a VoIP phone system eases the pain of relocating or opening another location for the business.

In the long tradition of business phones, establishing a new office location is notoriously tedious. With old school phones, you would need to cancel the previous service if you were moving offices. Then purchase an entirely new phone plan including complex installation costs for all the lines and phone locations you’d need.

But not anymore. With VOIP rapidly replacing old school PBX phone solutions, setting up phones in a new office location has never been easier. Of course, it’s only natural to ask how this is done, what with the old system being so involved, costly, and tedious. Many businesses who have expanded or changed offices in the past have a whole system that needs to be re-written for VOIP.

So for those of you who are worried about opening a new location, this guide is for you. Rest assured, you won’t need a technician to make it happen and, in fact, can start making VOIP calls in the center of your yet-unfurnished office if you cared to.

Step 1: Secure Your Location

VOIP works no matter where you are, so feel free to pick your office location based on everything except the kind of phone service you need. When you’re working with VOIP, you can secure just about any commercial property that suits your business needs. Your VOIP has no special installation requirements and will work anywhere there is a strong wifi signal.

If you’re looking for VOIP-friendly parameters, then make sure you have access to high-speed internet, though broadband cable or strong satellite internet will both serve the purpose. You can even run a remote office off cell-network hotspot depending on how strong a signal you can pick up. Your new office location can be absolutely anywhere that gets internet service.

Step 2: Bring the Desks and Computers

Once you choose the location, bring in all the usual office furnishings. Desks and chairs, computers and laptops, cashier workstations and mobile device charging stations; any and all of it will do. The one and only requirement of the VOIP phone system in your new office location is that there be some internet-capable end-point devices. Meaning computers, laptops, phones, and/or tablets.

Take a little time to make sure your internal network is properly configured during this stage. Don’t just place the router, optimize it. Test signal and decide where you’ll put wifi repeaters or run internal lines if there are rooms that receive a lower-quality wireless signal, as happens from time to time.

Step 3: Up Your Extensions (If Expanding)

If you are moving your office with all the same staff and the same number of extensions. Don’t even worry about this step. You don’t have to do anything with your account or even tell your VOIP provider that you’re moving locations if you don’t need any changes in service. VOIP is just as capable of being used in a new office location as it is on the road and away on business trips, so no need to worry about any service transferring hassle.

If you are opening a new location and expanding the number of staff making calls, then you will need a few additional extensions to add and configure. Fortunately, this is incredibly easy to do with no installation required. Get in touch with your VOIP provider. All you need to do is request the right number of new extensions and configure them to the use the correct settings. The extensions will be provided, along with new logins, and your bill may not even go up if your just relocating.

Step 4: Install the VOIP Software On Office Computers & Devices

Next, make sure your endpoint devices can access the VOIP cloud service. Simply install the software on each computer and laptop and download the app on any mobile devices. Make sure the software loads correctly and that employees are able to log into the cloud phone platform from each one.

If there is a device that seems to have trouble, reset the device’s app settings and try a fresh install. VOIP platforms are not complex and should work properly on every device. For workstations that will involve a lot of at-desk calling, consider a few VOIP handsets or simply checking to make sure the soft-phone programs are working properly.

Step 5: Have Employees Log Into Their Extensions

Everyone on your team should already know how to manage their VOIP accounts because, as we said, location doesn’t matter a bit. Have each person display that they can still log in, just to be sure. For new employees, you will want to walk them through the very first login, changing their passwords, and the settings/configurations that their team uses to integrate VOIP into the workflow.

Whether your team is in the old office or in the new office; the only thing you need is the software on your devices and an active login for every team member who will be making or receiving calls. IF anyone’s login does not work, go through the usual channels to reset their password.

Step 6: Return to Normal VOIP Workflow

Now you are completely ready to return to your normal workflow or begin innovating your process in the new location. Expanding or transferring your phone service to a new office location is as easy as that. With a VOIP platform, expanding may not even increase your costs unless your adding devices. The only installation is software if you are adding new devices. The only interaction you need with your VOIP provider is to scale your extension count up or down. How’s that for replacing your old PBX relocation process?

Even more interestingly is that your customers need never know the difference because your service numbers won’t have changed. From venders and suppliers to your audience of buyers, changing offices or expanding into new locations is incredibly easy with VOIP.

Ready to make the transition from hardline PBX phones to VOIP or expand your VOIP business to a new location? Contact us today!