Who’s Answering Your VolP?
BY Carlo Chapman
For construction companies of every size, the pandemic accelerated the shift toward hybrid information technology solutions that facilitate both remote and in-office communications between customers and employees. In the marketplace today, this involves mobile and office phones with integrated software that offer sophisticated voice, video, messaging, and workforce management capabilities.
This has augmented the complexity of the phone system requirements and presented construction businesses with a plethora of options. Whether users usually operate from office phones or mobile devices, they’re working both in and out of the office, so there is a demand for forwarding messages to avoid missing calls.
Also, a host of new services beyond calling are often expected such as Short Message Service (SMS)/Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), video conferencing, visual voicemail and call recording. On top of all this, the phone system is increasingly connected through APIs to existing company systems such as contact centers, workforce management and Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs), so important data can be monitored and evaluated in various ways.
The challenge for construction companies, however, has been dealing with issues of quality and integration, along with constantly escalating provider prices and add-on fees that can end up costing over $70 per user each month. When managers need the services to stay operational but do not have the time or inclination to sort through complex billing, they can feel like a captive of their technology provider.
“Today, construction business owners feel besieged with all the software-as-a-service fees, which constantly creep upwards, never downwards in cost. They are enticed with low offers to start, and then the price doubles or triples on renewal or any changes,” said Eric Brackett, President of BTI Communications Group, a technology convergence provider serving the business and logistics sectors. The company acts as a single-source provider of complex phone (VoIP), network, and physical security systems, down to installation of wiring and conduit as well as cybersecurity monitoring and protection.
“Bait-and-switch phone system pricing is a huge burden on construction businesses when it becomes overhead and an operating expense,” he added. “Instead, managers want to capitalize the full cost over a few years or own the system with minimal operating expense.
“Business owners and managers appreciate having only one line item on the bill that covers everything. When the prices don’t change for a fixed period, this eliminates the issue of escalating expenses and surprise add-on costs,” Brackett said.
He noted that such a system can improve both the customer and employee experience by integrating web services including voice, video, SMS/MMS, smartphone and PC, as well as contact center, CRM, and workforce management.
“Today, a construction business phone system needs to enable working from anywhere, whether at the office, at home, or on the go, and offer the full breadth of communication technologies,” Brackett said.
He added that some of the more advanced marketplace options are now easier than ever to incorporate and use. These allow business employees to use their own smartphones without purchasing new equipment since the service functions with almost every cellular provider. To streamline use, a web portal can enable users to take control and easily manage the entire system through a simple interface. Video conferencing also facilitates collaboration anywhere on any device, and some or all calls can be recorded and retrieved as needed.
Optimizing Business Telecom
Astral Energy of Montvale, New Jersey, buys energy wholesale and sells it retail to over 15,000 businesses in the B2B market. Ashton Fox, chief operating officer of Astral Energy, sought a more robust, stable solution than his existing telecom service provided.
“Many of our customers work off their smartphones on the road so texting and multimedia messaging is important to communicate with them,” Fox said. “If our customers struggle to reach us or we are challenged to reach them because of our phone system, it doesn’t work.”
As a solution, Fox and Astral Energy turned to a new option in the business market called GoodPhone by BTI that provides complete web, voice, video, SMS, MMS, CRM, contact center, and workforce management service and integration for customers and employees. The service functions on smartphones and office phones, as well as on PCs used as phones.
When employees use their personal smartphone by downloading the GoodPhone App, they no longer need to give out their personal cell information to handle business calls. Instead, they can provide clients with one office number to reach them, and make or take calls from their web phone, mobile app, or desk phone while always displaying the office number.
“Employees only give out one business number and all calls and texts stay within the GoodPhone portal on their smartphone or PC app. If a customer calls their number and they don’t answer it on their smartphone, the call can be routed to the company voicemail, not their personal voicemail,” Brackett explained.
The service also allows businesses to text promotions and contact customers via SMS and MMS messages, as well as track the responses. Employees can monitor messages and set auto-responses with customized text from one account. The service facilitates resolving customer issues by enabling the search of text archives with a 360-degree view of customer interactions. When video conferencing is required, the service currently allows up to 1,000 people to participate and up to 25 to share a screen.
“I’m able to manage my team more effectively with the service,” Fox said. “For instance, if there’s an issue with a customer on a phone call, I can quickly pull the recording on my phone to help resolve it.”
Other businesses are also finding value in simplifying the complexity of their phone systems at a low, flat monthly rate.
Market Contracting Services, a construction firm in Chicago, Illinois, had remodeled their facility and planned to purchase costly landline phones for the office, but reconsidered when their technology integrator suggested a better option, according to Esmeralda Macias, the firm’s office manager.
“With the new VoIP smartphones BTI has available, we don’t have to pay for landlines. We can see everything online now through a portal, so can view all incoming and missed calls,” Macias said.
According to Macias, employees no longer have to sit at a desk to take calls since they can do so anywhere they have an internet connection.
“Even after hours, we can transfer calls to our smartphones. This has translated into better customer support and more sales,” she said.
From a budgetary perspective, the VoIP phone system has also been a success. The system not only eliminated current carrier bills, but also included unlimited local and domestic long distance.
“The landline phones and service were going to cost a lot more. By implementing GoodPhone, we are already way ahead financially—and we are just getting started with using the capabilities of the VoIP phones,” she concluded.
Business telecom systems have long been complex, which can lead to user frustration. However, with greater choice in the marketplace today, construction businesses that integrate essentially all required telecom services through VoIP phones at a low, fixed cost can streamline their operations and gain a competitive advantage.
For more information, call 1-800-HELPBTI (1-800-435-7284) or visit https://www.btigroup.com.