The Incom Business Systems Blog

7 steps for successful migration to Cloud Computing

01/03/19

Migrating to Cloud Computing offers many benefits to a business; reduced costs and increased flexibility, scalability and security. Many businesses are choosing to migrate, but there may be concerns about possible impact on the business.

Perhaps the number one concern voiced by business owners is the vulnerability of data and company information, removed from on-premises servers and placed out of their hands, in the Cloud. As reassurance, all good Cloud providers will have a resilient security infrastructure, to achieve accessibility with robust security.

Perhaps the second major concern, when it comes to migration, is the process itself. Depending on the size of the business or organisation, moving all applications and associated data to the Cloud can be a formidable task, and one that is not without risk. However, there are sensible steps you can take to plan and prepare for migration, which will help reduce the risk and the worry when the time comes.

Here are our top tips for a successful migration:

Step 1 - Analyse your existing infrastructure

Undertake a full audit of all of the applications, systems and processes that your existing infrastructure supports. Areas to consider, include:

  • Number of end users
  • Presence of sensitive data or information
  • Current capacity
  • Levels of access
  • Remote / mobile access
  • Existing hardware
  • Security provision
Step 2 - Plan ahead for your business

Migrating to Cloud Computing offers an exciting opportunity to make improvements and streamline processes. Your virtual infrastructure will be configured to the needs of the business, so now is the time to think about making positive improvements.

Assess how your systems perform in the existing IT environment and try to identify any pain-points that could be addressed. Highlight any ‘clunky’ points in your work processes, or duplication of tasks: you can talk to your chosen provider about streamlining and integration.

Step 3 - Choose a cloud IT provider

There are five main points to consider when choosing the right cloud provider for your business:

#1 - Cost: weigh this up with the level of service they offer, to ensure they will meet your needs.

#2 - Communication: avoid providers that use jargon and choose a company that speaks in plain English and explains things clearly

#3 –-Technical capabilities: they must be able to support your business requirements and operate with easy to manage, user-friendly systems.

#4 - Support: what level of on-going support will they provide, and how will change requests be managed?

#5 - Security: what measures are in place to backup and protect your data, and what is their approach to disaster recovery?

Once you have chosen an appropriate provider, they will be able to guide you through the migration process and take steps to minimise disruption to your business.

Step 4 - Final stages of preparation

Make sure all staff members are aware of the planned migration period, and the timescale it will cover. Advise on any limitations to access during this time: any services or applications that may be unavoidably disrupted.

Your provider will advise on any steps you should take to protect the business throughout the migration process and work with you to ensure that it is ‘business as usual’ for your staff and customers.

Step 5 - Migration period

Your provider will help you to decide whether a full migration, or partial one (using a hybrid of virtual and on-premises servers), is best for the business. This will depend on the size of your organisation and the workload for migration.

If the organisation is a large one, there may be vast amounts of data to transfer, which can be time-consuming and result in ‘bottlenecks’. Data compression may be advised to overcome this.

Step 6 - Commence use

Once all, or some, of your applications have been migrated to the Cloud, you can start to use them via the virtual servers. This gives an opportunity to compare speed and performance against the notes you made in the initial planning stage.

Most, but not all, applications will run better through a virtual server. Any disruption or delay in use should be reported to your provider for them to trouble-shoot where possible.

Step 7 - Disconnect old infrastructure

All applications, connectivity and accessibility will be rigorously tested, until both you and your provider are satisfied that the new infrastructure meets expectations. Once this has been achieved, you will be able to permanently disconnect your old server.

All hardware can also be disconnected and removed from the premises - your infrastructure is off the ground and up in the Cloud!

To talk to us about our cloud IT services, and how we can support the migration process, please call 0161 788 0000.



Part 3 - On premises vs. cloud computing - Security

31/01/19

Cloud platforms are designed to give your infrastructure a high level of resilience, with built in firewall and VPN (Virtual Private Network). The VPN is of particular importance for businesses that allow mobile or remote working, as it protects data accessed via a public network, such as the Internet.

