Category Archives: General

Choose Your Business Tools and Procedures with Care – and Know When to Use Them

by Alon Cohen

Tools Isolated on a White BackgroundI was raised in a family that was passionate about using the right tool for the job. My parents have enough vintage tools and early tech gadgets at their home to fill a museum. One-of-a-kind hammers, saws and pliers. Unusual generators, power supplies and oscilloscopes. Not to mention all the old computers—our obsession with tech and tools spans four generations!

Over time I came to understand that each tool has a purpose, and using it incorrectly can have negative consequences—injury, inefficiency or permanently damaging a good tool. Try using a screwdriver as a chisel by hitting the handle with a hammer. The result is damaged handle that can injure your hand or a damaged tip that makes the tool no good for chiseling.

The Danger of SOPs in Aviation

In a similar way, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in organizations are really tools. Using them ensures the reliable achievement of a desired outcome, assuming they match the task at hand. If a process does not match the task it supports well, it’ll result in inefficiency, poor performance and low morale. It will act as a weight on the business instead of giving it wings to take off.

In fact, in the world of aviation, there are documented cases where strict adherence to SOPs led to disaster. The aviation industry has a multitude of carefully devised procedures, designed to keep us safe. In the nineties, an ELAL Boeing 747-cargo flight crashed over the Netherlands after two of its engines detached from the wings. The pilots could have saved the airplane; however, the crew followed the emergency protocol to the letter. Unfortunately, the plane’s instrumentation, no longer connected to the detached engines, gave the pilots false readings. The procedure no longer matched the situation, and the plane eventually lost the ability to control systems and crashed, killing 43 people.

Learning from this tragedy, airlines now train pilots to ignore SOPs in certain emergency situations. They are trained to trust their instincts instead and just land the plane. The landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009 is a perfect example, where instinctive thinking led Captain Sully to make the right decision not to try landing at a nearby airport, but instead ditch the plane into the Hudson River close to an active boat route that could evacuate passengers. Airlines frequently learn from accidents, building those scenarios into their flight simulators. Much like the use of duct tape to save Apollo 13, thinking outside of the box can save lives. While policies and procedures are essential in routine, stable situations, SOPs may be just the wrong tool in a dynamic situation.

SOPs in a SAAS Environment 

I’ve spent much of my professional life building software, not working in aviation, but allow me to translate. In a Software as a Service (SAAS) environment, processes like Kanban and Scrum are essential to delivering projects on time and to specification. However, once your software service is running, bugs inevitably pop up, and servers and Internet connections fail, resulting in unexpected situations for the code. These events require prompt attention, and ignoring them or building a queue to fix them one by one, is like employing the wrong tool. You run the risk of a service meltdown and possibly even worse consequences—imagine the phone system for a 911 service failing.

Developing SOPs for the myriad of dynamic situations that can arise in a SAAS environment is impossible and in many cases, a waste of time. If you fix a software bug properly, the likelihood that you’ll need a standard procedure a second time is slim. You’re better served spending the time training people (your most effective tools) to think and respond creatively.

At Phone.com, we’re constantly working to strike the balance between creating effective procedures to ensure quality, while at the same time responding quickly when an unforeseen issue arises. Here is my advice. The next time you think you need to add a process in your organization consider the age-old acronym KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. Ask yourself if you will ever need this procedure again and how frequently. If the answer is no, use the time saved to evolve your tools and people by sharing information among the group. Evolution does not happen in one day, but as your team knowledge grows, the performance, efficiency and job satisfaction will build exponentially.

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3 Strategies for Keeping Your Phone.com Numbers Organized and Efficient

by Derrick Arteus

If you’re like many small businesses, you probably have multiple Phone.com numbers on your account to reach multiple areas. I’ve seen some accounts with as many as 200 phone numbers, and needless to say keeping all of these numbers organized can be overwhelming without these 3 solid strategies:

  • Add a nickname to every number. Instead of having to find a phone number by its digits, you can add a unique character-based nickname to every Phone.com number. If you have numbers in multiple cities, you might find it useful to add the city name as the nickname for each number so you can quickly scan your number list.
  • Make sure you have the same caller ID name set for each number. You’ll want your business name to display the same regardless of what area code you are calling. Make sure that each U.S. local number on your account has the same caller ID for a uniform business presentation on all of your calls.
  • Decide where you will forward your numbers from. You can forward your calls directly from your Phone.com number, or from an extension. Stick to one and forward all of your phone numbers the same way. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself looking in multiple locations on your account to change the forwarding for each of your numbers.

