March 28, 2022
5 Best Voice-Over-IP Training Certifications & Courses
The best voice-over-IP training certifications offer comprehensive multimedia courses and online exams. They’re a good fit for many professionals, including business owners, system administrators, and information technology (IT) consultants. Plus, successfully completing industry-recognized voice-over-IP training provides credentials to enhance your resume and reputation. Based on our research, the best voice-over-IP training certifications and courses are: : Best overall, and top choice for businesses wanting vendor-neutral, voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) training : Best for individuals wanting to expand their career prospects in the VoIP engineering industry with one of the most widely recognized certifications : Top option for freelance techs, Avaya users, and job seekers looking for vendor-specific training : Best for non-engineers wanting live sessions about VoIP and session internet protocol (SIP) : Great choice for small to mid-sized businesses needing admin or user training for VoIP installation and management Best Voice-over-IP Training Certifications & Courses at a Glance See fullscreen table × *Voice and Video-over-IP **Implementing and Operating Cisco Collaboration Core Technologies SIP School SSVVP: Best Overall Voice-Over-IP Training Certifications & Courses *SIP School may offer discounts for groups. **Voice and Video over IP ***SIP School VVoIP Professional ****SIP School Certified Associate *****Web Real-Time Communication and WebRTC School Qualified Integrator earns first place in our list of the best voice-over-IP training certification programs, in part because it’s affordable and flexible. SIP School Voice and Video over IP (SSVVP) certification costs less than TCO, Cisco, or Avaya. Plus, they offer a range of courses well-suited for beginning through advanced users. The SSVVP program includes 13 hours of training, lab exercises, and sample quizzes. It covers voice, video, local area networks (LANs), and wide area networks (WANs). You can even learn how to set up a VoIP system and troubleshoot it. Other certifications range from four hours for the SIP School Sales Professional (SSSP) course to 30 hours for the SIP School Certified Associate (SSCA) program. The SSCA certification is similar to Cisco’s CCNA course at a much lower cost. Both the WebRTC and the WSQI exams test your knowledge of the infrastructure involved in WebRTC. SIP School also gives you access to the program materials for 12 months, considerably longer than the 180 days provided for Cisco’s self-paced sessions. The SIP School’s courses are industry-recognized programs endorsed by Avaya, AT&T, Phone.com, Verizon, and several others. SIP School SSVVP Features Crypto payment options: SIP School is the only training provider on our list that accepts cryptocurrency payments as well as credit cards and PayPal. Accepted cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum. Modules: If you need to concentrate on VoIP, video, or troubleshooting networks, you can choose the modules you want to learn about first. This option lets you prioritize training for real-life applications. CE credits: Completing the SSVVP certification course earns you 11 continuing education credits toward Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) certifications, globally recognized programs for information and communications technology (ICT) professionals. Cisco CCNP: Best for Individuals Focused on Career Advancement *Core exam and one concentration exam is required to obtain the Cisco CCNP certification. Training courses are optional. , a major provider of IT products and services, offers 20 professional certifications. Among these is one of our top picks for voice-over-IP training, the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Collaboration. Cisco’s certification stands out for giving you a competitive advantage when applying for jobs. It’s commonly listed as preferred or even required in job posts for network or VoIP engineers and VoIP technicians. According to Enlyft, Cisco VoIP has 24% of the market share, and an estimated 13,956 businesses use it. In comparison, 3,696 use Avaya while 2,643 use RingCentral. Cisco’s voice-over-IP training certification consists of two exams. The core exam is required, but for the second you can choose your preferred specialty, such as conferencing, collaboration applications, or call control and mobility services. Cisco provides optional training courses for all exams with prices starting at $1,000 for a self-paced, on-demand, e-learning class. Cisco CCNP Features Multiple certifications: While many employers request the CCNP, others accept the associate-level Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions (CCNA) certificate. This is one exam and employers specifically recommend it for IT techs. Individual specialist certification: Along with learning about collaboration infrastructure, all CCNP Collaboration programs let you pick a niche. Options include collaboration applications, advanced call control and mobility services, cloud and Edge solutions, conferencing, and automation for Cisco solutions. Various training formats and materials: Cisco offers virtual, in-person, group, and self-paced learning sessions. Courses take roughly eight days to complete, but the self-paced courses allow up to 180 days. You can buy practice tests and physical textbooks, view digital content like videos, or participate in online discussions. Avaya ACIS: Best Vendor-specific Support Training *Additional labs or courses may be offered for an extra charge, depending on the chosen learning track. voice-over-IP training is a top choice for IT consultants wanting to provide implementation and support services. Take the training course or skip right to the test that certifies that you understand how to install, deploy, and troubleshoot the implementation of Avaya products. You will typically find around 40 or more jobs listed requesting ACIS certification (compared to more than 3,500 for Cisco CCNP). While Avaya’s certification tests cost less than Cisco’s, you’ll pay more than double for the training sessions. Depending on your chosen track, sessions range from 24 to 40 hours. Avaya offers online or proctored exams that you can take in-person at many community and state colleges. The voice-over-IP training certificate is good for two years, similar to SIP School but a year less than Cisco. It’s advisable to have familiarity with an Avaya product to take this course. Otherwise, the (SSVVP) may be a better choice. Avaya ACIS Features Digital badges: Both Cisco and Avaya provide digital badges that include your name, the date certification was issued, when it expires, and the core skills associated with the ACIS. Display badges on your resume and your website, LinkedIn, and other online channels. Career path visualization: Avaya ACIS certification provides several ways to advance your career. Programs fall into three categories: sales and design, implementation and support, and administrator and developer. Each track includes a visual graph showing growth possibilities. Individual courses: Take Avaya training sessions without taking the certification exam, choosing from entry-level to advanced classes to fill knowledge gaps. Key instructional areas include contact centers, messaging, networking, small-medium enterprises, and unified communications. TCO Boot Camp: Best Live VoIP & SIP Training for Non-engineers *Group rates available when buying courses for five or more employees. The (TCO) offers industry-recognized voice-over-IP training certification and courses for non-engineers. Unlike SIP School, TCO delivers live seminars in online and in-person events. The best value is TCO Boot Camp, which comes with three certifications: Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist (CTNS), Certified VoIP Analyst (CVA), and Certified Telecommunications Analyst (CTA). The TCO Boot Camp includes five full-day classes. TCO designed them with non-engineer professionals in mind, so the courses and related materials use plain English rather than highly technical language. TCO’s curriculum isn’t designed for engineers. Instead, expect coursework teaching how to perform analysis, write reports, and make recommendations about VoIP systems rather than directly repairing or upgrading them. TCO Boot Camp Features Flexible options: If you already have a handle on the fundamentals of telecom, broadband, datacom, and networking, attend only the last two days of Boot Camp. Learn about VoIP, security, 5G, and the internet of things (IoT) and earn your CVA certificate. Content formats: In-person sessions also include 29 online multimedia classes and two full-color printed manuals. According to Teracom Training Institute, the guides have been called “the best on-the-job reference tool around.” Plus, you have the option to buy an optional Telecom 101 textbook in print or as an e-book. Non-engineering approach: The courses explore technical jargon, fundamentals, and the latest technologies in the networking, telecom, and datacom sectors. They’re a good fit for professionals making technology decisions. However, if you’re an IT technician, you may prefer SIP School’s SSVVP certification. RingCentral MVP Training: Best for RingCentral System Administrators & Users MVP user and administrator training programs provide two learning paths: basic and advanced. The courses focus on how to implement, use, and troubleshoot your small business phone system. Unlike the lengthy sessions offered by Cisco or Avaya, RingCentral’s classes run about 128 total minutes plus the extra time required to practice your skills in real life. Best of all, RingCentral doesn’t charge a fee to participate in RingCentral University programs unless you want on-site or live virtual training sessions. The RingCentral training program is a great choice for small to mid-sized businesses switching to a VoIP system. It helps your IT team prepare for a seamless transition, and the training videos offer support to current team members and can become part of your new employee onboarding plan. RingCentral MVP Training Features Analytics: Data visualization helps businesses by providing information on important metrics like user productivity and overall performance. Using RingCentral for report generation helps provide these types of essential metrics. The 60-minute analytics webinar and supporting content covers report types and use cases for each. Employee training: Switching from a public switched telephone network (PTSN) to a cloud-based VoIP system can be challenging for employees. The user basics and advanced programs include four 15-minute video trainings in core categories like message, video, phone, and fax. Security: Learn how to set user roles and permissions while managing devices using RingCentral’s MVP training. There’s a short video series and a template for creating user profiles. How We Evaluated the Best Voice-Over-IP Training Certifications & Courses While there are many VoIP training certifications and courses, only a few are industry-recognized. We specifically looked for voice-over-IP training programs referenced in job ads as either required or preferred. However, we also considered entry- and mid-level courses that provide a good general overview of VoIP, video, and SIP systems. We considered criteria such as: Overall costs for training and exams Core technologies covered Certification expiration dates Course ranges and levels Availability of continuing education credits Amount of time given to access classes and materials Value provided depending on specific use cases The certification earns the top spot based on our criteria for the best voice-over-IP training certifications and courses. It offers individual modules and course content is accessible for 12 months. The SSVVP is also the least expensive, vendor-independent certification on our list, making it an excellent choice for yourself or your IT staff. Bottom Line According to Cisco, 78% of technology executives and managers consider technical certifications to be vitally important for success. In short, voice-over-IP training certifications and courses from industry-recognized programs can improve your team’s skill set or boost your own career outlook. Our top pick for best voice-over-IP certification is SSVVP program, which delivers VoIP and SIP fundamentals in a multimedia format. The cost is reasonable, and the full course outline and a video demonstration is available to view on their website. If you’re interested in a certificate for yourself or your staff, check out SIP School.