Integrated backup services mean peace of mind when it comes to protecting information and data. Should a security breach or data loss occur, cloud platforms enable rapid disaster recovery, with business continuity as a priority.

Cloud computing therefore offers a robust and reliable way to build a business infrastructure, without the costs associated with additional security provision.

The benefits to a business of reduced cost, increased flexibility, scalability and security, make the virtues of cloud computing hard to ignore. Once your business has migrated to cloud computing you will be ready for growth, with an agile and future-proof infrastructure.

To learn more about the benefits of Cloud Computing in terms of cost savings, performance and peace of mind, read Part 1 and Part 2 of our On Premises vs. Cloud Computing blog series.

To find out more about cloud computing, or for help in assessing the IT needs of your business, please call 0161 788 0000.



Part 2 - On premises vs. cloud computing - Speed & scalability

30/01/19

A cloud provider will help you to configure the service that you need: one that meets the current business requirements. As the business grows, your infrastructure will keep pace with greater demands, and capacity can be increased.

Most cloud computing services are provided on demand, offering flexibility and removing the need for capacity planning. Business can select additional computing resources with a few clicks of a mouse, which will then be available within minutes.

Cloud computing services are highly scalable, on a national or global level where necessary. Business can be assured that the right IT resources, such as bandwidth, storage and computing power, are available as needed, at any given location.

Learn more about the benefits of Cloud Computing in terms of security and peace of mind in Part 3: On Premise vs. Cloud Computing..

To find out more about cloud computing, or for help in assessing the IT needs of your business, please call 0161 788 0000.



Part 1 - On premises vs. cloud computing – Cost savings

29/01/19

Cloud computing is a service based on virtual servers, from which normal business applications can be run. Virtual servers are an alternative to traditional on-premises or data centre servers, and offer the same storage, security and networking facilities.

Cloud computing is rapidly being adopted by organisations of all sizes, as part of the shift away from hardware, towards virtual services. In this three-part blog series, we will explore the key benefits to a business when considering migration to cloud computing.

Part 1 – Cost savings

The move away from traditional servers removes the need for a business to own and maintain expensive hardware and the associated costs of doing so. Cloud computing transforms the business infrastructure into a service, which is managed by the cloud provider. Users are able to manage their applications in the usual way, without concern for the provision of resources to support them.

Management of the business infrastructure includes set-up, monitoring and trouble-shooting, therefore avoiding the need for costly IT engineers. The tasks associated with on-premises servers, such as ‘racking & stacking’, software patching and hardware set-up, will no longer fall to the business IT team. This can free up their time to focus on core business issues. Another significant cost benefit is that cloud computing services can be purchased on a pay for use basis, rather like we pay for traditional utilities such as gas and electricity. There are obvious advantages of this approach for a growing, changing business.

Learn more about the benefits of Cloud Computing in terms of performance and scalability in Part 2: On Premise vs. Cloud Computing.

To find out more about cloud computing, or for help in assessing the IT needs of your business, please call 0161 788 0000.



Transforming your business with cloud-based contact centres

07/01/19

Businesses typically spend a large percentage of their marketing budget encouraging potential customers to call. What makes, or breaks, the success of these campaigns is the experience customers have when they make the decision to contact a company.

Callers who are kept waiting or are unsure if they have come through to the right place, are likely to hang up – and when they do, it’s highly unlikely that they will call back. Managing customer calls, especially during periods of high demand, can put a strain on resources, but it’s important to get it right.

More and more businesses are relieving this strain by employing the services of a contact centre. They offer the perfect solution for ensuring great customer experience and allow members of your business team to use their time more efficiently. Our cloud-based contact centres support businesses by providing flexible, professional services, tailored to the specific needs of your business.

