Monthly Archives: January 2014

A (non Volkswagen variety) T1 101

VolkT1

This is not the T1 you are looking for

I grew up dreaming of owning a Volkswagen T1, the first ever mini-van and poster child of the hippie era and eventually I did manage to find one. In the month I drove it, it was 1) loud, 2) unreliable and 3) psychotically expensive to run. I sold it at a loss because, sanity.

When I got my first ever T1 data connection, it was way better. Reliable, affordable and fast, it was everything my old van wasn’t, except it wasn’t even slightly cool looking.

What is a T1 exactly? A T1 line refers to a specific type of copper or fibre optic telephone line that carries more data than traditional telephone lines. Twisted copper telephone lines have been the standard since practically Alexander Graham Bell was around, and are still used today to transmit voice and data. That standard is being upgraded to fibre optic lines, but most T1 lines are still made of twisted copper and creates a “pipe” capable of blowing through lots of data.

Reliable

T1 service provides dedicated access meaning it is never shared, thus always providing businesses with maximum speed that should rarely be subject to the slowdowns shared services experience at peak hours.

T1 + Business Phone System

T1 lines are mostly used to transmit 24 digitized voice channels, meaning they can provide phone service to an entire office building. Businesses that require multiple phone lines can save a bunch of money by getting a dedicated T1 with a PRI (A what? See here) from a local phone company like NEWT. Perfect for a PBX business phone system, like the NEWT Managed PBX, T1/PRI’s can reduce telecom charges dramatically as companies will no longer have to pay multiple monthly phone line charges, plus NEWT’s Business PRI service includes all Canadian long distance. Bonus!

Cost Effective

Pricing for the T1 line is location dependent due to the distance between the telcom and the place of business. NEWT’s T1 services start at $495.00/Month.

In many cases T1’s can save companies a bundle on their monthly telecom bills. To find out if a T1 is a good fit for your company, please give the NEWT team a call at 1-866-261-3585 or visit our website for more information.

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Heavy call volume? Cut your overhead with a PRI

PRIFirst, a quick explanation of what a PRI is…

There are two varieties of ISDN service offered: BRI or Basic Rate Interface and PRI or Primary Rate Interface. BRI is a low capacity service intended for residential and small business applications. PRI is the high capacity service carried on T1 trunk lines between telco central offices and your location.

PRI divides a T1 digital signal into 24 channels of 64 Kbps capacity per channel. 23 of these channels can be assigned as one telephone call each, the equivalent of having 23 separate telephone lines. The 24th channel is used for signaling information and special features such as caller ID. This service provides DID or Direct Inbound Dialing for direct station calling with a 10 digit number to a person or department.

That’s a basic PRI. The NEWT PRI is a digital access solution that connects the NEWT Voice Network to a PBX or phone system, while offering multiple feature functionalities. NEWT PRI improves day-to-day calling operations, reduces phone system complexity by eliminating the need for voice lines or trunks and includes features such as Calling Line Identification (CLID) and Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS): while increasing call connect speed and productivity.

20-40% Cost Saving:

The NEWT PRI typically reduces your monthly local access cost by switching from traditional analog phone lines to PRI digital services. Savings average between 20 – 30%. NEWT PRI also includes unlimited local and long distance calling in Canada adding even more to the savings.

Features:

DID (Direct Inward Dialing) feature allows users/departments to have their own dedicated phone number. This alleviates congestion in the auto-attendant, eliminates clients need to route through menus to speak with end user, provides a personal feel to clients, and provides privacy to end user.

DID LoIX feature is the same as the DID feature but allows the user to use a dedicated phone number outside their local calling area. The is great for marketing to provide a virtual local presence rather than using a Toll Free number. Also, eliminates Toll Free usage charges.

Increase Productivity:

ISDN PRIs are more effective than traditional analog lines. Length of time to answer and place calls is shortened, which is critical for small to large call centres to manage more calls per day.

Equipment Required:

NEWT’s ISDN PRIs are provisioned on DS1/T1 access and demark CPE (Customer Provided Equipment) from customer premise to Fibernetics CLEC Network. ISDN PRIs are compatible with the majority of Key Systems and PBXs.

Who Needs a PRI:

ISDN PRI are used by mid-market to enterprise companies as ISDN PRIs can support large volume of inbound and outbound calling.

