Avaya IP Office – The Premiere Business Phone System for Small Business

Business phone systems can make or break the image that a business portrays to both their clients and competitors alike. If someone calls and repeatedly receives a busy signal or is consistently transferred to the wrong party, it’s likely that they’ll become frustrated and take their business elsewhere.

Avaya is a well-known name in the telecommunications industry. Formerly Lucent Technologies, Avaya has continued to develop state-of-the-art technology in a continuing effort to streamline the way we communicate. This includes the advancement of IP technology were voice conversations are transmitted via Internet protocol. As this technology moves forward, public switched telephone networks will become less common and less utilized.

Avaya offers many phone systems to suit the size and needs of most any business. Starting with the small IP Office system, that is suitable for small offices with 20 or less employees all the way up to the Aura Communication Manager, which is an enterprise wide solution. Most Avaya systems, offer features such as auto attendant, music on hold, conferencing ability, and IP technology. Their diverse line of products offers the business owner many choices to come up with a communication solution that offers cost savings as well as ease-of-use.

The IP Office system is a system that provides three levels of sophistication depending on the needs of your business. The base level or Essential Edition provides an economical way to have a sophisticated phone system that offers key features used by many businesses. The Preferred Edition offers greater voice messaging capacity and greater simultaneous call volume. The Advanced Edition offers even further advancements in technology and available features.

With the Advanced or Preferred Edition, you can offer your employees greater flexibility in the way they handle phone calls as well as where they work each day. The Power User has the ability to control all communications using an IP phone, a cell phone or laptop. All of their messages are received in one inbox, including voicemail, e-mail and faxes.

One of the advantages to an IP-based business phone system is the ability for the workforce to be mobile. With Avaya’s IP Office solution, employees are no longer limited to working in the office. With the new technology their cell phone simply becomes an extension of the business phone system. Because of this, clients and customers can reach employees regardless of their location. To the person calling, it appears as though the party they’re trying to reach is in the office and available to take their call. This provides the employee with a way to leave the office and meet potential clients while still being accessible to existing clients.

For those employees who must remain in the office, the Office Worker feature ensures that day-to-day tasks such as transferring calls, conferencing, and messaging are handled with ease. Although the majority of most employees are now venturing out of the office to conduct business, there are still those that must remain behind to perform clerical tasks. IP office is also designed with these users in mind with an easy-to-understand interface and reliable desktop phones.

A new reality for many businesses today is to have employees who work for the company through a home office. The Teleworker Feature allows employees to work from home virtually anywhere in the world. For someone calling from the outside, the experience is the same with the same number being used to reach employees. Unknown to the caller, the employee answers their phone which is connected to the IP Office phone system through a virtual private network. This allows the business to have Associates in diverse markets and locations without the additional cost of maintaining a brick-and-mortar presence.

Another benefit to IP office, the receptionist software allows a receptionist to route calls from their PC. This gives them the ability to point and click to control calls as well as provide status on calls are in progress. Additionally, the software has the ability to integrate with commonly used database software. From this interface, the receptionist can monitor all office extensions as well as provide coverage for multiple locations.

A benefit exclusive to the Advanced Edition, customer service supervisor is a reporting and monitoring application that allows the business owner to track call volume. This is helpful in determining the efficiency of how calls are handled as well as the level of productivity that the phone system provides.

If you’re looking for a business phone system that can give your business a professional image as well as provide a way to efficiently route calls, the IP Office system offered by Avaya has several levels to suit your needs and your budget. Designed with the small business owner in mind, the system can be implemented with a minimal number of users while keeping future growth and scalability in mind. With this flexibility, the IP Office system is perfect for the small business of today while allowing for expansion tomorrow.

Don’t Skimp on a Phone System for Business

When choosing a business phone system, remember the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’. If you put in the effort to start and grow your business, cutting back and using a free phone service will only cause you problems.

So you have a growing company, and you currently pay very little for your phone calls because you are using a free service. It might seem like a good idea now but what about as your business grows? Do you want people to continue to view your business as a one man shop? If not, then you need to upgrade to a professional phone system. And with all the inexpensive VoIP hosted PBX options out there (telecom in the cloud) you not only set yourself up as a professional business but are ready for growth.

VoIP hosted PBX systems normally offer many features that free phone systems do not offer like: call queues, call reporting, call recording, and transcribed voicemails (voicemail to text).

Now, don’t get me wrong, those free phone systems a lot of fans who rave about the features it gives them. But, it’s simply not a professional phone system that any size business should utilize for their day to day operations.