March 25, 2022
IVR Containment Rate: Definition & How To Increase It
The interactive voice technology (IVR) containment rate refers to the number of calls an IVR menu handles without the need of a live receptionist. A high containment rate leads to several benefits, such as saving agents time, successful conversions, and increased customer satisfaction. Analyzing containment rates through IVR reporting is a great way to improve your IVR’s effectiveness in serving caller queries. In this article, we further explore how IVR call containment works, the factors that affect call containment rate, and how to improve those numbers. How IVR Call Containment Works IVR containment is a call center metric that helps determine the effectiveness of an automated answering system. A high IVR containment rate suggests that the IVR menu is providing callers with the resources they need to quickly address common questions or for basic routing requests. This then frees up inbound lines for callers who need the expertise of a live agent, which can speed up answering and leads to improved customer satisfaction scores. The call containment process depends on the IVR structure. If the options are too complex or lengthy, callers will always skip the menu and go straight to the agent. Additionally, if there is no self-service or priority queuing option, your business completely wastes agents’ time and decreases operational efficiency. Fundamentally, it’s important to optimize the IVR structure to ensure callers are routed correctly. Why You Need To Pay Special Attention to Containment IVR systems are a powerful tool to enhance call center operations and are the most effective customer service tool. Hence, finding efficient ways to engage customers and get quick solutions is necessary. Paying attention to containment affects customer satisfaction and the efficiency of your agents. If there’s a high containment rate, the inbound lines are cleared for callers with complex inquiries, allowing them to reach skilled agents immediately. More importantly, it eliminates unnecessary agent interactions and prevents customers from experiencing the hassle of long wait times. When the IVR system is implemented correctly, more people will be left satisfied with your call center service. Otherwise, a misconfigured IVR system leads to long delays or infinite loops, leading to more angry customers and high call abandonment rates. It’s all about providing the most accurate and comfortable experience possible for your customers to build a lasting relationship. Potential Threats to Your Containment Rates Most businesses deploy their IVR systems incorrectly by focusing on cost-reduction instead of the customer journey. This approach potentially leads to several problems, which primarily affect customer satisfaction and the company’s bottom line. Here are the factors that ruin your containment rates: Incorrect Structure of an IVR System There are several ways businesses misconfigure an IVR system, and the most common is the use of lengthy introductions or too many menu options. Adding complicated options leaves customers on the phone for several minutes before reaching their desired destination. Often, customers are quick to abandon calls from such bad encounters. Poorly Written Scripts Another factor is the poor voice quality or the use of technical jargon. Lack of clarity in voice recordings frustrates callers, while the use of complicated terms will confuse them even further. All these factors will tempt callers to seek an agent instead, affecting your containment rates. Callers Circumventing Phone Menus The most common factor that ruins containment rates is impatient callers circumventing phone menus. If the menus keep them for ages, they either hang up or repeatedly press zero to escape the automation. The problem here is that making agents easily reachable defeats the purpose of your IVR system. One-size-fits-all Strategy Most companies implement IVR systems with one goal in mind: automate customer-facing operations. This means the system attempts to prevent callers from reaching human agents without considering the type of inquiry or the reason behind the call. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach when designing an IVR system without regard for customer needs is one way to ruin your IVR containment rate. This approach could hurt customer satisfaction levels and how your business conducts customer service. How To Improve Your Average IVR Containment Rates IVRs are one of the most useful channels for customer service. Many customers still prefer using telephone lines when expecting quick agent assistance. However, the true test of your IVR doesn’t lie in the number of solved cases, but in the number of queries handled without human support. To help improve the overall IVR experience, here are ways to improve your IVR containment rates: Create a Good First Impression According to Nuance, a computer software company, customers these days believe that an IVR isn’t truly capable of resolving issues quickly. They immediately seek out an agent the moment they encounter an automated message. Enhance containment by establishing a good first impression. One way to create a great first impression is to craft prompts that transmit all relevant information, such as product updates and business hours. Since the IVR is the first point of contact with your callers, it’s important to keep the message informative and straight to the point. This is not the time for upselling attempts or sales pitches. Your goal is not to let the caller sit through long IVR menus, but rather help them reach the correct destination quickly to avoid dropped calls. Look for Custom IVR Solutions Although companies have long used IVR to remove the burden on call center operations, customers are weary of outdated call systems. To better manage inbound communications, it’s time to look at modern solutions to revolutionize self-service. Business phone system providers offer custom IVR solutions to improve call containment rates. Some examples include visual IVR designers and conversational IVRs. Visual IVR is a web application designed to help customers effortlessly navigate menus at first contact. This tool makes it easier for contact centers to seamlessly connect customers to self-service options and adjust user experience as necessary. A conversational IVR, on the other hand, is a speech-based self-service powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Contact center providers like use natural language understanding (NLU) through automated agents in online chat sessions. This removes the burden of manually navigating through confusing and hierarchical menus. Utilize IVR Data Analytics IVR data analytics deliver valuable insights in understanding IVR performance. There are plenty of potential breakpoints where a caller skips the IVR menus to reach a human agent. Regular data analysis of IVR systems allows businesses to identify the root cause and specific conditions that lead to these breakpoints. is a cloud-based communications provider that offers IVR reporting. This feature helps you identify areas for improvement and keep track of customer experience and agent productivity. The data collected from IVR feedback surveys, such as interaction histories and customer demographics, are useful in understanding caller behaviors and preferences. Such data will optimize IVR flows, identify bottlenecks, improve customer satisfaction, and measure metrics like IVR containment. Prioritize Customer Experience A customer-centric mindset is necessary when designing IVR systems. When customers call your business line, they are programmed to think they will get a quick answer to their queries. They also love efficiency, personalization, and fast resolution times. With those in mind, it’s important to design your IVR based on specific customer journeys. One example is biometric authentication, which replaces texted codes with voice inputs or facial recognition. This process accelerates the account verification process, all without human interaction on your part. Routinely Update the IVR System It’s imperative for IVR systems to continuously adapt to new technologies, business offerings, and changing customer preferences. IVR optimization becomes more attainable if call centers regularly update the IVR process, including the scripts. The last thing customers want is to wait for a specific option that will never show up. In this case, the script should include choices callers seek out the most. For added personalization, you may update IVR greetings depending on new offers, specific campaigns, or ongoing festivals. Bottom Line Your IVR call containment rate has a significant impact on the overall customer experience and the efficiency of your call center operations. If implemented well, customer satisfaction will increase and agents will have more time to resolve more complex queries. If the system is misconfigured, you’ll be left with more angry customers and countless dropped calls. If you want to know more ways to increase your IVR containment rate, check out our guide on IVR self-service best practices. We list down the most valuable strategies to optimize your IVR system and improve your containment rate.
