Will Unified Comms benefit my business?

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If you have met with a Telecoms or IT salesperson recently then you will probably be aware of the term Unified Comms, although you may well be no clearer as to what it is and how it may help your business.

Unified Communications is the IT term for linking all of your business communications together. In its most integrated version emails, voicemails, messaging, mobiles, CRM and even diary entries are merged so that you have a complete picture of any communication with your customers as well as work that your staff are engaged in. The idea behind Unified Comms is that it should result in more efficient handling of all of your dealings with customers, with a more holistic overview and hopefully better customer service and reduced operating costs. Sounds great doesn’t it? However, this outcome isn’t always the case and it may not be the best option for your business.

Take for example integrating your telephone system with your diary so that before a call is put through to you the system checks your diary for availability, as well as your mobile, desk phone and softphone. This all seems a very good idea unless like me, and most likely 98% of us that run our own diaries, you forget to update your diary if you happen to finish a meeting early, or if it is overrunning. In these cases you risk receiving a call when you don’t want to, or missing a call when you are actually available to take it. Sometimes technology is too clever for its own good, or simply the features are unnecessary.

Although possible, Unified Comms doesn’t mean that you have to link everything together. There are real benefits in linking your telephone system with Outlook for example, so that you can click to dial your contacts, or with your CRM system so that the caller’s details pop up onto your screen, ready for you to view when you answer the call. Additional features such as sending voicemails to email inboxes helps staff that work away from the office as it allows them to listen to their voicemails on their smartphones. When you pick and choose the best option for your business such as mobile twinning (which means that when your office phone rings, your mobile does too), conferencing features that allow you to set up video or voice conferences from your diary or clicking to dial from the internet on a desktop computer, suddenly it all feels very beneficial. The great news is that all of these are standard features of simple Unified Comms.

It’s important to note that full integration can become expensive and the benefits can be clearly outweighed by the costs, so it may well be that your business will benefit from some degree of Unified Comms without committing to the full monty!

Of course there are plenty of suppliers, so do take your time evaluating the most suitable and be as realistic as possible about the levels of unification your business needs. Our team at Ubi has the experience as well as the products and services to be able to provide first class Unified Comms for any businesses from 5 to 500 staff. We would be delighted to speak with you if you would like to discuss the features available for Unified Comms and the best options for your business.

The importance of Guest Wi-Fi for your hospitality business

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In the hospitality sector the importance of having Guest Wi-Fi in place for customers is well understood, but just having it isn’t enough. There are lots of things to consider and this blog will help to guide you on not only how to satisfy your customers who have come to expect that Wi-Fi will be available to them, but will also give you helpful tips on how to leverage Guest Wi-Fi in order to help your business to grow and succeed.

Being compliant with GDPR

Businesses offering Guest Wi-Fi will need to be GDPR compliant. This means showing the terms and conditions to all customers before they connect to the network. If they decline the TCs & Cs then no personal data is allowed to be collected on them. Users can make a request to view all of the data that you have collected about them. This could include the locations they have logged in at, the devices and the amount of data they have used, marketing campaigns they have participated in and payments that they have made, so it’s a good idea to have a process in place that allows you to send this information in a timely manner.

Wi-Fi signal 

If you have gone to the trouble of offering Guest Wi-Fi to your customers, whether you are a coffee shop, restaurant, retail store or hotel, the connection needs to be strong. Wouldn’t it be awful if you had a customer who enjoyed your coffee or had a really great night’s stay but left a negative review because they had a poor connection, or worse, couldn’t connect at all? It is really important to invest in good Wi-Fi connectivity, so that your customers leave your venue satisfied with all areas of the service that you provide, and that really does include a decent Guest Wi-Fi connection.

Bandwidth speed

Having an even bandwidth speed for all customers is important. If the speed isn’t even, this could mean that some customers are streaming hours of video for example, while others have trouble connecting at all. It not only protects your business by stopping some customers from taking advantage of the Wi-Fi, but it shows that as a business you value all of your customers equally.

Security and ease of use

It is recommended to offer your customers a secure Guest Wi-Fi network to login to, rather than them having to ask staff members for a Wi-Fi password. Guests may expect hospitality venues to offer Wi-Fi, but they also won’t like to see a message that says they are about to join an unsecured network, as their devices may be visible to others. If you are going to take the step of having Guest Wi-Fi you may as well do it right. The best scenario is where customers can login securely just once and it will remember their device every time they visit your business, even if you have multiple locations. Not only does it eliminate frustration for the customer, but it means that your employees won’t be hassled with questions about the Wi-Fi password, which could be taking them away from their work. Very importantly, because it is secure you can feel confident that your customers won’t gain access to any business devices that may be connected to the Wi-Fi.

Branded login screen

If you are going to get Guest Wi-Fi you should definitely consider a branded login screen, not only will this login page feel secure to customers, but it gives you a chance to show off your business with your logo and company information. You could even promote an offer on this page, while they are already inside your venue! You may even go one step further and add a social login option, which allows users to gain access to your Guest Wi-Fi using their social media login details. This is a fantastic opportunity, as it encourages visitors to share your business on social media.