Here are the reasons why you should NOT use a free phone system as a business phone system:

1. It Isn’t a Phone System

No admin login, no separate user logins, no call reporting, no call queues, no unlimited phone numbers, no toll free numbers, no logs for different users, no logs for different numbers, no e911, no dial by name directory, no web faxing, no music on hold etc. etc. It’s just NOT a phone system.

But… if you need more reasons:

2. Most free phone systems are not Based on SIP (Session Internet Protocol) and therefore Lacks Features

Systems that use SIP have many advantages over a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) in that they can utilize many of the programmable features that only calls sent over SIP can provide. As an example, Asterisk is a programming language based on SIP and is constantly coming out with new features for VoIP providers. Asterisk is an open source software and therefore available for free. Some of the features free services are lacking that a business will need include: Call Queues, Conference Bridges with a Pin Number and email reminders, Call Reports, Administration and User level logins for managing lines/extensions, web faxing, a dial by name directory, music on hold, e911, and much, much more.

3. You Cannot Use Free Services on a Soft Phone

Since most free phone systems are not based on SIP, users of the system cannot use a SIP based client like a soft phone. Soft phones are software programs that run on a computer that enable users to make/receive calls over the internet. An example of a soft phone is Skype. Soft Phones are used by many companies for call centers and in place of a company phone. Soft phones are free to start and then can cost a small one-time cost for a lot of extra features. One company that sells soft phones is Counterpath.

4. Most Free Phone Systems Only Offer One Local Number

With most of these free phone services you are only given one local number. With the advent of VoIP, businesses can finally get local business numbers for any location in the U.S. without having to have a physical location there. So, many businesses are seeing the benefit of maintaining multiple local phone numbers. For example, if your business is located in Austin, Texas but you have vendors in New Orleans, Louisiana, you may want to give them a local number that they can call instead of having to make long distance calls or using your toll-free minutes on your toll-free number. If you have a VoIP hosted PBX system, you can purchase as many local numbers from as many local U.S. destinations as you want. And, you can forward these numbers to any location you want including your cell phone, an extension at your business, or your VoIP phone (wherever that might be located).

5. Free Phone Services Usually Do Not Work with Powerful VoIP Phones

Many of the features that are making businesses more successful when using VoIP are only accessible using a VoIP phone. Polycom, for example, has a entire line of VoIP phones used just for conference rooms. There are also phones used by secretaries that show who is on the phone, as well as basic VoIP phones with buttons like ‘hold’, ‘mute’, ‘headsets’, ‘conference’, ‘forward’, ‘Contact Directory’, ‘Call Lists’, ‘Messages’ and much more. And with a VoIP phone, you can use your phone anywhere in the world you have a dedicated internet connection.

6. HD Voice (wideband audio) is Not Available with Free Phone Services

Wideband audio is an audio technology used in telephony. It extends the frequency range of audio signals transmitted over telephone lines, resulting in higher quality speech. With HD, Voice calls sound clear and crisp, almost like the person is standing right next to you. HD Voice is available with most VoIP hosted PBX providers and with most VoIP phone providers but not with free phone services.

7. Free Phone Services – Voicemail to Text Service is Crummy at Best

Perhaps one of the free phone services coolest features is also currently among its weakest. The transcription service can give you some less-than-literal translations. Voicemails may or may not come through perfectly when transcribed to text. “I hope to see you soon” may come through as “I love your friend June.” Ouch.

8. Privacy Can Be An Issue for Free Phone System Users

Preston Gralla of Computer World says “Lost in all the hooplah about the release of — is this disturbing fact: The service will give (Internet Browser Company) — enormous amounts of information about the intimate details of your everyday life, including recordings of your voice mail and possibly your phone calls. Combined with what (Internet Browser Company) — already knows about you, it could mean your privacy is at an end.” Gralla goes on to say: “— will be offered for free. (Internet Browsing Company) —, though, will certainly be looking for ways to make money from it. One of the most obvious ways is via targeted advertising, particularly because the company recently announced that it’s going to figure out new ways to target ads based on your interests. It already does this with — So don’t be surprised to see ad targeted based on who calls you.”

9. Free Phone Services Do Not Offer Phone Support

Okay, this has to be the biggest problem with relying on a free phone service for your companies phone system needs. Have you, or anyone you know, ever been able to actually talk to their support for anything? I doubt it. Go with a provider you can talk to any time since having a working phone system is most likely a crucial factor in your businesses success.

