VoIP

What Is the Best Phone Number for Your VoIP System?

voip world

When you are setting up your VoIP system, one of the first tasks is to select your phone number. While this may seem simple enough, it’s important to note that there are several different types of numbers available for your VoIP system, including: toll free numbers, local numbers, and universal numbers. Understanding the benefits of each type, along with what kind of business it is suitable for, will help you make the right choice.

Toll Free Numbers

With a toll free number, your customers can contact your VoIP system from any location for no charge, even if they are located internationally. However, you will be charged a per-minute charge for these phone calls and a small monthly fee. Toll free numbers are easily recognizable across the globe, and since customers know they will not be charged, they are more likely to pick up the phone and connect with you.

If your company has customers in several countries, you could likely benefit from a toll free number; however, it is worth noting that you will need a distinct number for each country you are doing business in. Since international phone calls can be pricey, a toll free number will encourage interaction from new customers who wouldn’t be willing to pay to speak to you.

Local Phone Numbers

When you opt for a local phone number—also referred to as a Direct Inward Dialing (DID) number, you provide a number with a local area code. Local numbers can be especially beneficial on a VoIP system because they give the appearance of a local office even if you are located in a different city. While local phone numbers are not technically free to call, most home phone systems allow for unlimited local calls. Cell phone users can also call your local number with no additional charge except for using their allotted minutes.

If you are working to portray a local presence, a local number can be a reassuring sign to your customers. It makes you seem more approachable, and since there is no limit to the number of local phone numbers you can have within your VoIP system, you can establish one for every market you are targeting.

Universal Numbers

Universal International Freephone Numbers, or UIFN, are similar to standard toll free numbers in the fact that they can be called from across the world without a charge to the caller. The big difference, however, is the fact that with a universal number, you only need one actual phone number. Instead of managing several toll free numbers from several countries, you can use the same phone number worldwide.

Universal numbers are a great option for your business if you want to streamline your VoIP system. However, there are additional restrictions and registration fees associated with universal numbers, and you have to have them registered in at least two countries for them to be valid. It’s also worth noting that universal numbers can take up to six months to be up and running.

As you can see, there are several notable phone number options for your business. To learn more about each type, and for help determining which one will be the smartest choice for your company, contact Top Line Communications now.

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Tips for a Successful SIP Trunk Migration

sip trunk migration

SIP trunking takes multiple communication methods and intertwines them into one streamlined, cost-effective system. When you have decided that your company can benefit from this VoIP system protocol, it is time to begin SIP trunk migration. Here are some tips to help you with this complex process.

Plan Thoroughly

Before you can begin the SIP trunk migration, you must be thorough in the planning stage. Take a complete inventory of your current infrastructure, including DIDs and voice circuits, by reviewing your billing statements and/or installation records. Next, you need to figure out how all of these components are used. An SIP trunk can only handle so many phone calls, and you want to make sure you install enough SIP trunks to handle yours.

Be Ready for Important Decisions 

While SIP trunking does bring substantial flexibility to your VoIP system, you need to be prepared for some key decision points that will come up during the migration process:

  • What is more important to you: superior call quality or a reduced bandwidth?
  • Are you going to choose shared MPLS circuits or opt for dedicated ones?
  • What are your plans for the analog items that are no longer paramount, such as the modems and fax machines?
  • Are you going to use internal resources for the SIP trunk migration, or go with a reseller or PBX vendor?

Choose a Carrier Carefully

The carrier you choose for your SIP trunking can play a big role in how successful and affordable it is. Here are the things you need to consider when picking an SIP trunking carrier:

  • What is the NPA-NXX-XXXX footprint? Does it cover the areas you require service?
  • Does the carrier offer multiple linking points to prevent failed calls?
  • What initial costs are required for the SIP trunk migration?
  • What are the reoccurring costs you need to be prepared for?