Want to Learn More?

View the recorded version of this webinar.

What

  • Learn how to add the numbers you need for your business, including global, local, toll-free, and vanity numbers.
  • Keep your numbers organized by managing your number listing and deleting unused numbers.
  • Learn how to forward your numbers to cell phones, voicemail, or extensions.

How

Watch Recorded Webinar

Fun In The Sun With Phone.com

by Adele Fredeluces

xwearIt’s summer time and you know what that means, we’re all planning our summer vacations and hitting the beach with friends and family for some fun in the sun! With that being said, this week’s customer testimonial shines brightly from C.O.T., Inc., a company that will satisfy all of your summer fun needs.

C.O.T., Inc. specializes in all kinds of summer essentials, including sunglasses, surf and skate gear, and apparel to get you through the summer months. With eight retail stores throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as an online shop, Phone.com gives C.O.T., Inc. the flexibility to manage all of their locations under one phone system.

Phone.com has “the ability to transfer calls between stores, route calls to the correct department, handle calls differently depending on the source, the time of day, day of week…”, the President of C.O.T., Inc., Charlie Miller, remarked. With a quick dial to another store’s extension, an employee can easily transfer a customer to that store in search for just the right item.

When asked about the savings gained by switching to Phone.com, Miller said, “We have saved a boatload of $$, not to mention no more aggravation dealing with complex phone systems, selector codes and complicated programming.”

The moral of the story is as follows: if your company operates in multiple locations , there’s no need to manage several different accounts.  You can consolidate everything into one unified system. Contacting another store for an inventory count or any kind of follow-up is easy!

So if ever you need sunglasses, apparel or some surf gear, contacting C.O.T. will be smooth sailing.  Just pick up the phone and give them a call for yet another example of a company that finds doing business just a little bit easier thanks to Phone.com!

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The Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Replace Your Landline Phone Today

by Derrick Arteus

Why are you still using a landline phone? You are probably paying $15-$20 per month for a service that only does one thing – making calls. 

If you’re running your own business, then you probably have your computer in tow wherever you go. What better device to use as your personal phone that already provides so many other diverse functions, for a fraction of the cost.

If you’re still hesitant about ditching your landline, here are three great reasons to do so:

  • You’re paying so much for so little. Your phone should do more than just make calls. With a computer softphone, you can make calls, and also do the handful of other tasks that running your business requires.
  • Your landline phone is stuck in one place. What if your business has you traveling and on the road? You need a phone that comes with you so you can be reached anywhere.
  • Flexibility is not an option. With a landline phone, you don’t get a menu system, call forwarding, or the ability to set schedules like you do with a cloud-based phone platform.

If you’re ready to ditch your landline now, Phone.com has you covered with our Communicator softphone. 

How Can I Get Started?

Our Communicator software will transform your already robust computer into a phone to make and receive calls, send text messages, or check your voicemails. Join us for our free 30 minute webinar on this offering. 

What

  • Learn how to set up our Communicator softphone on your Mac or PC.
  • Discover how to forward your Phone.com number to your computer to start receiving calls for your business.
  • Check out some of the advanced features of Communicator such as address book management, checking voicemails, and sending text messages.

When

Thursday, July 17 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM PST.

How

Register Now

When Lightning Strikes

by Jeremy Watkin

Woman hand holding the phone tablet touch computer gadget isolatA good part of our team is located in our Poway, California office, so thunder and lightning are not a concern. We’re too busy applying sunscreen and waiting for part of our state to fall into the ocean to worry about a little storm.

With that said, we’re seeing more calls where a customer contacts us after a major storm to let us know that their device, usually an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA), is fried. Those little guys are usually fairly durable — my brother had one with a melted case that still worked. But one thing they are not immune to is a surge of electricity caused by a lightning strike.

As I began writing this post I was going to tell you to protect your electronics with a surge protector. While that’s a fantastic idea for regular electrical surges, research indicates that even the best surge protectors are no match for a nearby lightning strike. Dan Robinson from StormHighway.com advises that “the best and cheapest way to protect your stereo, television, computer, or any electronic appliance is to unplug all power, telephone (modem), and antenna connections during a thunderstorm.”

While you’re at it, don’t forget to unplug your Phone.com devices so they are safe while the storms rage on! In the meantime, I’m polishing up my post titled “101 Uses For Your Fried ATA.” I like to use mine as a doorstop.