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VoIP Recap (in case you’re new to virtual phone systems)
Are you guys ready to incorporate some VoIP software into your small business? I would be if I were you, because it is another great way to keep those productivity rates increasing, and save money on those outbound cals. However, many of you might be wondering what exactly is VoIP software, and how does can it play a significant role in your small business? This type of software allows you to communicate using your voice via phone over the internet…. Hence, Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol. Basically, you can call someone from your computer, laptop, desktop phone, or even mobile device. Yes, using something like this on a mobile device might sound strange, but think of it in terms of programs like Skype.
Furthermore, VoIP services can help you manage contacts from all over the world, and this doesn’t just mean making phone calls to them either. VoIP can allow you to have a written conversation with your many clients as well as through text communication. I have one word for you regarding this, convenience. This kind of software takes convenience to another level. It is excellent if you don’t want to purchase extra land lines, or mobile phones for your business, and usually it is very reasonably priced! There are many different companies producing this type of software in this day and age, but like usual we will be discussing two. The two companies in question in today’s article is 8×8 and Ring Central.
First, let us discuss 8×8 and what ideas they present on their website. Before we dive into web conferencing and other internet capabilities. If your business does have physical phones in house, then 8×8 can offer you everything from extension dialing to internet faxing! They also can provide you with an auto attendant! An auto attendant will virtually eliminate the need to hire someone to answer the phone, and the auto attendant can answer your calls day or night. Saving money when you are in the business of doing business is always a great idea, especially if you are getting something for virtually nothing!
Additionally, in conjunction with your new auto attendant you could also have music play when your customers are put on hold. That kind of option makes small businesses seem bigger than they really are which can boost your image! Here is another kicker for ya, 8×8 offers VoIP phones for as little as $2.99 right now, and they can also give you access to unify every phone in your office! That means every one of your employees can stay connected via an extension. This company will even throw in call monitoring if you are in the telemarketing field, or in case you might think you need it. This would be great if you needed to know who, what, and where your employees are calling while on the job! 8×8 is known for being the first company to offer this kind of technology on the cloud. So far this company is looking pretty good guys! What is even more impressive is that 8×8 has over forty-seven thousand customers, and many of their testimonials are done as case studies. They have monumental proof that their system works, and that is successful at doing what it is designed to do. What makes this company a top competitor in the VoIP field is that not only do they have competitive prices, but they have eliminated the need to purchase expensive hardware for installation. In fact, here is another great accomplishment that goes very well in 8×8’s favor, and that is its ability to comply with all privacy regulations. I am talking HIPAA, Privacy Shield, and even FISMA. That is quite a list right there, so you know a purchase from these guys really means business. Usually when a company lists security as a standard feature they are usually only talking about one, maybe two security measures; however, 8×8 goes way beyond the standard. We’re not done here yet boys and girls! 8×8 really has it all, and I mean really.
Besides that, if your small business has clients located in let’s say Asia, but you are here in the United States, no problem because they have you covered. They promise crystal clear communication channels, and even the ability to screen share as well as letting you have virtual face to face meetings when the need arises! How awesome is that? This company’s professionalism doesn’t stop there either. From 2012 to 2016 they were also named a leader in Gartner’s Unified Communications as a service magic quadrant. In light of that fact, 8×8 was just given the highest ranking on May 25,2017 by the Tolly Group Report. This is definitely going to be one tough cookie to beat! I am seeing nothing but great things about this company around each and every corner. The company doesn’t have to sell itself, because people are willing to sell it for the company! In business, this multitude of great press is never a bad thing! Before with hit the bland pricing plan aspect of this software how about we go over a few more features? I think we should, because we are only at the tip of the ice berg so far. You might be thinking, well maybe my business doesn’t need something like this, and I have a quick and easy answer to that question. Do you have customers calling you often? If you answered yes, then you probably want to invest in VoIP software like this. I have a couple more questions that I would like you to answer silently to yourself. Do you pay someone to answer the phone? How sweet would it be to have that weekly revenue added back into your bottom line? Every little bit helps sometimes, and this holds especially true for small businesses. Small businesses don’t have the capital to lose like major corporations. Those extra resources could now be put to better use somewhere else in your business other than someone answering the phone all day like a robot! And hey, if they are a great employee and you don’t want to fire them, then put their talents to good use everywhere! Just because you eliminate the type of job they are doing doesn’t mean you have to get rid of them altogether. I believe 8×8 just earned a win, win award! I did some further research into what kind of reviews people are making on websites besides 8×8’s home webpage, and that are is looking great too! On GetApp they have 4.2 out of five stars, and eighty five percent are positive reviews (https://www.getapp.com/it-communications-software/a/8×8/)! This amazing company has also figured out the ability how to route calls to your employee’s smartphones if that is a concern of yours too.