Brand loyalty  

Having a branded login screen is not only great for when your customers are at your venue, but it can be used as an opportunity to build trust and loyalty with your brand. You could let them know that they will receive exclusive offers if they fill out their details to receive emails or text alerts. This is a fantastic way to encourage your customers to come back again and again!

If you would like to know more about how you can leverage Guest Wi-Fi for your business then please contact us, we will be happy to help.

BT is telling me my phone lines are ceasing, what should I do?

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If you are a business owner you may be receiving daily calls from BT or from companies calling on behalf of BT, or your current provider telling you, in a rather worrying manner that your phone lines are being switched off and you need to speak with them immediately. The thing is, while there is truth in their end story, the timescales and implications aren’t necessarily as worrying or disruptive as they may suggest.

BT Openreach is in the process of upgrading its entire telecommunications infrastructure onto ‘IP’ and part of this involves phasing out ISDN2e lines, which are one of the most popular types of business lines used by small to medium sized businesses. The likelihood is that if your business has less than 8 inbound lines, you will be using ISDN2e lines and so you will be affected by the changes.

The new lines known as SIP, work over the internet, so in order to utilise them your business will need to have a good internet connection, ideally fast fibre, together with a compatible telephone system.

BT plans to switch off ISDN lines by 2025, but there are currently almost 2 million ISDN lines in use so there is no need to worry about being suddenly faced with no phone lines and a large unbudgeted bill for a new system. It is in your best interest however, to start planning now for the change by checking when your existing contracts are due for renewal. It’s a good idea to also start investigating the benefits of a new system on SIP lines versus a new Cloud system.

Both new SIP systems and Cloud telephony use the same IP technology and offer some great benefits such as excellent remote working, mobile phone apps, conference calling, free calls and multi-site working, but with a few key differences. Systems tend to cost less in the long run, they integrate better with third party applications, can be bought or rented and they work over any type of internal cabling. Cloud telephony on the other hand runs only on Cat5 or Cat6 data cabling and is paid for on a monthly licence plan. With Cloud every user handset needs a licence to work, rather like Windows365. Cabling is expensive, so if you have to upgrade your internal network to enable Cloud telephony it may well make it an uncompetitive choice.

Don’t be fooled into believing that Cloud telephony is the only way to go, as both Cloud and on-site systems use the same technology, so investigate which is the most suitable and cost-effective option for your business. As it stands currently, systems still account for over 87% of all business telephone installations in the UK.

It may be that you do need to change your telephone system to handle the new style of lines, as well as pay for the installation of the new style lines. However, this may not always be the case as most telephone systems supplied over the last few years are capable of handling the new lines, sometimes with only minor adjustments.

Ubi understand the implications of these changes so if you want to take the hassle away and would like us to find the best fit for your business then please contact us, we would love to speak with you.

Hosted Telephony | Ubi

Hosted telephony keeps your business working in disruptive weather

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The West Country is a beautiful place to live, but this last month has reminded many of us just how difficult it can be to keep a business running in the event of major weather disruption, like heavy snow fall. Snow isn’t as common here as it is in many parts of the UK, but winter storms are! Because of the distances that some of us need to travel and the lack of public transport when we do have dangerous weather conditions, the infrastructure just isn’t in place to ensure that staff can still commute to work.

This past month we have seen so many people taking a risk by trying to commute to work through lanes that are easily blocked or flooded and through snowy and icy conditions. Because of the weather, so many businesses haven’t been able to fully trade. Even those businesses lucky enough to be served by public transport are exposed when buses and trains are cancelled.

On top of people being unable to make it to work when the weather gets really bad, add power failure to the mix and it may seem that even if you could get to your place of work, you might not be able to work when you get there, because the technology is down too. So the big question is how will customers contact you if the phone lines are dead and you have no power? If your team can’t be available to take calls, you could be losing business, not to mention you may have frustrated customers when everything is back to normal.

But this needn’t be the case. Modern hosted telephony and IT gives you the opportunity to ensure that your business’s communication is highly resilient and very importantly that you can always be contacted by your customers. Office phone numbers can be re-pointed at mobiles, home numbers or alternative branches within a few moments, at any time of the day, 365 days a year. Staff can work from laptops, mobile phones or be contactable on their own home phones. This means that they can still truly be part of your business communication at no cost to them and without giving away their private numbers to customers. You also have the ability to measure and see how your calls have been handled and by whom. In short, wherever your team can access the internet or their mobile phone they can work, whether that’s at a coffee shop or bar or at home in their kitchen.

Not only does hosted telephony allow your business to run seamlessly in the event of dangerous weather so that you can continue to serve customers, but you have the added peace of mind of knowing that your staff are safe too. The good news is that it may even cost less to run than your current set up. If you would like to know more about how you can make your business more resilient then we’d love to speak with you.