March 25, 2022
9 Proven Ways to Improve Average Handle Time (AHT)
Reducing your average handle time (AHT) boosts customer loyalty and satisfaction while increasing agent productivity. To make this happen, businesses need to invest in continuous agent training and additional self-service options. Routing calls efficiently is also one of the ways to improve average handle time, along with gaining customer interaction insights and using workflow automation tools. Follow these nine simple yet effective tips to help decrease your AHT: 1. Provide Ongoing Agent Training New hire and ongoing training sessions are a must for call center agents. Handling calls efficiently requires soft skills, like knowing when to cut the small talk without interrupting the customer. Apart from this, your agents should also feel comfortable navigating your contact center software and knowledge bases. Many providers, including and , supply software tutorials, webinars, and live training sessions. Use these to familiarize agents with your tools. Work with them in person or virtually to ensure they understand how to operate the softphone application. Plus, review call data to identify elements of the job that your rep struggles with. For instance, your agents may not be aware of a new feature that can reduce after-call work (ACW) time. Or they may lack confidence when speaking to an angry or frustrated customer. A supportive work culture, ongoing training, and plenty of resources can guide your employees. Improve agent training by: Allowing staff to dedicate a certain amount of time per quarter to on-demand training opportunities, based on their personal needs. Offering regular walk-throughs of software updates in the form of an on-demand video and transcripts. Regularly updating knowledge bases and scripts to reflect changes to your products, services, and customer trends. Encouraging mentorship and collaboration between agents by providing group chat and individual messaging tools. Providing cross-training opportunities so agents can answer different question types and reduce call transfers. Hosting micro-training sessions to address specific problems, such as de-escalation tactics for agents with a high number of supervisor escalations. 2. Offer Additional Self-service Options Consumers appreciate self-service tools, including online account dashboards and interactive voice response (IVR) systems. They can quickly access account data without waiting in line or explaining their situation to an agent. In fact, 82% of respondents to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report currently use or are interested in using self-service portals. Self-service options are most helpful for call centers with a high volume of fundamental questions that could be automated. Reducing these call types lets your employees focus on high-value calls, such as product purchasing questions or usage problems. Self-service features also reduce labor costs, as reps spend less time looking up caller records. Many large enterprises play a message while callers are on hold, directing them to self-service options for faster results. 3. Route Calls More Efficiently If the first agent who picks up the call doesn’t have the answer, your customer satisfaction score drops. Callers stuck in a long hold queue may be too frustrated to be satisfied, even if your agent has the answer. Improving your routing can reduce aggravation from all sides and deliver better performance rates across many metrics. However, your call routing is dependent on your automatic call distribution (ACD) capabilities. Standard voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) software offers fewer routing options than call center systems, such as and . Simultaneously ringing all open lines in your accounting department may work for low call volumes, but it’s less effective as your business grows. Reduce your average handle time by applying: Skills-based routing: Send more complex calls to agents trained in the topic or department and let less knowledgeable reps handle common questions. Fixed order: Put your scheduled agents on a list, and each call goes in that order. It evenly distributes call volumes and works well for reps with similar skill sets. Time-based: This type of routing is typically available with most VoIP software, as it directs calls based on your company or agent’s schedule. Talk-time: Use this method to allocate simple and complex calls among agents. It sends incoming calls to the rep with the lowest amount of talk time. Percentage routing: Lighten loads for newer agents or separate your sales department into teams using percentage routing. 4. Gain Insights From Customer Interactions Leverage omnichannel call center software to collect data about how your customers use self-service tools, interact with chatbots, and perform searches on your website. This information can provide vital clues about the types of questions they have for your agents, allowing you to tailor training sessions and update knowledge bases. Additionally, advanced features can pull data about various interactions into your call center software. Your agents can see what web page the caller last accessed or which self-service tools they’ve already used. Reps can personalize their greeting and approach to fit the situation. Plus, don’t discount the importance of natural language processing (NLP) and speech analytics. These tools highlight customers’ tone of voice, repeated keywords, and filler words used by agents. Review call data to see where inefficiencies exist and change your process or training efforts. 5. Model Proper Call Management Techniques Knowing the difference between a good and bad call is not enough. Use actual call recordings and transcripts to train staff, improve scripts, and update knowledge bases. For instance, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify key phrases that improve call outcomes. Share examples of these calls and highlight the terms or statements that work well for your clients. Also, consider recording your top performers’ screens during model calls. That way, employees can see the actions taken while on a call, such as searching an internal knowledge base or adding customer-specific notes to help the next agent. 6. Select the Right Business Phone System The best business phone systems should provide features that streamline call center operations while improving caller and agent experiences. Most platforms have auto-attendant, IVR, and ACD systems. But you may need to upgrade to higher plan tiers to get tools like speech analytics and call monitoring. Look for software that offers: Call monitoring: Assess skill sets and identify problems before they affect your AHT. Call recording: Record calls for quality purposes and use them for ongoing agent training. Call whisper: Coach agents in real time using the call whisper feature. Call barge: Reduce call transfers by allowing supervisors to take over the phone call. 7. Integrate Your Business Software Computer telephony integration (CTI) is an essential component of your call center software. Tools like integrate with CRMs, help desk software, sales and marketing platforms, and workforce optimization apps. You can pull richer data sets into reports and increase employee productivity by connecting your services. Agents can make calls directly from the customer relationship manager (CRM), reducing the need to switch applications or have multiple screens open. They also spend less time on repetitive data entry, as integrated tools can sync data in real time, such as an update to an email address or purchase history. 8. Encourage Increased First Call Resolutions (FCR) Give your team the resources to solve problems on the first call while reducing hold times and call transfers. In doing so, you can increase your FCR rate and decrease your AHT. If customers call multiple times and hang up once they’re in a call queue or placed on hold during a transfer, your FCR rate tanks. Plus, there’s a higher likelihood that your agents will get a frustrated customer on the line, increasing handle times. Like other AHT best practices, first call resolution improvements are the result of several tactics, including the following: Providing ample training and resources Encouraging agents to instant message supervisors during a call Using speech analytics to guide scripts Giving reps access to customer data 9. Use Workflow Automation Tools Workflow automation is one of the best features in a tool like . It can shave seconds off every phone call by automatically placing customer information on the screen before your agent picks up the phone or prepopulating forms, so they have fewer questions to ask. Workflow automation also assists agents by guiding them through various scripts and highlighting popular help desk articles. And when the call ends, call center automation features handle much of the post-call work. Speech analytics gauge customer sentiment and score calls, recordings and transcripts highlight keywords, and call notes automatically go into the CRM record. Why Average Handle Time (AHT) Is Critical Every interaction with your call center leaves an impression on your customer. Long hold times, multiple transfers, and slow speed to answer decreases satisfaction. According to Invoca, 5% of consumers will hang up if put on hold, and 28% will wait only up to five minutes. Callers also feel frustrated if they have to repeat themselves. Each of these aspects increases your average handle time. And longer calls mean your agents answer fewer calls per shift, resulting in less productive representatives. After-call work (ACW) also affects AHT and includes updating customer records and scheduling callbacks. If your reps spend too much time documenting calls, your AHT rises while efficiency decreases. Monitoring and measuring call center metrics help you ensure optimal service levels and identify issues early. For instance, you can break down your AHT by parts (hold time, talk time, or ACW) to see which area is most problematic. Likewise, drilling into individual agent performance can highlight opportunities for improvement. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), you can keep your operating expenses within your budget, increase customer satisfaction rates, and ensure appropriate staffing levels. How to Calculate AHT AHT refers to the total amount of time it takes to complete a call, including time spent on hold, talking, and completing post-call tasks. You can calculate AHT manually by adding together these three components and dividing the sum by the total number of calls. However, this method is tedious and less accurate than contact center software reports. Call center phone systems, such as and , have AHT reports that automatically calculate your average handle time. You can select primary and secondary metrics, including inbound or outbound calls, and run reports per agent or your whole contact center. According to Call Centre Helper, “six minutes and three seconds” is the industry standard for average handle times. Your actual AHT rate may vary due to your industry, team size, or department. That’s why it’s vital to benchmark your AHT at the company, agent, and department level. Reasons for High AHT Many factors affect AHT, including the tools your agents use and their ability to quickly answer calls and complete work. Identify the root causes behind why your AHT is high to prioritize methods for improvement. Call handling and analytic reports can uncover problem areas, giving you a good idea of where to begin. Here are the top reasons for having a high AHT rate: Bottom Line Lowering your average handle time saves your call center money and boosts profits by increasing customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention rates. Find ways to improve average handle time, and it’s possible to increase scores in other call center metrics as well. Use software like or to reveal why your AHT is high, then develop a data-based strategy that lowers your handle times.