Interested in other providers?
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However, I did manage to find one concerning problem about this company that leads me to believe they are a little more expensive than they would like you to believe. On their website they are also one of those companies that are very ambiguous about their pricing. Yes, we have made it to the bland pricing discussion. They do offer a couple of pricing quotes for direct usage that includes minute fees; however, there are an enormous amount of options to choose from, and most of them want you to talk to a representative via text, or by phone. Slash one star, and I was really hoping I could give this software a definite five stars. We are back to that being up front and honest thing though, and don’t play it down like it isn’t important. We have mentioned things like this previously, and sometimes products like these end up costing fortunes due to extra services, or hidden fees that one doesn’t realize until it is too late. As always, I would never want to steer any of you in the wrong direction in case price is a deal breaker for you, or your small business. Price is usually a black and white topic; however, when companies fail to disclose valuable information such as pricing for their services it also discredits them to a degree. It more or less is seen as a sneaky sales tactic.
Consequently, in situations like these where the product definitely has great value it forces the consumer, which is you, the small business owner into somewhat of a beta position. They are making you call to get your price. In most cases like this one, a telemarketer will try and persuade you to buy other extra features that sometimes are just not practical for your business. In our earlier articles we took a stab at this topic a little bit, but since we are talking about it again I will cut this baby wide open. I don’t want to discredit 8×8 just yet, and of course in case I am wrong; but, some companies do hide prices on their websites for example to keep other competitors in the dark. When companies decide to take a risk like this it is always somewhat alarming at best, at least to us consumers anyways.
Moreover, they might just assume that if you call it shows them that you have a real interest, or need for their product or services. This is where the slope gets very icy though. When concealing prices and forcing you to call, most likely as I said before, the said company will get you on the phone with their beta trap, and try to force you into a financial situation that just doesn’t work for you. But, let’s suppose they do play by our ordinary rules, and the phone call doesn’t lead to some sort of beta trap; then, go ahead and play ball if the price is right. If the opposite is true, then here is what most likely will happen, and here are some ways out of typical pushy sales tactics.
First, when you have engaged in the conversation with the sales representative look for specific questions such as, “do you know we could include x, y, or z for only x amount of dollars more per month”? This is a rather common sales hook, and as a small business you should only be looking for exactly what you require to run a more productive, and cost-effective business. At this point if the extra feature isn’t an actual need, politely decline and inquire about their basic plan instead. If you do this and the representative is incessantly asking to add various other features it is time to say “I think I will inquire about these types of services elsewhere”.
Thus, at this point one of two things could happen, and both of them will potentially work in your favor. After an experienced sales representative hears a line like I said previously, they are likely to jump in and usually give you a limited time offer of some sort; however, as always, I could be wrong and you could get laughed off of the phone. But, in case you do, guess what? You just probably saved yourself from being trapped into a commitment you probably didn’t want to pay for in the first place. That isn’t really considered a bad position you know, because there are many other competitors out there that want your business without trying to completely empty your wallet. Make no mistake however, if some sort of deal is offered to you, make sure you ask if it is completely static, and not just for a couple of months or some swanky trial of sorts. What happens to most consumers, and that means you again small business owners, is that you will forget about the trial which means you will likely end up paying something to that company eventually. That is bad news for you, and your business! Always keep in mind that companies that try pushy sales tactics are constantly training their employees how to do this better just so they can squeeze that extra dollar out of you. If you would like know more about 8×8 and its products feel free to visit their website at https://www.8×8.com.
Ring Central Review
Besides 8×8, we have Ring Central who is essentially a competitor of 8×8. Will they have something more attractive than 8×8? It is going to be hard to beat all that flash and prestige, but let’s find out if they have what it takes to do it! When you first visit Ring Central’s website https://www.ringcentral.com you are greeted by an automated response for someone to help you, or a phone number you can call, which is also somewhat of a pushy tactic just like 8×8. However, once you click no for help you can view their pricing webpage, and it is crystal clear. They list their three different pricing plans on one page along with the features that each plan will offer you, and you can view more prices on phones and equipment on a separate pricing page. If you are like me, you like to know about how much money you will be spending before you actually spend it. I am definitely going to give Ring Central the support it deserves for being honest, but I do have something to say about their eleven different phone prices. Wow! Their pricing is much more than what 8×8 offered at its $2.99 per phone deal. A single phone on Ring Central, regardless of brand is going to run you a hundred bucks into the hole, and some phones can go all the way up to three and even four hundred dollars! That doesn’t sound like a sweet deal if you need multiple phones.