For more information we invite you to contact our sales team to see if the NEWT PRI is a good fit for your organization. 1-888-996-6398

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Some Lesser Known Features of the NEWT Managed PBX

WebThis week our in-house trainer Lesley Forbes held a drop-in Webinar Session for NEWT Managed PBX business phone system clients, answering any questions they may have on their phone system.

Beyond the usual FAQ’s, the following three jumped out at Leslie because they don’t come up too often.

Question #1 : Client has two business telephone numbers under different business names. Only one receptionist for both businesses. When she dials out is there a way that the individual business number can appear so she can differentiate to the person she dials ?

Answer – By using the dial prefix drop down box within the telephone number tab you can select via the drop down box a dial prefix number that can be used when dialing out. When dialing out use the prefix number the number associated with the option you selected and saved.

Question #2 : Can you adjust the ring tone to be different for transferred calls vs incoming calls on an extension?

Answer – By adjusting the ring type on a handset and changing the incoming ring tone on a phone number via the phone number tab in the Configuration Facility; it will allow the caller the option to differentiate the type of call that is coming to their handset. Transferred calls will ring according to the handset setting vs incoming direct calls will ring according to the phone number setting

Question # 3: what is the difference between the YES setting vs COMPRESSED setting in the voicemail to email option in an extension page?

Answer–  “COMPRESSED” delivers a smaller sized wavefile which may interfere with the sound quality of the message. The “YES” option will deliver the wavefile in its original size and should not impact the sound quality of the message.

Having over 60 features on the NEWT Managed PBX means knowing them all, and taking advantage of what’s there is an ongoing process. That’s precisely what Lesley’s training sessions are all about.

If you are interested in taking part in one of Lesley’s twice weekly training sessions please register here.

Also, if you have a question you need answered, during the seminar Lesley also will field any “HOT TOPIC” questions our clients would like addressed in the workshop. If you have any questions, please send them to newttraining@corp.fibernetics.ca by noon the day before the session.

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Corporate Culture and the Preferred Parking Spot

Preferred_Parking2At Fibernetics we are always trying to improve our corporate culture. Besides making the work environment more pleasant, it’s also good business. Happy employees make for better workers who, in turn, provide better service for our customers.

We have dozens of programs both large and small that are designed to make everyone’s working experience better and one example is centered around who gets to park where.

Every office has the perfect parking spot, and usually it is reserved for someone high up in company, the president, CEO, general manager, whoever. Yet, is that really the best use of that valuable real estate? Those folks already have plenty of perks. Do they really need to have the shortest walk to the front door?

Like many other companies, Fibernetics has come up with an alternative assignment for this spot, (in our case two spots), that works as both a competition and a reward. Every month we auction ours off in a day-long bidding war, with the proceeds going to charity.

It’s fun, it’s competitive and it raises money for charity. Win. Win. Win. Other businesses have also embraced the idea with these being some of the most popular:

1. Stork Parking

Expectant mothers should get convenient, front row spaces.

2. Green Parking

Car poolers, hybrid cars, electric cars and bikes should get primo parking spots to encourage reducing our overall carbon footprint.

3. Employee-of-the-Month Parking

Many businesses have Employee-of-the-Month programs. instead of a certificate, why not go a step further and all he or she to enjoy a premiere parking for a month.

Improving corporate culture is an ongoing exercise, and not every perk has to be something major. Even something as basic as a parking spot.

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The Woeller Group benefits from NEWT training

newt_beyond_telecomTraining is an essential part of the entire NEWT package, because as simple as the system is to install, manage and use, the extensive feature set can be daunting for new users. Once a system is installed, the training doesn’t stop there as new features are always being introduced, and new employees require education as well.

Lesley Forbes is one of our in-house training specialists and she holds regular webinar training sessions for NEWT clients, and also hits the road for remote training sessions as well.

The Woeller Group distributes wholesale upholstery fabrics and leathers, wall-coverings custom furniture and decorative lighting to the interior design and architectural industry. A mainstay in the Canadian upholstery textile industry since the 1920’s, Jon Woeller now heads the family business and he and his staff had a recent training session to get everyone “up to speed” on the latest and greatest from the NEWT Managed PBX business phone system.

We really appreciate his feedback.

Woeller_Group

 

January 16, 2014
Lesley Forbes
Newt training
Cambridge, ON

Dear Lesley:

It has been over 2 years now that we have been using the [NEWT] PBX phone system and we are very pleased. There have been only a few minor issues with call quality and hardware, but in each instance, the issue has been corrected quickly and efficiently by people who obviously care about us as a customer. It’s refreshing to finally experience high quality customer service from a telephone company.