10 Free Phone Services Do Not Look Professional

Bottom line is, when you are trying to get a new customer to trust you, the fact that you are using free phone services instead of paying for a better phone system shows that you just don’t care. You don’t care that your phone calls are possibly being monitored, don’t care that your phone calls are breaking up and sound terrible, and you don’t care about having reliable business telecommunications.

Conclusion

Free phone systems are not meant to be used to run a business’s telecommunications system. The “fun” little features that they tout are just that, fun. They won’t help you run your business more efficiently and in fact will most likely slow you down. I mean who has time to set up different voicemail greetings for different callers when you are trying to run a business?? And do you really need that?? So stick with what works and grow your business without having to worry that your phone system will drag you down. Choose a VoIP hosted PBX system and you can’t go wrong.

Asterisk Phone Systems Will Save Your Company Money

Asterisk phone systems is in a software program. The benefit of the software is that it replaces large expensive phone systems. These expensive phone systems have many extensions. The asterisk would replace those extensions. For the residential user it would save money on the long distance calls. Because of this, it is in software the system is versatile, customizable, and can be extended.

So why would you need this system? The main reason is to do away with all the extensions on your current system. Especially if you’re using a PBX. A PBX is expensive, even a moderate size can cost around $100,000. A PBX is also limited on its flexibility. A PBX will offer voice mail but is difficult to integrate into existing systems. However, with the Asterisk there are benefits to changing to the system.

There are multiple reasons to use this system. The most important for a business is the all software approach, which means it manipulates and routes voice over Internet Protocol packets, instead of switching analog lines. The business using this software would receive voice mail, support for multiple lines, and call routing. In addition, there is an interface to the OS and extreme power form the programming language.

Your company can add web-based admin interface, SQL databases, a detailed call log to the database and additional features. Some features are optional some come with the system. So what can you expect with this package? It comes with the ability to service digital and analog phones, call routing logic, route incoming and outgoing calls, voice mail, and teleconferencing.

The call routing logic is amazing as the program will route the calls in the most least expensive way, this save the company money. The incoming and outgoing routing does this by detecting standard voice lines, or the Internet. A company can use the detailed logging of information to analyze and billing methods. There are complex and simple menus that are interactive. Allows prerecorded messages to be played on peoples cell phones.

If your personal are traveling on the road they can call in to check their voice mail from a web browser. When a customer is placed on hold, the system will announce hold time to the caller. There are many components to the system. With a Linux PC, the entire package is functioning free.

The package even has a server to assist the company. You can use hard phones with the asterisk by using a Wi-Fi network. It uses the SIP protocol over an Ethernet system. Even a soft phone can be used by implementing a microphone or earpiece. The microphone would be attached to a PC. This is generally the method used for all soft phones.

Asterisk is a digital phone system, so older phones would use the ATA to hook them together. With this software package in place at a business, it will enhance the calling procedures. It can save money and time and do away with large expensive phone packages. With a little research, a company can find a way to switch their current large expensive telephone structure to an Asterisk.

The Benefits of Asterisk Phone Systems

Asterisk phone systems are an excellent, fully integrated VOIP PBX solution for businesses of all sizes. The set up eliminates the tremendous cost of setting up a traditional PBX system. This high cost often eliminates the possibility of using PBX for small businesses, but with Asterisk, even the smallest business can have all of the benefits of PBX in their office without spending money they do not have.

What Is Asterisk?

Asterisk is an open source software PBX that can be used by businesses and individuals alike. It is designed to run on Linux, but it can run on other platforms as well, including Windows. Asterisk was developed by Digium, Inc., who also sells the hardware necessary to set up Asterisk phone systems. Compared to other PBX options, Asterisk is incredibly affordable and has many features that are hard to find elsewhere.

Benefits of Asterisk in the Office

Besides the fact that it costs thousands of dollars less than a traditional PBX system, Asterisk provides its users with numerous other benefits. Since Asterisk phone systems are VOIP PBX systems, they use broadband connections to connect the telephone network to the traditional global telephony network. Calls can still be made and received in the same manner that they are with a traditional PBX system. Additionally, because the connection is made through the Internet and not the phone line, employees that work remotely can be connected directly to the office PBX through their Internet connections. When someone calls your office and chooses extension 10, that extension could actually be your home-based worker, and the customer would be none the wiser.

