Archive for May, 2012

 

Phone system maintenance – Frequently asked questions

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Here are some of the questions we regularly encounter on the subject of phones and system maintenance.

Why is such maintenance necessary on 21st century systems?

Certain aspects of modern business telephone systems may not have changed much from telephone systems that existed centuries ago.

Wires are still prone to work loose over time, dust can accumulate in circuits, however much filtering is undertaken and parts may still only have a specified life expectancy before replacement might be advisable.

Attending to these things and many others like them, may help reduce the likelihood of you experiencing system problems or even total failures.

Why can't I do some of the maintenance myself?

You can.

We typically will be only too pleased to offer you advice and guidance as to what routine maintenance you may wish to personally undertake in order to keep your system in good order.

However, realistically, only qualified personnel with appropriate training and tools may be able to safely and efficiently undertake certain telephone system maintenance tasks.

There are certain areas where it may not be advisable or even safe to adopt a DIY approach; in fact, in some cases you might invalidate warranties etc. by doing so.

What should we do in a problem situation?

It may be safe to predict that you will want the fastest possible answer to your question or remedy to your problem.

That is why we have a professional helpdesk which you can call to record your problem or ask your question. One of their several responsibilities will be to ensure that your question or problem is tracked and managed to the speediest possible resolution.

Will someone always have to visit our premises to fix the problem?

No. In some cases the helpdesk may well have seen your problem before and may be able to advise you of a very quick solution over the telephone.

In fact, a lot of our fixes are done remotely (though, of course this depends on what type of system and the software). We do have remote access to most of our customers’ systems and just dial in and make the change – meaning less “down time” in your business and minimal costs.

What happens if the help desk don't have an answer?

Their role is to provide or manage the provision of a solution to your particular problem.

In some cases, it is perfectly possible that they may not personally be able to diagnose or remedy your problem. What they will then do is to narrow down the area of the trouble and to call upon specific expertise in that area to assist diagnosis and eventual resolution.

These principles may be documented in the form of a business phone system maintenance contract that may also contain what is called a service level agreement component. Those two things together clarify for you how your support services work, what you need to do in the event of problem and the principles of the service levels you should expect to receive.

Great telephone maintenance myths

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Here are a list of some of the great telephone maintenance myths and the associated reality:

  • modern phone systems don't need maintenance - if only that were true! In practice, modern systems require preventative service and maintenance and deciding to economise on that might be a risky step to take, given the criticality of modern telephone systems for a typical business operation;
  • you can find a telephone engineer easily when you need to - it might be unwise to put that to the test in a crisis. If you would prefer to rely on something other than luck, you may wish to consider a telephone systems maintenance contract with a reliable and professional provider;
  • the latest business telephone systems are totally fault tolerant and can't go wrong - once again, would you wish to gamble on that assumption? In practice, even the highest quality systems with the greatest degree of resilience may suffer technical failures. If they do, the difference for you between disaster and inconvenience might be the quality of your telephone systems support contract and the people that are providing it;
  • it's best to ignore helpdesks and go directly to known experts - tempting as that may be, you may see the problems it might cause when (e.g.) your direct contact has to go home sick and nobody at their organisation knows a problem is in progress because the helpdesk haven't logged it. In practice, the helpdesk function may be critical in diagnosing and helping to remedy your problem - and trying to bypass it may be ill-advised;
  • you can find private individuals to do your maintenance for you cheap - that may possibly be the case but how you assess their capabilities in advance? Even if they were capable of providing an excellent service, in the event they are on holiday or off sick and you have crisis, what would you do? What would happen if they caused a problem in your system and then were unable to resolve it? These are all things to think and be cautious about;
  • a new system is under warranty and all costs are covered there - in practice, your warranty may be subject to your system being professionally maintained. Fail to do so and elements of your warranty may be invalidated. So, even if budget constraints are in the air, economising on your telephone maintenance and assuming your warranty will cover you, might not be a smart move.

Have you said NO to a customer?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

I stumbled upon Geoffrey James’s article quite by chance; it made me smile so thought I’d share some of it…

Don’t sell to jerks

Of course, conventional wisdom says that you should sell to whoever is willing to pay. After all, times are hard and sales are hard to come by. If the customer thinks it’s OK to treat you like crap, well, the customer is always right … right?
Wrong.
If you truly believe in your product and its value to the customer, selling to jerks gradually but inexorably leaches away your enthusiasm. When you help somebody you despise to become more successful, you know, in your heart, that you are making the world into a worse place.
That’s especially true when selling to a jerk sets you up for a long-term relationship. Now that jerk is part of your life–is part of who you’ll become over time. You’re now “partnering” with somebody who you can’t stand. It’s like a lousy marriage, bad for both of you.
Best case, you’ll have to tolerate the ongoing presence of the jerk, with all his or her obnoxious behaviors. Worst case, the jerk will become a constant headache, consuming a disproportionate amount of your energy and your company’s resources.
Selling to jerks is also a dead end when it comes to growing sales. The lifeblood of every small company is referrals–it’s the easiest kind of sales lead to close. Referrals come from customers who are happy (with your product and service) and generous enough to help out.
A jerk isn’t going to do that. In fact, jerks, if asked, would probably bad-mouth you, even if you’ve gone the proverbial extra mile. Why?
Because they’re jerks.
So, yeah, you might be turning down a sale by refusing to sell to a jerk. But long term, you’ll end up building a customer base who can be trusted, who will behave in a reasonable manner, and who will help you develop future sales.
And you’ll sleep better at night, too, knowing you’re not beholden (or hostage) to somebody you can’t stand.
Written by Geoffrey James For more information please go to www.geoffreyjames.com

Supporting Siemens telephone systems

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

A byword for quality, telephone systems from Siemens may help your business to grow and prosper. Yet there are a few points that you may wish to bear in mind if you are to maximise the benefits obtainable:

  • any telephone system, however well-made and state-of-the-art it is, may need routine and regular maintenance - just as is the case with a motor vehicle;
  • ignoring this maintenance may increase the frequency of problems and outages - things that may cause you huge difficulties in terms of business continuity;
  • arranging for emergency problem resolution is typically less cost-effective than preventing problems arising in the first place;
  • through services, such as ours, helpdesk and telephone systems maintenance contracts just might help you avoid operational problems - and that must be a sensible objective for any small business;
  • of course, however well your system is maintained, there is always still the inevitable risk of problems arising;
  • when they do, it may be safe to predict that your first requirement will be for an urgent contact point in the shape of a helpdesk with access to expertise;
  • the first stage in problem resolution is usually diagnosis and you may be surprised at how frequently that can be conducted speedily and efficiently over the phone;
  • in some situations, it may also be possible to resolve the problem through telephone contact, thereby avoiding the need for on-site visits;
  • if on-site attendance is required, you may also wish to have the peace of mind of having a service level agreement (often known as an SLA) in place that will document average service times in terms of getting an engineer to your premises;
  • typically, it is more cost-effective and efficient to have a contract and agreement in place rather than simply to end up frantically ringing around trying to arrange ad hoc support in the event of a crisis;
  • such an arrangement may also ensure that your support company and their helpdesk, fully understand your system in advance of any particular issues arising;
  • if that is not the case, precious time may be lost while your support staff try to learn the intricacies of your individual system before they can begin to attempt to diagnose the origin of the problem, let alone remedy it;
  • we would always be only too happy to discuss with you, the nature of support and maintenance services for Siemens telephone systems available from us.