One of the concerns we had before switching from our conventional phone system to the PBX was the learning curve involved. We are all creatures of habit and change can be intimidating. This is where you stepped in and made the process comfortable for us. We were provided instructional information prior to the training session that allowed us to learn some basics and compile a list of questions before your arrival. When you arrived, you greeted us with a very warm, friendly approach that left us with a positive lasting impression of you.

The session you conducted was well executed and we were impressed with your working knowledge of the system. You were very organized taking us through all of the features as a group and then again separately to insure we had a good understanding and were comfortable using the system. Our session lasted about 3 hours but you assured us you would stay as long as it took. In addition to the training, you helped us record an auto attendant message, established ring patterns, created a conference bridge and reviewed the back end console. We were fully functioning by the time you left the office that day.

Since our initial training, we have required your service on a few occasions. Each time you have been prompt to respond and always follow up to make sure our needs have been met. We enjoy working with you and value your service. Wishing you all the best with your business in the future!

Sincerely,
Jon Woeller
President
Woeller Group

P.O. BOX 666 KITCHENER ON CANADA N2G 4B8 TEL: 877 963-5537 FAX : 877 963-9955
www.woeller.com

If you are interested in taking part in one of Lesley’s twice weekly online training sessions please register here.

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NEWT Managed PBX & Handset Drop in Workshop

newt_beyond_telecomTraining is an essential part of the entire NEWT package, because as simple as the system is to install, manage and use, the extensive feature set can be daunting for new users. Once a system is installed, the training doesn’t stop there as new features are always being introduced, and new employees require education as well.

Lesley Forbes is one of our in-house training specialists and she holds regular webinar training sessions for NEWT clients. These sessions are designed to educate and inform NEWT clients on how to get the most of their phone system:

  • Inform and train on features of the system so customers can take full advantage of the benefits of the NEWT PBX solution
  • Operation of the handsets or questions about the handsets or functions
  • Best practices for Auto-Attendant or Call Flow setup
  • Best practices or setup for extension features like Find Me Follow Me, Time of day scheduling, voicemail to email, etc.
  • General system or setup questions

During the seminar Lesley also will field any “HOT TOPIC” questions our clients would like addressed in the workshop. If you have any questions, please send them to newttraining@corp.fibernetics.ca by noon the day before the session.

If you are interested in taking part in one of Lesley’s twice weekly training sessions please register here.

The NEWT Team

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Is Voicemail Killing Your Business Communication?

voicemailYou are on the phone. It’s ringing. You’re looking at your computer, checking email, web pages, the sports scores, whatever, while waiting for the voicemail to pick up and then BOOM!

An actual person answers. You instantly panic… “What on earth was I calling about?”

With the wide adoption of voicemail, that’s become the way of things. So universal in its use, the concept of talking to the person you actually intended to call is not only a surprise, it’s almost annoying.

Yet, you were calling for a reason, and whatever that reason was, it would have been better handled with a one-to-one interaction with a real person on the end of the line then and there, instead of leaving a message, requesting a call back and the inevitable telephone tag that follows.

We all want to get things done, and businesses that are too reliant on the convenience that is voicemail suffer from it, perhaps even terminally. Once seen as the universal answer to optimizing business communications, now the “direct to voicemail” option on phone systems are keeping companies out of touch with their existing or potential clients.

Ask yourself, in the past month, how many times have you called up a service provider, and been sent to voicemail instead of talking to a representative? Me? Our furnace went out during the deep freeze after the holidays and I was on the phone calling seemingly dozens of companies looking for a repair person, any repair person. Finally, I got in touch with an actual guy and booked the appointment then and there.

Over the next few days I received a bunch of call backs from those voicemails that I’d left. Not only did they not get my business when I needed it, they lost out on future business as the nice fella who fixed my furnace also sold me on a replacement unit which he will be installing next week.

How many of your employees are dealing with potential client calls the same way? How many of them actually pick up when the phone rings? And how much potential business are you losing due to this modern “convenience?”

As a business owner, you can’t afford to have the customers you have worked so hard to attract go elsewhere for any reason, and voicemail should be the least of those.

So – what to do?