Test Everything

Once the SIP trunk migration is complete, thorough testing is of the utmost importance. You need to know, without a doubt, that everything is working properly before you open up your VoIP system to customers. Some of the specific areas to test include:

  • Inbound calls, including: standard DID, toll-free, DID with blocked numbers, DID to voicemails, and IVR
  • Outbound calls, both DTMF and VoIP
  • Call forwarding, extending to a mobile device, and carrier take backs and transfers
  • Inbound and outbound fax capabilities

The more thoroughly you plan and prepare, the more successful your SIP trunk migration will be. Once it is intact, your company will be able to reap the many rewards that SIP trunking can bring to your VoIP system. To learn more about how Top Line Communications can assist with your SIP trunk migration, contact us now.

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Online Businesses Offer Phone Support via VoIP Phone System

how voip works

4 Reasons Why Your Online Business Needs Phone Support

If you run your business online, whether it is for a product or a service, chances are the vast majority of interactions are done via email and chat. While those are valuable communication methods, if you do not also have VoIP phone system intact to route callers to your support team, you could be missing an essential piece of the puzzle. Here are four reasons why VoIP phone service routing is key for your long-term business goals:

Earn Customer Trust

Earning the trust of your customers is crucial. You may have an abundance of testimonials and case studies proving your worth, but when it comes to building trust, nothing compares to talking with a live person. A VoIP phone system can route customers and prospects to customer service representatives, to get their questions answered and their issues solved. In doing so, they will know they can count on you the next time help is required.

Improve Customer Retention

If a customer is frustrated with something—whether it’s a technical issue, a product issue, or a service issue—they want to get help immediately. They don’t want to wait for an email or online chat. By having a VoIP phone number the customer can call, you can instantly work to make the customer happy. This will keep them loyal instead of causing them to seek out your competitors while they are waiting for a reply.

Be Available for Orders

While the majority of online shoppers are okay with completing the entire transaction online, there is a still a decent percentage of shoppers who would rather pick up the phone and call. This assures them the transaction is being completed properly and all of their questions are answered. A VoIP phone system can also provide an alternative payment option for those shoppers who are weary of online credit card payments. If you do not offer phone support, you could be missing out on substantial possible revenue.

Earn More Money

There is no rule that says VoIP phone support routing has to be free. If the majority of your customers are satisfied with only online interactions, then you can offer phone support for an additional fee. By offering this premium service, you can capture the customers that want immediate, personalized help while still keeping your bottom line intact. It is not ideal for every industry, but some customers are sure to take advantage of the service.

By incorporating a VoIP phone system into your online business, you can improve customer service options, retain current customers, and capture new ones. To learn more about the VoIP phone support options available for your business, contact Top Line Communications.

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3 Valuable Benefits of SIP Trunking

how trunking works

SIP trunking is the most commonly used protocol within a VoIP system, and it’s popular for a reason. By flawlessly connecting various communication methods into one modernized service, SIP trunking can provide companies of all sizes with a streamlined structure, expanded communication capabilities, and reduced costs.

Streamlined Structure

There are several ways that SIP trunking can bring a simplified structure to your VoIP system:

  • SIP trunks can operate through existing equipment and applications, eliminating the need for physical phone lines.
  • Since SIP trunking combines all forms of communication—including home phones, texting, office phones, mobile phones, laptops, video chat, etc.—into one contact address, it creates a cohesive virtual presence.
  • SIP trunking can automatically prioritize incoming messages and calls, making them much easier to manage.
  • With SIP trunks, users can specify when and how they would like to be contacted, so they always remain in control of their communication.

Expanded Communication Capabilities

As mentioned, SIP trunking can combine all forms of communication, which can provide your company with additional voice and data capabilities. Not only does SIP trunking offer your standard features, like caller ID and local calls, it can effortlessly translate various forms of communication and present them to the end user in the proper format. For example, if one user only has text capabilities, and the other only has voice capabilities, the SIP trunk will provide translation between the two parties. SIP trunking can also translate video messages, web-based interactions, and more, opening up a new world of communication options for your company.