Here are some of the many advantages of cloud-based contact centres:

  • IVR (Interactive Voice Response) allows you to create specific scripts when customers give the reason for their call. They can then be diverted to the relevant information, with no queuing system needed.
  • Priority response means that calls from your most important customers will never be missed.
  • Advanced routing: the system will decipher the nature of the call and then divert to the appropriately skilled agent.
  • Unified desktop enables call agent teams to work smarter and more collaboratively: they can see when other agents are busy, manage call back requests and pass on messages.
  • Increased demand can easily be met by with additional resources. If callers are in a queue, they will be greeted and updated by auto attendant messages and will have your choice of music to listen to.
Multimedia handling
One of the challenges for businesses today, is that there are many different ways for customers to make contact: email, instant message, phone call, web chat and social media. Customer service teams need up to date information when accessing customer information and contact history.

Our cloud telephony systems handle all channels of communication in one place and offer instant access to customer information as a call comes in. This helps to build customer trust and confidence as the agent taking the call appears knowledgeable and professional.

Sales teams can also take advantage of the integrated CRM system; to access the most updated information when contacting customers.

Motivating agent teams

We know that you will get the best service for your business if call agents are highly trained and motivated. We supply our call centre departments with dynamic wallboards, which are highly visual and used for internal communications and information.

Agents have everything they need at their fingertips, to answer calls from your customers with confidence. This ensures a great experience for your customers and a great service from your call agents, which can only be good for your business.

Advanced performance reporting

As well as unifying communications, our cloud telephony systems enable real time reports to be created. By viewing up-to-the-minute statistical and geographical data, you can assess all call centre activity, as can the supervisors managing your agent team.

Our systems are ultimately flexible and scalable: additional resources can be added to respond to increased demand. Services are provided on a pay for use basis, rather like traditional utilities, such as gas and water. This enables your business to focus resources when and where they are most needed.

This efficient approach to handling customer contact will streamline processes and offer numerous cost savings, meaning a great ROI for your business.

To find out how our contact centres could benefit your business, or for details on any of our cloud-based services, please call 0161 788 0000



Is your infrastructure future-proof?

29/11/18

The world of business is changing fast, as is the way we work. For a business to stay ahead of the competition, time should be spent thinking and planning for the future. Technologies are also developing fast, and businesses need to embrace them, or risk being left behind.

Here are some points to consider:

  • New ways of working: Work is no longer confined to an office desk, 9-5. Nowadays, many people undertake work on the move, outside of routine hours, or away from the office. The terms agile, mobile, remote and homeworking have become part of our everyday vocabulary.
  • Customer communication: Customers can contact a business via many different channels of communication: email, phone, instant message, web chat and social media. Businesses need to update customer information, regardless of how that customer gets in touch.
  • Data Security: Tougher legislation has been introduced, governing how data is handled and stored. A breach in security could not only be damaging to reputation but could result in a hefty fine too.
  • Changing needs:A business may enjoy a period of rapid growth (and subsequent increase in capacity demand) or could experience the need to scale-back or change direction. Lack of flexibility could hold the business back.
  • Business Focus: Most business owners understand the need for their team to be focussed on growth and development. They may choose to outsource tasks that are beyond their area of expertise or would be a drain on resources if undertaken in-house.
Cloud computing and telephony are revolutionising the way businesses operate. They offer flexibility and the reassurance that your organisation is ready for the future. Here are 5 key ways that migrating to the cloud can address the above business needs:

#1 - Mobile working
Employees working away from the office will need a suitable device (laptop, tablet or smartphone). They may require connection to the company network, in order to access the information and data needed for the task at hand.

Mobile working can increase the security risk to a business, due to access of data through a public, unprotected network, such as the Internet. Cloud telephony systems protect the business from a potential data or security breach, with the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

#2 - Keeping track of customer contact
Cloud telephony is a multimedia system, which unifies the communication channels your customers use to contact you. It can handle voice, data, video and instant messaging using a secure private network. It also offers CRM integration, so you can track all points of contact and enhance customer service.

When customers call a company, they will often make a decision based on their experience. If their call goes unanswered, they may decide to hang-up and are highly unlikely to call back.

Cloud telephony allows you to set-up auto attendant messages to greet and update your caller and choose appropriate music for them to listen to while they wait. These simple steps help to retain callers for longer, giving you the chance to take the call and gain a new customer.