March 25, 2022
VoIP Speed Test: Free Network Quality Tool
A voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) system connects your employees and customers, but the quality depends partially on your internet services. A VoIP speed test details your upload and download speeds, jitter, and ping, all of which are vital to reliable, high-quality communications. Below, you can learn how to test your connection and determine your company’s VoIP speed requirements. What the VoIP Speed Test Numbers Mean VoIP testing tools measure speed and quality metrics, but it’s crucial to understand what those numbers mean in relation to your business phone system and internet requirements. For instance, higher VoIP ping test results aren’t desirable, whereas higher upload and download speeds are. The following metrics help you decide if your internet connection can support VoIP business calls. Upload Speed Upload speed refers to how fast your data packets move from your device to the internet. It affects the length of time required to send a large file or video to another person. A VoIP test measures upload speed in megabits per second (Mbps). Higher numbers equal better call quality. However, your upload speed will be lower than your download speed unless you have a symmetrical or dedicated business internet connection. For this reason, you should calculate your total bandwidth based on your upload speed, not your download speed. VoIP upload speed requirements vary by provider. For instance, considers 90 kilobits per second (Kbps) the bare minimum, whereas recommends 256 Kbps “for each simultaneous call during peak usage times.” We recommend having a minimum of 100 Kbps per concurrent call for best results. Download Speed Download speed refers to how quickly you receive data packets from the internet. It’s measured in Mbps and affects activities, such as streaming videos and accessing cloud-based software. Your download speed should be equal to or higher than your upload speed. Most small business internet services provide higher download speeds than upload, so reviewing the lower of the two numbers is crucial. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends a minimum download speed of fewer than 0.5 Mbps for a VoIP call and 1.5 Mbps for a one-on-one high-definition (HD) video call. Ping (Latency) A VoIP ping test calculates the number of milliseconds (ms) it takes for your data packets to reach the server. Higher ping numbers result in audio packets being delayed. It creates delays and echoes during VoIP calls. While ping tracks the one-way trip to the server, latency covers the whole trip (ping and pong responses). Verify if your VoIP speed test refers to ping or latency to ensure you understand the results correctly. Ping test results of less than 60 ms are preferable, whereas latency over 150 ms is detrimental to VoIP calls. Higher numbers indicate that you may want to adjust your router settings to prioritize VoIP calls, which can be extremely helpful during high-traffic hours. Jitter Jitter directly impacts call quality with higher numbers resulting in dropped calls, distortion, and static. Like ping and latency, a VoIP speed test for jitter uses milliseconds for measurement. Delays of 30 ms or more cause packet loss and severely affect your audio quality. If your test finds a problem with your jitter rate, you should review your internet connection quality. In some cases, if your upload and download speeds are reasonable but jitter remains high, you could adjust your network’s quality of service (QoS) setting as recommended for high ping rates. Why You Should Perform a VoIP Speed Test Your internet connection and network play a significant role in your business outcomes—from delivering cohesive customer experiences to increasing team productivity. Likewise, your business phone system enables virtual sales calls and project collaboration. A VoIP bandwidth test provides visibility into your network capabilities, allowing you to answer questions about how many devices you can connect or simultaneous calls your staff can make. Before investing in a new business phone system, a test determines if your office or storefront has the best internet speed for VoIP. Regular testing ensures your internet service provider (ISP) meets service level agreement (SLA) guarantees. Here are five reasons why you should perform a VoIP quality test: Measure network performance: Confirm that your internet service works equally well throughout the day and matches the speeds your ISP promised. Discover barriers to business growth: Use a VoIP broadband test to learn if your network supports additional employees, devices, or communication tools. Uncover gaps in network connectivity: Check wired and wireless connections in multiple locations to verify that your team can answer calls from various spaces. Ensure a faster return on your investment (ROI): Boost productivity and customer satisfaction scores from the get-go by meeting VoIP upload speed requirements. Reduce risks from adopting new technologies: Unforeseen problems with speed or latency put your reputation at risk. A VoIP speed test reveals potential vulnerabilities. How a Poor VoIP Connection Affects Your Business Few things are worse than implementing a new business phone system only to experience performance issues. Slow or unreliable connections can halt your technology rollout and decrease employee adoption rates. A lack of bandwidth makes your VoIP system less effective and could impact other workflows, including online project management and team collaboration. As a result, a poor VoIP connection can lead to: Poor customer experiences: Glitchy phone calls fragment the customer experience, leading to frustration and misunderstandings. Reduced productivity: If audio and video calls hog too much bandwidth, other work activities are affected, resulting in wasted seconds while teams wait for software to load. Reputational impacts: Callers and customers will mention your phone issues to others, possibly complaining about not being able to reach your company or hear a technician. Negative employee experiences: Like customers, your staff will feel frustrated if there’s always a problem with your phone system or internet connection. How to Do a Manual VoIP Speed Test Perform a manual VoIP quality test to determine how many lines your internet connection can handle. First, you need your upload speed as reported by a speed test tool. Then, use the following formula to convert the Mbps speed results to Kbps and find your estimated capacity. Here’s the VoIP speed test formula: Multiply your upload speed by 1,000: If your speed test uses megabits per second (Mbps), use this formula to turn your Mbps into Kbps (kilobits per second). Divide your result from step 1 by 445: This figure equals the recommended total number of phone lines that your internet connection will support. Divide your result from step 1 by 100: This refers to the total number of lines possible if your network connection is dedicated to VoIP services only. Below are speed test results for standard internet services typically used in a small office. The VoIP ping test shows 9 ms, well under the recommended 60 ms. The upload speed of 11.01 Mbps reflects the bandwidth. Using the formula above, speeds of 11 Mbps support a maximum of 110 phone lines. However, only 24 are recommended. How Many Calls Can My Connection Support? The number of concurrent calls your connection can support depends on your bandwidth. Look at your current internet package to find your upload speed. It usually ranges from 3 Mbps to 35 Mbps for cable internet connections and can go up to 5,000 Mbps or 5 gigabits per second (Gbps) for dedicated, fiber optic lines. If, on the off chance, your upload speed is higher than your download speed, use the lower number to calculate your internet capacity. Alternatively, you can perform a VoIP speed test to find your upload speed. Then either view the chart below or work through the formula above to get your maximum and recommended numbers. VoIP Bandwidth Requirements Every internet-connected device and online task uses bandwidth, including your cloud-based phone system, which sends audio and video packets over the internet. Since speed recommendations vary by phone provider, it’s best to understand your network capability, phone line requirements, and the costs to upgrade. The chart below accounts for network speed fluctuation and online office activities, such as using software as a service (SaaS) applications or checking email. Find your upload speed to see how much bandwidth is available for VoIP: Keep in mind that your results may differ depending on your office activities. For instance, if your team frequently hosts webinars or participates in video meetings, they may use more than the expected amount of bandwidth. According to the FCC, just one person streaming an ultra-HD 4K video uses 25 Mbps, and HD video teleconferencing uses six. This is much more than the typical 1 Mbps for internet browsing or the minimum of 250 Kbps noted in the above chart. What To Do if You Get a Poor Bandwidth Test Result One result that’s less than satisfactory isn’t necessarily a problem. Double-check that your internet line wasn’t used when you completed the first VoIP speed test. Also, if you ran your test using a wireless connection, try it on a computer that’s hard-wired to your internet modem. Take a couple of measurements to ensure your original rate wasn’t a fluke. If there’s a significant difference between your Wi-Fi and wired test, the problem could be with your wireless router. Outdated firmware or a router with a broken port could cause your wireless internet to run slower. Physical obstructions in your building or signal interference can also make your Wi-Fi sluggish. However, if your wired connection produces the same results, take these steps: Confirm that your power and Ethernet cables are damage-free and connected securely. Unplug and reboot your internet modem and computer. Scan your internet network and connected devices for malware and viruses. Run through your ISP’s online troubleshooter if one is available. Lastly, call your internet service provider. They may run a remote test to check your modem signal and schedule an appointment to review your lines. If your ISP confirms everything is working normally, you may want to upgrade your internet package to one with higher speeds. Bandwidth speeds vary by provider and package. Small businesses are often limited to a few options for internet service in their area. Typically, cable internet connections are faster than digital subscriber line (DSL) lines, and fiber lines outperform DSL and cable. What To Do if You Continue to Experience Poor Call Quality If you regularly experience poor quality, the first thing you should do is check out our guide on how to fix packet loss and verify that you don’t have any connectivity issues. However, if you continue to experience issues, you will need to contact your VoIP provider. They may recommend solutions, such as updating your headset or prioritizing voice traffic on your router. However, ongoing call quality issues may signal a problem with your VoIP provider. Look at your terms of service (ToS), service quality metrics, and features. See if your current provider offers high-definition audio. You can also go back and note if you have experienced more outages over the last year. Overall, if you’re not satisfied, research other options and consider switching providers to improve call quality. