The phone is an essential communications tool for businesses, but getting the most out of its many 21st Century features requires careful planning, consideration and some commons sense. Rafael Cortes, marketing manager for integrated communications provider, Foehn, explains why in part two of two.

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Conference calling

The most common telephone calls are one on one and millions upon millions take place each day, but conference calling has become increasingly popular, especially where several parties are involved and there isn’t a requirement to travel to meet face to face. A conference bridge allows several individuals to dial in and participate and this can be a great way of pressing ahead with a project.

The etiquette around conference calling differs from a one on one conversation. For example, participants should be on time so that several people are able to start the call at once. In a two-way call, if one person is going to be late, it’s generally ok as it’s relatively easy to reschedule. For a call involving several individuals, and possibly in different parts of the world, the dynamic differs.

IT and telephony integration

Whereas once IT and telephony systems complete separate, the convergence of these two technologies means that the phone system can integrate with a company’s strategic IT applications, such as its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

This convergence has thrown up a whole host of opportunities to improve business productivity as well as the ability to serve customers more effectively and efficiently. Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) now makes it possible, for example, to speed up the process of making and receiving calls, activate databases for ‘screen popping’ to aid employees, and also build in PCI compliant call recording.

Any such CTI setup, however, is only as good as its configuration which is why it is important to work with an experienced telephony partner to really get the most out of its features. Technology by itself is not a panacea and if CTI is poorly planned and configured, it can do more harm than good. Customers might not receive the service they expect, because of delays, poor routing of calls and incorrect data being used.

Cloud telephony

Many business owners and managers have become familiar with cloud computing and thousands are using the cloud to run aspects of their business operations. Telephony has also moved into the cloud and companies can benefit from hosted systems that do not require hardware to be installed at a business’ premises. Instead, companies can run their telephony over the Internet and this provides a range of features and benefits.

For example, for companies operating flexible working policies, their employees can work remotely and at home. They can use the company’s hosted telephony system simply by plugging their computer into their broadband connection.

Moves and changes

There was a time when companies had to rely completely on their telecoms provider to effect ‘moves and changes’ as staff within the company changed location, joined or left. Not only did this take time, it would also almost certainly cost money! Now, with a hosted telephony system, companies can make their own moves and changes as quickly as they wish and at no additional cost. This provides businesses with higher levels of autonomy and flexibility than previously.

Such autonomy, however, should not be at the expensive of a fallback position.

Cloud communications services always run over an IP communications network, so companies should choose a provider with a strong track record and heritage in IP communications. The ability to have first hand control of its telephony may be attractive to a business, but it should also ensure there is 24/7 support from qualified and experienced engineers, especially if telephony is critical to the business.

Find out more about using your telephones more effectively by reading part one here.

For more information and top tips about how to get more from telephony, visit the Foehn Resource Hub