Archive for April, 2010

 

Phone systems for colleges – is it time for an update?

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Phone systems for colleges may sound like an expensive consideration. However, we understand the pressures that apply to many areas of the academic world, particularly around budgetary constraints. That’s why, if you are considering updating your college phone system; installing a new one; or are looking for telephone system maintenance, we can help.

There are a number of solutions from providers such as Siemens business telephone systems, which range from functionally simple models of two basic handsets right up to college-wide solutions that can encompass 200+ handsets in a functionally rich and sophisticated technical environment.

You may wonder ‘why now?’ Well, it may be the case that the students at your college are individually better equipped in terms of telecoms than the college itself. Some phone systems for colleges can still leave a little to be desired in terms of the support they provide to both teaching and administrative or support staff.

Colleges setting an example

Some college phone systems may be older than some of the exhibits in the local museum.

It’s possible to question whether that is necessarily a problem – after all, if they’re still working why change?

It may well be functioning perfectly but you’re not going to be able to fully exploit the potential of phone systems for colleges if the one you have was designed to meet the college needs of, for example, the 1970s!

Change for change’s sake is not always desirable and certainly academic budgets today are tight. Yet colleges are often rightly regarded as agents of change and innovation in our society but that image may be challenged if they continue to use sub-optimal business telecoms that have their origin in yesteryear.

Operational backbone

Trying to fit business models to college operations has long been controversial but few would doubt that in one respect businesses and colleges are identical – they need to communicate internally and externally.

Modern phone systems for colleges support the easy and effective use of technology infrastructures so that phones become a way of driving internal communication.

It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a specialist in the humanities or sciences, if you need to talk urgently to a colleague then trudging along endless corridors can be time consuming and a plain nuisance.

The same is true for administrative and management staff – trying to find someone when they have an urgent telephone call waiting isn’t always easy or amusing and it can be even more frustrating for the person holding on.

Information exchange

Today, exchanging knowledge and information is a concept that’s at the heart of our society. Phone and business telecoms systems for colleges have to play their part in that by providing facilities for things such as voice conferencing, tele-presentations, text, video and data transmission.

Many older systems are incapable of providing such support, however valiantly they try or how hard technologists attempt to stretch their function.

Being realistic

We are confident that there are modern phone systems for colleges that would meet your functional and budgetary needs, so why not get in touch? You may be surprised just how affordable a college telephone system may be! We can also take care of your telephone system maintenance too.

Are you aware of phone fraud?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Unfortunately we are becoming more aware of phone hacking incidents these days. Hackers have discovered ways of getting into telephone systems and using other people’s lines to dial out on. Of course these calls are usually to overseas or premium rated numbers and therefore not cheap. In a short space of time a considerable amount of calls can be made and can add up to an astronomical fee! As it is not always clear how the hackers do it, it is not so easy to prevent it. However, there are a number of things you can do and look out for:

  • Now you are aware of the fact be vigilant.
  • Check you phone bills as often as possible to make sure there are no anomalies.
  • Use call barring wherever possible. Do you need to call premium rate numbers (09 numbers)? These can cost up to £1.50 per minute and are a hackers target. If you don’t need them - get them barred. The same applies to international numbers, if you only use them occasionally, ask your maintainer to restrict access, they can always take off the restriction for you to make a call. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Alert your maintainers to anything unusual and get it checked out. For example - lines being engaged when not in use by anyone in the office.
  • Ask your line provider who would foot the bill if this happened to you? Likely to be the end user – which is you!

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this sadly has become a reality and we all need to be aware in order to clamp down on it. If you have any questions relating to this subject, call barring or any telecoms related issue please feel free to contact us.

I sincerely hope this hasn’t happened to you already but if it has, I would be very interested to hear your story.

Be An Amazing Business Builder Show

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Come and see us on Stand 26 - We will be running a surgery at the show to tackle and deal with alll the telecommunications issues or questions you may have. We are taking bookings now for a free 20 minute slot to talk to one of our technical specialists absolutely free of charge.

If you would like to book one of limited slots at the show please contact us using the contact form here or give us a call. Remember whichever way you get in touch remember to mention the show.

We will be at the "Be An Amazing Business Builder" Show...

Want to know how to start, grow and, when ready, exit an amazing business? If so, do attend the "Be An Amazing Business Builder" Show.

This event is packed full of free advice, free to attend seminars and qualified exhibitors that can help you to do all three.

Each attendee will receive a folder which they can then fill with "top tips" from each of our exhibitors on how to either start, grow and exit- or all three if you wish. Several prominent business groups will also be there to assist you and your business.

What’s in it for me?

  • A whole day of informative seminars on starting, growing and profiting from an amazing business.
  • 3 networking events over 2 days get you sharing ideas and experiences with fellow business people and making valuable business contacts.
  • Take a journey of discovery and follow our carefully selected guide to starting, growing and reaping the rewards from your business, or zoom in on just the help you need.
  • Carefully selected participants are there to help you with practical advice and real value.
  • Build your own Handbook for Building an Amazing Business with free practical tips and advice from every single participant at the show.
  • Follow-on offers from participants so you can take things further.
  • Free to attend

Monday 24th May- Grand opening, pre-view for visitors and networking evening.