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What speed do I need for VoIP? At a minimum, you need an upload speed of 100 Kbps (kilobits per second) for one phone line. Don’t forget to factor in bandwidth fluctuation and internet usage when figuring your VoIP upload speed requirements. For internet browsing and one phone line, we recommend having a minimum of 500 Kbps. How can I test my VoIP connection? Use an online VoIP speed test to measure your upload and download speeds, ping, and jitter rates. Choose a time when your internet service isn’t being used by others, and use a device that’s hard-wired to your internet modem. Do VoIP phones affect internet speed? VoIP phones use very little bandwidth, and the FCC recommends a minimum download speed of less than 0.5 Mbps for VoIP calls. However, your audio calls may be affected if you use your phone system for one-to-one or group video conferencing while receiving audio calls through the same internet connection. Bottom Line Your available bandwidth affects call quality. Slow speeds result in delays on your line or jumbled conversations, and ultimately impact customer experiences. A VoIP speed test shows how much bandwidth your internet connection provides, and from there, you can calculate your business phone system requirements. Therefore, it’s best to complete a test before setting up a VoIP system. Providers like deliver VoIP speed requirements and implementation services to evaluate your network and determine the quality of service settings. After performing a speed test, take advantage of a 15-day free trial from RingCentral to see if it's a good fit for your company.
March 23, 2022
Business Landline Phone Services: The Ultimate Guide
A business landline phone service lets you make and receive calls, even if your power goes out. It provides one or more lines and standard features, such as caller ID, call waiting, and call forwarding. Although voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services receive plenty of attention, business landlines still play a vital role in communications due to their reliability regardless of weather conditions and internet access. Learn more about the leading landline service providers, typical features, and the benefits of conventional services compared to alternatives. Business Landline Phone System Service Providers Unlike voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) or mobile phone service providers, landline systems require fixed metal cabling to transmit calls. As a result, businesses have far fewer traditional phone providers to choose from compared to other services. For example, in many geographic regions, businesses are limited to less than three local vendors. If you have multiple branches in different locations, you may need to sign up with a separate phone company for each site. Here are a few business phone service providers and the ball park costs to use them: : The provider offers packages with unlimited local and nationwide calling, call waiting, and voicemail. Prices start at $40 per line, per month, depending on your location. : Verizon’s Preferred Voice service starts at $59 per month for a primary line. You can add up to five lines for $20 each. : Spectrum offers bundled plans starting at $14.99 per line, per month that include readable voicemail and call forwarding. The plans also support unmetered nationwide calling and calls to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. : CenturyLink’s plans vary by region, so you’ll need to contact CenturyLink for an estimate, but they do have customizable plans for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprises. : Select voice packages start at $19 per line, per month. Cox Communications offers various add-on features, such as unmetered long-distance calling and voicemail-to-email. Key Business Landline Phone Service Features Along with a small business phone number or toll-free number, most vendors offer additional essential features with their telephone service. The options vary by provider and pricing plan and may include four-line systems and on-premise public branch exchange (PBX) services. In most cases, business phone lines offer call waiting, forwarding, and a bridge for audio conferencing. Here are the most important landline features that small businesses should look into: Call Waiting & Call Waiting ID Call waiting lets you answer a second incoming call to a business phone number without dropping your first caller. You’ll hear a sound when a second call comes in and can simultaneously put one caller on hold and pick up the other line. Also, many carriers include call waiting IDs. It shows the inbound caller’s phone number and name, if available. Certain providers also have spam-blocking technology on landlines. Call Forwarding Activate call forwarding redirects inbound calls to a different phone number. Selective call forwarding can transfer voice communications to landlines, mobile phones, and VoIP devices. This feature is a must-have for solopreneurs and hybrid employees who work a few days a week remotely. You can answer calls to your landline number at your friend’s house or on your cell phone. Three-way Calling Connect with up to two external people by pressing a button on your conference phone or dialing two or three digits on a standard device. You can call people using any 10-digit phone number and chat on a single phone line. Most services let you hang up with one person and continue your conversation with another. Voicemail Send callers to your voicemail if you’re on another line or out of the office. You can record a personal message and check messages from your workplace or an external phone. Carriers may also offer a do-not-disturb (DND) feature, routing inbound calls directly to voicemail or a different phone number. Reasons Businesses Still Need Landlines Landline systems deliver vital services to businesses across the United States, including areas with poor or nonexistent internet and mobile coverage. They’re part of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and public utility commissions. Therefore, telecommunications providers must report changes to landline offerings to regulators and seek approval before ending coverage in your area. Other advantages of using a landline phone system include: Nationwide Availability Unlike VoIP or cellular options, which rely on local internet infrastructure or cell towers, the underground network of copper cables extends everywhere. Wireline products, including business and residential phone systems, also known as plain old telephone service (POTS), are available in all cities, including remote and rural areas with limited internet connectivity. The service provider extends telephone wiring to your facility, typically at no cost to your company. This makes it a great fit for factories and warehouses located in remote areas. Ease of Setup Basic one- to four-line systems are easy to install. If your building was previously wired for landline service, you could simply plug existing devices into the phone jack. If not, the business phone service provider is responsible for handling the wiring outside of your building and installing phone jacks inside. Since landlines services are pretty basic and not based on individual users, there are fewer setup steps compared to VoIP. However, installation becomes more complex if you need additional phone numbers and lines. This requires on-site infrastructure and maintenance, and configuration is more time-consuming than a one- or four-line service. Learn more in our guide to setting up a landline phone. Reliability Landlines are stable connections unaffected by the weather, and dropped calls are rare. If you lose power, your traditional phone system will work. You can still receive phone calls, access emergency services, and make outbound calls. In addition, voice quality is unchanged even if the phone lines are busy or it’s storming. This makes landlines a more trusted option for point-of-sale (POS), alarms, or elevator communication systems. However, it’s important to note that PSTN networks use narrowband technology, meaning the voice quality range is lower than many VoIP business phone systems. Emergency Response Legacy phone services are tied to an exact location and work during natural disasters affecting cellular towers, internet infrastructure, and electric utilities. The FCC requires all telephone services to use 911 as a universal emergency number, and telecommunication carriers route calls to public safety answering point (PSAP) dispatchers. Although enhanced 911 (E911) rules improve emergency access for VoIP and mobile users, they’re dependent on your internet connection. Wireless providers have leeway when they roll out enhanced 911 services, so if you use alternative systems, it’s imperative to confirm the availability of E911. Bottom Line The best business phone services keep your company connected to customers, vendors, and remote employees. Landline business phone systems work independently of your internet and electrical services, making them an excellent choice for companies in rural areas. However, many vendors want to phase out landline services in favor of digital VoIP. Therefore, it’s vital to speak with your local providers to determine the types of plans offered and service availability.