Reduced Costs

Since SIP trunking runs through your VoIP system, it costs much less to setup the protocol and keep it maintained versus a standard phone line. Additionally, SIP trunking is not contingent on a specific geographic location, so you can use it wherever you are—even at home. There is no need for a physical office just so you can have a phone line. Oftentimes, SIP trunking will use the public telephone network to process calls, which means there are no additional charges for DDI rentals and calls between sites. In most cases, SIP trunking can also eliminate the rental charges you pay for ISDN lines.

By implementing SIP trunking into your VoIP system, you can remain competitive in an ever-evolving technological world. With a simplified structure, advanced options, multiple communication methods, and reduced costs, SIP trunking is an excellent choice for your company’s communication needs. To learn more about how SIP trunking can be incorporated into your VoIP system, contact Top Line Communications today.

 

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SIP Trunking FAQ: What You Need to Know

sip trucks

SIP trunking is a phrase that is becoming more commonplace in the virtual communications world. If you hear it, and are not familiar with it, then it portably sounds like a foreign language. However, once you break it down, SIP trunking isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems.

What Is SIP?

Before you can understand SIP trunking, you need to understand SIP. SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, which is basically the name of the technology that is used to establish communication over a specific data network—most commonly the Internet. Your VoIP system uses several different protocols to portray various communication methods, and SIP is just one of the protocols used. SIP is able to carry several types of data, including voices, emails, videos, and more, and it can also initiate multi-party communication, such as conference calls or group video discussions.

What Is SIP Trunking?

SIP trunking is essentially the term used to define the actual data connection provided by SIP. Unlike traditional phone lines, an SIP trunk does not require any physical wire connections. Instead, your SIP trunk provider relies on your data circuit (ex: cable modem, Ethernet over copper, DSL, T1) to relay information between your phone system and their network. SIP trunking is the protocol that is most commonly used in VoIP systems.

Why Switch to SIP Trunking?

Many companies choose to switch to SIP trunking because it eliminates the need for physical phone lines. Not only is this more convenient, since it runs through your VOIP system, it is substantially less expensive to set up and maintain than a traditional phone line. SIP trunking can also provide you with caller ID and the ability to accept local calls.

How Many SIP Trunks Should I Install?

There are two main factors that determine how many SIP trunks your company will need to integrate into their VoIP system:

  • How many phone calls are usually being made at the same time? You will need one SIP trunk for every 2-3 users that require concurrent use of the system.
  • How much bandwidth does your company have available? Each SIP trunk uses bandwidth, so you will not want to install more SIP trunks than your system can handle. Either that, or you will want to expand your bandwidth capabilities.

SIP trunking is an excellent way for your company to cut costs while improving their communication abilities. To learn more about SIP trunking and to discover how it can be integrated into your VoIP system, contact Top Line Communications now.

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4 Call Routing Techniques to Incorporate into Your Business Phone System

call routing from server to computers

When you are dealing with a high volume of calls, it can be challenging to keep your customers happy. After dealing with multiple transfers and long wait times, their opinion of your brand can change dramatically. By managing the incoming calls of your business phone system effectively, you can reduce wait times and transfers, and keep your clients satisfied. To do this, you should be implementing these four automatic call distribution strategies:

Routing Based on Time of Day

While you want your incoming business phone calls to come to your main New York City office during business hours, that doesn’t mean you need to leave your customers waiting when the office is closed. By implementing time-of-day call routing, you can send incoming calls to your office during designated hours, and then route them to an outsourced business phone service when your staff is off the clock.

Routing in Specific Percentages

Instead of each call going to the same department or location, you can use percentage-based routing to keep the amount of calls equal and manageable. For example, if you have an office in New York and another one in Los Angeles, you can split the incoming calls 50-50 to keep call flow moving. You can also use the percentage method for routing to different departments within one location.

Routing by Geographic Location

If your business phone receives calls from all over the world, each call can be routed to an agent that speaks the language from that specific language. Routing incoming calls based on geographic location insures Spanish-speaking clients are greeted by Spanish-speaking agents. By getting the language matched on the first try, your clients will get the personalized service they need in a timely manner.