First, check you technology: Is your business phone system exacerbating the problem by not allowing calls to get through easily? The NEWT Managed PBX has a feature set specifically designed to get your clients on the phone with your employees where ever they are. There’s Find Me Follow Me that routes calls to multiple numbers simultaneously or in sequence ie: office extension, home, cell or alternate number — wherever a live point of contact is the, that call will find them. Call Ques allow inbound calls to a particular destination (i.e. Sales, Service) to queue up while waiting for an available staff member to take their call. Better than being on hold, and certainly better than going to voicemail or worst of all, a busy tone, as soon as a staff member is available, the ‘queued’ call rings their phone. Those are just two examples of the features available to you to ensure no call goes unanswered as soon as possible.

And second, culture: Even with the best technology, the base solution to this increasingly serious business communication issue is, employees have to snap out their voicemail addiction and start picking up the phone.

Incoming calls are the lifeblood of most businesses. It’s probably time you gave yours a checkup.

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Scalability: Not thinking about it today means you’ll pay tomorrow

Definition: scal-a-bil-ity \ˈskā-lə-bəl-i-teeˈ\

verb. The ability to increase the size of a business while either maintaining or increasing its profit margin.

A simple definition for something that, unless your business is built to do it, is rarely done well.

This guy wasn't thinking ahead

This guy wasn’t thinking ahead

Creating and managing a scaling enterprise requires a delicate balance of handling massively increased capacity without an equally massive increase in overhead.

This donkey understands this better than most.

Highly scalable companies are built from the ground up with a consistent strategy to maintain minimal impediments to growth.

Of course, some businesses are just born scalable. Grocery stores can handle radical increases in business with ease by simply adding more guys to keep the shelves stocked, and more staff to man the checkouts. ISP’s like NEWT’s parent company, Fibernetics, can dela with increases in demand easily as the network is designed to do exactly that. Facebook and Google are two other perfect examples.

Other business models are not however. Restaurants, in order to handle increased volume, also require increased seating areas and kitchen equipment to handle the rush. Once business slows down, that large capital investment is just sitting there and virtually impossible to scale back.

What about your business? Are you in a position to grow easily, or are impediments to expansion part of your business’ DNA?

There is a simple way to evaluate your current situation by looking at your fixed costs. Fixed, indirect or overhead costs are business expenses independent from the goods you produce or the services you provide. 

To improve scalability, many of those fixed costs can you convert to variable costs.

“All too often, small businesses get locked into large, fixed expenses unnecessarily,” writes Steve Strauss, USA Today small business columnist. “Business owners see these expenses as unavoidable or costs that can only be reduced in the long term.”

They’re wrong. There are numerous and painless changes any business can implement. Here are just a few:

HR requirements: hire freelancers, encourage telecommuting, standardize and simplify processes as much as possible to minimize training requirements for new people.

Product or service line: Do you really need to do it all? Figure out how much each product or service is contributing to the bottom line, weighed against the added complexity it brings to your business.

Focus on Self-Service: Ordering, account information, service or product notifications can all be taken online minimizing and streamlining each process and enabling unimpeded growth.

And of course you have to look at your basic business infrastructure, like, (here it comes), your phone system. As every business grows, there will be a need to add more extensions and phone lines to handle the increased call volume. If you are buying a phone system today that is incapable of supporting your business, two, five or ten years from now, you are making a scalability mistake, that, down the road will cost you.

The same applies for all our your long term business tools in fact, but let’s stick with the phones for this example.

If you’re an entrepreneur, or a small business with plans to grow, your phone system requirements are probably currently minimal. However, that doesn’t mean you should look for the cheapest, bare bones solution. Instead, think where you plan to be in a decade and purchase a system that is capable of starting small with you and that will keep pace with your projected growth. Phone systems that are designed to scale, liken the NEWT Managed PBX, are at their lowest price point when brand-new because of lower introductory prices to entice business owners to purchase. Because of this, it makes sense to take advantage of the initial lower price for the base system, and pay as you go when adding extensions, more features, more data connections and whatever new technology will be the “must-have” in 2024. There may be more money paid out in the beginning, but you only have to make a single purchase today, and one that will guarantee greater savings down the road.

Not every business is born to scale, but those that are built to scale have the best chance of getting there.

 

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Show me the money – An Interview with Roy Graydon

Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resources management interviewed Roy Graydon, president and CFO, Fibernetics, NEWT & Worldline on his strategy on balancing employee compensation, benefits and engaging his workforce.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 1.16.12 PM

How important are compensation and benefits when it comes to employee satisfaction?