Time: 4.00pm-8.00pm

Tuesday 25th May- All day exhibition with plenary format- free business advisory seminars run along side the exhibition. The show is to be complimented by a networking breakfast and luncheon.

Time: Exhibition 9.00am- 4.00pm

Breakfast: 8.00am-10.00pm

Luncheon: 12.00noon- 2.00pm

Seminars:

  • What's YOUR business story?- 10.30am-11.00am
  • Choose HOW to start your business- 11.10am-11.40am
  • WHERE'S your profit? - 2.10pm-2.40pm
  • Ways to grow YOUR business- 2.50pm-3.20pm
  • Plan to Exit- so that YOU can exit to plan- 3.30pm-4.00pm

Location:

Inn On The Lake
A2
Shorne
DA12 3HB

http://www.viamichelin.com/viamichelin/int/dyn/controller/mapPerformPage?strAddress=A2&strCP=DA12%203HB&strLocation=Gravesend

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=A2,+Gravesend,+Kent+DA12%203HB+United%20Kingdom&hl=en

Come and see us on Stand 26 - We will be running a surgery at the show to tackle and deal with alll the telecommunications issues or questions you may have. We are taking bookings now for a free 20 minute slot to talk to one of our technical specialists absolutely free of charge.

If you would like to book one of limited slots at the show please contact us using the contact form here or give us a call. Remember whichever way you get in touch remember to mention the show.

The small business phone system – servicing you

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

If you are a small business looking for a business telephony solution, then you’ll want your small business phone system to work hard for you. So, what do you need to think about when looking for the most suitable office telephony solution?

Considerations may include:

  • moderately priced to support entry-level and start-up businesses;
  • easy to install and low maintenance costs;
  • potentially compatible with other technologies such as video or data;
  • powerful in that it can provide a range of additional business support functions such as menu systems etc;
  • scalable so that it can be easily expanded to meet business growth and increased sophistication;
  • reduced risk – in other words a tried and tested solution from a reputable provider rather than an unproven high-risk system from a virtually unknown company that may turn your business into a test-bed.

Sound to be too demanding a list?

Well, we don’t think so!

We can provide solutions that meet these criteria running from just two handsets up to 200+. Siemens business telephone systems also provide the assurance that comes from dealing with a front-runner in business telecom services.

All these things are important for one reason – whatever the nature of your business, it will sink or swim based upon communications.

Your customers may love your services or frantically desire your products, but none of that will count for anything if they can’t actually speak to you when they want to.

In today’s fast moving and harsh business world, most customers are extremely unlikely to keep trying to reach you if all they get is the engaged signal. They’ll simply go elsewhere.

Equally, they won’t thank you for asking them to call back to speak to a colleague because you can’t easily transfer them yourself.

Asking customers to sit listening for hours to music while waiting to speak to you just because your company doesn’t have an effective voicemail system may also prove to be another step on the road to business oblivion.

The modern small business phone system can relegate all these types of potential problem to where they deserve to be – the pages of history. It need not cost a lot of money to put into place business telephone systems that are fit for purpose and which mean you never have to miss a critical call or be delayed in making one.

The small business phone system has changed – and for the better!

Business telephones – FAQs

Friday, April 16th, 2010

We’re always keen to try and help resolve any uncertainties around business telephones.

Q - Why are business telephone systems different to home systems?

In principle, they’re not. The same basic technologies are often used in both.

The differences between the telephone systems you use at home and small business phone systems produced by people such as Siemens business telephone systems often relate to the way they’re used.

In the office you may need to have multiple calls waiting, automatic re-routing, voice menu systems, video conferencing, message systems, interrogative answering systems (selection menus) and a number of other facilities designed to help a modern business function.

All these are technically possible with many home systems but they’re less commonly required.

Q – What about robustness?

All modern technology should be relatively robust but obviously some providers have a rather better reputation for providing high quality products than others.

It’s typically important to think at the outset about the support and warranty you’re getting with the solution and what support will be available once the solution has dropped out of warranty.

If your business telephones are critical and 24x7 availability is absolutely essential, it might be worthwhile thinking about fallback and standby systems that would kick-in to let you keep running your business should the worst happen.

Q – Do I have to throw my old system and infrastructure away?

That depends on its nature and what it’s doing for you.

All professional business telecoms providers should be concerned to try and help you protect your existing investment where possible. Many modern systems can integrate well with other technologies but in some cases replacement may be required if it is completely obsolete and incompatible with modern systems.

Q – What if my business suddenly expands?

We understand the fear that, having just purchased a solution, you discover in a year or two that it’s no longer capable of supporting your needs.

That issue is called scalability – in other words the ability of a system to expand and grow with your business.
The good news is that modern office telephone systems are typically designed to be scalable and expand in line with your needs. You can add facilities as you expand or as your finances permit.

Q - Can I afford a business telecoms solution?

Most modern business telephones and their systems are, in fact, modular. As per the scalability discussion above, they can be expanded as and when you need them to be.