Routing by Customer Importance

Finally, you can make sure that your most important clients always receive speedy service by using VIP call routing. Essentially, you add specific phone numbers to your VIP list, and whenever your business phone receives an incoming call from these numbers, they will jump to the top of the queue. You can even designate a specific agent that these calls are routed to in order to ensure they receive the absolute best service.

By using these advanced call routing techniques you will be better able to give every customer the service they deserve. To learn more about call routing for your business phone, contact us today. We would love to help you keep your customers happy.

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How VoIP Business Phone Systems Can Save Startups

interior of office

As a startup, every detail matters—especially the way you communicate with your customers. Obviously, a business phone system is not optional; however, choosing between an onsite system and a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system is. When it comes to saving money and allowing for versatility, an IP phone is the best choice. Here are four ways that VoIP systems can help your startup flourish instead of fail:

Save on Startup Costs

Without a business phone system that has diverse capabilities—including call routing, toll-free phone numbers, teleconferencing, etc.—you simply cannot run a successful business. If your startup opts for an onsite business phone system, you can expect to pay a substantial amount for all of these offerings. Or you can go with a VoIP service that provides all of this, and more, for a fraction of the cost thanks to its cloud-based platform.

Eliminate the Need for a Dedicated Office

With an IP phone, you only need an Internet connection to be up and running. This means that even if you don’t have a dedicated office space yet, you can still take advantage of the many business phone system features you need. And if you find yourself traveling frequently, your business communications will not be interrupted—even web conferencing and video calls are effortless.

Simplify Employee Training

Onsite business phone systems can be complicated, which means they can be difficult to teach to new employees. On the contrary, VoIP systems are configured to closely resemble the platform today’s workers are used to: their mobile devices. Gone are the days of long training sessions and hard-to-remember protocols. Not only do IP phones allow for shorter training sessions, they also result in much fewer mistakes.

Make Expansion Effortless

You may be a startup now, but chances are, expansion is in your future. With an onsite business phone system, this upgrade can be quite costly, but with a VoIP system, it’s as easy as contacting your VoIP service provider. Whether you are expanding to multiple locations or looking to upgrade to more advanced features, any additions you need are done through the cloud for a fraction of the price with minimal effort on your part.

VoIP systems have changed the way businesses of all sizes function, and the benefits they provide are even more apparent when you are just starting out. With lower operating costs, simple expansion capabilities, and the power to work wherever you see fit, a VoIP service just makes sense. If you want to give your startup the power of a big-business phone system, contact us today.

 

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How Do VoIP Systems Work?

phone off the hook

Perhaps you have heard of the term VoIP before, and maybe you haven’t. Regardless, be prepared to change the way you think about your business phone system. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and it is a way to make and receive phone calls via digital data that is sent over the cloud.

How VoIP Systems Work

VoIP systems work a lot like email does, except you are transporting packets of audio versus packets of text. So when you make a phone call, the audio gets broken down into miniscule tidbits of data that is sent up into the cloud and then received by the person on the other end of the call. Even though VoIP systems use the Internet to work, you can still use both mobile phones and landlines to make phone calls: You are not confined to your computer. Of course, your computer is always an option.

Types of VoIP Services

While the general VoIP system works as mentioned above, there are actually several different types of service available:

  • Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATA) – If you want to keep using your landline, this is the VoIP service for you. By converting the traditional analog data from your landline into digital data, you can easily implement VoIP service into your office. Using an ATA is as easy as plugging the phone into the adapter instead of into the wall.
  • IP Phones – If you are starting from scratch, IP phones are the way to go. They are made specifically for use with VoIP systems, but they still have the look and feel of a traditional phone. An IP phone connects to your router and accesses the WiFi to make and receive calls.
  • Computer-to-Computer – As long as your computer has a microphone and speakers—and Internet access, of course—then using a VoIP service is as simple as logging in.

Make VoIP Work for You

A VoIP system is simple to implement and provides these unique benefits:

  • Since everything is done virtually, a VoIP system can save you money in startup costs, upgrading/expansion costs, and ongoing costs.
  • With the only requirement being an Internet connection, a VoIP system frees up your team and allows you to work on the go.
  • Collaboration has never been easier than it is with a VoIP system. Effortlessly set up web conferences, video chat, instant messaging, and more.

