As we’ve been writing for some time now, your telephone is not just a tool for answering and making phone calls. If used properly, the telephone can be a powerful tool for saving time, saving money and being more productive overall. If you are using a traditional phone system from your local telephone company or have an old PBX you are probably wasting money and not being as productive as you can be. A properly configured telephone system can help you save money by reducing the number of lines, and help you be more productive by enabling you to leverage dispersed employees in your organization, as the story below illustrates.
Barry the Regional Retailer Gets His Whole Three-Store Chain to Answer One Phone — Quickly
A Case Study from Junction Networks
(Note: Barry is a composite of several real-live case studies.)
Barry the Regional Retailer owns a chain of spare parts stores in three neighborhoods in and around Dallas. The branches aren’t all equally busy at any given hour of the day, but as owner of a small business, Barry can’t afford to overstaff. So sometimes, when the phone rings in a store, it keeps on ringing till someone at the counter or in the stock room can get free to answer. Sometimes that’s too late, and Barry knows the call – and the business — has gone to the local competition.
Barry wishes he could get something to free up the busy stores, pick up activity at the slow stores and even out the traffic. But the stores only call each other to check for parts; there is no way to pool twelve employees evenly across three stores. Until, looking for ways to save on phone calling, Barry happens to hear about Junction Networks and its OnSIP Hosted PBX service.
The opportunity to save money on six separate phone lines arises as soon as the stores get broadband Internet accounts. Suddenly, Barry has the chance to replace those telco phone lines with VoIP (Voice over IP). And instead of paying for six (or even three) separate consumer VoIP lines, a la Vonage, he discovers that he can tie all three stores to one “virtual” PBX, serving as company phone switch. This PBX sits in a host provider’s data center; its extensions run over IP to phones at each store. It enables all three stores to be reached through one main number, and adds voice mail, auto attendant, and hunt or simultaneous-ring groups in the bargain. All for $39.95 a month, plus a few cents a minute for outbound and inbound calls.
Now what happens?
- Barry drops one of the two PSTN (traditional) phone lines in each store, saving $150 per month with the local telco in calling and access charges. All calls come in through the main advertised number, which goes to the offsite OnSIP PBX.
- The OnSIP auto attendant plays Barry’s greeting. It invites callers to dial an extension, if they know it, or 1, 2 or 3 for each store, and 4 for customer service in Spanish. If the caller picks a store, OnSIP quickly plays that store’s location and hours of operation, and then routes the call to a $125 IP phone located there, just as an on-site PBX would forward a call to a dialed extension inside the same building.
- The phone rings at the chosen store. If nobody picks up on the third ring (or during non-business hours after one ring), the phone rings in every store.
- Anyone available in any store picks up. If they see line 1 lit, they know the call was made to Store One and they answer, “Barry’s U-Fix-It, Plano.” If they see line 2 lit, it’s “Barry’s U-Fix-It, Grapevine,” and so on. If line 4 is lit, the call is meant for Store 3 in Dallas, where Miguel, Barry’s Spanish-speaking employee, takes all calls from Spanish-speaking callers. (Barry’s IP phones have six line appearances, and so can signify six different caller choices in this scenario; the actual number of extensions can be increased ad infinitum, without affecting the cost of the basic OnSIP package. )
- Barry’s stores all call each other for free, by dialing two digits. (They can also, incidentally, call any other OnSIP customer for free.)
- If Barry works from home or goes away on vacation, he can set OnSIP to ring his extension in more than one place, and he can pick up his calls from any broadband Internet access point, anywhere in the world. He can also assign his extension to any store, or any simultaneous ring group. He can do this himself, through the OnSIP Web interface.
- If Barry needs another extension, for a week or a year, he just browses over to his OnSIP controls and adds it; it adds no cost to the $39.95 package, except for off-net calls per minute.
- The whole setup, including one auto attendant, three recorded greetings, and three simultaneous ring groups (one for each store, should its extension go unanswered), costs Barry $39.95 plus around $15 a month per store for incoming or outgoing off-net (PSTN) calls, at 2.9 cents a minute. Five voicemail boxes, (one for each store, one for Barry and one for Miguel), are also included.
- Barry has managed to keep phone response time within 25 seconds, plugging up a leak in potential business lost to competition.
- Barry has managed to ”even out the traffic”; less-busy employees at one store can answer the phone for the employees hopping to serve customers in another.
- Barry’s one Spanish-speaking counterman can handle Spanish-speaking callers for any store, not just the one in the Latino neighborhood.
- Barry saves $150 per month in phone lines.
- Barry can have an extension on the company phone system from any broadband connection, anywhere.
- Barry can similarly set up extensions for any vendor or partner with SIP softphone and broadband, eliminating the expense of calling them.
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