#3 - Enhanced security
Both cloud telephony and computing systems offer more advanced security than traditional systems. The use of a VPN will protect the integrity of data used via mobile devices and lesson the likelihood of a security breach.

Cloud IT builds a sound security infrastructure, which makes cyber-crime far harder to commit. In fact, most cloud security breaches occur due to user error (inadequate or duplicate passwords for example), and not from being hacked!

Furthermore, data can be encrypted before it is sent or stored, and can only be accessed with the encryption key, which offers an additional layer of security.

#4 – Agility
Cloud-based solutions do not require the hardware needed for on-premises servers. Should the business headcount change, you can downsize or upscale your provision, without wasting money on unnecessary equipment, or needing to invest in additional hardware.

As the business needs change, services and capacity can be added or removed accordingly, and without delay. Changes to the configuration of the infrastructure are relatively easy to make, so there is no need to commit to requirements way ahead of time.

Cloud services are provided on a pay for use basis (so you need never pay for what you don’t use) but can respond quickly to increased demand.

#5 - Outsourced services
There are a number of key features that will allow staff members to use their skills on business-focussed tasks. Our cloud-based call centres can help your business by taking care of customer contact in a professional and efficient manner. Managing this in-house can put a strain on resources, particularly when call volumes are varied and unpredictable.

With cloud computing, we manage your business infrastructure, so no more need for expensive IT engineers, or in-house troubleshooting. This means your IT team are free to focus on core business improvements.

Cloud-based solutions are flexible and are configured to your current need and scale. They offer advanced security features and reduced costs.

If you would like to know more about how to future-proof your business or talk to us about any of our cloud-based services, please call 0161 788 4400.



Part 2: Change how you communicate with your customers

07/11/18

There are many ways for businesses to communicate with customers, and customers to contact a business, including: email, instant messaging, on-line chat and social media. However, phone-calls are still an essential part of doing business, and the preferred method of communication for many customers with queries, orders to place or issues to resolve.

Businesses spend the vast majority of their marketing budget trying to get people to call them. It’s the number one CTA (Call to Action) for on-line and off-line promotion. With such a high investment made in persuading people to pick up the phone, why would any business risk offering a bad experience when they do?

Better for business
Taking care of customers when they contact your business will have a direct influence on your ability to convert and retain their custom. Significant improvements can also be made to business processes, which increase productivity by reducing wasted time.

Cloud Telephony can benefit your business in the following ways:

  • Higher caller retention - leading to greater opportunities to engage with customers.
  • Increased productivity - auto attendant messages mean callers can be diverted to the right department, by selecting the relevant option themselves. This reduces the time staff members spend processing calls, only having to respond to appropriately directed customers.
  • Professional image - style of music, automatic messages and targeted responses will all help build an impression of the business being reliable, credible and professional.
  • Product & service awareness - a waiting customer offers the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of services and products that may be of interest to them and can be tailored to specific product launches or service updates.
  • Dispute resolution - call recording enables a business to review their customer experience: to demonstrate that they are up-to-speed with all communication and consistent in their response.
  • Performance analytics - businesses can review call management, response times, length of calls, customer satisfaction and conversion rate, all of which help to address pain-points and build on strengths.
Good customer service is key in business, from the moment a customer decides to pick up the phone, and in every subsequent communication. Cloud Telephony offers many ways to enhance and monitor customer contact, so that calls can be well managed, and callers feel valued.

If you would like to know how we can help your business to communicate well with your customers, please call 0161 788 0000 or email sales@incom.co.uk

Read Part 1: Find out how Cloud Telephony is changing the way we communicate with customers and delivering a better customer experience



Part 1: Change how you communicate with your customers

05/11/18

Click to view full-sized picture in a new window.

The experience customers receive when contacting a business can create the right or wrong impression and build a picture of how the business values its customers. This experience will influence customers’ purchasing choices and ultimately whether or not they wish to become, or continue to be, your customer.

Taking care of callers
Incredibly, 70% of customers who call a business will be placed on hold and left listening to boring messages or, worse still, nothing at all. This immediately increases the chance of a customer hanging up, and if they do, 34% will never call back. They have been more or less driven into the arms of a competitor.

