Nobody likes a crisis, but when one happens, the best outcome is a quick and effective resolution. Since we’ve been involved in the San Francisco Bay Area IT sector for over a decade, we’ve seen our share of crises. Along the way we’ve learned that when the alarms start ringing, you jump into your fire engine and drive right up to the blaze.
We recently helped a client through what could be called a critical technology crisis. In this case, it was a total failure of their traditional phone system…in the middle of a busy work week. We share this story in hopes that some of our readers can benefit from the lessons learned.
Our client, let’s call him Mike, runs a busy business that deals with international clients across multiple timezones. He and his staff field a high volume of long-distance calls on a daily basis. In short, his business lives or dies on a working telecommunications system.
When the phone system first went down, Mike tried desperately to get help via his phone system’s support line. Unfortunately, his phone system was so outdated, the support line was no longer available.
Mike’s next move was to reach out to AT&T to try to get a new phone system up and running. He learned that purchasing and installing a new phone system would take at least several days. Mike could not afford to just stop operations for a few days; he needed a solution as soon as possible. This is when Mike reached out to us. He wanted to know if we could find a solution, fast.
After Mike outlined his situation, we leapt into action. To begin with, we searched aggressively online for a support line or maintenance assistance for his existing phone system. Unfortunately, we had no more luck than he had in this regard. The system was essentially obsolete.
At this point, we discussed the options with Mike. He had the choice to wait a few days for AT&T to swing into action, or….there was a better way. We asked him what he knew about cloud-based VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone systems. Mike admitted he didn’t know much, and asked us to explain. We described how a VOIP phone system enables you to make calls over the internet, instead of a traditional phone line. And, we outlined some of the benefits of this kind of system–including greater flexibility, lower prices, and fast and easy setup. One hearing about the easy setup, Mike expressed interest in the service.
Fortunately, we have a great relationship with a VOIP phone system provider. As an authorized reseller, we are qualified to set clients up with a brand new VOIP system. Just as importantly, we were comfortable referring Mike to this provider because we knew he’d be getting good support and we knew the flexibility of a cloud-based VOIP system could prove to be a big asset for his kind of business.
We also knew that Mike frequently travels overseas for business trips. We knew that by using the VOIP company’s iPhone application, or a wifi connection, he’d be able to place calls from anywhere for free, using his business’s area code and phone number.
We initiated Mike’s VOIP account immediately.
Typically, IP phones take 2-3 days to ship. We knew of a workaround, though, to help him avoid downtime. We acted quickly.
First, after initiating his VOIP phone system and assigning him new phone numbers, we contacted AT&T and arranged to route all calls to the new numbers. In addition, this VOIP vendor has the option for a soft phone, whereby calls can be received through your computer, laptop, or mobile device. In this way, Mike and his team could make and receive calls through their office computers. Finally, this system is customizable enough that you can program the caller ID. We programmed the system to display Mike’s company name as the caller ID, so his calling identity would be consistent, in spite of the change of phone numbers.
Once all the system configurations were completed, Mike’s phones were up an running. We were proud of the fact we were able to take care of this within 30 minutes of his initial call.
When we set Mike up with his new VOIP phone system, we ordered Polycom phones. These phones get shipped preconfigured for each employee, including their name and extension. All that is needed on the client end is a power source and an internet switch. This is truly a plug-and-play solution, with no requirements for employees to wrestle with configurations.
Once Mike’s system was live, the final stage of the process was that we needed to port all of his old numbers to the new VOIP provider, at which time Mike would no longer need to forward calls. The porting process typically takes 7-10 days.
Now the best part of this whole experience is that Mike was able to save 60% off the monthly cost of his previous phone system. With his new VOIP system, he now enjoys unlimited calling, free fax, and free conference calls.
So, the takeaway? Well, our advice is that if you’re relying on an old phone system, don’t wait until a crisis happens and put yourself through undue stress in the middle of a busy workweek. It might be worthwhile checking out the benefits of a VOIP phone system and considering whether it’s time for you to make the switch.
On a deeper level, though this is a lesson that can apply to your approach to your entire technical infrastructure. We all know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This approach may work up to a point, but when you’ve got a business to take care of, you have a responsibility to keep your equipment up-to-date with regular maintenance, upgrades, and replacements, if necessary. This requires a little more investment up front, perhaps, but you’ll avoid crisis and drama down the line. Your people will thank you…and your blood pressure will benefit, too.
If you’d like to learn more about VOIP phone systems, or you’re dealing with a phone system crisis, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Flickr Photo Credit: Roland Tanglao
LimeTech is a creative tech company with a focus on app development. We help brands grow their impact by building digital products that please customers and solve business challenges. Our work includes strategy, design, content, and tech planning. Check out our portfolio or reach out to start a conversation about your project.
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