At Telcare we believe that our entry-level systems are typically modestly priced and within the reach of many small businesses – even at start-up. In other words, you won’t need to already be on the top 100 rich list to get going with an effective solution for business telephones!

The office phone system

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

Anyone much over the age of around 50 will be able to remember the days when the office phone system comprised one or two handsets – typically on managers’ desks.

Victorian images

Larger companies may have had a switchboard and multiple extensions, but generally having an extension on your own desk was a sign of status.

Even having your own phone didn’t necessarily grant you freedom – people below management grade typically had to formally request permission to make an outside call!

Today, such ideas seem closer to the world of Charles Dickens than our society, yet some offices continue to try and get by with totally inadequate business telecoms.

21st century business

In today’s world, it’s often cited that 80% of any business is about communication. Although it may sound like a soundbite, in reality communication both internally and externally is often the difference between a company that succeeds and one that just survives.

Nor is communication now just about voice. Data, video and web access are all essential parts of a modern office environment – or at least they should be!

The modern office phone system needs to enable employees to communicate and their ability to do so may in turn say a lot about your company, its values and its confidence in the future.

Your phone system is typically the very first point of contact a client has with your company. So every time one of your clients or potential clients sees that:

  • your phone is constantly engaged;
  • your staff can’t easily send or receive data;
  • phones ring out unanswered;
  • they get cut off while being transferred;
  • their voice call keeps getting routed to your fax machine;

they’ll draw conclusions about your company that may be less than flattering even if, hopefully, incorrect.

Down to earth solutions

All of these problems can be avoided and real potential generated, by the modern generations of the office phone system and business telecom services.

Cost may be less of a worry than you may imagine - you don’t need technology like the Starship Enterprise to achieve this.

Modern technology suppliers such as Siemens business telephone systems offer solutions that range from a simple series of connected handsets up to sophisticated systems to provide support to larger businesses. These can be customised to suit your requirements and where practical, then can be integrated with your other technology services so as to protect your investment.

We take pride in our ability to demystify the technology of the office phone system and to remove unnecessary jargon. So, whether you are looking for a simple office phone system or one with bells and whistles, then we can advise on what your options are.

The day the phones died

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

The chaos caused by the flood at British Telecom’s Paddington exchange is still ongoing 7 days later despite BT’s claim that the matter was cleared overnight!

We have customers who have been without lines since Wednesday of last week. Requested diverts have not worked properly, resulting in random diverting causing even more mayhem.

Customers with non flood related faults seem to have been put to the back of the queue due to most BT engineers working on the Paddington problems.

As a system maintainer, at least our customers have had us as a point of contact. ‘It’s good to talk’ (now where did we hear that) even if we cannot directly resolve the problem, staying in touch with our clients and passing on updates lets them know we are doing as much as we can. The team on our helpdesk have been continually chasing diverts and checking the fault status of all our affected customers. Fortunately our company is well organised and able to run our own helpdesk as well as deal with BT’s disasters.

The characteristics of school phone systems

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Perhaps the thought of a school doesn’t immediately generate mental images of intensive phone usage in the same way as would, for example, a conventional office operation. Yet school phone systems are often critically important to the successful running of the school and sometimes, children’s welfare.

Schools and children

It’s imperative that a school has fast easy access to the outside world via the telephone.

That’s because whenever you get large numbers of children together, there is inevitably risk involved. Telephones may therefore be essential to:

  • contact parents or care providers in cases of emergency;
  • contact doctors or ambulances in the event of accidents or health problems;
  • establishing the whereabouts of a child that’s absent outside of normal expectations.

They may also be essential to provide internal school communications.

For example, in the case of an accident, as a teacher or responsible adult you may not wish to find yourself in the position of sending messages via other children to the only school phone which happens to be located right across the other side of the school.

Even in terms of efficiency, constantly needing to go off and physically track down your colleagues every time you need to speak to them may not exactly be time well spent.

Parents and official bodies

Equally, whether it’s an emergency or not, parents and other bodies may need to speak to your school, an individual child or a teacher, at very short notice.

Implications for school phone systems

The above examples only scratch the surface of the importance of business telephone systems for schools.

What they do illustrate, however, is that typically such telephone systems for schools must have certain characteristics in order to meet a school’s requirements:

  • capacity out – in the case of an emergency you’ll want immediate access to an outside line rather than waiting for one to free-up;
  • capacity inbound and messaging – there’s little point demanding phone calls from parents to notify absences etc if parents in fact find it difficult to get through to you due to the line being constantly engaged;
  • resilience – whether it’s business as usual or an emergency, a phone won’t be of much use if it’s not working;
  • distribution – particularly for emergencies, phones need to be available locally;
  • internal processes – internal communication and efficiency can be significantly improved by making phones available in multiple locations and this may be particularly important in larger schools.

Choosing school phone systems

There are a number of potential solutions available for the application of business telecoms into a school environment.

Systems such as those provided by Siemens business telephone systems can offer a wide variety of options that are, given the need for schools to control their budgets, priced appropriately.

Inevitably, there is technology involved in school phone systems and they typically need to integrate with your existing investment in telecoms. While in some cases this may be a slightly complicated area, we are confident that we can assist you to identify an appropriate solution – and at an affordable price.