It is not always possible for a customer call to be answered immediately or go straight through to the individual or department they need to speak to. However, how the call is handled will influence their likelihood of holding on, their patience levels and the way they will engage with your business once they reach you.

What customers want
Cloud Telephony is changing the way we communicate with customers and delivering a better experience. Customers want to know that they are valued and that their time is respected. They want to be reassured that they have dialled the right number, that someone knows they are waiting and that their call will be answered, or appropriately directed, as soon as possible.

Some of the key customer benefits with Cloud Telephony are:

  • Callers can be greeted with an automated message, to reassure them that they have dialled the correct number and are through to the business as a valued customer.
  • Callers can listen to music, chosen for the business, which will hold their interest far longer than silence or a constant ringing tone. The style of music is appropriate to the identity of the company and helps to build the business brand.
  • Auto attendant messages, or scripts, are used to reassure the caller while placed on hold or diverted to the appropriate department. Again, the voice used for these messages can be matched to the business identity.
  • Calls can be seamlessly diverted to business mobile, as they operate as part of a unified communications system and are connected to the business telephony network.
  • Calls can be recorded, which reassures customers regarding anything that has been discussed, agreed, or previously reported.
Good customer service is key in business, from the moment a customer decides to pick up the phone, and in every subsequent communication. Cloud Telephony offers many ways to enhance and monitor customer contact, so that calls can be well managed, and callers feel valued.

If you would like to know how we can help your business to communicate well with your customers, please call 0161 788 0000 or email sales@incom.co.uk

Read Part 2: Find out how Cloud Telephony can make significant improvements to your business processes and increase productivity by reducing wasted time.



Dispel the myths and concerns around Cloud Computing

10/10/18

Cloud Computing is transforming the way businesses communications structures are designed and built. However, number of high-profile security and data breaches, with the potential to damage a company’s reputation, have left customers feeling vulnerable.

The good news is Cloud Computing offers better accessibility for mobile workers, a more streamlined work process and the opportunity to integrate applications, increasing productivity and reducing costs.

Safety in numbers
Since the year 2009, the global uptake of cloud computing has risen exponentially, and shows no sign of slowing down. More and more businesses are migrating to a system that offers reduced costs, increased flexibility, scalability, and, yes - better security!

This means that large companies are making big investments in adopting and developing Cloud storage platforms. The more money invested, the greater the emphasis on protecting data: efforts to improve security even further will continue in line with the rise in demand.

Storing data safely
Whilst hacking is the more publicised risk with data storage, the reality is there should be greater concern over lost data, or data that cannot be accessed. If the system goes down, while the data may be safe in the long term, an inability to gain access could be detrimental to workflow and business continuity.

This is why it is so important to choose the right cloud provider for your business. Established providers will have a system for backing up your data in highly secure data centres and have a robust plan in place for disaster recovery. It is also wise to consider access to data via an alternative platform, such as Google Drive, to keep the business operating if a system outage occurs.

Encryption
Data can be encrypted before being sent or stored via a cloud computing system. This is done by using complex algorithms to lock and conceal data on the cloud. In order for a would-be hacker to access this data, they would need to crack the encryption key, which is no easy task.

Hacking into encrypted data would take a huge level of processing power, specialised software and a great deal of time. Again, the superior level of layered security, which cloud computing builds into your infrastructure, makes trying to break in a laborious and unattractive proposition for cyber criminals.

Conclusion
Cloud computing is the number one choice of infrastructure for the future. We hope this guide has helped to dispel any doubts about security and highlight ways that both businesses and providers can work to keep data safe and secure.

To find out more about our cloud services and security measures, please call 0161 788 0000.



How safe is your data? Protect your data with Cloud Computing

05/10/18

Cloud computing is revolutionising the way businesses communication infrastructures are being designed and built.

However, many business owners have concerns around Cloud storage and security. Virtual servers allow Cloud IT providers to essentially run your infrastructure for you, and some businesses are uncomfortable with this perceived lack of control. This is even more the case if the business has its own on-premise server, with the ability to manage storage and backups in-house.