In fact, it sounds like an economical nightmare! Guys, which way is the poor house from here? You better be finding out if you buy any of these phones, because I guarantee you will be spending a few bucks. However, that is only desk phone prices. Ring Central actually has their phone listed in separate categories depending on what type of job the phone is actually meant for. For example, the next category is actually for receptionists and if you thought desk phones were pricey you are wrong, because these phones go up to about seven hundred bucks. That is like getting a shock right to the chest! That is enough for two luxury car payments! Do you really want to be spending seven hundred dollars on a phone for a small business? I didn’t think so either. You could buy an iPhone for that, and probably get enough free applications to do exactly what this seven-hundred dollar paper weight is capable of doing. I am going to not even bother going through the other lists of phones, or the headsets for a couple reasons. One, the other phones, including their conference phones, are just not what we are here to review. The second reason is because their headsets have no price listed, so I guess I was not completely right to begin with, because there is some ambiguity regarding pricing in this company too.
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Before we beat this company down to a pulp, I will advise you of some good features they do offer. I try to always shoot straight with you guys, because your money is important. If I find something about a company that just doesn’t sit well with me, I promise you guys are going to know about it. That is how we separate the good products from the best ones! Okay, anyways if you decide you like Ring Central better than 8×8 don’t make your decision just yet; or, at least until you have heard some of these features Ring Central will offer you. For starters, they offer the same multi security features as 8×8’s VoIP software such as HIPAA protection, fraud mitigation for your 1-800 lines, firewalls, and seven different layers of security. I would like to also note that they even offer something called transmission security. This is known officially as TLS. What TLS means is, it is Transport Layer Security. This means your communication channels are encrypted at virtually every turn whether you are using their software via desk phone, conference phone, mobile app, or elsewhere you will be protected! Now Ring Central is gaining some real credibility here everyone. I like to know that if I purchase your product it will be protected no matter how, or where I use it. Ding! Ring Central is starting to climb the star ladder now! I do want to also commend Ring Central for earning Skyhigh’s Cloud Trust rating of Enterprise ready which is the highest possible standard a company can achieve. Congratulations Ring Central, you are definitely a company that can play with the big boys. That is good for your pocket book; however, is it good for us, or are small business needs? Can you cut prices, make deals, or make it affordable? I did some investigating into Ring Central earlier today, and what I mean is I ended up giving them a phone call to see if they could accommodate your needs. Here is the meat and potatoes like always folks, are you ready? If you call and ask for specifics I am afraid most of you small business owners out there will be somewhat disappointed to say the least. Ring Central can try to accommodate your needs; however, you will be faced with the brutal reality that most of their features are for very large firms, and that is who they ultimately end up trying to please. The company is outstanding so don’t perceive this as a terrible review, because it is not; but, again we have something that cannot really fit into small businesses and their core values. Small businesses like yours have it rough enough as it is when they are trying to compete in the corporate world, and the last thing you need is corporate prices dictating your ability to use different services. For honest review purposes, I am giving Ring Central four stars just as I did with 8×8.
Ring Central VS 8×8:
Which VoIP Phone Service Is Better For Small Business?
Finally, is either company worth your time? Can I honestly say 8×8, or Ring Central is for the small business owner? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Again, this has nothing to do with the quality of their services, the customer service, or anything else besides being able to fit in with your small business agenda. If you own a large firm, or a corporation, then these products are definitely something that will help you accomplish your communication goals and VoIP needs.
Moreover, if you need to be able to just communicate via VoIP through text channels, or make a moderate number of phone calls via the internet, then just try something more universal like Skype. What I tend to notice in companies that say they will cater to small business needs as well as corporate needs is that they actually just cater to themselves. You know what this means. In case I left any room for ambiguity I mean that, they cater to fattening their pockets while they are emptying yours. Case in point, and that is my final word on things. Both are great companies and they are definitely ahead of the game in their field, but they just aren’t really setup for small businesses. They claim to be; however, many companies claim to be, but only a select few are. In this review most of you probably noticed I didn’t go over the full length list of features of either company, and you are probably thinking, “I was interested in what they have”, but what is the sense if they can’t help you? Enjoy your day everyone, and as I have said many times over, do your research!