March 22, 2022
What Is Call Filtering? Definition & When to Use It
Call filtering refers to a set of tools used to screen, block, and route inbound calls. Voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services provide various call filter technologies to prevent spam and forward calls based on caller information or your schedule. These tools help increase productivity while reducing call center or answering service expenses. We’ll explain what call filtering is more in-depth and when to use it. How Call Filtering Works A call filter technology analyzes incoming calls and can block certain numbers or routes calls to people or voicemail systems based on preset rules. This saves your team from having to manually screen calls. The technology uses spam databases, analytics, and contact lists to identify robocalls, and some business phone systems offer a feature that asks callers to say their name, giving you the option to pick up or send it to voicemail. VoIP providers with advanced tools also support personal blocklists as another way to filter calls. They also allow you to avoid calls from an entire area code. In addition, some applications allow you to block all numbers that aren’t on your contact list. Wireless and VoIP providers offer several call handling features that fall under call filtering, including the following: Spam detection Call logs for blocked numbers and spam Allowlists and blocklists Caller identification (ID) Routing to voicemail, based on caller ID Unwanted call reporting Caller name announcement Ability to listen to a voicemail live before picking up Redirecting calls based on your status or schedule How to Filter Your Calls There are several ways to filter your calls using call blocker apps or carrier-based technologies. A third-party screening application works with your existing phone services to prevent robocalls. Android and iOS devices have built-in call filtering tools you can toggle on or off. In addition, wireless and VoIP providers offer general and advanced features based on your service plan. To know what is call filtering and how it works, look at the features offered by your current phone service. For example, can play a message to spam callers before ending the call, or you can route people according to their caller ID. voice solutions let you create custom rules for sending calls to your number to your assistant. Call Filter Plus includes a spam meter and reporting features. You can enable call filtering features through your user portal or mobile app in most cases. Configure your account by adding numbers to your contact and block lists, turning on the call announcement feature, and setting up the do not disturb (DND) function. Benefits of Call Filtering According to YouMail, “Americans received 50.5 billion robocalls in 2021.” Spam and scam calls cost businesses money and waste time. Call blockers, screening, and filtering tools reduce unwanted phone calls, allowing you and your employees to manage time better and focus on tasks. You can use these features to boost workplace productivity while reducing costs linked to inefficiencies. Increase Staff Productivity Seventy-three percent of respondents to an study agreed that “robocalls waste time and reduce their team’s productivity because they must stop what they’re doing, answer the phone, and figure out if the call is legitimate.” In addition, 44% said they “distract from authentic calls, from current or potential customers and partners.” Call filter technology blocks unnecessary calls or all inbound communications when using the do not disturb (DND) feature. You can also create allowlists for known contacts or get calls from certain people even if your status is set to DND. Improve Employee Experiences Call management systems reduce worker frustration by preventing spam calls and letting them report and block undesired numbers. Instead of task switching, your teams can use call filtering tools and concentrate on their meeting or project without missing important calls. Even minor improvements to employee experiences may reduce turnover and increase engagement. Reduce Costs Ooma found that 84% of businesses “get robocalls every day, with 54% receiving five or more per day, at an average cost of $9.46 per call.” Other expenses stem from lost productivity and increased employee turnover. Call filtering tools reduce time-wasting activities and even improve customer experiences by routing them to an assistant when you’re unavailable. Decreasing unwanted calls also helps prevent fraud. Scammers use personal and business data to lure professionals into providing account information or approving new charges. Each scam call you stop is one less risk to your company. Disadvantages of Call Filtering The introduction of call screening, blocking, and filtering technologies has mostly resulted in positive outcomes for businesses and consumers. But, not all applications can unmask blocked calls or correctly identify spam, and your customers may use the same tools and accidentally flag your automatic calls as spam. Risk Sending Unknown Leads to Voicemail As the number of consumers using virtual and VoIP phone services increases, there’s a greater chance that your detection and screening tools could send unknown numbers directly to voicemail or block them altogether. Fortunately, advanced technologies reduce these risks. It’s important to verify that your phone provider uses the STIR/SHAKEN technology to avoid falsely identifying reputable calls as spam. The secure telephone identity revisited (STIR) and signature-based handling of asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN) standards authenticate phone numbers. Consumers May Block Legitimate Calls Since people with cell phones or VoIP services use call blocker technologies, they may reject calls from legitimate businesses. The increase in call spoofing and scams makes consumers more reluctant to answer the phone. Ooma’s survey found that 20% of respondents believe “fraudulent robocalls discredit the legitimate business-related robocalls (such as appointment reminders) we place to our customers.” Use Cases for Call Filtering Nearly every small to mid-sized business (SMB) and enterprise benefits from call filter technology. Call screening and blocking tools work for all industries and departments. According to the Ooma survey, 58% of respondents say their front desk or reception phone lines receive the highest number of robocalls versus 30% for customer service and 27% for sales. Send Calls to Your Assistant Automatically You may want to filter calls if you’re an executive with an assistant. Doing so can ensure your phone lines are covered when you’re unavailable or in a meeting. For example, enable the call filtering option on services to forward all calls or only internal or external ones. You can also send most calls to voicemail, except for preselected contacts like your very important people (VIPs). Join a Conference Without Missing Important Calls Many people power off their phones or put them on silent before heading into a long meeting. However, there are times when missing a call isn’t possible, and neither are constant interruptions. Call filtering lets you receive calls from a specific person or group of people and send the rest to your voicemail or assistant. Redirect Inbound Calls to the Appropriate Team Member If your business has several phone numbers, you may receive calls that should go to a different employee. A call filter application sends calls from specific phone numbers or geographic regions to a different phone number. VoIP Providers With Call Filtering Think about the types of call filtering tools you want before choosing a VoIP provider. Some offer basic spam detection and call blocking, whereas others provide advanced features, such as call announce and call routing based on caller ID. In addition, phone carriers may use the term call screening to describe call filtering features. Click on the tabs below to learn more about the VoIP providers offering call filtering as a service or feature: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) How is it different from call blocking & screening? Call filtering is a general term that describes several functions and services used for screening, redirecting, and blocking calls. Call screening and blocking may be standalone applications or specific to particular devices or business phone systems. In many cases, telecommunication carriers may use the phrase call screening and call filtering interchangeably. What is spam call filtering? Spam call filter technology labels calls as spam, blocks them, or sends them to voicemail. It’s a feature you can enable on individual user accounts or systemwide. The services use an analytics engine to compare incoming numbers to public and company-owned databases and label known telemarketing numbers or spammers. What is call filter for Verizon? offers a call filter app for iOS and Android mobile phones. It automatically detects spam callers based on your risk level settings and blocks calls that meet the parameters. You can use call filter for free with Verizon service or upgrade to Call Filter Plus to access features like a personal blocklist and spam risk meter. Bottom Line Call filtering tools can help your business detect and decrease unwanted calls while ensuring your top clients and family can always reach you. Configure your mobile app or VoIP systems to redirect or terminate calls based on custom rules. Explore your options by checking out , , , or services.