A number of high-profile security and data breaches, has further added to concerns, leaving customers and they reputations vulnerable. The good news is Cloud Computing is one of the safest ways to store data, here’s why:

It’s hard to hack the cloud
In comparison to traditional on-premises or data centre servers, it is relatively hard for hackers to break into a cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud-stored data is protected by a much more complex security system than locally stored data: it would require a very high level of technical expertise and a lot of time to break through.

Often, the reality behind reported cases of ‘hacking’ is that the weak link was actually individuals’ passwords, which present the opportunity for cyber criminals to calculate, or even guess, what they are.

Encryption
Data can be encrypted before being sent or stored via a Cloud Computing system. This is done by using complex algorithms to lock and conceal data on the Cloud. In order for a would-be hacker to access this data, they would need to crack the encryption key, which is no easy task.

Hacking into encrypted data would take a huge level of processing power, specialised software and a great deal of time. Again, the superior level of layered security, which cloud computing builds into your infrastructure, makes trying to break in a laborious and unattractive proposition for cyber criminals.

Conclusion
Cloud Computing is the number one choice of infrastructure for the future. Since the year 2009, the global uptake of cloud computing has risen exponentially, and shows no sign of slowing down.

To find out more about our cloud services and security measures, please call 0161 788 0000.



Want to give your customers the perfect first impression?

28/06/18

Did you know that, on average, 94% of a company’s marketing budget is spent trying to get people to call their business? When they do call, a staggering 70% are transferred or placed on hold, faced with uninteresting recorded messages or worse still – silence or beeps!

Customers are the most important thing to your business; however, a poor on-hold experience can cost even the most professional businesses with the highest quality products and services both financially and in terms of their reputation.

A professionally voiced on hold and auto attendant message will allow you to build a better customer experience using customised scripts and music, which are used when your client is on hold or transferred. These scripts can vary in length and in their content and can be professionally recorded with a specific type of voice. Or, you can feature in the script yourself!

The music you choose alongside these scripts can reflect the nature of your company and industry, whether that is relaxed and calming or upbeat and motivational, the choice is yours.

How can professionally voiced on hold and auto attendant messages benefit your business?

  • Keeping your customer’s attention – 34% of callers who hang up will never call back. Customers are far more likely to hang up when on hold if there is no message or music to keep them interested
  • Improved efficiency and productivity – Thanks to the auto-attendant feature, callers can be directed to the right department by picking the correct option. This significantly reduces the amount of times your team are having to answer calls that are not related to their department, meaning less interruptions and increased productivity
  • Increases product and service awareness – 20% of callers who hear an on-hold message make a purchasing decision based on the information they have heard. On hold messages provide the perfect opportunity to use your scripts to advertise other areas of your business that may suit specific customers, such as your website
  • Enhancing your brand image and reputation – a professional audio message and music to suit your business will make your company sound more professional, ultimately leading to customers believing you’re a reliable business
  • Nurturing customer relationships – updating your messages to suit special occasions or thanking your customers for their business and patience will build a personal connection between you and your clients – it’s all about caring for your customers
  • Psychologically reduces your hold time – 90% of callers will hang up after 40 seconds if confronted with silence. The use of music and messages will provide a more pleasurable on hold experience, making time fly by!
With over three decades experience delivering multi award-winning communications solutions to our customers, our expert team can help you create a bespoke on hold and auto attendant solution which will help increase sales opportunities, enhance customer service and improve efficiency and productivity.

For more information, speak with our expert solutions team on 0800 054 2576 email sales@incom.co.uk



How To Assure Network and Service Quality

08/06/18

People are more connected than ever. We call, text, email, message, tweet and view streams of data across multiple communications channels every day. For telecoms providers, this increases the importance of maintaining robust service quality.

According to research from Teleco Professionals, 75% of telecoms service providers make network quality a key selling point, and yet, “50% of subscribers may churn this year because of it.”

