Wanted: Robust Business Phone Service to Do Business in Washington

by Sue Walsh

SSDP LogoFor any non-profit organization running an office in Washington, DC, operation costs can be a killer. Rent, keeping the lights on, marketing—and oh yeah, phone service. You need a really good business phone service if you’re an international, grassroots organization like Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).

SSDP is a student-led network that advocates for drug-policy reform and safer program implementation. The organization works to effect change, for example, on financial-aid eligibility for drug offenders who want to study, medical marijuana legislation, and Good Samaritan policies, among other issues. They have 3,000 active US members and over 200 student chapters.

“We went from having one line shared by all [three] staffers, no individual mailboxes, and no ability to forward messages or transfer calls to cell phones to having a fully-functional business phone system,” says Executive Director Betty Aldworth.

Since late last year, Aldworth says the Washington office has grown from three to six staffers. “Without Phone.com I can’t imagine how much more difficult conducting our day-to-day business would be.”

Betty Aldworth raves about Phone.com’s easy-to-use customer settings and flexible call-forwarding options, but cost savings are clearly a big win for SSDP.

“​We are saving about $100 per month by switching to Phone.com, but that’s from basic phone service to a full business platform. … I can’t imagine how much this service would cost if we were getting this robust a set of features through a traditional provider, but it would certainly be much, much more expensive!”

She also loves dealing with our Customer Support team. “The product is tremendously easy to use, but when I can’t figure something out, ​friendly folks like Derrick (Phone.com Customer Support specialist) are always right there at the click of a button to help answer any questions.”

We’re glad we make your day and work easier, Betty!

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.

Phone.com University

Phone.com University – How to Forward Your Number

by Derrick Arteus

Forwarding your Phone.com number is the first step you will want to take when first setting up your account. Your number can be forwarded to a variety of locations, including:

  • Your cell phone or land line
  • Your communicator soft phone
  • Your business menu or voicemail

Regardless of where you forward your number, the actions you take will be similar for each process. In this tutorial, we will demonstrate a basic forwarding setup to an external number or extension. 

Forwarding Your Number

  1. Mouse over Configure and select Manage Numbers.
  2. Select Edit for the number you want to forward.
  3. Select Edit for Number Action.
  4. Change Select Operation to Forward Call.
  5. Enter your desired number or extension in the white box.
  6. Select Save Rule Settings.

forward

The above example will forward calls to your desired extension number or external number. Additional actions can be added with the Add Next Action selection. 

For example, if you want your calls to go to your Phone.com voicemail after forwarding to an external number, you will add Leave Voicemail as your next action.

That’s it for today, see you next Monday for some more Phone.com knowledge!

webinar_splash_7-31

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

Phone.com University

Phone.com University – How to Host a Free Conference Call

by Derrick Arteus

Every Phone.com extension on your account includes a free conference bridge number to easily set up a conference call. There are some great benefits to this free feature, including:

  • High definition voice quality
  • Up to 500 participants
  • Unlimited minute usage

Accessing Your Conference Bridge

  1. Mouse over Configure and select Manage Users & Extensions. 
  2. Select Edit for your chosen extension.
  3. Select Conferencing on the left-side navigation bar.
  4. Select Get Conference Bridge.

Your Conference Bridge Number and Moderator/Conference PIN will be listed on the HD Conferencing page. 

conferencing

Beginning a Conference Call

  1. Call into your Conference Bridge Number and enter your Moderator Pin.
  2. Provide the Conference ID and Bridge Number to all of your participants.

Once the moderator joins the conference call, it will automatically begin. Below are some moderator controls to take advantage of:

conference2

That’s it for today, see you next Monday for some more Phone.com knowledge!