March 21, 2022
10 Types of Compliance Programs Affecting Communication Security
In business communications systems, where data breaches happen the most, compliance plays an important role in securing information and privacy. This article lists the different types of compliance programs and why they matter in creating a secure environment for your business and customer data. 1. Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standards to protect the storage and privacy of patient data, such as billing and medical records. HIPAA standards regulate the daily operations of many healthcare-related companies, including the tools they use, such as business phone systems. Healthcare companies and businesses looking for unified communications should look for HIPAA-complaint voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) solutions, like , to ensure proper handling of patient information. Call functions, such as voicemail or call recording, are subject to HIPAA violation if they are not properly encrypted. Without it, a healthcare business will face heavy fines and corrective actions for HIPAA violations. HIPAA compliance is required for healthcare providers, such as clinics, hospitals, and individual practitioners. However, it also covers telecommunications providers, insurance companies, and all private sectors handling, receiving, storing, or transmitting health information. 2. Health Information Technology for Economic & Clinical Health (HITECH) Act The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act encourages U.S.-based healthcare providers the responsible and safe use of electronic health records (EHR). It also introduced the stronger enforcement of privacy and security protections of HIPAA by requiring healthcare providers to perform security audits periodically. To help clients meet the expanding requirements for HITECH compliance, many business phone providers like have enhanced the security of their cloud communications services. These steps include the development of privacy and security controls as well as the restrictions and administrative controls to secure recordings, voicemails, and faxes. 3. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) is a compliance scheme that aims to protect credit card transactions against data theft and fraud. It includes a set of security standards to ensure that all companies store, process, and transmit credit card information within a secure environment. Credit card transactions covered by the PCI-DSS: American Express JCB International Mastercard Visa Discover Financial Services PCI-DSS compliance applies in the use of VoIP if the VoIP traffic containing payment card data is stored, processed, or transmitted over a merchant’s network. As long as VoIP is used to facilitate transmissions of payment card data between the cardholder and the merchant, the network used during the transmission is in the scope of PCI-DSS controls. 4. Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 addresses service providers handling customer data over the internet or any company using the cloud to store customer information. Under SOC 2, companies need to establish security policies and measures concerning the security, availability, processing, integrity, and confidentiality of customer data. If you plan to move your unified communications to the cloud, SOC 2 compliance is a basic requirement. One example is , a cloud communications provider with a SOC 2 certification. RingCentral ensures that all the sensitive information stored on your phones, chat, voicemail, call recordings, and collaboration tools have robust security measures in place. 5. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act was enacted to reduce the number of fraudulent financial activities, especially in corporate and accounting environments. This law affects all publicly traded companies and requires them to publish data related to internal control structure and the accuracy of their financial records. Partnering with a SOX-compliant unified communications provider minimizes the risk of audit systems deeming a business non-compliant. For example, VoIP solutions are ideal repositories of all inbound and outbound communications analytics reports. A VoIP service provider with SOX certification will ensure all digital and physical security controls are in place for its cloud-based communications and networks. If you’re looking for a VoIP platform that meets SOX regulations, contact to inquire about its enterprise services. 6. International Organization for Standardization (ISO) The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliance audit develops the global security standards to help companies implement rigorous security of their assets, including financial information, intellectual property, and employee or third-party data. It also encourages organizations to assess potential security threats and ensure they’re mitigating risks properly. In the VoIP ecosystem, the ISO plays an important role in standardizing communications protocols. The ISO has established regulations for data packets to ensure consistency in global cloud messaging. is a prime example of an ISO-certified VoIP service provider that ensures strict security controls in its platform. When choosing a VoIP service provider, it is important to note the difference between being ISO compliant and ISO certified. Being ISO compliant means an organization has yet to undergo certification auditing. Being ISO certified, on the other hand, means undergoing a more complex auditing process by a third-party auditor who will determine the organization’s conformity to ISO standards. 7. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a privacy legislation within the European Union (EU) that regulates the use, transfer, and collection of its citizens’ data. The policy aims to give EU nationals greater control over their data and strengthen their right to privacy. This requires all businesses handling the personal data of EU citizens to protect the information they process regardless of where they are located. The GDPR affects all data processors, like VoIP service providers, that offer its products and services to or monitor the activities of EU residents or citizens. Companies capturing all personal data, such as an address, phone numbers, and health or financial information, over their network should adhere to the rules outlined in the GDPR. The GDPR sets the guidelines on how companies should access information from customers and store data and recorded calls. If you’re looking for a cloud-based business phone system that’s GPDR-compliant, consider . 8. Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) The Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) refers to the personal information that telecommunication providers acquire from their customers. It includes all customer data, such as duration, frequency, call records, and any service purchased by the customers. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires interconnected providers of VoIP to comply with the regulations governing CPNI. VoIP providers like need to file annual reports to certify their compliance with CPNI guidelines. Based on CPNI standards, providers are not allowed to release call data from their customer’s initiated phone contact under specific circumstances. They are also required to provide password protection for account access. 9. Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is a U.S. federal law that requires federal agencies to implement an information security program to protect confidential data. The scope of FISMA also applies to private businesses that have contracts or offer services to the U.S. government. FISMA requires these entities to reduce their security risks and establish security guidelines, including their assets, networks, and operations. Choosing a VoIP provider that is FISMA-compliant gives your business a competitive advantage against competitors that have less strict standards. If your company deals with highly sensitive information, such as government data, you need a fully FISMA-compliant VoIP provider like . This ensures your cloud communications platform has a comprehensive security plan in place against data breaches. 10. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a series of regulations that protect customers’ privacy against unwanted, persistent calls. It was enacted due to the increasing number of complaints about the abuses of spam calls. Since VoIP technology did not exist before TCPA was enacted in 1991, the FCC continues to update its rules and regulations to keep pace with the latest technologies. Any business dialing a large volume of outbound calls should keep TCPA regulations in mind to avoid facing hefty fines. Most contact center software providers, like , offer a built-in, TCPA-compliant dialer to ensure responsible dialing strategies. They also provide the ability to scrub numbers automatically to avoid dialing numbers by accident. Why Is Compliance Important? Compliance indicates whether a business follows the applicable laws, standards, and regulations set forth by its regulatory agency or industry. It leads to strong business standards by offering guideposts on how a business should succeed in its industry and achieve uniformity when competing in the marketplace. Compliance also sets the guidelines to ensure a fair and safe working environment for employees and clients. Without a compliance program, it’s difficult to establish and maintain trust with customers and stakeholders. People are unlikely to transact or work with your business if no rules and norms are emphasized throughout the organization. Another obvious consequence of non-compliance is the risk of lawsuits, fines, or the eventual shutdown of your business, which leads to reputational damage and negative media exposure. Adherence to compliance regulations prevents your business from facing legal complications that potentially impact your business, both internally and externally. Furthermore, meeting the legal obligations of your business is a reflection of how you manage your staff and treat your customers. Tips for Staying Compliant Staying in compliance with the law is one of the keys to getting your business up and running. But with the laws constantly changing, even the most seasoned entrepreneurs will also find staying compliant challenging. Here are tips to ensure compliance amid the ever-changing business regulations: Bottom Line Business compliance and regulations are essential for handling voice traffic and customer data. Regardless of your industry, it’s important to learn about the types of compliance audits and what they mean for your business to avoid facing legal consequences. A reliable phone service provider should help you maintain a safe and secure communications environment not just for your business, but also for your clients and partners. No business should take chances when it comes to VoIP security. Talk to your VoIP provider about its certifications, encryption capabilities, and other security measures, and see if they suit your needs.