For large businesses that have locations in several geographical areas, using asterisk will allow the various offices to connect over the network. This can eliminate much of the expense of conference calls a company spread over several states usually faces. Additionally, employees who must travel frequently can stay connected to the office PBX system as long as they have an Internet connection.

Asterisk phone systems allow every extension to have its own voicemail box. These voicemail boxes are connected to the employee’s email accounts, so no one will ever miss a message again.

If you should ever have a problem with your Asterisk system, you can easily get help directly from Digium. They have friendly Asterisk consulting professionals that will help you get the system up and running as quickly as possible. You can call to ask questions about bugs that you find, and they are happy to help, as this type of feedback helps them improve the software for future users.

Asterisk supports a variety of VOIP protocols. Among the protocols it accepts are MGCP, H.323, and SIP. The program can connect IP phones to the traditional phone line easily. This flexibility makes the system easy to integrate into established businesses.

If needed, Asterisk phone systems can interface with traditional telephone lines. The product comes with several high-end features, such as voice recognition system integration, call data record, and text-to-speech system integration. All of these features make it one of the best PBX products available.

Benefits of Asterisk for Customers

Your employees are not the only ones who benefit from Asterisk phone systems Toronto. Your customers will benefit as well, both directly and indirectly, when you implement this system. It has features that are found in the most expensive products on the market, such as on-hold music that supports both MP3 and streaming media. Customers will have shorter wait times because the call queues allow agents to monitor the queue while they take the incoming calls, so they can shorten the calls if needed.

Asterisk phone systems offer the best of both worlds to their users. They provide a plethora of features to the business at a fraction of the cost of their traditional competition. There are other VOIP PBX options out there, but Asterisk is the oldest and most well established, making it the preferred choice among many business owners.

Setting Up the Asterisk Phone System at Home

The Asterisk phone systems are Linux-based VOIP PBX systems. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, and this refers to a division of the phone line within a building, be it a business or home. PBX systems are commonly used in businesses. Several phone lines come into the building and then are distributed to several individual extensions spread throughout the company. A few lines out of the building connecting to the phone lines are also part of the system, allowing outgoing calls. You typically have to dial a number, such as 9, to get one of these outside lines. Some people find that setting up a PBX at home is convenient, but not work the thousands of dollars necessary. With Asterisk, this type of system can be set up for relatively little cost.

The Hardware

There are some pieces of hardware that you will need to set up an Asterisk phone system in your home. One is a Linux server with an extra PCI slot. While the program can run on Windows based servers, it does not run well. Linux is a must if you want everything to run efficiently, as the Asterisk system was designed to be run on Linux. Most people find that a dedicated server works best for this application, especially if they are going to use a Windows based system. The system will need 40 GB of available disk space.

Besides a server, you will also need a Digium Wildcard TDM400P. This is the card that allows you to connect your phones and your phone line to the Asterisk server and the VOIP PBX system. The card has four ports, so you will need to decide how many lines you need. The ports can be configured to be incoming or outgoing, depending on your needs. Incoming ports take the phone line coming from outside of your home and connect it to the system, allowing you to receive calls. Outgoing ports allow you to connect your regular phone to the system, so you can receive calls. If you need more than four ports, you will need to buy an extra card.

Software

Once you have the hardware, you are ready to set up your operating system and install the Asterisk phone system software. The best way to do this and avoid the need for Asterisk consulting as you install the product is to download the ISO of [email protected]. This will begin to install automatically and will reformat your disk if needed, so installing it on a machine that does not have important information on it first is a good idea. There are other ways to set up the system, but they are quite confusing.

Setting up the System

After you have installed the software, you can use the new Web server to view the Asterisk Management Portal. This portal has an interface where you can set up your system. The interface is fairly straightforward and has documentation to help with any questions that you might have.

Once you have the basic setup entered, you will need to add your extensions. This is simple to do on the “Ring Group” screen. Simply add the number of extensions you intend for your home to have. This is also the page where you will configure your voicemail box. To record your voicemail messages, call the chosen extension from a phone inside your system and record the message.

The final step to completely configuring your system is configuring the rules for incoming calls. You can choose whether you want to have the calls go to the phones or an operator, where the caller can choose an extension. Once you have made these choices, you are ready to start using your new VOIP PBX system!

Once installed, Asterisk phone systems work much like a regular PBX system. You simply pick up the phone, dial the extension for an outside line, and make your call! Soon you will forget that you are using a high-tech VOIP PBX Toronto system at all as your new phone setup becomes part of your daily life.