Having an employee ask for too high a raise can be a difficult scenario, but when Roy Graydon, president and CFO of Fibernetics, was faced with this dilemma, he took a creative approach. It turned out the employee had an old car and couldn’t afford to buy a new one, so she was looking for extra income. As an alternative, the telecom company asked to her to research financing options over five years, and then paid for her car allowance.

“She had a specific problem… we addressed that problem rather than allow it to be a discussion about base salary,” says Graydon.  If Fibernetics had raised her salary, it’s possible the employee still would have left the company anyway. This kind of approach helps with retention, he says.

When it comes to employee engagement, compensation is an important part of the recipe — but it’s only a single ingredient, says Graydon. “You can’t fix all problems through compensation and you can’t create engaged employees simply through compensation.  But it’s a very important part of the overall package, for sure.”  And there’s a huge correlation between happy or satisfied employees and happy customers, he says, which affects a company’s performance.

Roy Graydon

“A company’s most significant competitive advantage is an engaged workforce.”

“Our employees are all, at one level or another, impacting or interacting with our customers and if they are happy and engaged, that shines through in the interaction and our customers get a different experience as a result, which creates more happy customers.” But that doesn’t mean employee engagement is a huge factor when it comes to determining compensation levels, says Graydon.

“We determine compensation levels based on what our understanding of the description of the job is and what kind of total compensation that position can support in terms of the cost to the organization. We’re looking at paying a very fair base level of compensation and we’re looking at adding to that perks and benefits that round out the overall package,” he says.

“But I don’t think we approach it from the perspective of ‘We need to offer more money so employees will be happier.’ What we want is to create a culture or environment where people are happy and, as part of that, they feel they are fairly compensated.”  Benefits, on the other hand, are more important than compensation when it comes to employee engagement, says Graydon. Fibernetics wants employees to be impressed by its offerings, with interesting aspects that may not be offered elsewhere. For example, the company funds the costs of massages,  with no limit.

“There are a lot of little things you can do from a benefits point of view that stand out and are highly valuable to employees, and help us with attracting the right kind of people and keeping those people,” he says.  “In many respects, spending a little bit of money enhancing a benefits plan goes farther than spending a little bit of money to give everybody a raise — ideally you want to do both, you hate to be in an either/or situation — but I think a benefits plan can be a huge competitive advantage to attracting employees.”

People feel that a good, strong benefit plan is part of a fair total compensation structure, says Graydon, who is based in Cambridge, Ont.  “Giving people money and saying, ‘Go self-insure’ or ‘Pay for your drugs directly because we’re paying you more money’ doesn’t work for people. Part of the whole perception of fairness is the understanding that we understand the importance of those kinds of benefits, and also we’re there to protect employees when the costs of those benefits exceed people’s expectations.”

While the 150-employee company offers primarily health and dental benefits, it hopes to offer some kind of employee savings plan in the future, such as a group registered retirement savings plan.

“None of us put away as much as we’d like and the idea that the organization is helping (employees) with that and providing an incentive to do that is an important part of that total compensation package,”  says Graydon.

Human resources and finance review Fibernetics’ benefits plan each year and discuss what changes need to be made along with reasonable allocations of the budget.  That can mean no longer offering benefits that don’t make sense, such as on-site massages because participation is low, he says.  And, of course, HR is involved in establishing compensation levels for new positions and reviewing compensation levels for each individual.

But when it comes to staying on top of trends and forecasting, the HR industry probably could do better, says Graydon.  “There are parts of HR that can be absolutely strategic to an organization’s ability to attract and retain the right people and I think there’s an opportunity for HR in general to propose things that could be a little bit creative.”

Oftentimes, people are only concerned about budget dollars, so they won’t consider alternatives, he says.  “A company’s most significant competitive advantage is an engaged workforce and anything that can help with that ought to be considered,” says Graydon. “There’s an opportunity for HR in general to push for a more detailed look at that side of the business — how does our compensation and benefits plan drive satisfaction and engagement?

“I don’t want to talk about salary, I don’t want to talk about benefits, I want to talk about the total compensation of a position, ‘What are all of the things that are going to go into that plan?’… And that goes for everything from health and benefits to life and disability insurance to car allowances and cellphone allowances — I want to know it all because I think that’s an important part of the package as well.”

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