A VoIP system changes the way your business communicates. By transporting data via the cloud, it opens up a whole new world of versatility and efficiency to help your business flourish. Contact us today to learn more about implementing a VoIP system for your company.

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Is VoIP Service the Answer to Your Business Phone Problems?

man at desk in office

If you are still using an on-site business phone service for your business, chances are you find yourself frustrated. If you are dealing with any of the following problems, then a VoIP provider may be the answer to your business phone woes.

Problem: You Need Updated Features

Your standard landline receives phone calls and takes messages, but besides that, any additional features are either not available or overpriced. With a VoIP system, the majority of features you need for success—including time of day routing and remote voicemail monitoring—are already part of the package.

Problem: It’s Too Expensive to Alter Your Business Phone

With your on-site business phone, it can be quite expensive if you need to scale up or scale down your system. When you have a new hire, you have to purchase new equipment and take the time to set up the business phone. On the contrary, adding or removing employees is as easy as reaching out to your VoIP provider, and there are minimal associated costs.

Problem: You Need Better Customer Service

The interactions that take place on your business phone could hold the secret to your success. The only problem is that your standard phone system makes it challenging to know how well your team is doing with customer service. However, when you use a VoIP system, you can easily track, score, and record every phone call that takes place. With these quality assurance features in use, you will have a clear picture of where your company is succeeding and where there is room for improvement.

Problem: Your Employees Are Not Always at Their Desks

When your employees are away from their desks—whether on a lunch break or on vacation—they do not have access to your business phone service. With a VoIP system, everything your team needs is hosted in the cloud, so as long as they have an Internet connection, they can communicate with clients and with you.

Problem: You Do Not Have a Disaster Recovery Plan

Even if you have a solid insurance plan, you still risk a massive loss if you rely on an onsite business phone service. Not only could you lose data, you may also temporarily lose phone service to continue operations. VoIP systems, on the other hand, store all of your irreplaceable data in the cloud so you can access it anywhere. And as long as you can find somewhere with an Internet connection, you can maintain regular business operations.

From the abundance of features it provides to its extreme versatility, it’s clear that a VoIP system can solve a lot of the problems that you face with a standard business phone system. Contact us today to bring these benefits to your New York business.

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4 Ways to Keep Your VoIP System Safe

locked security

When it comes to business phones, VoIP systems are ideal. They are easily scalable, very cost effective, and loaded with features to improve efficiency and customer service. However, since they are in the cloud, security can sometimes be a concern. As long as you are proactive, you can keep your VoIP system just as secure as an onsite business phone:

Set Up an SIP-Based Firewall

To protect your business VoIP system, you should implement an SIP firewall. SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, evaluates every piece of data (in the form of voice packets) that enters your VoIP system. It is able to filter out any inbound traffic that appears suspicious to keep your system secure.

Limit Access to Pertinent Users Only

Not everyone who has access to your VoIP service needs to use every feature it provides. By limiting each person’s access to only the part of the VoIP system that they actually need, you can help prevent hacks. If certain employees don’t use the service at all, make sure they have no way to get into it.

Enforce Strong Passwords

The number one way that VoIP systems get hacked is by breaking into the system via an easy-to-figure-out password. To prevent this, ask every team member to use a complicated password. It should be at least eight characters long (the more, the better), and include a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and symbols. It is also wise for staff to update their password every few months to further decrease the risk of a breach.

Review Your Call Logs Regularly

If a hacker gains access to your business VoIP system, they may use the opportunity to make long-distance phone calls to other countries—phone calls that can be very pricey. If you aren’t taking the time to go over your call logs on a regular basis, you will not know these calls are taking place. Not only will reviewing the call logs help you identify possible fraud, it will give you a clear picture of the way your business is using the VoIP system.

When it comes to keeping your business VoIP system secure, it is impossible to be too careful. Check with your service provider to make sure you are implementing every possible step you can take to protect your company from security threats. To learn more about our New York business VoIP systems, and for help keeping them secure, contact us now.

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