March 18, 2022
Nextiva Analytics: Is the VoIP Feature Worth the Upgrade?
Nextiva Analytics is a powerful tool for monitoring customer satisfaction and agent performance offered as part of Nextiva’s unified communications platform—called the NextOS. It enables businesses to generate call activity reports and access survey analytics, staffing requirements, and gamification tools, but does require you to upgrade to an Enterprise-level plan, which costs $32.95 per user. If your business does not experience heavy call traffic or does not want to track voice metrics like average handle time, this feature may not be worth the cost of upgrading your business phone service. However, Nextiva Analytics is a value for call centers that want to leverage Nextiva’s business phone service’s other benefits and use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure agent performance and improve the overall caller experience. Metrics You Can Monitor Using Nextiva Analytics Nextiva Analytics tracks essential call center metrics and KPIs to enhance efficiency in both customer and employee experiences. Additionally, it helps identify opportunities for improvement to ensure that your business is maintaining the top-notch quality of service. Here are some of the many call center metrics and KPIs it comes with: Total number of calls: Its value is the sum of all types of calls received in the specified period. Types include inbound and outbound calls. Average speed-to-answer (ASA): Its value can be obtained by dividing the total number of calls from the total number of wait and ring times of the calls answered. Average handle time (AHT): This is calculated by the sum of the talk, hold, and wrap-up time divided by the total number of calls answered. Average wait time: This metric is the total number of wait times divided by the number of calls answered. Average wait time in queue is also available for those with the automatic call distribution (ACD) feature. Number of calls completed service level: This is the number of ACD calls completed within the requested service level. Calls completed at the service level are those where the talk time plus the hold time is less than the performance parameter specified by the user. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT): The total number of all customer satisfaction scores is divided by the total number of answered post-call surveys to obtain the percentage. Nextiva Analytics Key Features & Benefits is packed with a wide range of tools for measuring call activity, call center metrics, and incentivizing continuous improvement. It also makes this information easy to digest using customizable dashboards and reports. Nextiva Analytics is able to do this with the following features: Let’s discuss each in more detail below. Reports Nextiva’s reporting tool provides a view of data, such as call activity summaries, through graphs, charts, maps, and other visuals. You can utilize standard templates or customize reports, selecting which metrics and periods to display. You can also export these reports into an Excel file as needed. Businesses also track marketing campaign effectiveness through analytics. For example, you can assign a specific number for every campaign to easily track its success in attracting leads. Additionally, those running multiple regional or national campaigns can utilize reporting filters to determine which performs better and where. The data gathered and displayed by Nextiva Analytics then helps businesses decide which areas to target more. Dashboards A dashboard is a collection of reports displayed as tables or charts. It also displays metrics through tiles that include indicators, showing if the metric improved or declined during the selected period. While users can choose from system-generated templates, those subscribed to the business phone system’s Enterprise licenses have the option to create custom dashboards from scratch. Aside from creating dashboards from templates or scratch, Nextiva also allows users to edit, duplicate, and delete dashboards. You can configure the dashboard settings to specify where you want to publish the dashboard and if you want to share it with all users or specific individuals. Survey Analytics Nextiva lets you capture customer and employee feedback—enabling you to create more informed business decisions. Survey analytics helps businesses in a variety of ways, including determining employee and customer satisfaction and conducting market research. Reports generated from survey responses can also be exported into a PDF, JPG, PNG, or CSV file, depending on the data you are choosing to export. Note that survey features, including analytics, are available only to users subscribed to a Business Communication Ultimate plan. Aside from analytics, this tier comes with a drag-and-drop survey builder, a custom landing page, email alerts, customization, and branding. Those interested can request a demo to find out if it suits your needs. Wallboards Wallboards display a set of metrics on large screens to help businesses monitor call center statistics in real time. Users can highly customize these views, including data displayed through filters, metrics, themes, and types. Wallboard type options to choose from are Users, Locations, Call Groups, and Custom Groups. Like dashboards, users can create, edit, delete, and duplicate wallboards. Configuration settings are available as well, letting you specify who can have access to these wallboards. Aside from monitoring, wallboards are also used in employee engagement and gamification. Staffing Requirements Businesses need to ensure that there are available agents to address their customers’ needs. Nextiva lets you review historical data when your call center receives a larger volume of calls. You can also filter information by a variety of categories, such as specific phone numbers, locations, and call groups. Apart from the usual information, such as the total number of calls on certain hours or dates, missed calls are also to look into in making staffing decisions. Check if there are also spikes in missed calls as these can be caused by the lack of available agents. Remember, a missed conversation is a missed opportunity or lead. Gamification If your business has on-site teams, you can utilize customized gamification wallboards on your call floors. You can set up a display of your agents’ rankings to help agents stay motivated to earn first place. These wallboards are updated in real time—helping agents stay on track of their goals and determine how they’re performing compared with their peers. Positive employee engagement keeps them motivated—leading to better business results. Metrics for the leaderboards may differ depending on the team or business needs. For example, support agents can compete over the shortest time to resolve issues, while sales teams can compete over the total number of calls made to their leads. Why Businesses Need Tools Like Nextiva Analytics The Nextiva Analytics feature is a beneficial tool for companies handling high call volumes. It tracks your call center’s activities, including survey responses from your customers and employees. The data it gathers and presents helps analyze trends, create better business decisions, measure team and agent performance, predict future business results, and increase sales. Users’ access to both real-time and historical data is also impressive, alongside the creation of custom reports, dashboards, and wallboards with an easy-to-use interface. These features ensure that your business is on top of customer needs. For example, if you are seeing a trend of an increase in missed calls at a certain time, you can then assign more staff to handle the spike in call volume. Bottom Line comes with an analytics tool that captures real-time and historical data of the call center’s activities. This information helps supervisors and managers monitor customer experience and agent performance. Additionally, it provides a wide range of call metrics, including the total number of calls, wait time, and customer satisfaction. Learn more about its whole platform by visiting Nextiva’s website.