When networks were smaller, maintaining service quality wasn't as challenging. These days, network providers need to work with multiple partners and suppliers, and are supporting the needs of many more customers, most of them using the infrastructure and systems to stream a heavier volume of data. Networks are investing more to ensure consumer and business needs are being met, now and into the future.

Assuring Service Quality Telecoms network providers, partners and suppliers all have a role to play in ensuring network quality is maintained.

1. Forget about fault management
Managing service assurance is far more complex, more strategic than the traditional role played by the teams and partners/suppliers that fixed faults and responded to service issues. Traditionally, that was a reactive role. Now the work involved is proactive, with an emphasis on detecting issues before they become a problem and avoiding downtime at all costs.

2. Managing and sourcing an information flow
Detecting potential faults are more complex. Telecoms providers need to position themselves in the centre of a proactive information flow. Data needs to come in from multiple sources, from partner networks, complex value chains and thousands of other inputs, including monitoring systems for billions of pounds of hardware spread across the UK and worldwide.

3. Service and hardware inventory and repair records
One of the most effective ways to know what/when repairs are needed is to maintain digital records, in real-time, connected to an inventory of network hardware and systems. Integrating repair records with asset management systems gives those responsible for maintenance another way to check when upgrades are needed, which helps to ensure that downtime is kept to a minimum.

4. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) aligned with demand and business objectives
Maintaining network service quality need to align with two core objectives: The telecom provider’s aims and consumer demand patterns. Providing the two are aligned, performance targets and a program of continuous improvements should eliminate or reduce temporary problems that can cause network failures and customer dissatisfaction.

5. Proactive retention strategies
A certain percentage of customers will always churn - leave the network - but your provider shouldn’t be complacent. Every lost customer is lost revenue, and 50% will leave networks as a direct result of call/data quality. Solving problems quickly - ensuring issues are relayed from customers service staff - is one of the most effective ways to keep churn to a minimum. Investing in next generation maintenance and service assurance systems is another way to avoid quality issues costing networks money. Customers need to see that their providers are proactively striving to improve their experience.

What does this mean to your business? Use the points above to benchmark providers when choosing business telephony solutions or if you’re thinking of switching providers. Downtime and poor service costs your business money, potentially negating the savings you may make with a cheaper provider. While cloud telephony will deliver costs savings to your business compared to existing legacy telecoms systems, service quality must override price as be a key factor in your decision.

Communications downtime either through human error or because of cyber-attack or disaster does happen; therefore, you’ll want to work with a business telecoms provider that will support your organisation in getting back to business as soon as possible. Ask about their business continuity plans and how they will support you.

Our expert team will guide you through the necessary considerations and help you assure network and service quality. Speak with us on 0800 054 2576 or email sales@incom.co.uk

Download Our Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet



Best Practices for Cloud Communications Migration

02/05/18

Businesses are more mobile and connected than ever. Migrating telephony and other communications to the Cloud are one of the most sensible ways modern companies can adapt to the changing needs and increasing demands of customers and team members.

However, it should be noted that similar to other business transformation activities, migrating to the Cloud should not be done without a clear strategy. Whilst Cloud Communications come with numerous benefits and savings; it can be an expensive process if those driving the project don't communicate a clear plan of action.

Businesses have a range of options, including Public or Private Cloud, and/or hybrid solutions. Some chose to keep some aspects of their system on-site, even if this is only a redundant backup PBX. There is also a range of infrastructure options, such as dedicated, hosted and virtualized.

Whatever systems and hosting solution you choose, there are a series of steps that need to be taken, based on industry best practise and our experience of migrating numerous companies.

Best Practice: Cloud Communications Action Plan

#1: Assemble your migration team
Small businesses should have at least one director responsible for the project. Whereas, in larger organisations, a team should be formed from different departments, e.g. customer services, operations, IT; to ensure the relevant parties are in constant contact during the project. This team should have senior management sponsorship and the right resources and permissions to drive the project forward.

So, this goes smoothly after implementation, ensure you take end-users views and feedback into consideration before commencing the project.

