Yaniv Masjedi believes that “People hate calling into their office phone, typing in a code and listening to voice messages, but they love getting their voice mail sent to them in an email format.” Voicemail to text is one of the many features of business VOIP that Yaniv mentions in his interview with Fit Small Business.
Yaniv is the the VP of Marketing of Nextiva, joining the company only 2 years after it was founded. While the following interview is a bit more promotional than our normal, Fit Small Business is a fundamental believer in the message that Yaniv is delivering: Moving to a business VOIP solution is a good idea for most businesses and Nextiva is a great company. Fit Small Business named Nextiva, The Best Small Business VOIP Service for 2013.
What is the primary service that your company provides to small businesses?
Nextiva (www.nextiva.com) is a cloud-based communication provider that serves small-to-mid-size businesses. We’ve taken the traditional PBX phone system and transferred it to the cloud. We couple our cloud-based system with innovative features such as mobile access to phone systems, powerful call reporting, call statistics, conference bridges, call queuing and unlimited calling. Nextiva offers countless features, all of which are bundled for a single, low, flat monthly fee. In addition to the services we provide, Nextiva is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service, something we label Amazing Service.
Prior to using your service, what types of phone services did your small business clients have? (i.e. individual lines, a pbx system)
The majority of our clients come to us after experiencing frustration with traditional landline phone service providers. Their frustration stems from paying exorbitantly high per month charges and dealing with inconsistent fees. In addition, our clients tell us about experiencing less-than-stellar customer service. They see us as a breath of fresh air, a relief to their business.
What motivates new clients to search for your (type of) service?
New clients feel motivated to search for a VOIP provider for four main reasons.
First: they are looking to grow their businesses and need a more expansive feature set than their current phone service provider can offer. For example, a business may have its main office in Los Angeles, but have plans to expand to San Francisco. They want to unify both offices under the same phone system and traditional phone providers struggle with providing that functionality.
Second: cost savings. New clients are always looking for value and they find it when switching to a cloud-based system from a PBX system.
Third: reliability. This one is huge because phone communication is an integral part of any company and if a landline goes down, it can disrupt business for a day or more. VOIP systems are much more reliable because everything is controlled in the cloud, therefore eliminating the hassle of waiting for a phone company to visit a business on-site (something that can take days, even weeks).
Fourth: customer service. Traditional phone providers aren’t known for their customer service. Instead, they are famous for long wait times and high (sometimes unexplainable) fees. Here at Nextiva, customers can expect the highest quality of service and affordable prices.
How is your company’s business VOIP service different than your competitors?
We stand out because of the stability of our network and the reliability of our service. That seems like it should be a given, but the truth is that many phone service providers have neither trait. We take both very seriously and recognize that every call that comes into a business is important. We take time to get to know our customers, get to know their needs and concerns, work tirelessly to answer all of their questions and be available 24 hours a day.
How difficult is it to set-up a business VOIP? What are some of the hurdles a business might encounter during the set-up?
It isn’t difficult to set up a business VOIP system at all. It is incredibly simple because everything is managed online. You have an easy-to-use interface that allows you to set up call forwarding, voice mail and other features. I really don’t see any hurdles when setting up Nextiva service. We make it effortless for the customer. The whole experience is simple—even for people who aren’t technologically savvy—and we are always available to answer questions.
When planning / diagramming out how calls should be directed (directory options, forwarding, group ringing), what are some common mistakes that are made?
The most common mistake I see businesses make when planning call direction is that they don’t take the time to understand what their clients are looking for when they call in. For example, some customers are calling to inquire about hours of operation, or your business’s physical address. Every industry is different and I think it is vitally important for business owners to pay attention to what customers are looking for when calling in. Nextiva helps customers tailor their phone systems to the needs of their client base.
Can you describe the mobile features of your service? Can you describe changes in mobile usage over that the last three years?
Nextiva has incredibly robust mobile features. We give business owners the capability of managing their entire phone system from their smart phones. You can set up call forwarding, see if employees are available or unavailable and even video chat. Almost any feature that you would have on your desktop phone is now available for the mobile phone.
I believe that world has made a real shift to mobile in the past three years. More and more people are responding to email on their phones in the same way they would respond to text messages. This growth corresponds with the rise of the mobile workforce. Gone are the days when professionals needed to be chained to a desk to get work done. Now, people are conducting business off-site and a phone service provider needs to accommodate that trend. Nextiva is proud to offer business owners the ability to access phone systems via mobile.
Do you think small business should use an 800 number, a local number or both?
I think it really depends on the businesses. Toll free numbers gained in popularity because dialing them allowed people to call for free. This was a huge benefit in the days of long distance charges, but today very few people still pay those charges thanks to high rates of smart phone usage and the easy of VOIP.
Although I do not think toll free numbers hold the value they once did, I still think they are useful in giving a national appearance. Local numbers still give a local appearance. In order to figure out if your businesses should have one or both, consider your customer base—are you OK staying local or are you looking to go national? A toll free number may help build your image as a business that serves clients around the country. That said, I do think toll free numbers are declining in popularity.
How big does a company need to become before a dial by name directory becomes useful?
Dial-by-name directories give the caller the impression that your company is large, so if you are a micro business of five employees and you are looking to attract large clients, you may consider instituting a dial-by-name directory. On the other hand, a dial-by-name is an extra step for the caller, which can be annoying. I think the trend of dial-by-name is on its way out.
Can you name some features that are extremely popular / heavily used by small business?
I think one of the biggest ones is mobility; being able to make and receive calls from your call
phone at any time is huge for small business owners. Voicemail-to-email is another popular feature. People hate calling into their office phone, typing in a code and listening to voice messages, but they love getting their voice mail right in an email format. It makes everything so much easier.
Our small business clients also love having access to their call statistics. These are reports on where your calls are coming from, what time your calls are coming in, what employees are receiving your calls, who is listening to the recording of calls and so on. Call statistics is an incredibly helpful tool to grow and retain employees.
Typically, moving to a business VOIP system is thought as a cost saving move. Can you describe some ways in which using a voip system will help generate additional revenues?
One of the main ways to general additional revenue on a VOIP system is to use an auto attendant. Create promotional messaging for when your clients are on hold. For example, an auto attendant can tell the caller that your company will be having a sale in the coming weeks.
Another revenue generator that isn’t so obvious is the amount of time you will save not having to be in the office to answer calls. With a cloud-based phone system like Nextiva, you can work anywhere at any time. Nextiva empowers business owners to communicate wherever they are.
About Yaniv Masjedi
Yaniv studied Political Science and History at UCLA.