#2: Outline your objectives
Each business will have its own aims, but everyone we work with has one core aim: to ensure the migration is smooth and as seamless as possible. Keeping disruption to a minimum is important. Within these aims, think about the other systems that need integrating with your principle telephony systems and staff mobile contracts. Aiming for a unified system, one that connects multiple communication channels is realistic and achievable for most budgets. It’s better to include these aims at this stage than ask for another integration during the process.

#3: Assess current contracts, hardware and licenses
Over the years, most companies accumulate a mishmash of communication channels and contracts. This can get confusing and expensive. Before going ahead, review where you stand with your contracts so that you know what has ended, what will end soon, and which have already expired. Share this information with the Cloud partner you select to manage your migration, telephony contracts and systems.

#4: Do a systems discovery
Not everything about a legacy communication system is how it appears. Review which channels and hardware rely on third-party solutions, then outline how/whether you can replace these with something more agile. Some of these may come with their own contracts, so check what has already expired or what will expire soon.

#5: Plan the roadmap
Working with your new business communications partner, plan the roadmap you need to get from where you are to your simplified, Unified Cloud-based goal. Thanks to the work you’ve already done and the team you assembled (stage 1), this step should be relatively painless, resulting in a clear roadmap and timeline that you can put into action.

After the systems have been migrated, test them. Make sure end-users and admin/managers can use them without difficulty and provide training as needed. Cloud providers will also help with this stage, as much or as little as you need. Once all of this is done, you can retire your legacy systems and in some cases, sell the PBX (Private Branch Exchange) and other pieces of hardware, potentially recouping some of the initial investment.

Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.



5 Ways Your Telephony Systems Are Costing Your Business

06/04/18

Click to view full-sized picture in a new window.

Fact: Legacy systems are costing you money, and these costs are only going to increase the longer it takes to switch over to more modern, unified and flexible communication systems.

Even when older systems still work, on-site PBX (private branch exchanges) are increasingly at risk from failing. Sourcing spare parts and engineers capable of fixing them will get more difficult, and expensive. Not investing now will cost more in the future.

If you’ve not switched over to high-speed fibre broadband or another up-to-date alternative, you soon won’t have a choice, with networks no longer supporting ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) after 2025. Customers and staff need to work with companies that support modern, faster communication channels; your businesses depend on this, now more than ever.

If this sounds like scaremongering, it’s not. Below are five ways your legacy telephony systems are costing your business.

Legacy Telephony Systems: Bottom Line and Intangible Costs
#1: Higher running costs Compared with modern solutions, such as SIP - Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) - trunking, an Internet-based service that connects Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) customers to traditional phone networks, PBX systems are expensive. Similar to the cost of keeping servers on-site instead of the cloud, you have all of the hardware and maintenance to include in the budget.

#2: Reduced flexibility Businesses that need to move, expand, or need another office/site, can scale more easily with cloud-based systems. The same is true if your headcount goes up or down. Unified Communications offer the kind of flexibility that is more expensive and time consuming with legacy technology.

#3: Missing out on savings Telephony systems that aren't compatible with modern technology also have higher operating costs. New phone systems can take advantage of lower voice, video and data costs, which means you can save even more over the year.

#4: Vulnerable systems Out-dated systems, with less sophisticated security, are more vulnerable to hackers and cyber criminals. We saw that with the WannaCrypt - ransomware - an attack that crippled the NHS earlier this year and the more recent Petya attack.

#5: Unable to cope with demand Customers want quick responses, irrespective of the communication channel they use: phone, instant message, social media, email, or web chat. Front-line staff need access to CRM systems so that they can trace the contact history, which is normal in most medium to large companies. But these systems are only effective when the technology connecting staff to customers - and one another - is equally up-to-date; otherwise you end up with unhappy customers and frustrated staff.

Considering these costs, maintaining legacy systems can seem like a costly endeavour. Switching to modern, Unified Communications technology and services is smarter, better for customers and staff, and cheaper.

To find out more and discuss your requirements, contact our team. We would be delighted to talk you through the options and crunch the figures to see what savings your business could actually get.

Cheat sheet: Migrating from ISDN to SIP – A Roadmap download.

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